Stockholm syndrome?
Stockholm syndrome?

Stockholm syndrome?

In an April 8, 2022 tweet attributed to lawyer and Senior partner of AB & David Africa Partners, David Ofosu-Dorte, he stated as follows.


“In Africa, we prevent officials from experiencing the very problems we elect them to solve – they have outriders to avoid traffic, guards for their safety and to jump queues, coupons to escape the pain of buying petrol etc. How do we expect them to solve problems they don’t face?”


Perhaps he may have added as an additional perk that, for health care, they have the best. 

Where this is inadequate by their standards, they travel outside the country at huge cost to Ghana when such monies could have improved a facility at home they are uninterested in. 

Otherwise, why are surgeons at Wa-West District Hospital in March 2023 forced to use the torchlights on their mobile phones for surgeries because two theatre lights costing a total of GH¢70,000 ($US5,600) have not worked for two years?

Sadly, on April 1, 2023, an MP asked for a hospital to be built purposely to serve their needs after a colleague who collapsed and was rushed to Korle Bu Teaching Hospital died.

Indeed, in Ghana, time without number, MPs/politicians have shown openly that they only need the electorate once every four years to vote for them. 

On a regular basis on TV, we see schools under tress with pupils in torn school uniforms. 

Health facilities/CHPS compound with nothing are a sad spectacle. So, why do we welcome them every four years, knowing that they only care about themselves, and not their constituents. Is it a case of Stockholm Syndrome?

Stockholm Syndrome

Stockholm Syndrome is a phenomenon in which victims in cases of hostage-taking, kidnappings and other crimes, rather strangely and irrationally, develop positive feelings of trust, affection, and even love for their captors/perpetrators. In effect, the hostage bonds with the captor. 

Though not recognised as a medical condition, it has been described as a coping mechanism for a temporary psychological disorder occasioned by danger from the captor.

This phenomenon got its name from August 23, 1973 bank robbery incident which happened in Stockholm, Sweden, involving an escaped convict, Jan-Eric Olsson. 

After wounding a policeman, he took four bank officials, a male and three females hostage and demanded a ransom of $700,000, and a get-away car. Additionally, he demanded the release of a jailed armed robber, Clark Olofsson, who was involved in the murder of a policeman in 1966. 

During the six-day standoff with police, the captive bank employees became sympathetic toward the bank robbers, bonding with them. Indeed, they refused to testify against the robbers in court later.

Patty Hearst

In a similar incident in the US in 1974, Patty Hearst, the granddaughter and heiress of publisher William Randolph Hearst, was taken and held hostage by the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA), "an urban guerilla group.” 

Strangely, she denounced her family as well as the police under her new name, "Tania", and was later seen working with the SLA to rob banks in San Francisco. She publicly asserted her "sympathetic feelings" toward the SLA. 

After her 1975 arrest, pleading Stockholm syndrome (although the term was not used then, due to the recent nature of the event in 1973) Patty Hearst did not work as a proper defence witness in court, much to the chagrin of her defence lawyer, Lee Bailey. 

Her seven-year prison sentence was later commuted, and she was eventually pardoned by President Bill Clinton, who was informed that she was not acting under her own free will.

Shakespeare’s Hamlet

Long before the recent 1973 invention of the name “Stockholm Syndrome,” history had examples of such irrational behaviour right from Biblical times through Shakespeare in the C17th to the present. 

Described as probably Shakespeare’s longest play, the tragedy HAMLET also has a complex plot. 


King Hamlet of Denmark is murdered by his brother, Claudius. As if that was not bad enough, Queen Gertrude, the wife of the murdered King Hamlet ,marries her murderous brother-in-law, Claudius. 

One wonders how a woman could fall in love with the known murderer of her husband! The ghost of King Hamlet then appears to his son ,Prince Hamlet, and tasks him to avenge his death by killing Claudius, his uncle. 

It is Hamlet’s vacillation and procrastination of the task given him by his father’s ghost which resulted in the famous soliloquy “To be or not to be — that is the question!”  

In more recent times in the late 1970s into the early 1980s, a woman is alleged to have married one of the killers of her husband.



The question then is, why are Ghanaians prepared to sacrifice themselves for politicians who do not care about them after having their votes? A recent interview on TV showing one of those who got injured in a political confrontation at Ayawaso-West-Wuogon by-election was a sad one. And yet there will always be a ready supply of youngmen who will put their lives at risk happily snatching ballot boxes during elections. Why? Could it be that we have short memories as we have been accused of?

In recent times as the war-drums are being sounded with loud impunity, my mind races back to my home Uganda in 2008-2009 where the Security boss answered my question as to why murders were such a daily routine saying;

“Where human beings know that, nothing will happen to them if they commit murder, they will kill with impunity. But if they know they will also be killed for murder, they will not commit murder!” 

As a foreigner who knew a lot about Ghana on a flight with me years ago asked, are you Ghanaians happy having your major entry-point named after a coup-maker who overthrew President Nkrumah and truncated Ghana’s forward march as a beacon of Africa? Are you not encouraging coup-making as an investment if future generations know monuments will be named after them for gambling to stage coups successfully?


Is it short-memory as we have been told we have, or a form of Stockholm Syndrome that makes people love to die for politicians they know do not care about them, and love wrong-doers? 

Whatever it is, it is a negative character which demeans our humanity as a people! This behaviour must be exorcised immediately if we are to realise our potential and respect as the Ghanaians we were at independence, and not ordinary pawns on the chessboard of politicians. 
As Ofosu-Dorte asked Ghanaians about politicians, “how do we expect them to solve problems they don’t face?”

Leadership, lead! Fellow Ghanaians, wake up!

The writer is a former CEO, African Peace Support Trainers Association, Kenya & Council Chairman, Family Health University College, Ghana.

E-mail: [email protected] 

Connect With Us : 0242202447 | 0551484843 | 0266361755 | 059 199 7513 |

Like what you see?

Hit the buttons below to follow us, you won't regret it...