Fainting Fancies, Ash Chambers

When people are confronted with situations where others need help, our behaviors are not always in line with what we would like. A startling example of this is the bystander effect, which is essentially that we are less likely to help those who need it if there are other people around us. 

I have low blood sugar–sometimes going a couple hours without food can have me near fainting. Before I figured out the basics of how to manage this (because I’m special, so I obviously couldn’t have just normal hypoglycemia), before I figured it out, I would faint a lot. I have had a few concussions from unexpected falls. Those were pretty rare though. More common was my vision was black out and I would get very dizzy and I would try to steady myself before a fainting spell happened. It was scary stuff-especially at school or other places with very hard floors. The odd thing was, when around many people, no one acknowledged my sudden drops/leans/or half tumbles. I would be hanging onto consciousness on a stair rail and people would push past me. But if there was only a couple people around, almost always someone would try and get me to a seat (as I had pretty obvious signs of ‘about to pass out’). 

This example demonstrates the bystander effect. When many people were around, I was completely ignored. I had actually fainted in class (luckily fell into a chair) and not a single person acknowledged it. But even slight tremors in the presence of few elicited unsolicited help. People were kind, helpful–what we would hope to receive. But when more ‘potential helpers’ were near by, I was out of luck–I was on my own.

  1. #1 by mlandeen on May 31, 2012 - 11:23 AM

    Ash, I did my blog on the bystander effect also. I think the definition of the effect was good and clear. Personal experiences help a lot to illustrate the concept and I think yours did a good job at that. I think I would have been helpful to explain why people don’t help. Sometimes people don’t help because they assume all of the other people around will help, or they assume that they have misjudged the situation and that help is not required because no one else is helping. Also they don’t want to go against the norm so they don’t stop.
    Matt Landeen

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