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Ireland – Poster Child Of The Stockholm Syndrome

Patty Hearst in front of the insignia of the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA)
Patty Hearst in front of the insignia of the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA)

Andrew S. Loveland has an interesting post over on The Frumious Bandersnatch examining the famous (if exceptional) psychological condition known as the Stockholm Syndrome:

“In 1973, Jan-Erik Olsson and Clark Olofsson entered the Kreditbanken premises in Stockholm fully intending to relieve the bank of it’s coffers. The heist failed miserably and the men subsequently took three females and one male employee hostage. The Swedish clerks were kept for six days in a vault during which time they were frequently held at gunpoint and on several occasions were asked to place nooses about their necks and strap bombs to their bodies.

Despite the trauma of such events, when the attempt to free them came, the four hostages fought with their captors against the police. Upon their release one of the hostages even went so far as to set up a fund for the hostage takers’ legal fees.

The rather bewildering response to this incident from the victims led to the term ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ being coined by the Swedish criminologist and psychiatrist, Nils Bejerot during a news broadcast following the events as a nation sought to come to terms with what they had witnessed.

Despite the number of high profile cases however, there remains to be found a coherent and consensus agreement on precisely what criteria needs be met before Stockholm Syndrome can emerge. Several traits ought to be present in any case,

– a severely uneven power relationship whereby the captor dictates what can/cannot be done by the victim

– a perceived threat, either real or imagined, at the hands of the captor

– occasional kindnesses shown by the captors toward the victim

– isolation of perspectives other than that of the captor

– a perceived inability, either real or imagined, to escape

Reviewing the list above however, I am more than content to posit the idea that Scotland presently is experiencing something of a societal Stockholm Syndrome, a creeping sentiment that has gradually but inexorably stolen into our nation’s psyche.”

The full article is well worth reading as Loveland uses this paradigm to explore the current state of Nationalist and Unionist politics in contemporary Scotland. However the concept of a “national” Stockhom Syndrome also has some applicability for us here in Ireland, not least in describing the obsessional relationship many Irish people have with our nearest neighbour – and former colonial masters – in Britain. And latterly, of course, the EU. For one of the characteristics of the syndrome is the fanatical need of the victim to be accepted by the victimiser as an equal. To be like them. Indeed, to be one of them. In the process the captive abandons their own identity and adopts that of the captive-taker.

Sound familiar?

1 comment on “Ireland – Poster Child Of The Stockholm Syndrome

  1. an lorcánach

    on the button, sionnach: shatter likes to speak verbalage – then again he was fg spokesperson at time of removal of Irish requirement for advocates /lawyers a few years ago by ff: can’t imagine he was anything but indifferent!


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