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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Why do people bully others?

  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • Joe Gubbay

    Clinical Psychologist, Counsellor, Psychologist, Psychotherapist

    I have worked in public hospitals as well as private practice over the past 25 years. As a clinical psychologist I treat depression, social anxiety, … View Profile

    Bullying - we all know it when it happens to us, but to understand why it happens, it useful to be clear what we mean by bullying. One definition is that it's psychological or physical oppression of a less powerful person by a more powerful person or group.  Bullying can be a conscious decision by the bully, but sometimes the bully doesn't realise that they're acting in an unacceptable or harmful way.  

    Reasons can include a desire to harm someone else - most people have thoughts or desires about hurting others from time to time but we don't act on them.  A repeat bully will generally get enjoyment out of their behaviour.  Sometimes bullying is the outcome of good intentions, such as when someone in a senior position is providing criticism to an employee with education in mind; the intention might be good, but if it's done in a way that is disrespectful, denigrating and makes the employee feel belittled, then it could well be bullying. Humans are social animals, and we tend to exist in hierarchies. Sometimes being lower down the hierarchy is a bad place to be, so exerting dominance over others is rewarded.  Other people are trying to make up for perceived shortcomings, and they find that bullying is an effective way to be dominant.   

    Australia has come a long way in recognising that bullying is unacceptable, especially in schools and in the workplace.  But it's still a problem.

  • Sheree Holland


    AFFIRMATIVE PSYCHOLOGY -MIAMI, GOLD COAST, BULK BILLING* (conditions apply). Affirmative Psychology - is a "niche" private psychology practice established by Sheree Principal/Psychologist/Principal so that the … View Profile

    This is a topic of great interest to researchers, as it is more prevalent than the community at large realises. I am a registered Psychologist in private practice on the Gold Coast, and I take a special interest in workplace bullying. It is important to look at other background issues (i.e. organization culture, context, and personality variables etc), and in this regard I have written an article on the topic.

    If you follow the link (or cut and paste it into your browser) it will take you to the publication entitled “Workplace Bullying: The Elephant in the Room”, by Sheree Holland, Psychologist, Affirmative Psychology.

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