It is an accepted fact that bullying happens during childhood, for a variety of reasons, but something that is not readily recognized is that the Bullying Effects can still haunt adults once they have grown up. If the psychological trauma is not dealt with effectively at the time, or later in life, then it sticks with people and will influence almost every aspect of their lives.
Until recently few studies had been made into these long term Bullying Effects, but more is being done now to identify these causes and their effects, and these results are appearing in the news more and more. A joint US/UK study led by Professor Dieter Wolke (Warrick University, UK) and Dr William E. Copeland (Duke University Medical Center, US), published in Psychological Science, shows that bullying has many detrimental affects on the victims.
With their confidence impacted by their experiences, someone who has been bullied is more likely to have health problems (partly because of bad habits – drinking and smoking), problems forming relationships and interacting with others, and lower levels of success in education and work. Victims who turn into bullies, which can happen because the victim believes this to be ‘acceptable’ behavior, are more susceptible to these problems later in life than a simple victim is.
Strangely being a bully without being a victim as well tends to have no detrimental impact on their lives – although if the bullying behavior continues into adulthood, then it would be others who would suffer instead. For those who wonder if bullying continues in the adult world, they should consider things like trolling (a form of cyber bullying), sexual harassment and working people who use intimidation to ‘focus’ their workers.
If a victim is lucky in the people they know and work with, or are more resilient than most, there is little to no long term effect from bullying/ cyber bullying from childhood through adulthood. For others though, their experiences will carry over, causing various psychiatric problems that will impact them even if the problems are not classed as ‘severe’, that means there are severe Bullying Effects out there.
Depression, which leads to higher incidences of smoking, drinking and other substance abuse, is a common problem, as is a heightened “fight or flight” reflex. This causes a previously victimized person to sometimes literally cringe away from aggressive situations. In more pronounced psychiatric issues, there are problems socializing (both on a personal and professional basis), or a risk of panic attacks (triggered by a variety of causes, but having their roots in childhood trauma).
People with these conditions find it harder to compete in the workplace, and gravitate (or are forced) into lower paying positions. This can happen even if the person has talents in particular fields, but because they do not have the confidence to pursue their goals these talents and potential go unrealized. Instead they follow a path of least resistance, trying to avoid stress and keep their head down as much as possible. Not always do these conditions surface immediately after childhood, but can appear later in life too, with potentially devastating effects. Often doing work that you enjoy, or simply enjoying life, can stave off some of these psychological problems, whereas supremely stressful events can act as triggers for a psychological time bomb.
Real Life Example of Bullying Effects
To provide one detailed example of this problem, we can take a brief glimpse into the life of author Bob Scott. He was bullied for over eight years through middle and high school, which coupled with his home life left him a prime candidate for psychological problems. This manifested itself primarily with mild depression and panic attacks, which caused him problems with job interviews (or any unusual situations). He was fortunate enough to work for a software company that fostered his talent for computer programming, but a life changing car accident, followed later by a change of management at his job, with the owners preferring a more autocratic style, worsened his psychological conditions.
This lead him away from trying to express his own views, and he tended to try to hide in the workplace, taking more basic and lower skilled positions in different companies to avoid stress which would trigger emotional responses. Any criticism he received would induce heavier depression, and build ups of stress could even result in panic attacks or explosions of aggression (as a few walls can testify). Obviously reactions like this reduced managerial confidence in him, leading Bob to feel frustrated and like a non-achiever.
Thankfully, although these conditions worsened over the years almost to the point of agoraphobia, with the support of his wife and family he is now able to pursue a career in writing at home, which has proven less stressful than a traditional job.
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