Reading the book, Humankind: A Hopeful History by Bregman, Rutger took me back to my MA in psychology course work. The author outlined some case studies that I was familiar with:

The 1st told of Adolph Eichmann’s case. His lawyer pointed out that Eichmann was not a monster. One woman that sat in the courtroom remarked that what was so unsettling was that Eichmann was so terrifyingly normal and that there were so many like him. He was a fanatic that acted out of conviction, he did evil because he thought he was doing good. My note – is this was happening with Covid? Climate change? Our planet burning?

28 September 1943 – A Nazi stood in front of the social Democratic Party leaders in Copenhagen. The Nazi is explaining that ships will anchor in the morning, that their fellow Jewish countrymen will be forcibly brought upon the ship and transported to an unknown place. The raid was set to take place on October 1, 1943 following detailed plans drawn up by the SS. At 8 PM hundreds of Nazi troops would knock upon the doors and have Jewish people turned over to them.The ship was equipped to hold 6000. Up until then, Denmark had no mandatory discrimination laws, no mandatory yellow badges, no confiscation of Jewish property..

On the appointed night when Nazis knocked on the doors of Danish citizen,s they found that tens of thousands of Jewish Danes had been forewarned and had already fled. 99% of Denmark’s Jews survived the war

It was found later the reason why the Danish citizens resisted  was because they saw an injustice. When they saw what was happening everybody in the country including the royal family planed escape routes, drew up plans to get their Jewish neighbors out. They felt to look away would be a betrayal of their country. They said we Danes don’t barter with our Constitution, the Danes always believed in a democratic system and felt that anyone that did not believe that was not considered worthy to be called a Dane.  7000 Danish Jewish citizens were saved.


I remember a story about Kitty Genovese, coming home from work in March 1964 and being attacked on her way into her apartment. Neighbors heard her scream and did nothing, She was stabbed by her attacker 3 different times and died outside her apartment in the stairwell. The author found out the rest of the story – it was 3:19am, it was cold and everyone’s windows were closed. The street was poorly lit. Two neighbors called police, who said they’d already received calls but they never came. They thought she was drunk.  In those days people didn’t pay much attention to a husband beating his wife. Another neighbor who is homosexual and staying at his partner’s apartment was afraid to call police for fear of being beaten up, as homophobia was rampant in the sixties. The woman’s best friend ran out to find her friend bleeding and the attacker had ran away. She stayed with her friend until she died but that was never reported to the family. A historian moved into the area 10 years later and questioned the reporter, asked why it was not in the story. The reporter said his editor told him to leave it out, it was more of a sensational story that way. The family of the deceased woman never knew that part and stated later that if they had known she didn’t die alone, it would have helped their grieving process.

The killer was caught by a bystander who noticed someone carrying a television out of an apartment. He called his neighbor to find out is Joe moving? The person said “no,” Joe isn’t moving. So the one man disabled the thief’s vehicle, the other called police.. It turned out the thief was Kitty Genovese’s murderer. I was never taught that last part in school.


Another story was of a woman in Amsterdam who parked her car up by the canal and got out to retrieve her toddler in the backseat. The car started rolling, she jumped back in but it was too late and the car ended up in the canal. People stood and watched but one person ran to his car, grabbed a hammer and jumped into the river.  When that happened, other people jumped in to help, one woman handing a brick to one of the good Samaritans. That brick was used to break the back window, mother and child were pulled out. They said in another two seconds the car would have been too deep.


Meta analysis is research about research. It analyzes a large group of other studies. This was used in the Bystander Effect, and is a meta-analysis published in 2011, which sheds new light on what bystanders do in an emergency. This will be looked at as one of the most important studies of the Bystander Effect from the past 50 years and found that it does exist. Even though sometimes we don’t think we need to intervene in an emergency because it makes more sense to let somebody else take charge, sometimes we are afraid to do the wrong thing and don’t intervene for fear of censure. Sometimes we don’t think anything is wrong especially if nobody else is taking action. If the emergency is life-threatening, someone drowning or being attacked, if the bystanders can communicate with each other there’s an inverse bystander effect. Additional bystanders mean more helping.

The author arranged to meet a Danish psychologist, Mary Linda Guard. She explained she was the first one to ask why don’t we look at real footage with real people in real situations? She looked at the cameras which are all over the city. She has a database of over a thousand videos from Copenhagen, Cape Town, London, and Amsterdam.  They recorded robberies rapes and murders. She wrote the article “Almost Everything You Think You Know About the Bystander Effect is Wrong,” 90% of cases people help each other.

The true stories should be reported to psychology students and also journalists.  This would teach the public three things: #1 – how out of whack our view of human nature really is,  #2 -how journalists push those buttons in order to have a story, and #3 -that in an emergency we really can count on each other

What’s the connection? This is supposed to be a blog about identity theft. Well, I’ll tell you. The connection is people getting involved to help other people. As a victim of identity theft myself, I know how angry and frustrated I was when the district attorney didn’t look at, or review the documents and taped conversations from the financial institutions that were involved.

I’m not the only one. I get involved because I don’t want this to happen to myself or anyone ever again. When I look in the mirror, I can’t see myself because I am totally blind. I get involved anyway.

When you look in your mirror, what do you see?

Deborah E. Joyce

Don’t forget to wear your mask, and wash your hands.

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