Week 3 Activity: Falling Out in African Americans

Falling out (also called blacking out) is a culture bound syndrome associated with African Americans. Falling out can be described as an inability to cope with stress/anxiety which leads to a sudden collapse, also known as a syncopal episode that is usually proceeded with dizziness.  Most individuals who experience falling out also note a temporary vision loss although their eyes are open. In African Americans, it is way that they express psychiatric distress and emotions. According to Jackson, it has been found that African Americans living in the United States have the highest prevalence of this syndrome. In the Bahamas, it shows that falling out happens to 23% of the population. The article states that most Haitians have known someone who has fallen out. On a biological level, scientists are unsure of the exact cause. They do report that falling/blacking out are caused by high levels of stress that can be exacerbated by the surrounding environment. There is no current genetic linkage to this syndrome although it is a culture bound syndrome. He notes that the highest incidents of falling out occur during religious events/ceremonies, such as funerals. Areas with higher crime rate, overcrowding, financial concerns are just a few example that can lead to an individuals stress level. If a major traumatic event happens to an individual, falling out can be chronic and much more severe.


Jackson also reports that falling out is not treated unless it is considered to be disabling or debilitating. The data from this study is from the 1970’s, so in order to come up with a more effective treatment (if there is any) would need to first start with recollecting data. For the time being, individuals who suffer from this syndrome should look into other coping mechanisms. Also remove yourself from a stressful environment can drastically reduce your own stress levels.

 Jackson, Yo. “Culture-Bound Syndromes: Falling Out, Blacking Out.” Multicultural Psychology. Accessed June 5, 2015.

Leave a Reply