Friday, December 27, 2013

Bullies, School Shootings, Social Rejection thoughts


Very interesting article/video I came across today regarding being bullied. It is about a girl who is bullied because her looks do not conform to what others have deemed "acceptable".

My Thoughts...

When a school shooting or teen suicide occurs we like to focus on issues like gun control. Rarely, do I hear people bring up the topic of social rejection and social isolation and how these two factors are almost always present in the lives of those who have resorted to killing themselves and/or their fellow classmates.
The fact remains, people rarely go out on killing sprees if they are feeling good about themselves, if feelings of happiness and high self esteem are bubbling up from their subconscious and friendship opportunities abound. It is unlikely that a popular student surrounded by a group of accepting peers would have these suicidal or killing tendencies. These factors buffer the growing teenager from the impact and tremendous changes that occur in the brain.

During youth, the prefrontal cortex of the brain is still in its development phase and teenagers are, at the same time, constructing their own identity.  More than any other time in their lives, a teenager is seeking acceptance and approval from their peers. Furthermore, their brains tend to have a heightened level of sensitivity to rejection, to being ignored and excluded by their classmates. Combine this with the fact that the developing teenage brain is more prone to risk-taking, impulsive behavior. While most students will have little difficulty merging into and being accepted by one of the plentiful cliques that high school offers—jocks, nerds, geeks, skaters, musicians, pet enthusiasts—there is bound to be a few stragglers and loners.
My thought is that the stragglers/socially rejected individuals have made countless efforts to fit in with a group, to reach out and find a group of students who accepts them, a group of people who approves of their own emerging identity but… they have been rebuffed and rejected on numerous occasions. This process of seeking acceptance isn’t new for them, it probably started during their grade school and junior high school days. It was during these years that they encountered an impasse to achieving basic peer approval. Perhaps their looks, attire, tastes or mannerisms were deemed “wrong” or “inferior”. At this point, the seeds of despair were planted. If junior high or high school doesn't bode well for friendships or acceptance into a particular clan, these individuals begin to lose hope.  They begin to ruminate on suicidal thoughts, or, their thoughts may take them down the path of action and aggression. This is where school shootings come in.
Human beings have an almost desperate need to belong, to be approved of and accepted by their peers and to form connections with other members of their social sphere. When these basic human needs are not fulfilled, psychological disturbances arise.
Drawing from personal experience related to social rejection, I’ll never forget a girl in my junior high school years. This girl was called names like “fat” and “ugly” repeatedly—almost every day, right to her face! I even remember a very poignant day in 7th grade where one of the most popular, good-looking jocks in school began kicking her until she fell to the ground. He was even surrounded by a group of very popular boys and girls who were all cheering him on as he kicked her. I happened to be walking by at the time, on my way to the next class. I remember being suddenly overwhelmed with shock that I stopped and began watching this incident unfold right before my eyes. I don’t think I ever felt so depressed for someone in my entire life. Even to this day, I still feel guilty for not jumping in and shielding her. 

 A few years later, I, too, would encounter the effects of the mean, cruel—albeit popular students myself. On the school bus one day in 9th grade, I was quietly minding my own business reading a book. I was always the quiet, shy sort without a group of comrades at my side.  All of a sudden, one of the popular boys sitting behind me made an announcement to the entire bus about how “I was an ugly crater face and shouldn’t be able to ride the bus because I was so scary.” Everyone on the bus laughed and even chimed in. People began to taunt me and laugh in a sadistic fashion.   I’ll never forget how terrible I felt. I was fully aware of how bad I looked—but being flatly reminded that you are ugly by another group of very popular classmates was almost too much to bear—especially during the teenage years.
On top of this experience, I had a litany of social rejection and isolation experiences. While my thoughts didn’t lead me down the militant path of aggression and violence, I repeatedly entertained thoughts of self hatred and even suicide.  Instead of blaming the group of sadistic peers that surrounded me, I would blame myself and try to change myself to gain some degree of acceptance. These experiences of repeated rejections ultimately turned me into an isolated, introverted person who probably suffers with unnecessary anxiety.
I am almost certain—confident—to suggest that the socially rejected, isolated individual will often go down one of two paths. These are: depression/suicide and/or violent aggression towards others. Being a loner allows for the perfect storm, the perfect place for a mind to brew self-loathing thoughts or intense feelings of anger for those who have caused you such psychological distress.
We as a society help create these monster-mentalities who go on to commit suicide and/or take the lives of others with them. The popular teenagers who reject and ignore the “loner types” are major contributors to this phenomenon. It might be difficult for those who have never experienced the full dimension of peer rejection and psychological pain to understand what such an individual may be feeling. The teenage years are a hard enough time as it is. Add on to this the aspect of rejection and ostracism and we are bound to see some negative consequences.
Studies have shown that once rejected by their peers, a child will have a nearly impossible time in school ever becoming popular or even simply “accepted” again. They are forever blighted with this stigma.
Perhaps we should focus on bullies—not just the “classic” bully-type but also the throngs of popular students who use their powers not to integrate with all students but to form exclusive, catty, even sadistic groups.


  1. First of all, it's good to see you back on youtube and blogspot.

    The problem isn't just that the popular kids bully, it's that the school condones it. Once you realize that the school is on their side, the best thing you can do is adopt this attitude: "If the rules don't include me, they don't apply to me." The kids who go on these school shootings are the ones who the school (and their parents and their parents' "morality") tie their hands behind their back. When I went to school, I went in treating it like a war. I didn't kill anybody. Instead, I made my displeasure at how I had been treated as embarrassing and public for the school as possible. I made fun of kids who were killed in car accidents, protested at the pep rallies... anything I could think of to mess with the popular kids, because they would have (and had) done the same thing to me. It's emotionally vicious and amoral, but that's better than killing the kids yourself.

  2. It's a myth than most mass shooters are loners, and as a loner I object to using that term in a negative way and associating it with the mentally ill. There's a good book that points out much of this called "Party of One: The Loners' Manifesto" by Anneli Rufus. You also said you were "turned into" an introvert and, as an introvert, that seemed a little derogatory. I think people are born as more or less introverted or extroverted (although many are "ambiverts" who change depending on the situation). I also have to question the whole nature of the teen angst and social rejection scenario as contributing to murder. Haven't most of us felt rejected as teenagers?

    1. It does not have to "most", but there can be loners who have develop tendencies towards killing. Just look at the Unabomber and the man who shot up the theater during Batman: The Dark Night Rises. They are not students at high school but they are loners.

      Also, you are correct that most people ambiverts depending on the situation. However some students are picked on more than others. This could push them towards more introverted. I should know.

    2. There can be those, John, but all characteristics are not causal. Some murderers may have brown hair but that didn't lead then to kill.

  3. I'm glad you put this up again too. I didn't mean to totally reject it but to bring up some points for discussion. Sometimes I get a little blunt in my comments. I know you didn't mean any offense to anyone and I'm happy to see you back again after such a long absence.

  4. Dear Renee, Glad to see you back in action after going AWOL for a long time. I did, in fact, try to post a comment on 15th Aug 2013 on your 'Benefits of Being a Psychopath' article posted on 24th July 2013 (see attached comment below) but I kept getting Error Code bX-qsjp0u whatever the hell that is. I assumed, therefore, that I had been permanently banned as I usually am from just about everyone's site due to the G-O-D word. Okay, my dear, you'll be pleased to hear that I was harassed for 10 days by the police and then thrown into jail for 3 mths here in India and only got released on bail on 28th Dec 2013. Hey, Renee, looks like someone here don't like me!! Anyway, here's my belated post on psychopaths and if anyone wants to find out what its like in an Indian jail check out my website at Your guardian angel in his cave in the Indian wilderness, AGP, 7th Jan 2014.

    My Dear Renee, I feel a bit sorry for you as not even one of your pagan male droolers has bothered to comment on your excellent article on psychopaths which this planet is overflowing with. In fact, if you were to take a bird's eye view of the universe you'd see that compared to other planets the people here are all stark raving mad! Of course, you are excluded, my dear, as you obviously have a brain which works in a forward direction unlike all the other demo(n)crats who have destroyed this once paradaisical planet in less than 100 yrs. By the way, Renee, if you want to prevent people from commenting on your website, I suggest you switch to wordpress which blocks everyone except those who you permit and also allows you to edit their comment so that it means the exact opposite of what they said - pretty cool, huh. Anyway, apologies if I offended you as I know you like to operate incognito, but I get swarms of pagan male droolers all flocking to my site to find out about this super sexy mystery woman in lo-cut blouses who rants on about psychos like St Anthony! With love from your guardian angel in his cave in the Indian wilderness, AGP, 15th Aug 2013.