Tag Archives: bullying

Trauma has many facets

Many descriptions of trauma include: Acute, Chronic, or Complex.

Acute trauma results from a single incident. Chronic trauma is repeated and prolonged, such as domestic violence, racial trauma, or sexual abuse. Complex trauma is exposure to varied and multiple traumatic events, often of an invasive, interpersonal nature. There is an increasing body of evidence that complex trauma may create layer upon layer of harm. Think of scar tissue that doesn’t heal.

The following are not specific diagnoses, but types of trauma that may bring someone to mental health treatment. Often, these are overlapping and cumulative.

*Financial trauma: food insecurity, becoming unhoused, eviction, juggling bills, bankruptcy, debt harassment, constant worry about finances, and social judgment regarding financial status

*Intimate partner violence: domestic abuse includes direct physical threats and aggression, sexual coercion, threats of perceived or actual violence to children or companion animals, throwing away someone’s personal possessions, frequent criticism and verbal abuse, and controlling or prohibiting friendships and social interactions of the partner.

More recently, this form of trauma can include the use of technology to control another person. For example, controlling the use of Wi-Fi, violating privacy by going through someone’s cell phone or laptop, using a smart phone to control the thermostat/lights/ movement detectors, and even changing passwords, codes, or locks; these are all forms of abuse.

*Religious trauma: descriptions of a person as a sinner; scenarios depicting a punitive afterlife or deity; cult-like indoctrination, use of religious practice to attempt to convert or change somebody’s personal being or beliefs,forced participation in organized religious activities; shunning or exclusion; or the opposite, minimizing or denying somebody’s religious or spiritual preferences.

*Relational trauma: ghosting, causing a rift or splits in a friend group, malicious gossip, threats of abandonment, rejection, gaslighting, and triangulation (aligning with another person or people to gang up).

*Bullying: Bullying is a deliberate and unsolicited action that occurs with the intent of inflicting social, emotional, physical, and/or psychological harm to someone who often is perceived as being less powerful. Being bullied is associated with symptoms of anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, and school refusal.

*Vicarious trauma: trauma that generally results from work in fields such as medicine, mental health, hospice, first responder, and law where the person is exposed to frequent information regarding suffering or violence to others.

*Refugee trauma: displacement from a perceived home or community due to persecution, including political, war, religious, imprisonment, or out-group status (castes). This trauma can continue or be compounded in a new environment, where refugees may not be welcome or even criminalized.

*Natural disasters: exposure to hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, wildfires, tsunamis, and floods, as well as extreme weather events such as blizzards, droughts, extreme heat, and wind storms. This type of trauma often overlaps with becoming unhoused, financially displaced, or physically injured.

*Medical trauma: life-threatening medical problems, chronic illness, chronic pain, multiple invasive surgeries, congenital conditions, or recurrent symptoms/relapses. A large body of research indicates that infants or children who are exposed to multiple medical procedures, chronic pain, or surgeries, may experience long-term or lifelong symptoms.

Also see Racial Trauma and Mental Health and Trauma is Not a Life Lesson.

The Psychology of Humor: Why Jokes Matter

Today we have a guest post from Jackie Summers.

I was 12 years old. My bully had me cornered at the bus stop after school. Six kids surrounded me, and my bully had me shoved up against the wall, his fists in my windbreaker.

I knew the routine. He was going to try to rob me. With him in my face, his friends watching, and my feet dangling off the ground, I said “my wallet is in my back pocket but i have Tic Tacs in my jacket, and you had onions for lunch.”

His friends burst into laughter. I took a chance and made fun of someone more powerful than me, at the risk of my health, and that day it kept me from getting my ass kicked.

Now flip it. If he’d beaten me up, taken my wallet, and then made fun of my breath, would the joke have been funny, or just cruel?

As a kid I was bullied a lot. I learned to make jokes as a defense mechanism for stressful situations from reading comic books. Nothing infuriated villains more than Spider-Man cracking a joke while he fought. It masked his own fears while giving his opponents the impression he didn’t take them seriously. Spidey took down a lot of foes more powerful than he, because he could think fast and distract them.
According to Dr. Hoorie I Siddique PH.D. of Embolden Psychology, the science of making jokes/laughing under duress has a specific neurological profile:

  1. When you laugh at someone or something, it causes disinhibition.
  2. The frontal cortex is the stop sign of the brain. Lack of inhibition or filter is a common symptom with frontal lobe dysfunction.
  3. This disinhibition makes it easier to laugh while short circuiting higher order thinking.
  4. If you can laugh at someone vulnerable, it follows that you would be hard-pressed to go into problem-solving mode if they need help.
  5. Literally sets up a pattern of not being able to see the person as a vulnerable being.

You can see where all this is leading. Every time I got beat up, being laughed at either while it was happening (or after it was done) was just salt in literal wounds. It’s sociopathic to laugh at someone while they’re hurting, especially if you are the one who caused their pain.

Alternatively, the ability to make jokes under duress at the expense of my oppressors took quick thinking, courage, and a clear enough mind to think critically.

Says Dr. SIddique:
“Humor perception, not surprisingly lights up the pleasure centers of the brain. Like sex, or delicious food, laughing at something we find funny makes us feel good and creates a rush of endorphins.”
“Humor production is more complicated, and shows the most activity in the temporal lobe. This is the auditory processing area, that takes in verbal information from the environment, and puts it into words and phrases.”

In short: making fun of people more powerful than you humanizes them. This is why we cheer when our heroes quip in the face of danger, and cringe when antagonists add insult to injury.
Making fun of people less powerful than you dehumanizes them. It’s how the mobs of Rome were able to cheer gleefully for gruesome deaths in the coliseum, or how ordinary folx took delight in lynchings in the Jim Crow South.

Imagine instead of six bullies trying to rob an underclassman, you have the ear of millions. Imagine using great intelligence to poke fun at a powerful but woefully incompetent politician. You’ve humanized them; they’re less scary. Millions of people are now managing their fear, less afraid to resist oppression, their own or that of others.

Use that same intelligence to make fun of someone who’s marginalized and you’ve dehumanized them. You’ve just made it easier for their oppressors to justify their actions, you’ve given license to millions of people to laugh at their plight, and possibly short circuited their ability (or desire) to aid their cause.

Please think about this as you consider what entertains you.

Embolden Psychology

Embolden offers the ADOS-2, the gold standard assessment for kids on the spectrum.

Combined with psychoeducational testing, it helps provide comprehensive information and recommendations to help children and teens six and up.

Thank you for contacting us.