In Expert Interviews, Stress

The Relationship Between Bullying and Stress

Clinical Psychologist Dr Diana Greywolf offers Therapy for Depression and Anxiety,Women’s Issues, EMDR, Life Transition Management and Trauma Treatment among other specialities. She works with a wide range of emotional and behavioural issues providing services that span from therapy for depression and issues specific to women, to grief counselling, couples counselling and beyond. She talks to NoBullying about Bullying and Stress in today’s world.

Below is a transcript of the interview on Bullying and Stress: 

Diana: I am Diana Greywolf .I am a licensed psychologist in the state of Vermont in the US. I have worked with children and adolescents and currently I am working primarily with adults and adolescents. I work with trauma victims and certainly bullying can be a trauma, similar to other types of abusive power exchanges.

Ciaran: thank you very much for joining us today we really appreciate your time and taking sometime to help us understand what is happening in I guess life and what happens in bullying . And do you think bullying is as a big an issue today as it might have been 10 or 20 years ago?

DG: We don’t really have at this point the research to answer that question. I think bullying has existed probably for all time. In recent years it’s been noticed more. But I think it has probably always existed

CC: And do you see a difference in how bullying happens today, for example we have now the internet , social media ,mobile phones; do they all play a part in what people are doing today?

DG: It appears from the research that bullying extends to all areas of society and it can be more prevalent in clusters, certain schools might have bigger bullying problems than others. But yes the social media have allowed a wider reach I think. For example people in the US could be bullying people in Ireland. That might not have happened 10 or 20 years ago without the social media

CC: There is a lot of coverage actually now in the news papers and in the news about bullying cases and cyber bullying in particular, do you think this helps the situation?

DG: Well it certainly helps in the awareness of the problem. I think historically adults understand that it’s normal. At least in case of children it is normal child behavior to be picked on was the term we used to use. That isn’t really true. I mean it is not OK to do that to other people. It really is an exertion of power on somebody else to make them feel bad. So I think the emphasis has been put on it now certainly opens the door for people to be aware of it and take some action to stop it

CC: And have you any knowledge of any cases and consequences of bullying?

DG: I do and certainly there are ones that have been portrayed in the media. And I have few cases that I have worked with also, none of the severe ones but it definitely damages people’s self esteem it can cause depression and depending on the nature of the bullying sometimes it causes traumatic stress disorder

CC:  And I guess what is the best advice you give to someone who is actually suffering from bullying?

DG: Tell someone; if it’s a child, tell a trusted adult, a parent a teacher. If it is an adult who is being bullied in the workplace and there is a lot of emphasis on child bullying these days but it also happens among adults. If you are adult who is a victim of a bully tell a supervisor, a union representative, or a human resource person. So that somebody in a position of power can take action to stop the bullying

CC:  And do you think actually there is a lot of workplace bullying cause I am thinking we see a lot I guess words for the best companies to work for and we see some companies have invested a lot in their environment to make sure their staff are happy but the recession may be made it tougher for other companies but do you think actually workplace bullying is a big problem for adults?

DG: I think it is and I think it is often underreported because people are afraid to lose their job if they sort of rock the boat, especially if the bullying is a power differential where it is somebody like a supervisor in a position of power who is bullying underlings and there is fear that this thing is going to cost the job. So people stay quiet.

CC:   Of course, do you think a bully in the workplace might have been a bully or somewhat involved in bullying when they were a child? Would there be ever a link between that and that cycle?

DG: I think that is entirely possible. I think a child bully who doesn’t experience consequences for their behavior, see this as a way to get what they want to get their need met so they continue to engage in that behavior even as an adult because they have learned that they can get what they want or need

CC :  And I think that leads on to my next question was to ask if you thought there is long term effects on people who where bullied even when they were younger. Can it cause long term damage?

DG: Yes it can certainly I think I mentioned earlier it can lead to depression. Some who are bullied become bullies of people or maybe younger siblings or children or some of the people who have been bullied become depressed, have anxiety disorders that makes it more difficult for them to hold a job, they become really fearful, depending on the nature of the bullying that might lead to post traumatic stress disorder

CC: And you actually deal with adolescents as well as adults to adolescents it is tough time for young people. Is bullying a big issue for adolescents or it impact younger kids more or would it be the same?

DG: I think it impacts both groups in different ways. One of the roles of adolescents is to find a social group outside the family that you fit into and it is very typical for adolescents to cluster in groups of like-minded individuals. Then the social groups may engage in conflict with each other or they may exclude people from the group. Gangs are a prime example so rivalry can result in pretty severe physical damage and that is an extreme example of group bullying kind of …

CC: Yes for sure and do you feel, if you don’t mind I am asking a lot of questions on adolescents, but do you think that young people have more pressure around them today to be popular and to fit in a group, cause again I am thinking back to my own childhood and I was very lucky I didn’t have social media and I didn’t have mobile phones and I look at the young people today and it feels that anything they do is recorded online and is saved forever and I am glad that a lot of my youth mistakes weren’t recorded so I figure that there is a lot of pressure on young people that we have never experienced

DG: I think there is, though, but I don’t think it is because they don’t share our experience I don’t think they recognize it and I am not sure they make a connection that this is there forever and when they are thirty it will be still there and it might be a source of embarrassment or it might make them uncomfortable when they are older to know that those things are still out there. Kids are pretty in the moment. they don’t think very far forward especially about behavior they are impulsive, so they don’t necessarily think what is going to happen if they send a text or sext messages as far as future consequences go.

CC: And  I heard you mentioned the sext messages and I think it is pretty, well for us it is relatively new term. Are things like this actually happening a lot? Because we hear these awful stories and people often make mistakes. But we hope it is a one of the persons has made. But do you think that these kinds of things happen a lot?

DG: we really don’t have data. We can’t monitor every individual interchange with cell phones. So it is at least presently impossible for us to know what the frequency of that is. But there have been some high profile cases that have been discussed that certainly raise some red flags and cause us to wonder how much of this is really happening.

Bullying and Stress: Trauma

CC: Of course and I know you also deal with trauma victims as well. And do you think bullying can be a cause of trauma or stress with people?

DG: Yes definitely. In an extreme case a girl ended up having to leave school because there was not enough action to stop the bullying she was experiencing and she was so afraid to go to school that she would just have extreme crying in the morning and lock herself in her room and that is one of the extreme results of it but that it certainly can lead to things like that

CC: And my last question cause I have stolen a lot of your time already , just to  see , do you think bullies and even victims are dealt with in the right way by I guess the schools and the parents? because you mentioned earlier that the victim have to move school to solve the problem so it feels equally or doubly tough on the victim that they need to take the action to avoid the problem as oppose to the bullies who obviously stayed in school and may be continued doing what they were doing

DG : Right , I think attention has drawn to this problem in pretty recent years by some of the extreme cases where kids committed suicide as a result of bullying and I think some schools have developed programs, some schools are scrambling to do that now. Some schools have nothing, some parents are urging the schools to have a plan and even if they don’t have a problem. But schools are overburdened with education and accountability and all these other issues its one more thing they have to deal with so I think until they have a real problem often they don’t develop a policy

CC: And thank you very much for your insight and I get understands a little bit more what is happening. If anyone wanted to talk to you or reach out to you for some assistance, what is the best way for them to do that?

DG: Internationally would probably be by email and my email is [email protected]

CC: And for any one local as well is email the best way to reach you?

DG: Local as well or telephone is 802 649 2462

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