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Ask Marilyn

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Say you pick up a person who is ill but awake. While in your arms, the person loses consciousness and suddenly becomes "dead weight." Why is the person now so much heavier?

— John C., Louisburg, N.C.

The person is not actually heavier; he is just more dificult to heft because he's no longer using his muscles to hold himself together or to hold on to his helper to avoid being dropped. So his weight becomes loose and floppy with his head, arms and legs hanging down. Protestors who "go limp" do this on purpose to make themselves harder to carry off. Consider lifting a 30-pound box of tightly packed books. Heavy, yes, but let's say you can manage. Now consider lifting a laundry bag with the same books. That's much, much harder.

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