I Hate You, Don't Leave Me

Inside the mind of a borderline.

Bullying

Effects on children and society

Bullying is a tribal phenomenon. By separating and aligning in groups it allows insecure individuals to inflate self-esteem and promote comforting bonding. One can identify with a powerful group (jocks, cheerleaders) by demonizing a less empowered group (nerds, geeks). In children, bullying has been shown to be harmful to both the perpetrator and the victim. A recent study from the United Kingdom revealed that both groups of kids are almost five times more likely to experience psychosis by age 18. Societies exhibit bullying by demonizing another race, religion, country, or culture. The need for this bonding is especially prominent during war.

Although more attention has been exhibited toward this phenomenon and its destructive effects more recently, bullying has always been a shameful element in society. Wedgies, taunting, cruel excluding have in the past been anonymous and limited. Today, these behaviors are published on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media causing more public pain.

Naturally, the insecurity of childhood and adolescence stimulates the destructive, sadistic behavior in the bully, and aggravates the response of the victim. Perpetuation of these feelings into adulthood may herald the development of antisocial personality in the first group and depression in the latter, and leave both clusters more vulnerable to psychosis and other mental illnesses. Education early in schools is the best way to minimize this destructive behavior. It must be done not only for the children but for the adults they become, who compose a just society.

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Jerold Kreisman, M.D., is a psychiatrist and best-selling author of numerous books.

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