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Stockholm syndrome

The Stockholm syndrome is a psychological state in which the victims of a kidnapping, or persons detained against their free will - prisoners - develop a relationship with their captor(s). This solidarity can sometimes become a real complicity, with prisoners actually helping the captors to achieve their goals or to escape police.

The syndrome has been named this way after the famous bank robbery of Kreditbanken in Norrmalmstorg, Stockholm which lasted from August 23 to August 28, 1973. (See Norrmalmstorg robbery.) In this case the victims kept on defending their captors even after their 6 days physical detention was over. They showed a reticent behaviour in the following legal procedures too. The term was coined by the criminologist and psychologist Nils Bejerot, who assisted the police during the robbery, and referred to the syndrome in a news broadcast. It was then picked up by many psychologists worldwide.

Famous cases regarded airplane hostages and kidnapped people, such as Patricia Hearst, who after having been a hostage of a politically engaged military organisation (the Symbionese Liberation Army, or SLA), joined it several months after she was freed.

See also: victimology

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