The psychological impact of bullying

January 27, 2013
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Bullying is known to be an endemic trait in the Romanian school system; however, preventative measures have yet to be taken and most schools, though not on record, condone it. I am an eighteen-year-old would-be university student, who has set his heart on delving into psychology after finishing high-school. With the benefits of hindsight and some reasonable knowledge within the realm of human psyche, I can now objectively draw on my own experience, in order to delineate the not-to-be-sneezed-at effects of this kind of aggressive behavior. The analysis is going to be made through the eyes of the bullied subject (me).

It was back in the eighth grade (last year before going to high-school) that I had to face up to being picked at. Classmates who I used to get on well till then have inconceivably turned into a raft of jerks. They became exceedingly swollen-headed, looking down on everybody and thoughtlessly mocking at whatever fault they spotted on those around them. I was at the receiving end for being too withdrawn and self-conscious. Apart from impudently hurling insults at me, they would also hit me now and then. Worse is that whenever they needed someone to help them with their homework or at tests, they shammed kindness and even contrition for how they had treated me. At first, I stupidly fell for it, thinking to myself that they would cease being so rude in exchange for my goodwill. I was proved wrong, since they resumed their bad habits once their interests had been fulfilled. Later, I started to retaliate with wreath, so that I experienced moments of self-control loss, going off the deep end and becoming quite violent. After the emotional wildfire had been smothered, I felt qualms of conscience for my swift reactions.

Nature has endowed us with emotions in order to survive as a community. If we didn’t sense fear, we couldn’t acknowledge the threats hovering above us and ready to harm us. If we weren’t able to display sadness, the others around us wouldn’t notice that we are dealing with a loss and so on. Emotions have been and are still at the cornerstone of our survival. Obviously, in order for them to kick in, they first need to be triggered by an outer event. Apart from the universal ones (like the threat for fear or loss for sadness, both mentioned above), humans also have a set of learnt triggers, which are farther or closer to the main theme. They are acquired throughout life and mark the individual idiosyncrasy. For instance, if a child were scared out of his wits by a fiercely-looking dog in his infancy (additionally also bitten), he might develop fear towards such animals, so that whenever he comes across one, even later in adulthood, he might get a dire flight desire. In this case, the dog has become a trigger for fear for that particular person. Conversely, others might find dogs as very nice and friendly animals and actually enjoy having one around them.

Returning to our point of reference, bullying can quite easily elicit an alteration within the affective system of its victim. What usually happens (here I include myself, too) is that the bullied student envisages his aggressors along with the affliction caused by them as a trigger for anger. Naturally, rage is called forth by interference between us and our goal. Channeled strictly against a genuine hindrance (for example, a burglar training a knife upon us, when survival would be our goal), anger is sometimes a lifesaver. Nonetheless, if it spins out of control, we might end up committing acts we regret afterwards.

The trigger becomes more powerful and hard to be disposed of, if it is learnt early in our infancy, if it is intense and frequently replayed. The more it overlaps the general theme, the more challenging it is endeavoring to keep it in check. Therefore, if we get to regard our bullying colleagues as a roadblock hurtled between us and our objectives (let’s suppose the ability to concentrate on your school tasks during classes), this anger trigger becomes a neighboring variation of the universal theme; hence our impulsive retorts. Furthermore, this individually embedded variation can be attached to a host of akin events. For instance, whenever one of my teachers reproached me for being too diffident, I would involuntarily feel anger towards him, albeit he meant no harm. The more the event at issue resembles the initial one that engraved the trigger, the more likely we are to respond emotionally, not rationally. The anger example is not singular, though it is prevalent. The victims can also learn to respond with excessive fear towards situations similar to bullying. They might get overly grieved or show blatant disgust and so forth.

To draw a conclusion, bullying is a serious matter, which needs to be given full consideration when it gets out of hand. There should be permanent communication between parents and their children, in order to nip the problem in the bud. Otherwise, bullied kids might not be able to control their emotions in different sorts of daily situations. When grown-up, they might react insensibly and not only hurt others, but also themselves.

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