A reflection on the nature of bullying and its emotional implications.
When we speak of bullying as a traumatic event, perhaps we are facing one of the phenomena that has promoted more literature in recent times from both therapeutic, social and even political spheres.
That is why we would like to approach this terrible plague from another angle, to try another way of looking at the pain and consequences of those people who have gone through the hell of physical and / or psychological harassment during their childhood and adolescence.
The emotional imprint of bullying
The translation of the English meaning of “bullying” would be something like “harassment, or intimidation in the school environment”. Therefore, it occurs at a very specific and critical moment, both in the physiological and psychological development of the adolescent’s personality.
In early childhood, the base of the Self is developed, the attachment, depending on the bond that the child establishes with their caregivers and that later, in adolescence, that Self will put on a “suit or another” depending on their first experiences relational with the environment, especially with their peers. This costume will be the “identity”. The Self will emerge from adolescence into adult life with a “suit”, a defined identity, for better or for worse, functional or dysfunctional.
Apparently we are no longer in those times in which if the child complained at home that they “hit him at school” the answer was almost always “it’s a kid’s thing” or at most “you hit them too!”. However, despite the fact that the symptoms are often more than evident (depression, loneliness, anxiety, low self-esteem and above all refusal to go to school, without forgetting physiological symptoms such as headache, stomach pain, fatigue or eating disorders ) in most cases the fact goes unnoticed both by the school institution and by the family.
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How does the problem appear?
As we have said, we do not want to expand on the definition, detection and therapeutic approach of the problem, but rather to try to put ourselves in the shoes of the child subjected to this type of harassment, belittling and intimidation.
In the first place, practically all of us, therapists included, have witnessed experiences of this type in our environment as children or adolescents. And to be honest, we did not always defend the despised, in case we ourselves were not the despised.
This group phenomenon in the development of the personality and identity of the child from the very childhood seems to be consubstantial with our nature as human beings. Without forgetting, of course, that the search for social good is also inherent to the human being. That is, in our development as “I’s” we will differentiate, we will be valid, that is, “good ones” as opposed to the invalid, the different, the clumsy. In a way this is inevitable and there are many psychological and social experiments that show it.
Thus, we must not deceive ourselves and understand that the shadow of bullying underlies almost every group relationship that takes place in adolescence, in the transition from child to adult, in the process of shaping their personality. The social alert, therefore, is essential, and the unavoidable response, before the slightest indication of harassment between equals. “Look the other way” is not acceptable, neither for institutions nor for families. To assume that the problem will fix itself and leave no trace is very naive.
On the other hand, there is a phenomenon that often goes unnoticed. In many cases, rejection begins with colleagues who until then were precisely the best of friends. Nothing more terrible than disgrace begins precisely with the person to whom I have opened my heart and in whom I have placed all my trust. The depository of my most intimate secrets “turns” against me, and even takes advantage of that “knowing about me” to further debase the harassment of others.
In these cases the impact of this phenomenon on self-esteem, on the child’s notion of himself, is devastating. That the popular, the “bullies” or the strong isolate me is already terrible, but that the dearest friend puts me in the pillory does not “fit” in the head of the harassed, and as always happens in any type of trauma , the victim, not being able to understand, not being able to rationally explain what is happening, will end up concluding that he or she is the strange or rare person, and ultimately the victim will be the culprit.
Therapy applied to bullying
At Vitaliza we address this complex phenomenon from all its aspects, as it cannot be otherwise. The wound as such, the trauma, we approach it mainly with an EMDR approach that involves reprocessing the experience in a functional way through bilateral stimulation.
But before this intervention we prepare the person by previously establishing a solid therapeutic bond, reducing their anxiety response based on training in biofeedback and neurofeedback and providing them with full consciousness tools, through our therapeutic mindulness program that allow them to regulate themselves in scenarios that were overwhelming before.
Regulation through bio and / or neurofeedback, self-awareness through mindfulness work and approach to traumatic injury with one of the most effective proven tools such as EMDR is the intervention triangle of our center, with more than encouraging results .
Author: Javier Elcarte, Expert Trauma Psychologist .