There is no such thing as Bullying
Gina Herd, LCSWR
19 West 34 Street Penthouse NY. NY. 10001
718 502 0826
There is much media about what bullying looks like but there is no such thing as Bullying.
The word Bullying is a somewhat gentle word being used to describe a most progressive and dangerous mental illness: Anxiety. Anxiety is fear based and rooted in the need to control. It would appear that there is a “bully” and a “victim” when in fact they both suffer from anxiety. This “victim” and “bully” are engaged in an abusive relationship and therefore share a role in the conflict. Why does the bully, a seemingly nice child, appear cruel to this particular “victim” and why doesn’t the “victim” just ignore or walk away? Because they cannot. Why are some children constantly bullied while others have not ever experienced one incident? Anxiety is a learned behavior unknowingly taught by the parental figures.
We are passing down this pathology generation to generation and it is catching up to us with all the violence we see in children not yet teenagers. Parents are now telling their children how to dress, how to talk, how to think, feel, where to go and even what to eat. We are creating children who don’t know how to make a decision, are fearful of most new ideas, can’t concentrate and are dependent on others to tell them how to think and feel. We wonder why they can’t get jobs, leave our homes or finish school. We are producing children with anxiety because we have anxiety.
In the controlling relationship the “bully” needs to feel control because he has learned that this is how relationships are conducted: He’s being taught that others need to be controlled because this is what his primary (parents) relationship taught him and further they unknowingly taught him that that the “victim” doesn’t feel anything because his parents told him how to feel, think and act to the extent that he learned to suppress his actual feelings(in order to gain acceptance from the parents) and because he suppresses his feelings (thereby having none) so must his “victim”.
The so called victim needs to have control over how the bully sees him: “If I am just perfect enough, if I just do what he says he will accept and like me”. The victim comes to believe this because of the parents need for perfection in the child. The “victim” has learned to do what his parents say as a condition of love. The parent has not sufficiently validated the child and at home perfection was required. So here you have the dance. At any given time the victim and the perpetrator can change roles and often do. It’s all about control. Those with anxiety can’t see that they are hurting others or participating in the dance because this behavior was taught in childhood by the almighty all-knowing parents and therefore seems normal to them.
Of course you have to use words and tactics that are abusive and degrading to get a child to suppress his nature curiosity, inclination to discover self and make decisions. This constant telling a child what to do (often well into adulthood) is demeaning.
Mr. Roberts brought his 11 daughter into my office for treatment because she was less and less interested in all her activities including her school work. After speaking with Mr. Roberts he explained to me that he didn’t feel like she had the ability to travel on her own to activities, friends’ homes and that he was generally “over protective”. He was proud of this until I explained to him that if he didn’t feel she could do these activities then eventually his daughter had internalize these feelings and interpreted them in every activity she might do. In effect he taught her both fear and doubt (the breeding ground for anxiety) which was transferred into her entire idea about her ability to do anything, not just school work. I encouraged Mr. Roberts to discuss his childhood which was full of negative, fearful parenting and his unawareness to the need for positive thinking and verbalization to his child. He was able to see that most of his though process was worry about all the bad things that could happen and this was how his daughter had now learned to think. Parents with anxiety create the exact opposite of what they say they want for their children.
Some words and feelings of degradation can seem harmless: you don’t like that, that looks awful, you’re not hurt, “you will go”, "that's not going to work". Children who don’t get demeaned at home are confident and therefore not victimized in life. It is the job of a parent to be aware of your verbal and non -verbal thoughts and attitudes related to our children's lives and our own.
We are creating a society in which parents are unaware and in denial about their role in the emotional development of their own children. We act as if the hitting, harsh words or even a condescending tone towards our children will somehow go unnoticed by them.
Most people who suffer from anxiety also suffer from depression and in children this can be especially dangerous, leading to impulsive behavior (violence or suicide). Anxiety often mimics ADHD or ADD so goes undiagnosed.
The good news is that Anxiety is fully curable, anything learned can be unlearned. I only treat a child with the family and young adults recover quickly in psychotherapy. The really bad news is that we insist that everyone has anxiety, it’s not curable and that somehow we are born with this painfully learned mental illness.
All not true.
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