The strange case of Carolina Olson, who slept 32 years

The “sleeping beauty” It is one of the many fantasies created by literature and cinema featuring its heroine, a sweet and gentle princess, whose dream is interrupted when she sees the man of her life, Prince Charming. It can take days, weeks, and even years for him to wake up and find love.

Actually there is a different story, story Carolina Olsonwhich they calledsleeper oknoShe did not “sleep” waiting for her fiancé; Lay in bed for 32 years In a psychological issue medical analyzes were monopolized during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, in Sweden.

Caroline He grew up on the island Okey, no, southern Sweden. It was a small area, in which less than 20 people lived, including the little girl and her family who were devoted to fishing. Hence his adventurous spirit which was noticed by Bo Holmsdet, a neighbour.

“One day I went down the stairs of my house and saw a girl stepping on a snake. (…) It was Carolina, who took her with a shovel, walked into the anthill on the other side of the house and threw her dead,” Holmsdet stated in one of the sections of his autobiographical memoirs.

She didn’t seem to be afraid of anything and it was common to see her playing. However, before Christmas 1875 she was “paralysed”: At the age of fourteen, he slept.

No one could get her out of bed, and, looking at the oddity, the first doctor who saw her said she was “a traitor, she was refused on first communion, and she grew up pretending to be sick”, says a press release from local media “SvD Kultur”.

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ie: At first it was thought that she decided to walk away from everyone and “get attention” by lying down for a few days because she was not able to make the first communion. However, the hours passed and passed and did not respond. Gave him a toothache

“He fell and hit his head on the ice” or “he got a toothache and got sick,” were some of the explanations Marianne Nelson, a relative of Carolina, had heard during the 32 years he missed reality.

The Olson family, who was the second of six children, tried everything they could, if not everything, because time resources were limited. For example, she was taken to the hospital in 1892 in the hope that the electric shocks would cause the slightest movement in her body. Not so.

According to press reports, the doctors did not know what was wrong with him. He was released a month after leaving the Oskarshamn hospital facility with a diagnosis his relatives did not understand.

It is classified as paralytic dementia or general paralysis. The disease, according to the United States Library of Medicine, is caused by the syphilis bacteria that attacks the brain and nervous system until a person has problems with memory, language, reasoning, and personality.

This is known today, but for 1892 the information was almost non-existent. So no one wondered what the diagnosis was if she didn’t have any of these conditions. It was simply “under control”. Presumably, she did not respond to any stimulus.

When people learned about Carolina, they treated her with suspicion and contempt. She was sheltered for many years in her room in the little cabin; Visitors didn’t even notice that she was bedridden,” Nelson, her relative, told SvD Kultur media.

Mother and daughter secret

The young woman’s mother died in 1905, and it is said that something strange happened that day and was joined by other unusual events of a person who was “asleep”, as he heard her weeping and lamenting her mother’s departure. The same thing happened in 1907 when one of his brothers drowned.

Three years later, in 1908, he opened his eyes completely. She spoke, she moved, not because a Prince Charming had kissed her. Such an event made all those close to him happy, who, according to Nelson, celebrated as if it was an important holiday. This could be a justification for the last Christmas in 1875, which she is supposed to be quiet.

“When Carolina woke up she was 46, but she was 25,” wrote reporters at the time, surprised that the woman had no wrinkles. She was intact.

The case caught the attention of psychiatrist Harald Froderström, who packed his bags and went to the remote Swedish island in 1910 to chat with her, her father, her siblings, and their acquaintances. He compiled everything in scientific articles, thanks to which he tried to find out the truth.


The psychiatrist concluded that the mother was overprotective. Before going to bed, the girl began to go to school several kilometers from the cabin. One day he came home from class with his brothers and told her that his teeth hurt. He was suffering from general malaise. However, it was nothing.

Froderstrom learned that Carolina was having her first period. Her mother decided to keep her at home and prevent anything bad from happening outside just as her body was going through hormonal changes.

“Countless mothers are guilty of thanks to the strange mixture of irrational giving and selfishness of mother’s love. Nor is it unreasonable to say that she, in connection with her own experiences while raising her, wanted to protect her daughter or, in other words, protect her from the temptations and evil of life”, The expert said in his letter. Articles.

How did he escape hiding?

Through psychological study, it turned out that the only person who entered the room was the mother. Maybe feed her and chat with her. Thus the years passed: she is asleep, and her mother is awake. But the father remembered that there were days when he heard her say, “Jesus, have mercy on me.”

When her mother died, Carolina was taken care of by the housekeeper, who said that when she left the house she noticed the woman making noises, as if she was getting up to do her basic activities: eating and going to the bathroom.

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His vigilance was described as a “miracle”, but for Froderstrom it was something that had been happening before. However, their relatives were silent. He diagnosed her with catatonic stupor based, according to specialized portals, on the fact that the individual turns away from everything, remains silent and becomes passive.

It is not yet clear why he did it and who or what things he wanted to escape from. Or why his mother gave him shelter for so many years. It is known that Carolina Olson died in 1950 of a stroke. Left without much explanation.

Her cousin Marianne Nelson concluded: “She had a secret: she carried it to the grave.”

* The Grupo de Diarios América (GDA), to which EL UNIVERSAL belongs, is a leading media network founded in 1991 that promotes democratic values, independent journalism and freedom of expression in Latin America through quality journalism for our audience.

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