the psychology of bullies

the psychology of bullies


blue leaf


More questions than answers here.  But, the questions are relevant as the hurtful actions of bullies are ongoing in today’s world.

Not being trained in psychology (does psychology have all the answers?), these thoughts are based on life experiences in the real world over not a few years.


What are the causes of bullying type behavior?  Why do some children and adults bully and badger others around them?  One may also ask: why do some individuals choose to remain in abusive relationships?  (Questions from the division of social and behavioral sciences.  Your general education requirements mandate that you take some courses in these areas.)

Behavior that is verbally and/or physically intimidating, abusive, and/or demeaning and destructive to others is not limited to young, unruly boys in the elementary school yard.  Girls engage in bullying.  And, bullying has gone high-tech and takes place among teens on Facebook and other social media.

In all honesty and candor, I engaged in some of this type behavior in the school yard when young.  But, I soon outgrew the tendency to badger or pick on others.  Lamentably, some children do not outgrow this behavior.

Does the child bully grow up to be the abusive spouse and parent?  And, thus set a terrible example to his/her children to follow?  Even some adults bully and badger at times so as to get their own way in all matters(Hint: Parents get involved if you see this destructive behavior in your young children.  Work to prevent such behavior from becoming a nasty, long-lasting habit or enduring behavior pattern.)

As well, we see such intimidating and threatening behavior on the level of nation states. The current example that comes readily to mind is the spoiled child, Kim, in North Korea. By his threats and posturing, he is attempting to intimidate and badger his neighbors.  (In the 1990s and again in the 2000s, that type behavior was rewarded by the US sending that rogue regime food and fuel.  Lesson:  When you reward the behavior of bullies, it only serves to reinforce that behavior pattern.)

Back to the original questions above.

Do they hate themselves (possibly even unconsciously) and not being able to face or acknowledge (and work on) that self-hate, they project that self-hate on to other(s)?  Or, do bullies suffer from feelings of inadequacy in school, and/or even rejection at home?  Is the negative behavior an attempt to get noticed, to get even disapproving attention as they feel they cannot do anything positive enough to obtain any notice?  Can some of their negative behavior be stemming from a need to defend themselves against the hurtful actions of other children (bullies or not) around them?  Are some children just born mean? Possible answers given in the form of additional questions.

Human relationships are two-way streets and involve give and take.  They are rarely ever 50-50 type situations.  However, if you are in a one-sided relationship (let’s call it a LOSE-WIN), you need to communicate this to the other(s) in the relationship and work to make the relationship more equitable and thus get it moving in the direction of WIN-WIN.  Just a thought.

The photo at top is of an unusual colored leaf found in our front yard in late February.

Thanks for reading.  Please pass this essay on to any parents and teachers you know that may not be recognizing this behavior in their children and students.  Perhaps we can help at least a few children to get over this destructive behavior for not only their benefit, but also for the good of the others around them.

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