Police negotiators decided to bring Clark in to help establish a line of communication, but the situation did not end there. The two criminals retreated to the safety of the large bank vault, taking their hostages with them. At one point, Olssen called the prime member of Sweden, threatening to kill his hostages, grasping one of the women by the throat. He hung up the call as she screamed in terror.
Police drilled a hole in the ceiling of the bank vault, gaining access to the space and creating more tension. Olssen actually fired shots into the new access point, injuring policemen and threatening to kill his hostages. In spite of the threats, police eventually did use gas on the robbers, and in the end the two men surrendered without harming their captives. Five long days of terror came to an end in a cloud of choking smoke.
This riveting drama became the first study in what psychologists call capture–bonding, or Stockholm Syndrome. This psychological phenomenon is exhibited when hostages identify with their captors, sometimes to the point of defending them. These feelings are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims. While it is an urban myth that any of the hostages later married their captors, it is true that they felt sympathy for them. At one point in the standoff, hostage Kristin Enmark phoned the prime minister again, letting him know that she was very displeased with his attitude. Kristin asked him to let the robbers and the hostages leave. Several of the hostages would later become friends with Olssen, and testify in his defense at his trial.
Like these unfortunate hostages, all of us are victims of a violent criminal. He is no bumbling would-be bank robber. He is vicious, merciless. His sadistic hatred of God extends to we who are image bearers of God's likeness. The Bible tells us that he prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. And as bizarre as it seems, I see a Spiritual Stockholm syndrome weaving its way among his broken victims. This process of capture-bonding involves more than simply emotionally connecting with the criminal. The hostages involved in the Stockholm robbery also expressed a fear of the very police who had arrived to rescue them. Like Adam and eve in the garden, we find ourselves hanging out with the snake and hiding from the Father.
Research in the area of Stockholm syndrome is frequently applied to domestic abuse victims. The woman in this situation loves and defends the man who beats her night after night. She agrees with her abuser that the violence is her fault, that his fists are right in swinging, that he is really a good man. She despises herself just as he despises her. This perception is so powerful that when friends, family, or even law enforcement officers try to protect her from her violent partner, she resists them.
God help us, we are more than captives! We are truly held hostage, our hearts and minds turned away from the creator and towards our captor. The good news? Rescue is coming. Restoration is sweeping in. Just as Satan is no inept small time criminal, Jesus is no Barney Fife. Our rescue is more than protection from the savages of the evil one, it is a total renovation of our minds and hearts. At the cross Jesus crushed the enemy's grasp on my neck, but his Death was more than just powerful assault on Satan. Like any great rescuer, Jesus swept me up into his arms, to restore my wounds. Looking back, I have spent far too much of my Christian life identifying with my captor and his vicious ways. And likewise, I have wasted years fearing my rescuer.
I Timothy 1 7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
Romans 8 15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children." Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”
Rescue is coming.