Book Travel

Getting Stockholm Syndrome in Sweden

Stockholm is funnily enough, where the term ‘Stockholm syndrome’ originated from, we all know what it means and not necessarily the events behind it. So, I’ll take you back to 1973 when four people were taken hostage in Stockholm’s Kreditbanken by a career criminal called Jan-Erik Olsson who was later joined by an old prison mate. Despite being held in the bank for six days before release, they felt positively toward their captor.

Psychiatrist Dr. Frank Ochberg described it to the BBC as ‘The hostages experience a powerful, primitive positive feeling towards their captor. They are in denial that this is the person who put them in that situation. In their mind, they think this is the person who is going to let them live.’

Hostage Kristin Ehnmark, explained: ‘It’s some kind of a context you get into when all your values, the morals you have, change in some way.’ Whilst it is a rare thing, it is still a way to survive and empathise with a captor, who may feel positively toward you and it may well just save your life.

Stockholm is a lovely city, full of beautiful people. The modern parts are clean, pleasant and chilled. The historic centre is the extremely lovely ‘island’ of Gamla Stan from which Stockholm grows. The labyrinthine streets make for some great strolling and the Royal Palace of Kungliga Slottet is also here. Just like London, there is the Royal Guards Ceremony every day when their blue-suited guards change over. Unlike in London, they actually look quite friendly.

On my second day here, I got the boat to Skansen, the world’s oldest open-air museum and it was a good day out. It is essentially a replica of ye olde Sweden and takes you through all their traditions with all the old workshops staffed by Swedes in ye olde garb.

It has a zoo attached, containing Swedish animals like the brown bear, grey seal, bison, moose, wolves, and reindeer. A reminder of the wilderness of the north and the rich wildlife that lives within it. I saw a mother speaking to her child in English, to raise them as bilingual. It’s easy to look at Swedes in Stockholm and think that they’re living the dream. That’s because they’re really fit and they are living the dream. I’d love to return to explore the wilderness of Sweden but I headed off for Denmark, to see my friend.

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