Stockholmed: 11 years surviving domestic violence
Reviewed By: Avraham Azrieli
Avraham Azrieli writes novels and screenplays. His website is: www.AzrieliBooks.com
The clever title of this book holds both ends of the proverbial rope. At one end is the Stockholm Syndrome, a psychological condition characterized by an unusually close mental bond formed between captors and captives to the point of affection and total identification by the victims with the victimizers. (The name comes from a hostage situation in a Stockholm bank in 1973.) At the other end of the rope, hinted at by turning Stockholm into passive-tense “Stockholmed,” is the victim’s self-deprecating humor, but not just any victim of the Stockholm Syndrome, but a victim who no longer suffers from the syndrome and can reflect on the experience with candor and wit.
This book is unique not only because it provides an incredibly sincere and honest description of the unique degradation involved in severe cases of domestic abuse. It is further exceptional because the writer first takes us on the journey downwards into the pits of irrational cruelty and manipulative torture, and then on the upward struggle of an incredibly courageous victim determined to regain his freedom and sanity.
Author David Larson should be commanded for sharing so openly and candidly an extremely painful life story, detailing his suffering, defeat and victory. His writing is distinguished by a voice that strikes a perfect balance between fidelity to gruesome details and an even, authentic tone, avoiding shrill and exaggeration. It is rare to find a memoirist capable of seeing the comedy even in painful events and emotional heartbreak.
Having recently reviewed “Brain Change Curriculum for Domestic Violence Offender Treatment” by Ronald T. Potter-Efron, MSW, PhD and Patricia S. Potter-Efron, MS (Growth Publishing, 2015), reading Mr. Larson’s story is like moving from the therapist’s armchair to the patient’s sofa. Only that Mr. Larson does not write as a patient, or even as a victim (which he no longer is). Rather, Mr. Larson writes with the insight of a man who first experienced the horrors and then grew to understand the psychological science behind it all.
For readers who are reluctant to read “sad stories”, this book is no such thing. In “Stockholmed,” the author will make you laugh and cry simultaneously. The writing is sharp, absorbing, and full of humor. Some of the scenes are outright shocking, suspenseful, and indelibly memorable. In the end, “Stockholmed” is a wonderful true-life story of suffering and redemption, and the courage it take to prevail against all odds. Bravo!