A prominent Canadian therapist has challenged the concept of Stockholm Syndrome at an international conference in Hawke's Bay this week.

Dr Allan Wade's presentation, "The Myth of Stockholm Syndrome," was part of the "Dignity Conference 2015," a conference drawing 28 speakers from New Zealand, Australia and Canada.

The event focuses on recovery for victims of domestic violence.

In his talk to an audience of about 90 people at EIT Hawke's Bay yesterday, Dr Wade recalled his interviews with Kristin Enmark, the victim of a hostage crisis in Sweden in the 1970s, who is believed to be the first person diagnosed with Stockholm Syndrome. He said he had met and talked at length with Ms Enmark in Sweden, "40 years after she had talked to [an academic]."

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"It's kind of a psychotherapist's fantasy to talk to someone like Kristin."

After interviewing the 63-year-old, Dr Wade concluded she had "prudently and courageously resisted the violence of the hostage takers during the incident".

"I have never met an oppressed person who accepts exploitation. I have been waiting to meet such a person, but it hasn't happened yet. They must exist, because they're written about so widely, right?"

He said Stockholm Syndrome was "both a cliche and an accepted clinical reality," and called into question the notion of a victim having positive feelings towards an abuser.

Dignity 2015 is centred around "Response-Based Practice" (RBP), an approach to treating psychological trauma resulting from violence.

The four-day event is due to close tomorrow.

For more information about the Dignity conference, visit: www.dignity2015.co.nz