Resignation syndrome: symptoms, causes and treatment

Different phenomena, events and disasters are constantly happening around the world and can greatly affect our lives. From natural phenomena such as earthquakes, floods or hurricanes to man-made events such as war and the suffering and helplessness it generates in those who have to live with or flee their homes, it can have profound repercussions both physical and psychic on those who suffer from its effects.

In this sense, there are many syndromes, diseases and disorders in the world which are linked in one way or another to alter the lives of a large number of people. One of them is resignation syndrome, a strange phenomenon that has only been detected in Sweden. and what we’ll be talking about throughout this article.

    What is resignation syndrome?

    This is called resignation syndrome, a strange disorder that has plagued Sweden for several years. part of the refugee population. Specifically, we are dealing with a condition that has only been observed in children and adolescents between the ages of seven and nineteen.

    This syndrome is characterized by the relatively rapid onset of an extreme level of apathy, stillness and muteness for no apparent biological reason. First, there is a decrease in usual behavior patterns and a reduction in activity and motivation, which may worsen. Many of these children remain in a catatonic state, and sometimes even find themselves in a coma for months or years, unable to stand or feed on their own.

    In some cases, they even require the use of probes in order to keep them fed. Biologically, the body of these miners is functioning properly, but despite this, they remain completely still and inert. In fact, it has been speculated that we are in the lead a case of catatoniaBeing the lack of mobility and response to stimulation something shared between the two conditions. It has also been associated with dissociative disorders.

    Refugee children in a state of absence or in a coma

    These minors are commonly referred to as “apathetic children” and have in common the fact that they are children of refugees from different countries, usually from the Balkans or from territories that are part of the former Soviet Union, Yugoslavia or Syria. . they have experienced great trauma and complex situations in their country of origin and / or on the way to the Swedish country and facing the possibility of not obtaining a residence permit.

    Although this syndrome only occurred in Sweden (for which there is no explanation), the truth is that it bears similarities to the alterations found in prisoners of concentration camps during WWII. global. They are observed to lose the ability to fight, to face their own defense and to seek security or even to respond to external stimulation. It is almost as if the consciousness is disconnected and the body is functioning automatically.

      Hypothesis on its causes

      Today, resignation syndrome is a little-known disorder whose causes are not yet known. It has been observed that it is closely related to the uncertainty regarding the possibility or notification of having to leave the country (in fact, families who were able to stay saw how the child improved over time) , but that does not explain why this only happens in Sweden or why it doesn’t happen more often, nor the extreme severity the syndrome can have.

      There was also speculation about the possibility of facing feigned or family-caused suffering such as an attempt to stay in the country with a child’s illness (something similar to Munich for powers), but even so some fraud attempts have been observed Most of the time, the symptomatology does not seem to be related to these factors (their bodies are functioning properly and the symptomatology is not faked).

      One of the main hypotheses indicates that the causes of this syndrome are mainly psychological, similar to other dissociative disorders generated by the experience of traumatic events, and that there may be a link with the phenomenon known as the name of learned helplessness. The minor observed that his actions and the actions of his parents could not protect them and had no real effect (for example, despite the flight from their country of origin, they are not accepted in the host country).

      On this basis, a split of consciousness is observed, in psychodynamic terms, as a mechanism of protection against reality. In fact, the fundamental problem seems to be the traumatic experiences they have had before and the fear and helplessness faced with the possibility of reliving the same conditions.

      Related to the above, it is considered that cultural elements such as repression of negative emotions typical of certain cultures can facilitate this syndrome of resignation. by not being able to reverse or express their suffering externally. Also the absence of contact or the fact of being constantly awaiting one’s legal situation are elements of risk.

      Why was this problem detected only on Swedish territory, which causes some minors to trigger this syndrome and others not and why it only occurs between the ages of seven and XIX and no more is still d news. a stranger who needs further investigation.


      Finding an effective treatment for resignation syndrome is not easy, but most experts believe that recovery requires a feeling of increased security and a decrease in the perception of helplessness and rejection. This could involve obtaining a residence permit, but it has been observed that the case of families who do not do so may have led to significant improvement and gradual recovery.

      In these cases, the child is first chosen to be separated from his family environment until he recovers. Once this is done, the child is subjected to a cognitive stimulation program in which the child is gradually revived by exposure to situations and stimuli: games, smells, exercise (even if they are not able to walk or move, they are guided by physical advice), music or expression by drawing. It is important during this process that one cannot talk about the process of migration or expulsion from the country, as this could again induce insecurity and cause a relapse.

      This last aspect is something to keep in mind, as recovery does not guarantee that a possible relapse cannot occur. Although the treatment is focused on the child, the truth is that you can also work with the family on aspects such as psychoeducation and psychological counseling.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Sallin, K .; Lagercrantz, H .; Evers, K .; Engström, I .; Hjern, A. and Petrovic, P. (2016). Resignation syndrome: Catatonia? Limited culture ?. In front of. Hold on tight. Neurosciences., 10 (7).
      • Söndergaard, HP, Kushnir, MM, Aronsson, B., Sandstedt, P., and Bergquist, J. (2012). Endogenous steroid patterns in apathetic refugee children are consistent with long-term stress. Nothing. BMC Notes 5: 186. doi: 10.1186 / 1756-0500-5-186

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