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Stockholm Syndrome – Music from Mayhem Posted by on May 10, 2010 in Culture

Jennie recently linked to a sketch by Comedy Central. Through some investigative journalism The Daily Show found that Stockholm is “possibly not heaven on earth according to Wyatt Cenat.”  The sketch plays on the Stockholm Syndrome term suggesting that the Swedes interviewed are being held hostage by their country, and so are sympathetic to its plight.  It’s a great light hearted look at the Swedish model.

The harbinger of the term, Stockholm Syndrome, was not a Jon Stewart sketch, but instead a bank robbery in the middle of Stockholm.  In August of 1973, an attempted bank robbery at a bank on Norrmalmstorg resulted in several hostages being taken.  For nearly six days, the police were kept at bay, all the while a sort of relationship between hostage and hostage taker was developing inside.  The resulting feelings of sympathy and identification with the criminal were later termed Stockholm Syndrome.  Since the coining of the term, the psychological effects have been identified in several hostage situations.

Of course, Stockholm Syndrome isn’t just a Comedy Central sketch or a psychological phenomenon.  The term is used quite a bit in the music world, not as any sort of technical term but as a title for songs and albums. A quick search on Spotify will pop out enough Stockholm Syndrome related material for a playlist with over 100 songs.

The Backyard Babies, a band based in Sweden, have an album titled Stockholm Syndrome (for all those innocent ears out there, the band sings in English and sometimes uses colorful language).  Rumor has it that “Minus Celsius,” one of the songs from the album, can be played on Guitar Hero.  It is supposed to be a bonus track and because the extent of my musical prowess, virtual and real, ends with being able to play “Hot Cross Buns” on the piano, you’ll have to play your own way to that particular track.  There’s even an American band called Stockholm Syndrome who says they chose the name to describe their relationship with each other.

Despite the sometimes dark connotations of the psychological term, Stockholm Syndrome has moved into popular culture, from the musical to the comedic.  So start your search for the musical version and get lost in your own Stockholm Syndrome.

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About the Author: Marcus Cederström

Marcus Cederström has been writing for the Transparent Swedish Blog since 2009. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Scandinavian Studies from the University of Oregon, a Master's Degree in Scandinavian Studies from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and a PhD in Scandinavian Studies and Folklore from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He has taught Swedish for several years and still spells things wrong. So, if you see something, say something.