ON MENTAL ILLNESS: The Effects of Teen Bullying

By Jack Bragen
Thursday September 26, 2013 - 01:09:00 PM

Thirty-five years ago places me as a student in high school, where I was ostracized and bullied. In spite of me not being socially adept, the bullying I endured wasn't something I brought upon myself. 

Only in the last ten years has adolescent bullying gained coverage in the mainstream media. I learned that I was not the only one. I also learned that those who are bullied are sometimes subject to suicide or to other causes of an untimely demise. Someone who doesn't fit in socially with their peers and who is the victim of social abuse, as I'm calling it, has less of a chance, compared to an unharmed kid, of being successful later in life. 

The short-term result of the social abuse I received was that I became an obnoxious, inappropriate teen and young adult. This was an unconscious attempt at adapting to a hostile atmosphere. However, this only served to alienate me all the more from fellow human beings. 

I believe that how I was treated was a partial factor (along with heredity) that led to my becoming mentally ill. When I became an obnoxious young person, it only made me unpopular even among "good people" who don't normally bully anyone. At some point, even the people who were originally nice to me finally rejected me. And instead of dealing with this rejection in the moment, (which would have been quite painful) my brain produced psychosis. 

(When I was seventeen and I split off from reality and went into a delusional system, the amount of suffering that resulted was astronomically greater than what I would have felt if I had just dealt properly with the initial painful emotions.) 

Lack of social ability is among the indicators that someone will develop schizophrenia. It is hard to know how much the preliminary social deficit is hereditarily caused. Not only can lack of social ability be a stressor that leads to mental illness, it can also be an indicator that something is going wrong with the brain's wiring. 

When I initially tried to go to junior college (with high hope for a two-year transfer) I discovered that the same bullying kids who had harassed me in high school were now attending the junior college and would then harass me while I tried to get a college degree. Hence, I dropped out of junior college. Thanks for ruining my life. 

Today I find it easier to deal with automated things in our society at those times when I want to accomplish something. For example, I prefer automated phone systems and automated tellers over dealing with human beings. A machine doesn't have social baggage or an agenda that you be a certain way, look a certain way, or behave a certain way. A machine isn't expecting to be asked out on a date. Anything I can accomplish online instead of in person, I will do. 

A few years back I was invited to a high school twenty-year reunion. I stressed considerably on whether I should go and finally decided not to. I could not be sure that the same people, now much older, would not still try some stunt to make me humiliated. 

Verbal taunts and harassment may not break someone's bones, but they affect a person, and in fact, they can kill. I'm glad there is a start to a public discussion on teen bullying, and I hope this will bear fruit.