Monday, August 15, 2011

Guest Blogger Allison Gamble

Guest blogger: Allison Gamble is a writer for Psychology Degree. Thank you Allison for sharing this piece.

Psychology of flaming

Beware: the playground bullies of your past have found their way onto the Internet. How many of us have posted on an online community only to notice an aggressive poster attempting to start a war of words between users? Not only do the insulting posts disrupt conversation, it doesn’t take a psychology degree to know that they can be annoying and offensive. The world of flaming and trolling has gained more and more attention in the last few years as the internet has become a bigger part of our lives. Psychologists theorize that there are motives behind these faceless bullies.

Flaming is an aggressive or antagonistic interaction between Internet users, frequently on message boards, blogs, game servers and in chat rooms, and exist mainly to act with hostility and insult other posters. Deliberate flamers are cyber-bullies who enjoy getting a rise out of others by focusing on heated issues like politics and religion, or by personally attacking others. Their main goal is to disrupt the flow of conversation between others and provoke conversation instead about the flame. Trolls are of a similar vein and intentionally practice flaming by writing obvious, insulting, and often off-topic remarks to start a “flame war.” While many people have encountered flaming and trolls, most people are unaware of their motives. What causes an Internet user to want to provoke another user? Who wants to embroil themselves in the middle of an argument? Recent work in psychology has yielded a few theories.

Peter J. Moore and his colleagues have done extensive research on flaming. In Moore's 2010 study "Flaming on YouTube," one of the major findings was that by communicating over the Internet, flamers experience de-individualization and have less of an awareness of people's feelings than they would in a face-to-face interaction. Moore also found that while many flamers deliberately incite problems, flaming is "more often intended to express disagreement or as a response to a perceived offense by others."

Moore and other social psychologists have found that the lack of social cues in online communication can cause uninhibited behavior. Users feel anonymous and believe that they will face no consequences for their words and actions. Without being able to hear a sender's intonation or hints of sarcasm, often times receivers may take a message as insulting, when in fact it was meant to be a joke. This miscommunication can make flaming and trolling appear more rampant than it is, and posts and messages are often taken out of context. Non-verbal cues and facial expressions play an integral role in face-to-face communication, all of which are lost in text.

According to a BBC article, flaming can actually have much simpler causes. Again, due to a lack of non-verbal cues and intonation, many flamers believe that they have been attacked and feel the need to defend themselves. Ranting is another form. While prior to computers when one needed a good rant, the complaints were relegated to diaries, family, and friends, now individuals can use Internet forums to air their grievances. These angry, rambling rants are often times seen as a form of flaming, though they are usually unintentional. Flaming can also come in the form of complaints. When an individual feels that they had poor customer service or a product was not what they expected, they'll sometimes write inflammatory posts in the reviews sections or on message boards. Others, enjoy the challenge and flaming is a way to lure another user into a debate or argument.

Dr. Andrew Campbell wrote in a recent article that certain personality types are drawn to flaming and trolling. Campbell theorizes that people who lack power in face-to-face social situations often find flaming to be an outlet. While in the real world these people may fear criticism and feel awkward, online they can be socially combative with no repercussions. He also found that many flamers and trolls are young teenagers, and that teenagers are testing their boundaries and social skills. Their immaturity is evident in their inflammatory posts.

Whatever the cause, flaming and trolling can put a damper on our Internet experience. While most social psychologists link the phenomenon with anonymity and a lack of social and visual cues, some flamers and trolls are genuinely angry and enjoy instigating others. Try to avoid flamers and trolls by ignoring them, responding with a concise, rational argument or by explaining to the flamer that your comments were taken out of context and you did not mean to insult them. Keep your computer communications stress-free by avoiding those who intentionally try to bait you.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Guest Blogger: Kathleen Hubert

Hi, I have a guest blogger this week. This is Kathleen Hubert. She is here to give her take on what to do to stand against Peer Abuse/Bullying.

Steps to Surviving Peer Abuse/Bullying

When you were young, a bully was someone in school who pushed you around, told mean jokes, or laughed at you. You probably dreaded going to school because of the bully. As you grew older, you developed better coping skills to deal with school bullying. However, bullying still exists for adults. Bullying has evolved from laughing at you on the playground to the attempt of intimidating you in the workplace, social settings, and online networking. You may have been taught to 'walk away' from the bully in school, but how do you survive bullying as an adult?

Steps to Surviving Peer Abuse/Bullying:

1. Don't take it personally.

Whenever someone puts you down, in some form they are trying to make themselves feel better. If you remember that their actions reflect nothing on you, you may be able to cope with the adult bully. As a bully, they will seek ways to really get under your skin. There may be no way to determine their motives or intentions, but if you recognize that their bullying is actually a reflection of their own inner struggle, you can make better choices on how to respond.

2. Respond -- don't react.

If there is a way to avoid one-on-one communication with the bully, it is best to take this route. Most times, nothing is solved by emotionally charged bantering. If you must interact with this person, make sure to do so when other people are around. If other people are around, the bully might stop their negative behavior. Even if the bully doesn't stop the behavior, there will be people around to witness it. If you remain calm and composed while someone publicly bullies you, those around will be able to tell immediately who is at fault. If you react in a bad situation, like talking back, you look just as bad as the bully. However, responding calmly doesn't mean you can't stick up for yourself.

3. Stick up for yourself.

If you must interact with a bully via online communication or in person, set your boundaries. Statements, such as, "I would appreciate it if you would refrain from ______" or "You don't have the right to ______", clarify what you're okay with. Even if this does not stop their actions, your boundaries are clear. Exude confidence when dealing with the bully. Typically, if they see you are not very affected by their actions, they may stop altogether.

4. Surround yourself with positive influences.

Whenever possible, surround yourself with family or friends that genuinely care about you. Stewing on a bully can be harmful to your emotional and psychological well-being. By being around people who respect and care about you, you are often reminded of the treatment you genuinely deserve. You most likely have more people in your life who like you, than those who do not. Keep a good sense of self-worth by behaving and doing things you know you deserve.

5. This too shall pass.

All things change. Change is inevitable. Eventually, you will not have to deal with the bullying anymore. If you remember to not take things personally, respond calmly, stick up for yourself, and surround yourself with positivity, things will change. Either your level of tolerance for the bullying will change, or the bullying will dissipate on its' own. Remain confident and hopeful because everything must change.

As an adult, you can identify bullying tactics, such as: intimidation, false allegations, undermining, distrust and unrealistic expectations. Social networking has created a gateway for people to be victimized by bullying. Social networking sites allow information to become public, connect with users, and sometimes used as means communication. A bully may say inappropriate things online about you, harass you through messaging, or even harassing those you know. When these situations occur in your life, you can handle the stress of peer abuse by remembering these steps.

Kathleen Hubert is a blogger who writes on a variety of different sites. Check out more of her work at href="">led tv.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog entry may not necessarily reflect the views of the blog owner.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Ostracism and social isolation

Oh another week and lots to do. There was one article that struck me and stayed with me since last week. It is entitled Ostracism Causes Lingering Pain in the Brain and written by Dr. Amen. As a survivor, I will admit that in the past I had an abnormal fear of this happening in my social settings. In the present, I just feel a lot of pain when this happens. At the same time, I have learned that if people do not want me in their lives, it is their loss and not mine. However, at the end of the day, the pain is still there. After reading this article, I understand why. As a survivor who is an adult, I am so glad more and more is coming out about this form of abuse. It is like my own feelings are finally being validated. Yes, they are real and yes, it is a serious problem.

Our society teaches us to “suck it up” and “don’t worry about these things” and that this behavior is a “fact of life.” I have also said many times that our society is not well and now more than ever we are seeing this. It is hard to deny because it slaps us in the face on a daily basis. We can say these things do not bother us and throw these other excuses around or we can admit that we are not allowing ourselves to be human. It is human nature to want to be accepted and included as we are wired to be social beings.

According to this article, ostracism cuts deeper and lasts a lot longer than any physical pain. It is like a form of bullying that does not leave bruises on us. Also, there are three stages in ostracism and they are the actual act of being excluded, coping and resignation. Man, can I relate to these. During the first stage, people have learned that they have been left out and are hit with the harsh reality. The pain is there and is real. So, instead of moving on, many times we move to the second stage to cope. During this phase, we start acting out in ways that will garner acceptance. It is like going against what you believe or selling your soul to these people in some respect. I see a lot of Queen Bee’s use a lot of bargaining during this phase. This is why these abusers have so many followers. They do not want to be excluded. However, if still being excluded and have been coping and getting nowhere, people will generally turn towards aggressive means or they give up completely. This is known as resignation. If the person has tried hard enough and still cannot get that acceptance, they take it into their own hands or just move on. I believe this is where school shooters come in. They have tried, worked hard, followed, sold their soul and done everything but still nothing changes. So, they take things into their own hands. Folks, a person can only take so much until they snap.

As I have been healing, I have learned to seek healthy relationships and people who accept and not reject me. This meant getting toxic people out of my life and keeping them out. It meant learning healthy social habits and staying away from people who do not want me. Are their times when I wanted to be accepted? Sure! I am human and more times will crop up. However, I have the wisdom now to know the difference.

If anyone is dealing with this and has done so in high doses, please seek a kind and accepting therapist. In the meantime, please try to love people as they are. We are so hardened these days and we want people to be just like us. That is impossible; no two people are alike. However, we can go back to the golden rule. Treat others as we wish to be treated. Something to certainly think about here.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Will it ever end?

This week has been quite interesting. However, what grabbed my attention and kept it was the recent two part episode of Dr. Phil entitled Bullies Beware. The viewers got to spend the first part with a self-professed bully. The second episode gave us a 13-year-old young man who was abused by peers in elementary school. He became an abuser by middle school. The kid was quite honest; he said he enjoyed the power that came with being an abuser as it was a rush. He even stated that “he was addicted to bullying.” As he is still in the developmental years, there is a good chance he can be reformed without many complications. Heck even his mother was considered a bully. It seemed as if she owned her bad behavior and was willing to reform in that area. The one that got my goat was this self-professed bully on Monday and part of Tuesday.

This woman is 26-years-old and seems quite proud of herself. She is also the epitome of what I consider a hard core bully to be. What I mean by hard core is the organic, true Queen Bee who has followers to do her dirty work. Not a pseudo-bully like we find in the “little workers” of the Queen. I am guessing she went through school manipulating and charming those around her. Let me take a few minutes and list some of her activities:

1. She says people will respect her whether they want to or not. She demands it. (um, controlling much?)

2. When she is in line waiting for gas, she will go up to the car in front of her and tell the owner that they need to move because her car is better than theirs. (Oh, it’s that sense of entitlement speaking out!)

3. Her cousin has Down Syndrome and she makes fun of her. (Okay, your lack of empathy is screaming through here)

4. Handicapped parking should not exist and she parks in these places because she can. (Oh wow, more entitlement here! Does it ever end??)

5. She mishandled a tea cup poodle that belongs to her friend. (Um, those who harm animals usually are those with anti-social personality problems)

6. Oh and the most important tip off. A mother of a child who was abused by his peers confronted her and her behavior. Her response? “See, she is bullying ME!” This is so common of adult bullies. They spin things like this and are good at it.

As an adult survivor, I found her to be disturbing. Her lack of remorse or conscience was evident. Also, the narcissism that radiated through her and that dang sense of entitlement. One thing she did not lack was self-esteem. This woman was so arrogant and full of herself. It was hard to watch her to be honest. Yes, I have encountered this ilk all of my life. Yup, they gave me enough grief to last me 2300 lifetimes and then some. They were so good that they eventually made me believe I was the disgusting piece of crap they kept telling me I was. Well, not any longer. Their dysfunction is evident and it must suck to be them. Who do I blame for people like this? I blame society and their lack of knowledge for so long. As a child, I tried to make adults aware of this behavior in others only to be told I was “too sensitive”. Nobody wanted to put the stops out and hold these people accountable for their ilk. As a result, we have people like this woman in our society and are appalled at how they behave. We shouldn’t be! We created these monsters by not standing up to them and following them wanting to be a part of their world. As for this woman on the show, I do not know if she was a Queen Bee growing up or if she was abused by her peers. However, what I saw on that show was a perfect example of what comes of allowing this problem to fester. Not only do the abused suffer but so do those being abused. In many ways I pity her. I would not think it would be fun to run around without any conscience. I would miss out on really caring about others. Plus, the entitlement would leave me disappointed time and again as I would not always get the red carpet treatment.

Please, we do not need any more children growing up to be like this woman. Talk to your kids about this problem. Bystanders, stand up to these abusers and stop trying to be “wannabees.” Is this what we want for our future? Something to seriously think about here.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Okay or not okay?

Whew! We are half way through the week and I am surviving another day as an adult. A lot of news about Peer Abuse (bullying) in the news. Phoebe Prince can finally RIP because her abusers have been sentenced. Pretty lenient sentences if you ask me but, what do I know? I am not a legal expert just a B word one. My friends at Civilination had a great blog on PTSD and Annie Fox has kept it real with her blog discussing the decline of society. If that does not top it all, there has been some great discussion on my Facebook page about events happening in Dayton, OH where three teens set a young man’s hair on fire. When does it end? When is okay and not okay?

As an adult survivor of this form of abuse, I have heard the classic “life is not fair” many a time and I can tell you that any other adult survivor knows firsthand that life is not fair. Our civil and human rights were violated before we were old enough to drive and vote! Please folks, give me something I do not know already know. One thing I ponder and that is when is it okay and not okay to hurt someone?

To be alive and exist, we will all experience pain at some point. It pretty much goes with the territory. Yes, even when some choose to live with their rose colored glasses on, it does not mean they are completely immune to pain. The same goes with those who take up residence in their fishbowl with everything happily ever after. However, when is pain not okay? When is life not fair? There is an intangible line here and it is important to understand that. Life stops being fair when people are hurt and abused in any form of fashion. I am sorry but, there are no excuses for that behavior towards anyone. Competition? It’s everywhere and on some level human nature. However, it becomes problematic when it is intentional, flaunted and thrown in other faces to bring pain to them. Setting someone’s head on fire? Um, “life is not fair” will not fly with this one. Nor will it not fly when someone suffers from Complex PTSD. Oh and posting “accomplished” on Facebook after you drove your target to kill herself is not acceptable either. What is wrong with us? Have we lost all touch of empathy and compassion? Do we even know right from wrong any longer?

Nobody knows the hard knocks of life like an adult survivor of the B word does. Again, our civil and human rights were violated very early on and our life, liberty and pursuit of happiness did not always apply to us. It’s hard to dodge these hurdles when the abuse is rampant and it is eight-year-old you against 15 or so other children. Survivors get this and still battle these demons. Experiencing pain and having those we care about hurt us are a fact of life. Not getting a promotion that you felt was yours and went to someone else? Yeah, that’s life. Your grandmother passed away from cancer? Sure, we all have to deal with death. However, it is not okay to continue to harm others or bring them pain intentionally. There is a difference and something we all should think about.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Social Empathy and Social Pain

I work daily online and talk to many people from different places in the world. Facebook is a very active place to go and interact with others. I do a lot of reading and observing as well. As the internet brings the world together, it’s not uncommon to talk to someone in the U.K or in the Ukraine all in the same day. The cultural differences are evident in these posts that I read. However, one constant remains the same and that is social exclusion and lack of social empathy. I am not targeting one particular group, culture or individual here, but am speaking as a whole. Adult Survivors of Peer Abuse grew up in a world where empathy was lacking in their social pain. If we cried, we were told to grow up and stop acting like a baby. However, if it was a case of rape or child abuse, oh boy did people run and empathize to the hilt. Even if it was a physical case, people were so sad. These situations warranted prayer and concern. Yet, when it came to social pain and abuse, it was as if people just turned a blind eye and shrugged it off. I think this is one reason why we are so sensitive socially and pick up on every headshake, word and glare thrown our way. Also, why we are so reactive and are triggered in social situations. It is as if we expect others to lash out at us if we say what is on our minds or complain about how others are making us feel. Peer Abuse is without a doubt something that must be experienced before it can be understood.

A study was conducted by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and shared on the Livescience website. In this study, adults were playing a game of ball-toss. This was done online where the ball was thrown by one person to two other players. Some participants received the ball a fair 1/3 of the time. This was considered the inclusion condition. Others were tossed the ball 10 percent of the time which was considered exclusion condition. Another group which was the control group did not participate in the game at all. Ratings were based on an 11-point scale, each point represented by a facial expression showing an increasing magnitude of pain. Those excluded students indicated a significantly higher pain experience linked to the two social-exclusion scenarios compared with the inclusion group (4.6 versus 3.7). For the other scenarios, the pain ratings didn’t differ between the groups. Three other experiments using the cyberball game, with various tweaks, showed similar results. In one, the players had to indicate how a victim of bullying (named Anna) felt after “Roger” teased her, shouting “earthquake” when she passed by due to her being overweight. The exclusion students rated her pain an average of 5.5 versus 4.3 rating from the inclusion group. At the end of the day, it showed that social pain as much as if not more than any other pain someone would experience.

Folks, it’s time to get real here. Social pain is very real and as you see, it matters to others just as much as any other type of pain would. I am seeing so much lack of social empathy online. People in forums just ignoring others. Then, some will exclude others in offline activities and continuously rub this into those who are not included in these activities. Facebook and Twitter are hotbeds for this. If the person was to speak up, they would get flamed, told to get lost or to stop being so sensitive. Newsflash: these things DO hurt! As an adult survivor myself, I have found myself in many of these situations. As a survivor, what have I done? Sat at the computer and cried. If I spoke out, I got told how silly I was being and childish. I will always have this with me because I am a survivor. However, I have learned to handle it. Plus, I am not alone here. Why do we do this? What makes it okay to verbally ignore others? What is missing with us? Manners have flown out the window and it’s bad to have them these days. Our society has taught us that this lack of empathy is acceptable! People, words hurt! Not only that, but they kill. I can answer all of these questions and that is lacking social empathy or pain for others is not acceptable and this is the culture we have created. We keep quiet about our pain and by doing so we allow this to fester and continue.

The next time you are online, please try and interact with as many people as you can. A recognition or a smile can make a person’s day. Kindness can go a long way. It’s not hard to do. As humans, don’t we all deserve to be included? Something for us all to think about.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Empathic Babies, Children, and Teens

Today I am participating in a 28-day virtual tour for a new book titled Whose Stuff is this? Finding Freedom from the Thoughts, Feelings, and Energy of Those Around You written by Yvonne Perry. The book offers empowering, proactive techniques to help empathic people manage energy and information overload coming from the collective unconsciousness of Earth. See for details.

Many children—especially spiritually-sensitive kids—are affected by energy overload or empathy fatigue that comes from being intuitive and not knowing how to handle the info-energy they receive.

Yesterday, Yvonne visited [Pat Bertram: Drag On My Feet]. Today, she is my guest blogger. I hope you enjoy the article she wrote about how kids develop empathy and intuition.

Empathic Babies, Children, and Teens

By Yvonne Perry

Empathy is what makes other people matter to us and reminds us to acknowledge the people around us as we understand and share their feelings. Empathy exists in early mother-infant bonding. Even before birth, a baby in the womb is sensitive to the mother’s feelings, whether positive, neutral, or negative. Once born, a baby shows receptivity to both parents’ anger, tension, and depression, as well as their caring, responsiveness, and love. You’ve probably noticed how they imitate your facial expressions, smiling in response to your smile. They also may cry if they hear another baby cry. This type of response is a step in the development of empathy and the ability to share the feelings of another person.

Babies absorb the mental and emotional energy of the people around them. They don’t filter anything; they simply receive. As a child ages, this empathic tendency may increase and get out of control. Some children pick up the emotions, energy, or thoughts of others to the degree that it becomes overwhelming and interrupts the development of their social and emotional life. Because these children do not know how to set personal boundaries (or that they need to), they do not realize when they are in another person’s mental or emotional space, much less how invasive this can be to that person. It can also lower the child’s own vibrational level.

An empath is sensitive to what is obvious as well as unseen things such as ghosts and the thoughts, emotions, and illnesses they sense around them. Empaths may get hunches, see mental pictures, hear voices, or have a gut feeling that supplies hidden information about people and situations. They may also get a physical sensation in their body that lets them know where another person is afflicted or suffering.

You may have heard of Indigo Children or Crystal Kids who have intuitive gifts that surprise or even astound adults. These empathic children easily pick up on the feelings and thoughts of adults and others as they unconsciously reach into human and spirit energy fields to gather information and understand things around them. Seeing with their spiritual eyes, feeling with their spiritual senses, hearing with their spiritual ears, they may give information about a past life, tell of events before they happen, see ghosts, or know something about another person or situation that no one else does. Today, as many as one in four children have this ability and are tuned into the higher frequency all the time.

Being an empath is very draining for an adult. Just imagine what it feels like to be an intuitive or empathic child and not have the language to explain it to your parents or teachers. A child who is overloaded with the energy of others may have on-going illnesses, show depressive episodes, lash out in anger, cry without reason, or try to “fix” things between adults who argue or do not get along well. A child or teen who sees or hears in the spirit realm may act out because he or she feels overwhelmed and does not know how to express what he or she is experiencing. The problem is compounded when adults will not listen, try to hush the child, or refuse to believe the child’s report of psychic incidents.

We do our intuitive children a great injustice when we invalidate their experiences and intuitive abilities. But, many parents simply don't know what to do with kids who see or hear spirits, talk about a deceased relative they never met in body, give clues into past lives, predict future events, or know some family secret they haven’t been privy to. In some cases, the “hushing” parent also has some paranormal gifts in operation that he or she is not comfortable talking about—maybe they were shushed by their parents and are simply mimicking the parenting role model they were given. As parents, teachers, and counselors we need to teach children how to properly use this empathic gift, but many adults do not trust their own intuition much less recognize their children’s spiritual abilities. Empathic kids need someone they can talk to and they need information on how to keep their auras clear, to open and shut their intuitive abilities at will, and set energetic boundaries. But, where do adults go to learn how to help these empathic kids and teens?

The more you read and study this topic, the better you will be able to answer your children’s questions and help them manage their intuitive gifts. Dr. Caron Goode and I invite you to learn more about a book we have written. It is titled WHOSE STUFF IS THIS? Finding Freedom from the Detrimental Thoughts, Feelings, and Energy of Those Around You. Learn more at

Come along on the tour with us. Tomorrow’s blog stop will be at [The Shift Guru with Barbara Joye]. See the entire tour schedule at