Sweden’s Apathetic Refugee Children

The next day, a doctor inserted a feeding tube through Georgi’s nostril. “He showed no resistance,” Soslan said. “Nothing.” Georgi was given a diagnosis of uppgivenhetssyndrom, or resignation syndrome, an illness that is said to exist only in Sweden, and only among refugees. The patients have no underlying physical or neurological disease, but they seem to have lost the will to live. The Swedish refer to them as de apatiska, the apathetic. “I think it is a form of protection, this coma they are in,” Hultcrantz said. “They are like Snow White. They just fall away from the world.”

—From: “The Apathetic” by Rachel Aviv

I read this article in The New Yorker over my morning coffee, and it blew me away so much I had to share. One of those stories that seems so fantastical it can’t possibly be true. But it is — and it’s not new, either.

I don’t have much to add, but you should read the article. It’s incredibly interesting.


9 thoughts on “Sweden’s Apathetic Refugee Children

  1. This has an Orwellian ring to it: the use of language to label a condition caused by other humans to legitimate and thus explain away the condition. These people are no longer oppressed victims of war, just apathetic.

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