Stockholm Syndrome: What is it?


Stockholm syndrome takes its name from an event that occurred in the 1970s. This syndrome was theorized by a famous criminologist psychiatrist. In practice, it occurs when the prisoner sympathizes with his captor.


When a hostage thinks he will die, he experiences a sort of infantilization: in fact, like a child, he cannot eat or go to the bathroom without permission. In this extreme phase, any concession on the part of those who threaten him arouses enormous gratitude; so much so that in the end, by denying himself the truth, the prisoner thinks he owes the same life to a criminal as he does.

pioneer psychiatrist in the science of trauma Frank Ochberg, the FBI consultant who defined the phenomenon

The case to which Stockholm syndrome is linked occurred in 1973 , in the city of the same name. A man named Jan-Erik Olsson entered the bank armed and took four employees hostage. After six days, when the criminal surrendered, the hostages embraced him asking the police not to harm him. Then the name of the syndrome became known in 1974 when a very young heiress Patty Hearst was kidnapped by a leftist fighting group.


Indeed, after two months of being kidnapped, Patty committed an armed robbery, the first of many other crimes at the hands of the syndicate that kidnapped her. At the time of her arrest, the defense blamed Stockholm syndrome as brainwashing. Patty Hearst, however, was still sentenced to 35 years in prison, which later became only 7 years. 

  • What is Stockholm Syndrome? (


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