Falling out and blacking out occur primarily in southern U.S. and in Caribbean groups. The disorder is described as a sudden collapse and fainting of the body usually occurring without warning. Symptoms can usually be described as an inability to move, inability to see with eyes open, dizziness, and sudden weakness of the body.
It is stated that falling out usually happens in context of intense anger, rage, or fear. Specifically, it is an accepted response when attending funerals, receiving shocking news, hot weather, and in stressful school situations. It is a coping mechanism for some as it prevents certain situations to escalate or produce an undesirable conclusion. Falling out can be chronic because of it’s use as a coping mechanism, and thus debilitating because it can affect everyday life. Studies do not suggest that it is a biological or genetic illness, but more of an environmental trigger that can cause it.
This disorder can also be found among Afro-Caribbeans in which symptoms are similarly described with episodes of a loss of consciousness. In the Bahamas, it shows that falling out happens to 23% of the population. In Haiti, it is referred to as “Indisposition.” The article states that most Haitians have known someone who has fallen out. Outside of that, not much else is known about the illness in the Caribbean region. It is not known why this illness occurs among African Americans (based on 1970’s data), but a hypothesis shows that falling out is more prevalent among people of African descent living in the U.S. than any other ethnic group.
It seems to be that falling out and blacking out are due to high levels of stress in an individual’s surrounding environment. The article states that the stress-induced illness has many roots in inner-city life because of the overcrowding, high levels of violence, safety issues, and financial concerns.
It was very difficult to find a written article about the treatment process in falling out because it generally tends to happen as an unexpected one time occurrence. In general, it is suggested that when a person looses consciousness that you check their pulse, and make sure that oxygen is somehow reaching the brain. If the person does not regain consciousness, then a medical professional should immediately be seeked out. As a long-term treatment, falling out can be cured by preventing environmental stressors. Definitely an easier statement said than done. However, due to the fact that it is an environmentally triggered illness, the only treatment process would be to seek out a different surrounding or find a different coping mechanism.
Jackson, Yo. “Culture-Bound Syndromes: Falling Out, Blacking Out.” Multicultural Psychology. 2006 :136-137. Web. 20 July 2012.
Okpaku, M.D., Ph.D., Samuel O.. “Somatization and Psychologization.” Clinical Methods in Transcultural Psychiatry. 1998: 238. Web. 20 July 2012.