Suddenly Sweden

Now that Sweden made all kinds of news – fake and real – I’m sure the Stockholm Syndrome will also hit the headlines shortly. I first heard of the Stockholm Syndrome when I watched Die Hard. Now, the first Die Hard movie came out in 1988 so I probably watched it on video a year later because back then, it took at least a year for Hollywood movies to hit the video stores in Finland.

Also, what really made me pay attention to a weird psychological condition that I otherwise probably wouldn’t have cared about was that in the movie, they mistakenly called it the Helsinki Syndrome, a thing I had never heard of so I had to look into it. And that’s when I learned it was really called the Stockholm Syndrome.

It was the first time I had heard of it but Hollywood loooves the Stockholm Syndrome, which is a psychological condition in which hostages feel sympathy and empathy towards their captors, and who could blame the screenwriters. It is quite understandable since a situation like that does create high tension and drama, or to put it in another way: Movie magic. (That’s how we get not only “Die Hard”, but also “Bandits” and “Out of Sight” to name a few).

Stockholm has been linked to the condition since 1973 when the first case was observed during a bank robbery. Originally called The Norrmalmstorg Syndrome, the condition was named by Swedish psychiatrist Nils Bejerot after the location of the drama, a Kreditbanken office at Norrmalmstorg (Norrmalm’s Square) in central Stockholm.

During the six-day siege, the hostages began to defend the robber’s actions to the police and even negotiated with them on his behalf.

Of course, things change and people move on. These days, nobody* (Edit: Wife says she thinks about it every time she’s there. Huh!) thinks of the Stockholm Syndrome as they cross the square, hurrying to the theatre around the corner, or the chic shopping street on the other side of the square. Up until last week, I didn’t even know where the hostage situation had taken place, or at least it had never registered with me. So I looked it up and I’m now proud to be able to tell you that Kreditbanken – that merged with another state-owned bank, Post-Banken in 1974, a year after the robbery, then acquired Nordbanken in 1990, and then berged into Nordea – used to be in this building.

These days there’s a hotel, a Lebanese restaurant, and Acne’s designer jeans studio. A renovated Linderoth’s clock is still on the wall but I doubt that people walking across the square pay much attention to it, either. (Except Wife, of course. She doesn’t miss anything.)

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