The St. Kitts-Nevis Observer
Click for Basseterre, Saint Kitts and Nevis Forecast
No. 761 • May 29, 2009
 
SKN Observer
ADULT BULLIES AND BULLYING - By IRA B. HANLEY

If you think bullies only terrorize the school yard, think again. When they are through intimidating their classmates, they grow up to become menacing co-workers, spouses, friends and parents, managers, politicians, pastors and clergymen. The manager, who is consistently condescending to new employees; often insulting them, or unnecessarily critical about their work, is a bully.

The politician, who victimizes simply to assert power, is a bully. The minister/pastor, who terrorizes his/her flock in the name of keeping them “gentle, meek, mild” and obedient, is a bully.

When we think of bullies, we normally think in terms of the “Village Bruggoo”. She asserts herself at the water dam during dry weather when water is scare. She never waits her turn and normally fills every container she can find.

Every village on the island had one bully; and she/he is well known. The water dam skirmishes were not very serious, and normally become a source of amusement for the youngsters in the village – perhaps the only entertainment for the dry season.

But bullies in the work place and in institutions are not to be taken lightly. A certain amount of narcissism is normally involved in this type of bullying. People diagnosed with Narcissism are in love with the SELF that they (and other people) see. Because they are unable to experience love and most emotions firsthand, narcissists are preoccupied with the need to project what they think is a lovable image.

Unfortunately, they almost always screw it up because they do not truly understand what is lovable and what is not. They tend to confuse the love of others with such things as awe, respect, fear, admiration and adulation. This type of bully must have the centre of attention; always right; and considers others as existing only to serve him/her.

They tend to attack when their ego is threatened. Everyone is narcissistic to a point, and some narcissism is all right and perfectly natural. However, study after study has linked narcissism with bullying. The fact is that most adult bullies are quite narcissistic, especially those whose preferred method of operation, is verbal or relationship bullying.

Verbal bullies use words to hurt and humiliate their victims. It is common for these bullies to make disparaging remarks under the guise of the person’s welfare, and social and spiritual well being. They make comments and pretend it is for the welfare of the individual, but make no mistake, these people are vicious! Individually, their comments may be meaningless, but when their insults are looked at collectively, it becomes clear that they are really nasty people.

Bullies not only display this type of sociopathic behaviour, but they normally demonstrate severe cognitive deficits basically in the area logical reasoning. This kind of learning disability is referred to as Dyslogic Syndrome or Dysrationalia. This is a dysfunction of the frontal lobe of the brain that processes logical reasoning.

Some of the characteristics of persons with this kind of disability are as follows:

1. Pays no attention to consequences. Never stops to consider cause and effect, what might happen if a certain action is taken.

2. Displays no commonsense reasoning in making decisions. No logical thinking is involved in lifestyle and in lifestyle decisions.

3. Lives by impulse. Lifestyle is ruled by this theme: “I want what I want when I want it.

4. Makes aggressive, insatiable demands for instant wish fulfillment. Places enormous pressure on others to satisfy whims and impulsive desires.

5. Makes irrational spur-of-the-moment decisions without regard to costly consequences. Charges ahead regardless of who might be hurt, or how much actions may hurt others.

6. Does not learn from mistakes. No matter how costly mistakes are, this person does not change behaviour patterns.

The above characteristics are normally present in the behaviour patterns of a bully with these dyslexic tendencies. Interestingly enough some of these characteristics overlap with the characteristics of a narcissistic bully. Dysrationalia normally reveals itself in the screening process and remediation can be put in place. It normally reveals itself in the high primary grades and early high school. Children can be taught to stimulate the synapses that control logical reasoning.

It is easy to see how this type of learning can develop into, or combine with the sociopathic behaviour associated with narcissism. Many adults who display this form of dyslexic pattern of learning disability are bright in terms of cognitive abilities, but lack the ability to reason logically.

This causes them to struggle in aspects of the curriculum that demand logical reasoning. They have never realized their full potential because of the constant striving to overcome. Many go on to higher education. I once worked with person with dysrationalia. This person saw things in black and white, and it made no sense trying to explain that there is a shade in between.

She just could not see another person’s point of view. She had an absolute belief in her leadership abilities but could not tell the difference between real leadership and bullying. Needless to say, the staff avoids her as much as possible. When she left, the school’s rating was at its lowest.

Such persons as described above normally combine a certain amount of narcissism with their learning dysfunction. Can you imagine such a person in charge of the armed forces; a body of young recruits in training of any sort, or in charge of a religious institution where the followers are judged by their level of compliance?

History is replete with such leaders as Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin. And of course, the Church can boast of its own narcissist, Jim Jones. This type of adult bully, apart from having an over- inflated sense of self-importance, often has a great need and desire to be seen as a wonderful, kind, caring and compassionate person in direct contrast to their behaviour and treatment of others.

They can be totally oblivious to the discrepancy between how they want to be seen (and believe they are seen) and what other people actually think of their power. They seldom recognize the individuality or rights of others, which makes all self-serving behaviours, lies and manipulations, acceptable.

Narcissistic bullies lack mature conscience, and seem only to be restrained by fear of being exposed or of damage to their projected reputation. Narcissist bullies like to have followers, so they deliberately cultivate people in the community who will be manipulated to admire them, adore them, and inflate their already monumental egos; and overlook their pretence, half-truths and lies.

While such persons may have outbursts of emotion, it is often a performance in front of an audience to obtain a certain result. What they display is superficial at best; pretended at worst. Positive feelings of warmth, joy, love, and compassion are usually more feigned than experienced.

Many narcissist bullies talk and act as if they are a special favourite of God. – God love them and want them to be the way they already are. And so they do whatever they like; but others have to follow the guidelines. Although they do not think they have to follow the standards that everyone else live by, they are the first to complain if they see someone else stepping outside of socially acceptable behaviour. When trapped, a narcissist will try to twist the conversation to absolve him from the responsibility. If this doesn’t work either; they display anger in an attempt to frighten off their accusers.

Because narcissists see everything in black and white, people who are friends with them are not allowed to be friends with someone that the narcissistic bully doesn’t like. You will probably not be able to maintain a relationship with both parties, because the narcissist will make you choose between him/her and the person they are targeting; and if you choose the target, the narcissist becomes your enemy too.

The above is a broad profile of an adult bully, who invariably is a narcissist. The characteristics revealed are to be taken seriously because these types of bullies show up in every walk of life. But they mostly reveal their true self when placed in a position of power over people who are helpless, or who are constrained by ideologies; religious or otherwise. These bullies are no better than the “Village Bruggoo’. Make no mistake about it! And it does not matter how much they clothe themselves in positions of respectability! A narcissistic bully will never see himself/herself in this profile because it is impossible for him to take a rationalistic view of his behaviour. A narcissist can look you straight in the eye and lie to you easily, even when it is obvious they are being untruthful.

 
 
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