What Is Verbal Bullying?

What Is Verbal Bullying?

As much as 21st century is known for its technological advancements, it is increasingly becoming known for the excessive engagement in verbal abuse or rather verbal bullying; especially in the public domain. In recent years, this act of verbally bullying someone for almost anything and  everything has become a trend and this needs to be addressed and understood in the framework of psychology and mental health. The act of verbal bullying refers to the intentional hurt levelled at someone for their actions. The current word trending for this is trolling. While such a form of bullying existed mostly in the present experiencing world, it has fast gained momentum and changed gears into online, virtual mode of trolling at much a surprising speed. Trolling in the name of body, appearance, religion, politics, cinema, law and management etc, everywhere the intolerance of people could be felt. There is an air of moral policing in the sense that people have become super aware of what is to be right and what is to be wrong. If we are to use the language of psychoanalysis, people have become high on superego.

Where has this sudden frustration, intolerance sprang from? Why this heightened intolerance towards all the things which are wrong and bad? In psychotherapy, there is the concept of evacuation which refers to the inherent feeling and action of purging out all the thoughts inside our minds into the outside space. Observing the environment around us in the everyday life, especially during the lockdown days; there was excessive trolling and engagement on everything perceived negatively. There can be two reasons for this: Firstly that due to lack of productivity during the lockdown days, there might be an intense feeling of engaging in something or the other. Secondly during the lockdown, it was also generally noticed that people engaged in praying activities and also preferred to watch more of shows related to mythology and religion. These circumstances could have contributed towards a heightened sense of righteousness. The concept of evacuation in psychotherapy has long attained significance towards an understanding of severe clinical psychopathology. But at the same time, such an understanding can also be extended towards knowing the everyday phenomena, in this instance the increasing cases of verbal bullying. These days, it has become all of words speaking louder than action and therefore it might not be wrong to say that this attitude is affecting not just the mental health of those engaging in this act but also of those whom it is directed towards. It thus becomes crucial to understand the reality behind these happenings.

As humans, we are constantly in the process of expelling everything which signifies negativity and wrongdoing. During British rule, Indians were labelled as barbaric, uncivilized, were equalised to filth and the only perceived solution was to civilize us to an extent that we start obeying them. Again here we see the expulsion of the disavowed parts within them into the other, such that by levelling negativity onto this outside object, this person might feel at peace. In recent times, we are noticing something similar happening around us. It is not about actions anymore but more about words. By engaging in a verbal banter and constantly being obsessed with what’s right and what’s wrong, we are constantly in that process of disavowing everything bad, negative, dark and unwanted within us onto the outside space. So what are some of the factors which can be kept in mind as to prevent this aspect of verbal abuse/bullying?

  1. It is always quite necessary and helpful of all the concerned parties engaged in the act to be mindful of the others’ opinions, thoughts and actions before jumping to the final conclusion. Active listening is something which is hugely missing in current times and it is crucial to drive home the fact that this type of listening is not just crucial from a therapy point of view but that as individuals too, active listening is a key ingredient for healthy relationships.
  2. If there are various parties involved in the conflict, it is essential to keep in loop certain moderators who without any partiality towards either side, are able to reason and help with understanding all the points involved in that person’s life.

Verbal bullying can have serious effects on any person’s life. While it is essential to put a stop on these practices through the help of law and order; perhaps understanding where the abuse is originating from and in what circumstances is also crucial. Three things then becomes crucial in understanding an instance of verbal abuse. First is the uncensored reality of the event that has occurred. Second is the opinions or rather the reality presented by all the concerned parties and their location vis-a-vis the bullying. Thirdly an open communication flavoured with all the ingredients of honest confrontation, dialogue, acceptance and rectification etc. is necessary for any successful conclusion. Tolerance of one’s own negative feelings, thoughts and actions is also essential which in turn might help in accepting the others’ shortcomings and thus take a step towards the desired change of peace and harmony among fellow human beings. Avoidance or escape is a temporary solution to such issues and thus it is useful through dialogue to not just oppose the instance of verbal bullying but also understand the location from which the source of bullying is coming from and in that clear any misunderstandings. Evacuation is one way of understanding in general the mindset of people in current times. It is important to understand that while it is not one person who can be blamed for the event; necessary steps could be taken so as to safeguard and restore the mental peace and well-being of everyone concerned in the act and thereby prevent further instances of the same. 

About the Author

W Yasashree
Psychology (Psychosocial Clinical Studies).

My life has truly been an adventure thanks to my father's job. Travelling to one place after another, adjusting to every place, attaching and deatt

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