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Behind Stockholm Syndrome, and Varying Cultural Attitudes Toward The Outlaw

Stockholm syndrome is the sympathy that a victim, usually a hostage, develops toward their captor. Whether it is through the prolonged exposure to the captor whereby the victim's perspective is being changed and they see some humanity in the other or the captor's charisma or character persuades the other that they are doing such an act for a noble cause, the end is still the same.

It was first coined after the Norrmalmstorg robbery in which the hostages, four bankers, after being held captive for six days and released thereafter, developed a certain trust for their captor and even considered the police to be the ones endangering their lives.

But behind this whole episode there lurks some subtle perceptions and cultural attitudes that we might have on violent acts such as that. 

But the original Stockholm hostage crisis revealed much more: Due to Olsson’s unique disguise, the robbery served as a commentary on the American outlaw—and demonstrated how poorly this swaggering figure translated.

In particular, most of the Swedish people had been surprised at such a thing happening in their country and would associate it more with other places like the US.

More than this, the hostage taker himself admitted that he was inspired by an American outlaw he saw in a movie which he used to come up with his disguise. And so began the six-day standoff between Jan-Erik Olsson, the captor, and the Swedish police.

(Image credit: Tage Olsin/Wikimedia Commons)

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