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Has anyone else ever heard about something terrible happening to a person and wondered why she reacted the way she did, and even thought that maybe you would have handled the situation better? Earlier this year, I heard about a young woman who was forced at gunpoint into the trunk of her car and kidnapped. If I recall correctly, the kidnapper parked the car and left her. I was surprised that, instead of pulling the trunk release while the car was stopped, she kept praying. I, thankfully, have never been kidnapped, but I like to think that I would be able to think more rationally about escaping than this unfortunate young woman did. From the safety of my room, of course I feel as if I would be able to hang onto my wits and come up with a plan, but I’m sure that, faced with such a situation (maybe a bank robbery) in real life, I would react the same way everyone else does. Granted, I’ve only ever seen television portrayals of bank robberies, but I wonder to what extent those portrayals are based on human psychology.

The reason I bring this up is that I’m interested in why humans behave the way they do in mass crisis situations such as 9/11. Do people tend to consider their own safety above all else, or, like Keith, would they risk greater danger to help a friend? To what extent was Keith even aware of the danger? He seemed to be enough in shock that he was not making many conscious decisions, which means that he wanted or needed to save Rumsey on an instinctual level. The people in the stairwell passed the dropped briefcase down the stairs in an attempt to reunite it with its owner, but in a panicked rush, people will still trample each other.

2 Responses to “Arrogance?”

  1. Kasey Stewart says:

    I absolutely love the idea that you present in your post; that under stress we all act differently and even sometimes unrationally. I guess the question I have for you is do you think it is odd that Keith was presented as acting almost too rationally. Although he was doing something irrational by staying in the building, throughout the rest of that day he was in this calm trance. Thanks for bringing up such an interesting topic!

  2. Marta says:

    I don’t remember who it was that touched on gate-control theory in class the other day, but your post reminds me of that. It’s so alarming to consider human beings as both the moral and cerebral beings I think a lot of us like to think we are, and also as animals acting on a purely primal, survival-oriented level in our own interests. Your comments are always so great in class…