Resignation Syndrome

Resignation Syndrome, also known as Traumatic Withdrawal Syndrome or Uppgivenhetssyndrom in Swedish, causes children to stop walking, talking and eating. They assume a coma-like state, lying prone, with their eyes closed, disconnected from the world around them. They are fed via feeding tubes. Thus far, no known cases have been identified outside Sweden.

The Resignation Syndrome is possible factitious, dissociative syndrome that induces a catatonic state, first described in Sweden in the 1990s. The condition affects predominately psychologically traumatized children and adolescents in the midst of a strenuous and lengthy migration process[1][2]

All 169 of these children are the offspring of asylum seekers, and each family had had their application for asylum rejected. What’s doubly strange is that all these asylum seekers were Yazidis, from war-torn Syria.

Young people reportedly develop depressive symptoms, become socially withdrawn, and become motionless and speechless as a reaction to stress and hopelessness. In the worst cases, children reject any food or drink and have to be fed by feeding tube; the condition can persist for years. Recovery ensues within months to years and is claimed to be dependent on the restoration of hope to the family.

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More recently, this phenomenon has been called into question, with two children witnessing that they were forced by their parents to act apathetic in order to increase chances of being granted residence permits. As evidenced by medical records, healthcare professionals were aware of this scam, and witnessed parents who actively refused aid for their children but remained silent at the time.

In March 2020, a report citing the Swedish Agency for Medical and Social Evaluation, SBU, said "There are no scientific studies that answer how to diagnose abandonment syndrome, nor what treatment works."

[1] Sallin et al: Resignation Syndrome: Catatonia? Culture-Bound? in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience – 2016
[2] Von Knorring, Hultcrantz: Asylum-seeking children with resignation syndrome: catatonia or traumatic withdrawal syndrome? in European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. – 2020

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