Helpful hints and discussion about mental health and mental health issues as it relates to
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Sunday 24 August 2014

Bullying as a social phenomenon: Amanda Todd,Ukraine and Russia, Israel/Gaza, and ISIS

by Stephen B.Chadwick, MA Counselling Psychology.

Likely that most people in Canada, and likely the States, know of Amanda Todd,
the young teenager who was bullied and harassed on line to such an extent that she was coerced into revealing herself on-line and then later was stalked by the same individual.

As a result of her distress, you can read her full biography at wikipedia here:, this poor teen committed suicide due to the distress.

So, you might ask, what exactly has the very sad, very disturbing suicide death of a young teenage girl got to do with bullying and moreover, the grander politics of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine (with Russia), Israel and Gaza and ISIS?

What I would respond is that virtually all of these involve bullying. And where all of these situations may not necessarily end in suicide, the act of bullying, which is aggressive and somewhat psychopathic/sociopathic of nature, is reflective of a larger topic which I touched upon in another post on envy, see link:

At first one may think, that well, "bullying is normal" and "when I went to school, everyone was teased". And it is true.... somewhat. Everyone in the world probably is teased at some point or other in their life, personally, on a personal level. But is bullying normal?

I don't think so.

It is said that teasing is a sign of affection. And I personally believe this to be true. One can tease someone as a sign of affection. However, taken too far or teasing done too long or to excess or when the object of the teasing is perhaps undergoing other stressors, then the teasing is no longer fun and funny, it becomes at best, annoying and at worst, destructive.

So, we as adults in this world, must help those "young people" to do what is morally right and ethically right. And cyber-bullying, where teenagers post nasty things about other people in order to sway opinion of others and to "defriend" people on social media is exactly what happened to this poor little child, Amanda Todd. And yes, she was just a little child. Teenager she may have been, but helpless and innocent from her attackers.

Now, I am sure that there are persons out there who are psychologically made of teflon or have the sensitivity of linoleum. They can drink and swear say offensive things and take drugs in public and make complete fools of themselves, and nonetheless have the courage to hold their head up regardless of how they have behaved. Example is Rob Ford.

For those outside Canada, who do not know who Rob Ford is, he is the infamous mayor of Toronto, who has had a rather embarrassing public persona. For those interested, his bio from Wikipedia,including some of his more colourful exploits is here:

However, poor Amanda Todd was not Rob Ford. If she had been, she might have survived. Rob Ford may not be a bully. Or he may. But it would seem, by his actions, that his insensitivity to what he says and does and his perhaps cavalier approach, may unlie a supreme arrogance, that may, just perhaps border on psychopathy. In other words, to put it in simple terms:

"I can do what I want, and I don't care a fig, if what I do affects anyone else.... Oh! And I am not guilty and never wrong".

This kind of thinking is absolutely and completely selfish and also completely anti-social. It is a first-class way to alienate people. Kind of like an ANTI- Dale Carnegie.

Not, How to win Friends and Influence People,

 but rather, How to Lose Acquaintances (you no longer have Friends left) and Alienate Potential Contacts.

Something like Toby Young's
Book, How to Lose Friends and Alienate People.

But getting back to the question of bullying, what exactly is a bully? A bully is usually someone or some thing (like an organization or body), which uses force, threats, coercion or intimidation to force another party (usually weaker in some way) to do something.

Unfortunately, we adults -- and I may an overgeneralization here, as there may be some or even many exceptions, somehow believe that bullying is something that only occurs in grade school or highschool and then stops. WRONG!

Bullying occurs in all areas of life. It occurs at work: with management and the unions and employees. It occurs in interpersonal relations: with elderly parents and adult children (or vice-versa). It occurs interpersonally as well in intimate relationships between men and women and also amongst queer couples.

And yes, bullying even occurs at the national and international level with "corporate takeovers" and "bidding wars" and so on.

And further, bullying occurs at a more sinister level when you view situations such as what has happened in Eastern Ukraine and Russia, what is happening in Gaza with Israel and what is happening with ISIS in the middle Eastern countries. For another view of the personal and psychological expanded to the national and international level see my post on identification at the national level, link here:

You see, when people in power have perhaps a certain perspective or outlook on the world which then influences their decisions for a population, well, the entire population gets taken along on the psychological/emotional ride that the person in power takes when they, say, going invading another country. The rest of the population may (or may not) agree with the powers that make the decisions, but the rest the world perceives the entire nation as personifying the traits of the dictator or person in power.

But what motivates a bully?

What causes a bully to bully?

Again, you could have a look at my other post on envy, see link here:
But essentially, bullying results from some desire on the part of the bully to take something from the victim, whatever that thing may be or to split off the undesirable part of oneself, whatever it may be and cast it onto (or project it) onto someone or something else.

So, let me give a concrete example:

Beautiful, young teenage girl. She is talented. She is intelligent. She gets good grades. She is artistic. She maybe plays several instruments well or perhaps sings well. Or perhaps she can draw, sketch and paint really well. However, her weakness is, she is still somewhat insecure. She is internally sensitive and takes jibes or teasing or criticisms about her looks to heart.

Another (teenage) girl..... completely unaware of her raging envy has it out for her.For those who may have read my entry on envy, envy can rear its ugly head as seething, (even murderous) rage and so lead people wanting to annihilate and destroy the object of their envy.

So, this other teenage girl... completely unaware of her envy of the first girl and perhaps also unable to appreciate and value her own gifts..... or morely likely has been taught (and told)  by her parents not to appreciate and value her own gifts, begins to attack the beautiful, young teenage girl. This other teenage girl mounts a campaign (with other willing, equally envious girls) to alienate and socially destroy the reputation of this other girl -- the beautiful, intelligent, talented one. So the gaggle of girls begins to spread rumours, drop hints, say things in passing. Nothing that is overtly offensive or aggressive, but in subtle little ways, like Chinese water torture, one drop at a time. They slowly, bit by bit, begin to wear and chip away at the other girl's self-esteem until she becomes a blithering, blubbery mess. This, my friends is evil.  And all simply because the other girls and their ring-leader cannot recognize what is beautiful and good within themselves. This is envy.


How do we see this manifested on a national level?

How do simple, girlish tactics manifest at an international level?

Example: Ukraine and Russia and the "information war", read: Propaganda.

And if we dig further, it could be speculated that resources, i.e. the "beauty" or "talent" or "grades" of a country are "envied" by another nation. They are envied so much, that if the other girl, read: "Nation" cannot take them (by force, read: bullying) then they will murderously destroy them. According to some media sources, a certain slavic nation is destroying infrastructure of another certain slavic nation as the aforementioned slavic nation retreats from another certain slavic nation's occupied area.

I wonder if this sounds familiar in other conflict areas of the world????

Okay --- enough, sarcastic tongue in cheek.

We know that sometimes bullies occur due to envy of what the victim has or possesses. But what if the victim of the bullying does not have anything that the bully wants? And so the bully can't appropriate it or even destroy it.

What I am talking about is another scenario: scapegoating.

So let me give you another concrete example:

A young man works perhaps say in a bank, or for an insurance company or a law office or even for a software company. He comes to work. He perhaps is dressed somewhat like a geek. He has some odd mannerisms. However, he is also dedicated to the company, firm or organization he works for. He appears to get on well with his co-workers and his boss. He bends over backwards. He stays late at night. He goes the extra mile on projects to demonstrate his enthusiasm and dedication to the company/firm/organization.

However, after some time, he feels comfortable enough to reveal to his co-workers that either he is gay, or has a mental illness, like bi-polar disorder or that his politics are left-wing or right-wing, or that he doesn't like to go to the after work "drink-your-face-off" Friday night parties or that he is a regular church-goer or that he is  "fill-in-the-blank".

Now, being gay or having bipolar disorder or left/right/centre politics or "fill-in-the-blank" attribute runs counter to the (unspoken) culture at the workplace where he makes his living. So slowly, bit by bit, once again, like the scenario of the teenage girl just mentioned, he gets picked apart, likely by management but it could also be his co-workers until he is either fired or forced to leave.

Clearly, this scenario has nothing to do with envy. His superiors and/or his coworkers have no envy of him, on the contrary. What they cannot contain is their contempt. And this contempt becomes a means of scapegoating. Unconsciously he is counter-culture -- whatever the current culture is -- hence he is hated.

And what the dominant culture hates -- whether he is gay, bipolar, left/centre/right, heavy drinker, tee-totaller or church-goer, is that he threatens the dominant, current status quo of the dominant culture. Moreover, the dominant culture feel threatened because he, with his attribute -- whatever it may be -- is reflecting back EXACTLY what the dominant culture DOES NOT WANT. It is a classic: Mirror, mirror on the wall scenario. The mirror reflects back the ugliness of what you cannot hold within yourself.

Now, dear friends, you do not have to go too far back in history to see this example played out on a national level. See my most recent post on Michael Brown Jr., the young man who was shot in Ferguson, Missouri:

Moreover, apart from the race situation in Missouri, Hitler`s National Socialists blamed the Jews for the situation, particularly of unemployment in Germany. And then of course there were the witch-hunts of the McCarthy era in the States, not to mention the witch hunts in the Middle Ages. And of course, there are several recent examples of closet homosexual politicians in the States who have railed against the moral decay of homosexuals and gay marriage only to be found (surprise, surprise) having clandestine "same-sex" encounters in public bathroom stalls and other places! Indeed, in the words of Shakespeare from Hamlet, act III, scene II: "The lady doth protest too much, methinks."

And then, most recently ISIS and other extremist factions appear to wish to blame the United States and the West for many of the social problems that exist within their own countries. Death to the West!

However, is it not ironic that the act of scapegoating --  a typically Judeo-Christian tradition, exemplified most profoundly by Christ, who, whether one believes in the story or not, was the ultimate scapegoat, is being used by extremist groups, who are, rather ironically not Judeo-Christian!
Talk about lack of awareness!

However, I digress.

Suffice it to say that bullying seems to appear at a local, personal and at the national and international level, either due to envy -- a desire to have what the other has (or destroy it or the person/entity if you cannot have it) or scapegoating, to cut off, what is abhorrent in oneself and project it outwards to someone else or some thing else, blame them for it and then kill them in order to get rid of uncomfortable feelings within yourself. Interesting, no?

So how to help those who are bullied? Of course there are now laws that are being enacted and/or will be enacted to protect children and teenagers in school. And this is a good thing. As it teaches children, both the victim and the bully that the victim has resources and that the bully will need to be accountable. Regrettably, it is also a sociological problem, for if a bully "learns" that it is okay to "get away" with coercion, it wears away his (or her) moral fibre. Effectively, it becomes okay, because there is no punishment.
But what if the current environment does not protect the child, the teenager or even adult, from bullying? What if all measures produce no satisfactory response? What then?

Indeed, what then? The answer is simple, but rather cliché and might appear to some to be trite: Love.

For the young girl in the scenario, I described, to the young girl, now gone, Amanda Todd, to other young girls (or boys) who may experience bullying. This is the answer. Love and support. The bullying is an attempt to annihilate the person (or country). By loving and supporting at the personal level -- by telling the person you love them, this shores up their worn-away self-image, whether it is a teenager or someone who has suffered workplace harassment and bullying.

And analyzing or doing a "post-mortem" of the situation is often helpful in order to figure out -- at least for the victim -- whether it was envy at the root of the bullying problem or scapegoating or a combination. However, it must be borne in mind that one has to be careful not to "blame the victim" in the analysis. In other words, if the individual is: beautiful, young, gets good grades, is artistically talented, or is gay, bipolar, left/centre/right in politics or is a drinker, teetotaller or church-goer, it is no reason to unintentionally blame the individual for the way they are or somehow try to make them change if they are currently happy being the way they are. Because if the victim does try to "accommodate", i.e. not look too pretty, or get bad grades, or "appear too gay" or drink their face off, they will also, ironically, end up not being their true, happy, authentic selves and thus will be unhappy (again).

I regret, friends that this entry was so long, but, I hope it helps,

Take care,


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