What makes a Bully?
In my first novel, <a href=”https://gillwyatt.com/books/chasing-the-wind-2/”>Chasing the Wind</a> the key character, Bobby Barron, is a young man who seems to have it all. He is, however, bullied by his father, a seemingly respectable businessman. Bullying has profound effects on the victim, increasing the risk of depression, anxiety and other stress related disorders.
Wikipedia defines bullying as
<blockquote>… the use of force or coercion to abuse or intimidate others. The behaviour can be habitual and involve an imbalance of social or physical power. It can include verbal harassment or threat, physical assault or coercion and may be directed repeatedly towards particular victims, perhaps on grounds of race, religion, gender, sexuality, or ability.</blockquote>
It can be found in every sphere of life; but what is it that creates a bully? Is it as simple as poor self-esteem as some would have us believe, or is it a more complex issue?
Surprisingly, Baumeister(2001) claims that bullies often have pathologically high self-esteem that is also unstable.
(Cited by Farah Averill on the website <a href=”http://uk.askmen.com/entertainment/special_feature_3700/3762_how-do-bullies-become-bullies.html”>uk.askmen.com</a>) When they feel under threat, they rise up in angry defence to maintain the image of being powerful and superior.
If the bully believes him or herself to be special they will lack empathy with others and use bullying to exploit them. Unfortunately, the more often the bully gets away with bullying, the more it reinforces his/her sense of supremacy. The cycle fuels the bullying.
It is generally agreed that it has more to do with the perpetrator’s own personal difficulties than with the victim.
Many bullies have personality problems, with a strong need to control and dominate. If a child has a dominant and a submissive parent, he or she may learn the behaviour from the home environment. If a child sees violence or humiliation at home, he/she may see this as a way to achieve control.
In institutions where there are no standards for the way people should treat each other, bullying is more likely. In the workplace some will bully others in order to appear dominant at the expense of others. This is especially true where the environment is competitive.
A child who comes from a home where no feelings are shared or where there is inconsistent discipline, is more likely to become a bully. Unchecked childhood aggression may also lead to bullying.
In the case off a father/son relationship, as in Chasing The Wind, where the father bullies the son, it may be as a result of repression of hurt and anger that is transferred to our love relationships. Neil Chethik (author of Fatherloss: How sons of all ages come to terms with the death of their dads – Hyperion 2001 – cited on the website <a href=”https://experiencelife.com/article/father-and-son/”>experiencelife</a>), says
There is something restless inside us when we are not reconciled to our fathers – we don’t really grow up.
We are inclined to hate in others the traits that we see in ourselves. Sometimes we project onto them what we fail to admit is present in ourselves. Whenever we deny our own feelings we are in danger of projecting them onto others. We then have a tendency to pick on a scapegoat on whom we can dump our undesirable qualities. Where adolescents are concerned, they are building their own identity. We cannot prevent our children making mistakes, even the same mistakes that we made, but we can be there to guide without seeking to control.
There are many other reasons that one person may bully another but while ever there is a payoff for the action, the bully will continue. Some of these reasons include , jealousy, to impress, pack mentality, seeing the victim as different, or social rejection. The cycle needs to be broken.
A very good video on the subject can be seen <a href=”http://uk.askmen.com/entertainment/special_feature_3700/3762_how-do-bullies-become-bullies.html”>here</a>.