Last week, TV presenter Eamonn Holmes caused controversy when he spoke about being bullied at school and encouraged children to ‘strike first’. He made the comments when WAG Bianca Austin, the wife of former Southampton striker Charlie Austin, divided the internet after praising her daughter for beating up another student who had been tormenting her.
As a psychiatrist, I would never advocate violence in any form. It is not the answer. Dialogue and communication are much more important. By responding violently, you degrade yourself and lower yourself to the level of the bully.
It also doesn’t really address the problem, it often just means the harasser moves on to someone else. Additionally, bullies, especially children, while understandably maligned, are often faced with very complex issues.
They frequently have problems at home and may be being abused or themselves on the receiving end of the violence.
But I’d be a hypocrite not to say that there’s a part of me that, if I had a son or daughter who was being bullied, would advise them to beat up the perpetrator.
Dr Max Pemberton (pictured) says: ‘As a psychiatrist I would never recommend violence in any form. is not the answer’
Most of the time, it works. My sister was two years below me in school. The school bully was bothering her for some time and she finally told me what was happening.
After he entrusted me, I saw the boy standing with some friends. I went up to him, told him to leave my sister alone, and punched him in the face.
They sent me to the director. He yelled and told me how much trouble he was in. He was very embarrassed and upset. Then, after giving me a reprimand, he said in a low voice, “Of course, if it had been my sister who was being bullied, I would have done the exact same thing,” and he patted me on the shoulder.
They called my parents, they punished me, but the boy never bullied my sister again.
But of course, bullying doesn’t end when we leave school. Harassment in the workplace is all too common. However, it tends not to take the form of physical violence: adult bullying takes a different, often more pernicious and insidious form. Sarcastic comments, undermining, gossiping and laughing at you behind your back. Intimidating bosses are particularly difficult to combat due to the inherent disparity in power.
It’s interesting that, just like in school, bosses only bully certain people. They don’t mess with people who can’t stand being pressured.
It is said that bullies don’t want to fight someone, they want to beat someone. But if you’re the kind of person who avoids conflict and likes to please people and likes to keep the peace, all characteristics that attract bullies, it’s hard to suddenly change this. And anyway, why should you? It’s who you are, and intimidation aside, these can be great qualities.
In my working life I have come across many different types of stalkers. There are those who throw tantrums, raise their voices and intimidate. While this can be horrible to find, it’s relatively easy to deal with because the violations are so flagrant it’s easy to get HR involved.
But of course, bullying doesn’t end when we leave school. Harassment in the workplace is all too common. Stock image used
These are often called “trial bullies” because their behavior is so flagrantly wrong that it’s easy to sue them. Others, however, are more covert, behaving nicely one day and being rude or demeaning the next. These are often more difficult to address.
They may employ the silent treatment, freezing you up, giving confusing and inconsistent messages, and making up rules on the fly that they then don’t follow.
These are effective strategies for intimidation because they are often difficult to prove.
So if you or your child is experiencing bullying, here’s my advice on how to address it without fighting…
- Calculate your tolerance level. Bullying often festers because people don’t really think about what they’re doing and don’t think about acceptable behavior or ways to talk to people until they realize boundaries are being pushed. Think carefully about what you think is acceptable, draw a line in the sand, and the moment someone steps over it, speak up.
- Make it clear that this is not acceptable to you and be very consistent with it.
- The key is to be assertive. Many people struggle with this; it is often the result of deep-seated insecurities that have not been addressed. However, I have seen some excellent results in patients who try assertiveness training or undergo psychotherapy to increase their self-confidence.
- Evidence shows that keeping a careful record of events and then going to a teacher, for your child, or to Human Resources for yourself, is not always effective.
Even for the most assertive and self-confident person, sometimes standing up for yourself means walking away and changing schools or jobs.
The clocks were moved forward yesterday, signaling the start of spring proper. However, research shows that it is bad for our health. Heart attacks and strokes increase when we advance the clocks. One study found that on the Monday after the spring change, there was a 24% increase in heart attacks, while on the Tuesday after the fall time change, heart attacks decreased by 21%. Those with underlying health conditions should take the transition carefully. It takes about a week for your body to get used to the change in circadian rhythm (biological clock). At this time, doctors recommend that you get as much sunlight as possible to help your body adjust. Or try a light box.
brave ed speaks about bulimia
The 32-year-old singer, pictured with his wife Cherry Seaborn, revealed that he developed bulimia, characterized by binge eating.
Good on Ed Sheeran for opening up about his eating disorder. The 32-year-old singer, pictured with his wife Cherry Seaborn, revealed he developed bulimia, characterized by binge eating, followed by purging and then restraint, after comparing himself to Shawn Mendes and Justin Bieber, whom he said have “fantastic figures”.
I ran a treatment group for patients with bulimia. It is a very misunderstood condition. It often takes a long time for men to get a diagnosis, as it is considered a problem of young women. It is also very dangerous.
For the heart to beat, it needs electrolytes to generate electricity. These chemicals are stored in the stomach. Regular vomiting can reduce them and the heart becomes unable to beat properly and may stop – cardiac arrest. There is also an emotional cost.
Eating disorders give sufferers a temporary sense of being in control of their emotions and, in the short term, make every day bearable. We all need to realize that eating disorders can affect men and women of all ages and from all walks of life, since prompt treatment has the best results.
In any cardiac ward, you will usually find at least one recently bereaved patient. One study found that those who have lost loved ones are at increased risk of atrial fibrillation, heart disease, heart attack, heart failure, and stroke. This is why we must take care of our health after a loss.
DR MAX RECIPE…
HIGH-TECH WATER BOTTLE
Airup water bottles are popular in schools right now. They cost around £25 (uk.air-up.com)
Airup water bottles are popular in schools right now. They cost around £25 (uk.air-up.com). You fill them with water, but the scented cartridges in the lid trick your brain into thinking it has flavor. The capsules are around £5 for three (they last a week or so). There are no artificial colors, preservatives, sugar or sweeteners. Not bad compared to a can of soda. It’s great that young people are replacing sweet drinks with water.