Research and experimental models show that when we are faced with an unobvious situation, it is more difficult for us to react – explained Maja Herman, a psychiatrist and psychotherapist, in the “Wstańsz i weekend” program, commenting on the behavior of people who did not help 14-year-old Natalia from Andrychów. – There will always be a reason: I was in a hurry, I was afraid of what this man would say, I didn’t know exactly what would happen there – said Bartosz Dajnowski from “Dzień Dobry TVN”, the author of the material about the reaction of passers-by to a freezing child.
The tragedy in Andrychów (Lesser Poland Voivodeship) occurred on Tuesday. On that day, the 14-year-old was supposed to go to nearby Kęty for classes. Before contact with her broke off, she called her father and said that she felt bad and didn’t know where she was. The girl stayed in the cold for several hours in front of a store in the center of Andrychów. None of the passers-by showed any interest in her condition or helped her. The teenager died in hospital. The preliminary cause of death was cerebral death, which occurred as a result of cerebral edema.
Psychiatrist and psychotherapist Maja Herman was asked why no one helped Natalia. The expert drew attention, among other things, to the issue of collective responsibility. – If we do not have set goals for action, this responsibility disappears – she explained.
– Research and experimental models also show that when we are faced with a non-obvious situation, it is more difficult for us to react. What do we mean by an obvious situation? When one person starts beating another person, it is a very obvious situation and it requires our help. Less obvious situations are harder for us to identify, so we prefer to use the defense mechanism of repression and denial, Herman explained.
To the moderator’s comment that the girl lying in the snow meant a “very obvious” situation, the psychotherapist replied that in such cases two mechanisms are activated. The first one is about shaming. – Shaming triggers the need to defend our opinion. (…) All scientific models show that shaming has the opposite effect. We are starting to settle in our position and rationalize, Herman explained.
Herman: we live in times of cognitive dissonance
The TVN24 interlocutor also said that “we now live in a society that, on the one hand, tells us: ‘human freedom’, ‘rights’, ‘everyone has the opportunity to do whatever they want’, ‘we have no right to interfere and draw attention, to say to another person that it is wrong. On the other hand, “they tell us to act.”
“We live in times of cognitive dissonance,” Herman said, adding that we hear two “conflicting messages.” – To put it colloquially, a person becomes stupid and then chooses the middle option – I don’t see, I don’t hear, I go – she added.
Dajnowski: there will always be a reason
Bartosz Dajnowski from “Dzień Dobry TVN”, the author of an experiment devoted to the problem of not paying attention to children, was also a guest of the TVN24 program “You get up and the weekend”. Material on this topic was broadcast on TVN before the tragic event in Andrychów.
In this material, TVN reporters decided to repeat the experiment that was first carried out in Norway nine years ago. Then its authors wanted to check whether people would react to a boy sitting in the cold without a jacket. Two years later, the experiment was carried out in Poland. Back then, those who paid attention to the child were in the vast minority. Reporters of “Dzień Dobry TVN” decided to check whether anything has changed over the past seven years. A boy was sitting on a bench in one of the squares in the center of Warsaw. Of the approximately 800 people who passed by, only seven women and three men were interested in his fate.
The interlocutors who passed by the boy – as Dajnowski said – were always looking for an argument and tried to explain it somehow. – There will always be a reason: I was in a hurry, I was afraid of what this man would say, I didn’t know exactly what would happen there – said the journalist.
He referred to Herman’s words regarding the “obvious situation” and recalled that in an experiment involving a fight, people began to react after just a dozen or so seconds. – And here it actually happened that (…) these people may not have fully understood what happened – said Dajnowski.
He recalled that many similar experiments had been carried out over the past two years. – Generally, it looks like people are walking down the street and don’t see what’s going on around them. They don’t know exactly how to react in such a situation. They say that they are in a hurry because they have to go to work and they don’t have time to do anything – said Dajnowski.
Main photo source: TVN24