Hi Kathie, thank you for reading and responding to my paper which explores crowd behaviour.
I was both taken a back and delighted to receive your response. Taken a back because I hadn't expected it to catch anyone’s attention really and delighted that it meant something to you. I was set this essay as part of my Open University course requirements for the Social Psychology module DD307. The first topic of the first text book for this course was the description of Dylan’s event. I found it very difficult to read, not only because of the situation that your son found himself in but also because of the behaviour of the crowd in this event. I understand that the disinhibited behaviour of aggressive crowds is like you say, not so rare. It was this that drove my question of whether or not crowds as a phenomenon are bad. I think your work on recording the number and frequency of these documented episodes is important and will be useful to crowd psychologists (*see bottom for list). I think it is a shame that the dialogue regarding suicide isn't more open. I think it is a part of the phenomenon that it is so taboo in Western cultures today. There is work being done in positive psychology regarding post-traumatic growth which I think would make a valuable contribution to this dialogue (researchers of this area include Kate Hefferon, Tim Lomas & Itai Ivtzan of University of East London). The use of cell phones is very important like you say and in particular the use of body cameras by cyclists, motorists and emergency services will hopefully contribute to our understanding of these events.
Like you Kathie, I am also hopeful that psychologists will eventually partner up with police to help them determine broader perspectives on crowds and hence new ways to resolve disgraceful crowd scenes, when they occur. I find your contribution to the shift in crowd baiting moving and am glad you have found so much resource to do this. I do believe that what you are doing will be valuable and useful.
I wish you luck in your case of “Yount v. City and County of San Francisco”. I too believe that baiting should be accountable as it is my view that this should be a criminal act. It truly turns my stomach and makes me feel deeply concerned that some individuals have the capacity to be so cruel. As you say, no one should be baited to their death the way he was. I first wondered if it occurred as a joke which quickly escalated into a serious and cruel group act. But as my essay underlines, insider viewpoints are very important in understanding this phenomenon. Until we are one of the crowd, it is only possible to obtain an outsider view of the situation and assume or suggest what happened. A formal investigation and account of incidents like this should be matter of course not simply a local story for people to mull over in disbelief. Thank you for your genuine response and getting in touch.
- Research Fellow. School of Law, University of Leeds. Crowds, Riots, Hooliganism, ‘Public Order’ Policing, Human Rights, Police Reform. Family lives with #HD.
- Social psychologist at the University of Sussex specialising in crowd behaviour.
- Social Psychologist at Exeter University, interested in prosocial and anti-social behaviour in public places; groups and violence; privacy and surveillance.
- Social psychologist at Dundee University interested in group-based identities and intergroup relations. Co-editor of BJSP.
- Professor of psychology and Australian Research Council Australian Laureate Fellow in the School of Psychology at the University of Queensland. In Queensland he is part of a team of internationally-renown researchers who conduct theory-driven research into a range of core social and organizational topics, including (a) leadership and motivation, (b) stress, health, and well-being and (c) stereotyping, group conflict, and tyranny. His work is also informed by close collaborations with colleagues in Australia, Europe and North America.
- Socio-cultural psychologist. PhD candidate @UChicago; @Cambridge_Uni & @UCC alumnus. Conflict, Identity, Beauty, Recession, Riots, Migration. Ireland. EU.