Bullies on TV can be ultimately sympathetic characters. They inflict pain on others because they are in deep pain themselves: Mommy never loved them, Daddy is abusive, etc. Turns out that in real life, bullies inflict pain on others because it makes them feel good! According to a new study, scientists showed violent videos to 8 "unusually aggressive" 16-18 year old boys and eight "normal" boys of the same age while studying their brain activity. According to ABC News, "While both groups showed activity in the brain's pain centers, the brains of aggressive males, those with conduct disorder, also showed activity in the brain's pleasure centers, suggesting that they may have been enjoying what they were seeing."The University of Chicago's Dr. Benjamin Lahey, a co-author of the study, says, "They're not only indifferent to the pain, they love it — maybe. They're responding to others being hurt, but in a way that's self-reinforcing." These atypically aggressive boys have what psychiatrists call "conduct disorder," and this study may have proven that this disorder is neurological since their brains react differently to watching those in pain, however further research needs to be done to verify this hypothesis. People with conduct disorder often end up having very difficult lives, according to ABC, suffering from "poor relationships, incarceration, depression and suicide," though scientists think that with early detection, therapy can help. In tangentially related news, Washington Post advice columnist Marguerite Kelly tackles a question from a mom whose 12-year-old has started hanging out with gossipy middle school mean girls. The mother asks, "How can I keep my daughter safe and her values intact and still have a positive relationship with her?" And Kelly replies, "You can't, of course, pick your daughter's friends, but you can make it harder for her to hang out with the ones you don't like by keeping her much busier and by setting tighter limits, too, so that these girls won't want to hang out with her." Um, because that's really going to work. This kid is so going to be tucking her dolly under the covers and sneaking out in the middle of the night in 5, 4, 3, 2… Pain May Be Pleasurable For Some Bullies [ABC News] Bullies May Get Kick Out Of Seeing Others In Pain [Reuters] Mean Deviation: Nice Girl Takes A Nasty Turn [Washington Post]
Ugh. My almost 12yo daughter is friends with a bully. And I hate this little girl (nice, way to be adult and neutral, Momself) and the way she makes my daughter feel every three days or so. And there's just not much I can do about it.