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Life Overtakes Me (2019)—SwedenLife Overtakes Me (2019)—Sweden

This short Netflix Original documentary (40 minutes) explores a mysterious illness among refugee children in Sweden called "Resignation Syndrome." In the last fifteen years, with no real precedents before then, Swedish authorities have treated children who slowly withdraw from the world, stop eating and drinking, lapse into a coma-like state, and become totally unresponsive to any and all stimuli. Some children do recover, without any memory of what happened to them, while others persist in the state for over a year. There are a few theories but no fully satisfactory explanation about Resignation Syndrome. The children come mainly come from ethnic minority families in the Balkans and the Caucus regions of Russia. In addition, these families have suffered severe physical and psychological traumas in being expelled from their homes. Once in Sweden, they sometimes face persecutions from far right anti-immigrant Swedes, along with the stress of waiting many months for decisions on their asylum applications (with the fear of deportation). The film follows the stories of three children, one of whom recovers, and draws upon the insights of an immigration attorney, a child psychologist, a pediatrician, and a journalist. In the last three years Sweden has documented 200 new cases of RS. Similar symptoms of Resignation Syndrome are now being reported in Australian refugee detention centers.

Dan Clendenin:

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