TEN PRINCIPLES UNCOVERED in researching what scientists know about bullying and abuse while writing The Bullied Brain.
ONE Bullying and abuse create toxic environments of fear, humiliation and favouritism. Bullying and abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional and often entwine all three. Bullying and abuse frequently use grooming of higher-ups and colleagues to make many complicit in the harm. This results in coverup rather than holding the abusive individuals accountable.
TWO When bullying and abuse occur, that do not touch the body, brain scans record the physical damage to the brain. Verbal, psychological, emotional abuse and emotional neglect harm brains. The physical damage appears on brain scans.
THREE All forms of bullying and abuse, including those acts that do not harm the body, can do serious scarring, physical harm to the brain. The physical damage can be seen on brain scans.
FOUR Those who bully and abuse frequently present as a dual personality: respectful and caring to those they favour and manipulative and cruel to those they target. The dual personality makes higher-ups believe that the victims are in the wrong. This results all too often in re-victimization.
FIVE Harm from emotional abuse is similar, if not identical, to harm from physical abuse when assessed on brain scans. The law distinguishes between the two, but this model is outdated from a science perspective.
SIX Extensive research documents that brains and bodies exposed to bullying and abuse become distorted and unhealthy. Brain functions can be severely compromised leading to identifying with the aggressor, self-medication with drugs and alcohol, unhealth relationships, self-harm, eating disorders, etc.
SEVEN Extensive scientific research reveals that the chronic stress from bullying and abuse can elevate heart rate and blood pressure, negatively affect digestion and sleep, compromise the immune system, lead to hyper-vigilance, and activate anxiety and depression.
EIGHT According to scientists, brains being bullied cannot “answer the question” when they are being targeted for maltreatment. They struggle to make sense of reality. They develop “learned helplessness” and a “perception of inescapability.” This makes it extremely difficult to report abuse.
NINE Brains that cannot answer the question may slip into a “suicidal swamp.” The brain’s job is to make sense of reality and bullying / abuse distort reality in unhealthy ways. This causes brains to “degrade all systems.”
TEN Thirty years of medical, neuroscientific, neurobiological research inform us that bullying and abuse, in ALL forms, frequently leads to chronic illness and shortened life span.