Home > Bullying, Insights and Commentary, Narcissism, Psychology > Can We Change the Bully?

Can We Change the Bully?

October 7, 2010

Can we change the bully? I am doubtful. If the bully is in fact, suffering from unhealthy narcissism, I think it is highly unlikely for as I stated in my book, most unhealthy narcissists are not motivated to change. They protect their grandiose false-self fiercely and subjecting themselves to criticism or analysis is very uncomfortable for them. If the common bully is willing to get counseling, that might interrupt the cycle of behavior. And I see strict enforcement of anti-bullying at schools as a stop gap measure at best because if the bully is being abused at home — bullied by a parent — the cycle will likely continue. Bullying is a product of being bullied. Bullies need re-parenting and intensive counseling from sympathetic people educated in unhealthy narcissism.

Unfortunately, I see our current society as partially enabling bullying behavior as we laud competition and winning as worthy endeavors and do not promote cooperation in like kind or with equal sway.

What we can do is couple proper parenting along with teaching ethical values to develop healthy individuals with a full range of emotions, confidence, critical thinking skills, and strong self-esteem and therefore healthy self-worth. In fact, I recently suggested on this blog that we teach ethics in our schools K6-12, and not just in college. Ethical values help people to understand and learn that we need to respect personal boundaries of others; that it is unacceptable to exploit or violate those boundaries. We also need to teach our children about empathy when they do not naturally exhibit empathic behavior. We need to stress that it is not ok to hurt or exploit animals or people.

The most difficult challenge, as i mentioned in my book, is to ratchet down the entitlement behavior — the attitude that a person is entitled to do whatever they want at the expense of others. It is simply wrong. It is impacting our society through negative behaviors, like bullying. And it is impacting the quality of life through dysfunction within families and the workplace, as well as impacting our planet through gross exploitation of its resources.

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