On August 23, 1973, Jan Erik Olsson of Stockholm Sweden entered the Kreditbanken in the Norrmalmstorg Square in the center of the city. Brandishing a sub-machine gun, he took four bank employees hostage and demanded 3 million Swedish crowns (about $730,000) and the release of a friend from prison. The hostage situation devolved into a 6 day standoff with Swedish authorities, during which Olsson and his hostages underwent a strange bonding experience. The hostages started identifying with their captor and vice versa. On top of that, all involved – hostages and kidnapper alike – took on a hostile “Us vs. Them” view of the outside world that was trying to hurt them. This feeling was heightened by the presence of armed police and hostage negotiators outside of the bank. Nor was this just a passing emotion – indeed, Olsson’s victims visited him during his ten-year prison sentence. This strange and seemingly counter-intuitive reaction to such a stressful and traumatic experience has come to be known as Stockholm Syndrome – a mainstay of TV crime dramas.
Featured Image: “Kreditbanken in the Norrmalmstorg.” By Tage Olsin – Own work (Photo taken by me), CC BY-SA 2.0.
Source: Perosino, Monica and Francesco Semprini. “Forty Years Ago, A Swedish Bank Robber Gave Us “Stockholm Syndrome”.” La Stampa. 28 August 2013.