The Circumstances of a Bullying Individual

Setting up the dynamics based on Karpman's drama triangle

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In the previous article ‘The Psychological Elements of Bullying’ I wrote about motives that can lead to bullying. Now we need to explore more behavioural patterns that are explained as the drama triangle of which the author is Dr Stephen Karpman. It is obvious how the concept suggests that the same dysfunctional pattern of behaviour leads to the bullying not only of a child, but ultimately it has an influence on the perception of each of the family members.

The point is that interaction is set to victim consciousness either consciously or subconsciously. But the most influential is the subconscious form, a tendency to follow the same coping strategy as has been known up to now. The child cannot discover that something needs to be changed. S/e simply finds this to be the only way to interact. More specifically, an individual experiences unwanted stress, something that came, but hasn’t been asked for. Each family member makes an effort to achieve acceptance of victim consciousness from the other persons. That creates a lot of undesirable outcomes, first always defending self and then manipulating others in order to accept the role of victim.

Now that the child is completely lost in this interaction, imagine how unthinkable it is for the child to modify his/her reactions in such situation. Thus here comes an opportunity for triggers. Once we experience loss, hypervigilance occurs, so we become sensitive to our surroundings. Here is a potential opportunity for unwanted feelings that can develop in the long term.

Perhaps we can add that such opportunity can pass the genetic predisposition. For instance, the neurotrophin 3 receptor (NTRK3) gene contained within DUP25 was found to be overexpressed in the study. This gene has a fundamental role in behavioural arousal in response to stimuli, and an overexpression could reduce emotional arousal thresholds and trigger panic attacks.

It depends on family anamnesis, but hypothesis can lead us to find links between developmental life phases and the experience of bullying, psychosomatically, for instance, potential links between disease and fear.

Now back to the topic. When a child is not able to solve the long-term situation and is hypervigilant, thus not in a state of homeostasis, here can arise an overexpressed need to gain acceptance of victim consciousness via others. That automatically creates the role of persecutor – someone who does not want to fulfil such need or vice versa – wants to create competition in the desire to accept the same victim consciousness. It doesn’t matter whether the real role is of a victim or persecutor, both have a desire for the same. This is when interaction occurs between individuals from dysfunctional family dynamics.

Now the question arises: is it possible that a child or individual from functional family dynamics is able to follow a role of the persecutor? Why? Because there is an assumed healthy emotional base. So coping strategy is possible to see from a wider perspective and therefore it is possible to estimate consequences and gain awareness of own needs and that persecution is not beneficial because a healthy sense of what is good and what is not is developed.

What can help prevent possible bullying? For instance, that each child has some anchor. This means in practice that the teacher is able to show individual attention. Maybe you have heard stories when the teacher welcomed students individually by shaking their hands and telling them how grateful s/he was for having students in the class. Such deed is basically removing any subconscious desire to create behavioural dominance.

Another deed is that children who are sent to detention after school are taught how to calm their mind with meditation as one of many techniques. So schools have several options for working with it.

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