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The Bystander

Petruska Clarkson

ISBN: 978-1-897-63589-6 December 2006 202 Pages


A bystander is someone who does not become involved when someone else needs help. This book investigates the meaning of bystanding behaviour in ordinary life as well as in counselling psychology and psychotherapeutic practice, its supervision and organization. It is about helping and not helping, giving and getting help, and some ways of thinking and acting in our increasingly complex moral world. Bystanding is seen as a major way in which people disempower themselves and others. It works at the juncture of the individual and the collective, the person and the group, the citizen and the state, the patient and the psychotherapist.

This book provides an exploration of the psychological and social costs of convenience-neutrality, non-involvement or avoidance of responsibility and gives some guidelines on dealing with the difficult issues of bystanding in ourselves and others.



Part I - What and Who is a Bystander?

Chapter 1 Bystanding - What Is It?

Chapter 2 Bystanding - Cultural and Historical Context.

Chapter 3 The Dramatic Structure of Human Life.

Part II - Bystander Patterns.

Chapter 4 'And Washed His Hands'.

Chapter 5 'And I did not speak out'.

Chapter 6 'Look behind you'.

Part III - The Retrieval of Human Relationship.

Chapter 7 From 'Bystanding' to 'Standing by'.

Chapter 8 Bystanding in Counselling, Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy.

Chapter 9 Beyond Bystanding.

Appendix I A Socio-cultural Context for Psychotherapy.

Appendix II Bystanding: A Block to Empowerment.

Appendix III About Protective Behaviours.