Bullying and the hierarchy of needs


Bullying: what is it? What are the consequences of it? And how can we fix it?

Bullying is known by lots of different names: Social exclusion, being ostracized, peer rejection, being left out, feeling like you’re alone in a room full of people, hazed, (and the list goes on).

Bullying includes (but is not limited to): getting teased, picked on, singled out, getting pushed, name-called, made fun of, misogyny, being tripped, always being picked last for teams, being systematically never invited to any birthday parties or pool parties, excluding you from team meetings, belittling you in front of co-workers, (and the list goes on).

Victims of bullying are often called names like: loser, fag, social misfit, loner, outcast, she-male, weirdo, four eyes, bitch, he-she, it, (and the list goes on).

Intended consequences of bullying include:

  • to hurt the person,

  • to make the other person feel small,

  • for the bully to feel powerful

  • to make sure the bullied person KNOWS they are not liked

Unintended consequences of bullying include:

  • increased aggression in the bullied (both toward self and others)

  • increased stress-related physical illnesses

  • decrease in wages across the lifespan for the bullied

  • increased impulsivity and self-destructive behaviors for the bullied

  • increased sensitivity to hurt and rejection in the bullied individual

  • increased mental health issues including anxiety, depression, and anger

Now, what can be done about it?

For school-aged people, what we are finding is that the best approach is for other students to stand up for the youth being bullied. This is referred to as the bystander approach.

Another approach is making sure teachers and school administration are aware of the problem, but all too often they turn a blind eye to bullying and resist becoming involved.

The child may also benefit from either therapy or a social skills group where youth can practice getting along and practice conflict resolution skills in a safe space.

For adults, Our choices involve having a direct conversation with the person who is bullying us. If that does not help we can have a conversation with that person’s supervisor or with human resources in order to develop a fair plan.

Another choice is to seek new employment because the stress related health problems are just not worth it.

If you have an on-going problem getting along with others (during school and work, or you have had a problem getting along at several jobs), then I strongly recommend therapy.

Therapy is a great tool to practice conflict resolution, anger management, and considering other ways we can handle our situations. Therapy can be short term, and you don’t even have to talk about your mother if you don’t want to.

Work-place bullying is more common than we would like to admit. In fact, some states are now considering bullying laws for worker protection.

We all have needs. Maslow’s hierarchy is a great guideline that any of us can look at to see which stage we are having difficulty with. In general, one cannot move up the triangle until the bottom is taken care of. This means, if you are struggling with securing food or shelter, then your esteem needs are not generally on your radar.

For most of us, our physical needs of food, air, and water are met easily. Our safety needs of a place to live and sleep without fear are also met.

Some individuals start to struggle with the need for love and belonging. For some us the struggle is temporary (like being bullied in middle school). We have family or we have friends who we share things in common with (volleyball, video games, music, etc). Some of us are lucky enough to find friends to pass the time with and some of us even fall in love and get married.

Esteem needs are a bit harder. This includes feeling like we are smart, capable, and contribute to society. Esteem is often met from having a career or a degree we are proud of or doing volunteer work for a cause we believe in. It is very difficult for those who were bullied in school or are bullied at work to ever truly meet this need.

The hardest need to meet is self-actualization. It is so hard that, in fact many people never make it. Self-actualization includes wanting what is best for others and not just for yourself. It is seeing things from the perspective of others and being able to do good to those who may be rude to you. So, chances are, if you see someone (anyone) holding a sign or screaming at you about some controversial topic, they have not achieved self-actualization, either.






Why didn’t she escape?


Mental Health in the news:

A girl, aged 15, was reported missing in August 2004 by her mother. The mother suspected her live-in boyfriend of abducting her daughter. The mother also suspected that her boyfriend had been sexually abusing the teen for about two months.
The victim tried to escape twice but the man caught her and allegedly beat her, according to law enforcement.
“He told her then, ‘You can’t go home, you’re here illegally, you don’t speak the language, your mom’s called the police, they will send you back,'”.
To evade police detection, he obtained false identification for the victim and subsequently moved several times, police said.
He arranged for both of them to work at a night cleaning service together so he could watch her, police said.

If the horrific allegations in the above story are true, this type of person is extremely manipulative and violent. The young, naive girl may have gone into “survival mode” and complied whatever instructions were given to her, no matter how outlandish, to avoid harm.

Survival mode is different for different types of people:
1. one is Fight. We do not know if this young lady ever tried to fight
2. another is Flight… to try and run away, which this young lady did on at least two occasions with unpleasant consequences.
3. and lastly there is Freeze, which is where a victim shuts down and does nothing.

An example of freeze could be what is commonly known as, “Learned Helplessness”. For example, when a dog being captured, and kept, in a glass crate, it will lose its will to escape even after the door is opened. Experiments on mice show that if a floor is electrified it will try to escape the shocks, but if you turn off the electricity to half of floor the mice will no longer to avoid shocks because they “learned” trying to run did not help them.

This young lady did try to escape from her hellish glass box and both times was caught and then mentally and physically abused and beaten down which appears to have resulted in learned helplessness. She went from Flight to Freeze.

These psychotic men tear down their victims sense of self until there is nothing left. They are masters of hiding their true selves. He was the only one giving her information and may have told her that her family would get locked up for being undocumented. Or that she would be deported. There are so many things someone can say to make someone else feel alone and scared. As someone who has volunteered as a rape crisis counselor, I know that many undocumented people do not realize that they can report this type of abuse without fear of being arrested or deported. This is information that those of us in the healthcare field need to be better about letting others know.

So, to recap, not only was she 15 when this traumatic event occurred, she was in a new country, she was probably told many lies by her captor, and she was ignorant about her rights. She probably did not know that the law would have been on her side.

The mind and psyche are delicate in these types of situations. It can rewrite the experience in order for a person to function and survive, (otherwise known as Stockholm Syndrome). Well into her captivity, after the young lady became pregnant, her motherly instincts may have kicked in to protect her child, despite the fact it was fathered by an alleged psychopath.

In the words of Elizabeth Smart, former long-term kidnap victim herself:

“It’s so easy for us to be curious and think, ‘Why didn’t you escape? Why didn’t you run away?’ But it’s really important that we don’t ask that question because all the survivor hears is, ‘You should have done something,’ and, ‘It’s your fault you were gone so long.'” And that’s what they do not need to be hearing right now.”

Be vigilant with your children, 80% of rape cases are carried out by friends or family members. So, please, always be vigilant. Because this young lady will need a lot of love (and therapy) to heal.


How is your inner critic doing today?


We have all done it… maybe it is making a typo, maybe it’s forgetting something…and we respond with:

  • I am so stupid 
  • I’m an idiot
  • I can’t believe I’m so dumb

And we get angry at ourselves, and for what? Being human?

The consequences of this constant inner criticism include:

A fear of others including an inability to hear criticism from others without either becoming angry or feeling like a victim. Poor self-esteem leads to anger, fear, and sadness. 

People who struggle with poor self-esteem are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. These people are also more likely to earn less money per year and are often unable or unwilling to ask for raises or seek out better employment because their fear keeps them frozen. 


The good news is that low self-esteem can improved and it all begins with a little thing called Self-talk.




Critics of the “self-esteem” movement think this is all there is to it, but that is far from true.

While getting a hold of our habit to constantly insult ourselves, the real key is figuring out our own particular way of making a difference in the world around us.

For some of us it is:

  • participating with animal rescue groups
  • delivering meals to shut-ins
  • volunteering at your child’s school
  • being a poll worker
  • driving the elderly or disabled to vote
  • running a Facebook page for your favorite cause
  • and this could go on without ending


Self talk is only the beginning. If we could all feel good about ourselves just by telling ourselves we are good people then we would not need mental health workers 🙂


What is Social Anxiety?



Everyone, ok…well, almost everyone experiences fear or anxiety sometimes. Fear is a primary emotion and helps us prepare for danger. Therefore, we will never entirely rid ourselves of fear, nor should we want to.

Social Anxiety is about more than just being shy around others. “Many people are a little bit shy. If you’re shy, you might be somewhat uncomfortable in situations such as going to a party where you don’t know anyone, but you do it. You give yourself a push, you go to the party, after a while you relax and talk to people,” says Rudolf Hoehn-Saric, MD, who heads the Anxiety Disorders Clinic at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “The social phobic person, at the prospect of the same party, would be overwhelmed by such anxiety that [he or she] would have a physical reaction — perhaps nausea, sweating, heart racing, dizziness — and would avoid it if at all possible.”

Shyness and introversion are not the same thing, either. As stated above, Shy people experience discomfort, while introverts simply prefer less social stimulation. While shyness is internally painful, introversion is not distressing.

The problem with social anxiety (formerly known as social phobia) is that we become fearful when no clear or reasonable threat is present. 

Social anxiety can keep people from things they want and/or need to do. At the heart of social anxiety is an intense fear of being judged by people around you. This fear is so intense for some that they are unable to engage strangers in conversation and some people are too fearful to leave their own homes. Some people are unable to eat in public or use public restrooms. 

This intense anxiety typically lasts for about six months or more for an official diagnosis. 

Social anxiety shows significant improvement using Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Cognitive therapy teaches us how to think differently while behavior therapy teaches us how to act differently. It is generally recommended that we first learn the facts regarding anxiety in preparation for CBT interventions. 

Some people opt for individual therapy while others benefit from group therapy. One of the benefits of group therapy is that socially anxious people are able to see that it is not just them who suffer with anxiety. So often people with social anxiety feel like they are the only ones who are suffering when nothing could be further from the truth.

CBT interventions for social anxiety include making a list of all the areas where one feels social fear or social discomfort. Then, the therapist helps the client arrange the things which makes them fearful from least fearful to most fearful. The therapist (and client) would benefit from practicing relaxation skills or coping skills at this point so that the client can learn to control their fear reaction. Once the client is able to use coping skills, the therapist would then assist the client in repeatedly engaging in the least scary thing on the client’s list while the client uses his or her coping skills. 

When the client no longer has a fear reaction to the least scary thing on their list, the client moves up the list until he or she is able to perform all actions on their list without excessive fear.

Another approach besides CBT is called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) which is like a cross between CBT and Mindfulness. With ACT, the therapist suggests that the person may always have discomfort or feelings of anxiety and the client learns to not allow the feeling of fear to prevent them from going to a dinner party, or a public restroom.

Some individuals who struggle with ongoing anxiety choose to see a psychiatrist or their individual doctor regarding anti-anxiety medication as well as psychotherapy. Some people find medication helps them relax easier and get increased benefits from their individual or group therapy.


What is telehealth?

Telehealth (or telemedicine) is, simply put, electronic therapy. Telehealth covers web chat, online therapy, e-mail therapy, telephone services, and many other names for the same or very similar services.

It is a way of making mental health accessible to anyone who has a telephone or the internet.

The benefits of online therapy include:

The laws that protect the confidentiality of your medical information also apply to telemedicine

Therapy is now available to people who live in rural areas with no therapist available to them

Therapy for individuals who are unable to leave their homes due to age

Therapy for individuals who are unable to leave their homes due to disability

Therapy for individuals who are unable to leave their homes due to excessive anxiety or fear

Therapy for individuals who are too busy for traditional office visits due to work demands

Therapy for individuals who are too busy for traditional office visits due to family demands

Therapy for individuals who travel often or people who work extended out-of-town schedules including cast and crew for film and television.

Online therapy is expected to grow more and more popular as more people become familiar and comfortable with electronic means of communication.

Research shows online therapy works as well as traditional face to face therapy for a variety of issues including anxiety, fear, worry, self esteem, guilt, shame, anger management, gender therapy, and identity issues.

The risks of online therapy include:

The possibility that the transmission of your medical information could be disrupted or distorted by technical failures

The transmission of your medical information could be interrupted by unauthorized persons if your information is not properly encrypted

Skype is not considered secure or confidential, but other free web chat services are confidential

The electronic storage of your medical information could be accessed by unauthorized persons if your information is not properly encrypted or password protected.

The possibility that you or your therapist could experience poor telephone reception or loss of wifi during session.

Online therapy is not ideal for individuals who are actively in crisis or experiencing thoughts of suicide.

I offer a variety of electronic services for your convenience including e-mail and text packages, web chat, and telephone services for the very affordable rate of $1 per minute between the hours of 10am and 10pm.

I find the benefit of charging per minute is that not all issues you may need to speak to me about take a full hour. Some conversations may only need to be 20 minutes. On the other hand, some people do not like to feel rushed and would prefer 80 or 90 minutes to discuss their difficulties.

Therapy is so important to me that I offer same day services (therapy when YOU need it). Imagine having the security that, at most anytime and any place, there was a trusted professional whom you could call when you had an unexpected problem or crisis;
 Or when a situation arose that demanded your immediate attention or required you to make an important decision now;
 Or when you had an insight or idea that you’d like to bounce off someone and get real time and reliable advice;
 Or simply because you needed to get something off your chest.

Call or text me today: 818-648-5605. I offer a truly personalized therapy experience for you.