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Offline PULLING TEETH

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Human behavior facing death
« on: 11/01/2011 10:09:37 »
I’m wondering about an issue quite some time now and I thought maybe there’s anyone here who can ‘help me out’.

From historical point of view I’m reading a lot about the holocaust, concentration camps and the sondercommando’s. And one thing that I see over and over again is that people about to be executed ‘just let it happen’. I mean, I see a father and son standing on the edge of a mass grave and just... wait for it to happen. My question: what is it that we (man) do this? I mean, think of it now; if I would be standing there with my son I would do anything to provide! Is it fear? Is our system turning down some part of thinking? Is it a psychoses or what?

I’m very curious what you think of this!


 

Offline CliffordK

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Human behavior facing death
« Reply #1 on: 11/01/2011 10:57:30 »
I assume the issues are very complex.  Hopefully we'll get a scholar with interest in the Jewish plight during WWII to chime in.

At least early in the war, some Jews succumbed to lies, deceit, and trickery, for example promises of "relocation" or showers that didn't spray out water.

Part of it might have been passivity including passivity in the religion.  And not having the necessary "tools" to fight the war.  It is hard to fight when an armed guard knocks on the door and one has nothing to defend oneself with.  Perhaps that is one thing one should keep in mind with the arguments over the right to keep and bear arms in the USA (see another topic here).

There can also be a group thing...  if one person resists, the entire group will be treated harshly.  The problem is that when nobody resisted, the harsh treatment still followed, although perhaps in a different manner. 

I.E.  Would you sacrifice yourself for a promise for a better life for your daughter...  or your neighbor?  Unfortunately the promises weren't worth much, but perhaps a brief reprieve helped.  The "alternative" presented would likely have been death for all.
 

Offline PULLING TEETH

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Human behavior facing death
« Reply #2 on: 11/01/2011 11:28:01 »
Thank you for your reply; but I'ts not especially the jews and war etc., my question is more 'man'. There are more examples of people just accepting their death in the hands of their executioners. I would like to know if f.e. nature has built in something that stops us fighting back. I know my english in't that good so maybe I don't make myself clear(?)
 

Offline CliffordK

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« Reply #3 on: 11/01/2011 12:27:05 »
I would assume it is very situational. 

I have never witnessed an execution, and hope never to be in that situation.  So this is just speculation.

A prisoner might decide that fighting is relatively hopeless...  and so accepts the fate determined by the judiciary.  Perhaps there is an aspect of "death with dignity".

I'm not sure about executions by a criminal force.  And, I'm sure what is presented in movies doesn't fully reflect what actually happens.  I'm sure there is some aspect of accepting one's fate as part of the "greater good" (as above).  However, I assume many people resist, or otherwise fight back, although such a fight could be very painful.  Perhaps it may be difficult to determine when it is best to rebel...  perhaps some people await a peaceful remedy to the situation.  Any captors would certainly try to put the people they're holding at a disadvantage, and make them believe that resistance is futile.
 

Offline PULLING TEETH

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« Reply #4 on: 11/01/2011 15:27:40 »
Okay, so you think people think rational about these things at these moments? There wouldn't be any 'built in feature' which protects us humans? Like stress is shutting down all kind of parts in our system to provide us for further damage? I can't imagine (thank god) that I would 'think' at these moments and based on this decide what to do; I cán imagine though that my 'system' would take over and put me in some state of mind in which I undergo all of this... You get my point?
 

Offline Variola

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Human behavior facing death
« Reply #5 on: 11/01/2011 23:33:10 »
Good question.

People who are executed know they will be executed before hand, and they cannot avoid it. If they struggled to get free, they would have to have an excellent escape plan to remain free.

Whereas people suddenly faced with the possibility of death or injury caused by another person, go into fight or flight mode, because there is still the chance or escape or defeating the assailant.
 

Offline Airthumbs

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« Reply #6 on: 12/01/2011 00:59:17 »
Maybe there is another mode of fight or flight. You could call it plight, when something knows, or thinks it knows death is imminent, it gives in! I've seem it with animals, and in the human condition It is utterly unforgivable for someone to subjugate another person to this.  It's that much more then helplessness.  ???
 

Offline CliffordK

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« Reply #7 on: 12/01/2011 01:49:38 »
Maybe there is another mode of fight or flight. You could call it plight, when something knows, or thinks it knows death is imminent, it gives in!  I've seem it with animals...

I caught a Golden Eagle many years ago...  (to take to a rehab center)
I always wondered what went through it's head.
I was a bit apprehensive about capturing it.
However, it was extraordinary.  As soon as I covered it up with an old shirt...  it went completely immobile.  I have no idea whether it realized it was being helped, or if it just gave up, or the dark put it to sleep.

Quote
and in the human condition It is utterly unforgivable for someone to subjugate another person to this.  It's that much more then helplessness.  ???

Obviously that is part of the mental manipulation that is used. 

You might add "HOPE" to it too... Hope for oneself.  Hope for others.
One might, for example, put off one's mortal struggle with the hope for an eventual release.
 

Offline PULLING TEETH

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« Reply #8 on: 12/01/2011 07:35:26 »
Thank you all for your reaction. Would I be right if I said, people about to be executed (and knowing this) remain having hope (perhaps a 'miracle') in their subconscious and therefor act with / in order of their executioner?
 

Offline Variola

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« Reply #9 on: 12/01/2011 07:37:54 »
Maybe there is another mode of fight or flight. You could call it plight, when something knows, or thinks it knows death is imminent, it gives in! I've seem it with animals, and in the human condition It is utterly unforgivable for someone to subjugate another person to this.  It's that much more then helplessness.  ???

Indeed. I wrote a project on pre-term baby care some years ago, and part of that was looking at the protest-despair response, when babies are separated from their Mother's and placed in an incubator. While it was to improve their chances of survival, the protest-despair response has detrimental effects on their physiological responses and health.
 

Offline Airthumbs

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« Reply #10 on: 12/01/2011 13:43:15 »
Could this all be an innate response that allows us to cope with our ultimate demise. Could we have evolved to deal with death in this way?
 

Offline Karen W.

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Human behavior facing death
« Reply #11 on: 12/01/2011 14:06:54 »
From experience the same thing happens with  the terminally ill.
 

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