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The First Documented Instance Of Stockholm Syndrome Occurred On This Day In 1973

Stockholm-Syndrome

(PCM) We are sure many of you are aware of the psychological phenomenon known as Stockholm Syndrome during which a kidnapping or hostage victim will begin to feel a certain level of trust and affection towards their captors, however do you know when this condition first originated?

It was on August 23rd, 1973 that the first documented case of Stockholm Syndrome occurred with the victims of a bank robbery at Sveriges Kreditbanken, on Stockholm’s upscale Norrmalmstorg square. The robber, Jan-Erik “Janne” Olsson, took four bank employees hostage and held them in a bank vault for a period of six days until his demands were met.

Olsson demanded that his friend Clark Olofsson, who was currently imprisoned be brought the bank along with 3 million cash, two guns, bulletproof vests, helmets and a fast car. The Swedish government granted Olsson’s request and brought Olofsson to act as point of communication between Olsson and the authorities along with a getaway car.

The authorities agreed on providing the car, but would not allow Olsson and Olofsson to take the hostages with them if they tried to escape. Olsson placed a call to the Swedish Prime Minister saying that he would kill the hostages if they were unable to leave together, however the Prime Minister refused to give in. Then in a move that baffled authorities at the time the Prime Minister received another phone call from one of the hostages saying that she was incredibly displeased with his attitude regarding the situation and requested that he let both the robbers and the hostages leave together.

Throughout the ordeal the hostages became more and more fearful of the authorities escalating the violence than they did with their captors. They began to sympathize with both Olsson and Olofsson and repeatedly told authorities after being rescued that they never felt fearful of Olsson or Olofsson, but were more concerned about the way the authorities were handling the situation. They even claimed that both Olsson and Olofsson were kind to them during the ordeal and even defended them for many of their actions during the hostage situation.

Despite the fact that Olsson threatened to kill the hostages if gas were leaked into the vault, authorities nevertheless used this method to eventually get both Olsson and Olofsson to surrender and the hostages were rescued.   The image above shows the hostages being held in the bank vault through a hole drilled by police from an apartment above just prior to them releasing the gas.

It was after this ordeal that the psychological behavior of the hostages began to be studied as never before had authorities seen victims of a crime actually sympathizing with their captors. The coined the term Stockholm Syndrome to describe the condition that still occurs during certain traumatic events to this day.

 

 

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