Why does social sadism seem to be acceptable to most people?



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corroonb
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Thu Jul 31, 2008 1:36 pm

I have frequently experienced abuse of the verbal or emotional kind throughout my 23 years of existence and I've come to the conclusion that verbal abuse and bullying are an instinctive human behaviour. I can think of no other reason for the lack of a more scientific term being applied to the behaviour than bullying. I think of this behaviour as "social sadism" as the bullies quite clearly derive some sort of pleasure from tormenting others. This may not be the same as physical torture but the pain caused in many cases is just as serious.

Why are such bullies and sadists not charged criminally? The damage done often extends to suicide, low self-esteem and lifelong difficulties.

I can only conclude that society in general finds such behaviour to be acceptable. I myself used to engage in some behaviour of this sort because I have a tendency to imitate and take my social cues from others. I have since stopped this.

I do not want this to be yet another aspie versus nt thread, I would prefer an unemotional discussion about this problem and some ways to address it. I don't think that every human is a natural bully but that many seem to either tolerate it or engage in it. What do you think about this?



sim
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Thu Jul 31, 2008 1:39 pm

There are several people I know whom of which have yet to display any remarkably outstanding talents in any field.
There is a friend of mine whom does.
When the latter makes even a slight display, the former become outraged and indignant.
I believe the inability to deal with feelings of inferiority plays a major role.



Venger
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Thu Jul 31, 2008 1:43 pm

I remember people like that from school, and they were probably sociopaths.



corroonb
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Thu Jul 31, 2008 1:48 pm

Venger wrote:
I remember people like that from school, and they were probably sociopaths.


If it only occurred in school, then something about school would be causing it. But it occurs at all levels of society and in most social circles. I hate it because I know what dreadful harm it can do to people. If it was only a few people, then the conclusion that they are sociopath would be valid but they can't all be sociopaths. A lot of bosses and people in power do this too.



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Thu Jul 31, 2008 1:58 pm

There is a lot of people who are mild sociopaths and nobody knows it since they appear normal. People with ASPD often act relatively normal because they're "fake" which means they don't say weird stuff they're really thinking.



marshall
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Thu Jul 31, 2008 2:07 pm

Just think about the violent history of humanity and then consider the fact that our genetic makeup hasn’t really changed. The desire to fit in is so strong that people will suppress their personal moral judgment in order to join in group cruelty. If enough people partake in cruelty against specific groups or individuals (think racism) cruelty becomes culturally acceptable against those groups or individuals. It is quite literally “monkey see monkey do”. People are for the most part pathetic sheep. Usually it takes a very forceful message to convince society to question it’s behaviors.



Sora
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Thu Jul 31, 2008 2:26 pm

It's all about hierarchy, feeling for and with others - everybody who does has the potential to bully. Not that I could feel it, but I can see how others see its attraction.

Not the bullying is inertly human, I agree. But rather the potential that enables a person to relate to another on a personal level, the possibility to feel compassion as well as pleasure from treating others good or bad.

There are reasons unrelated to these that cause bullying and abuse that would be psychopathic, but the general populations seems to bully because of other reasons.

If I see the majority of bullies, I see tawny immature admire-needy idiots. Most bully to be seen and wouldn't bully alone without any witnesses. Pathetic and a perfect illustration how much they depend on others to feel good. Which could be mild forms of APD or just general wickedness, because APD does not equate to psychopathy.

I think the potential to do such things as bullying is human and everybody who feels and defines relationships to others can do it - and those who can't have the potential to bully all the same, just with different catalysts.


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corroonb
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Thu Jul 31, 2008 2:31 pm

I think the importance that people attach to social hierarchy is as much to blame as anything else. True sadists bully for the pleasure of hurting others. Many others bully to fit in with a group and give up their individual morals to the group which is usually controlled by a sadistic alpha male type who enjoys power over others.



marshall
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Thu Jul 31, 2008 3:43 pm

Sora wrote:
It's all about hierarchy, feeling for and with others - everybody who does has the potential to bully. Not that I could feel it, but I can see how others see its attraction.


I think you are right that it is an urge that most people have to some degree. There really is a continuum of behaviors with bullying at the more extreme end.

For instance, I enjoyed playing a practical joke on someone else when I was a university undergraduate. I didn’t do it to feel power over the other person who I considered a friend. It was merely amusing and made me feel clever in a silly puerile way. It also made me feel more included in the group.

I think that maybe bullying is sometimes just a much more extreme manifestation of this urge with the additional complete lack of sympathy for the victim. It’s the latter that I have difficulty understanding. I don’t see myself teasing or playing jokes on someone who might become hurt by it unless they did something hurtful to me first. I see a lot of people who have no such discretion and continue teasing and mocking until the person lashes out against it. Then there are others on the very extreme end who appear to be sadists. They stop at nothing and the more pain they cause the better they feel about it.



Anemone
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Fri Aug 01, 2008 12:19 pm

I think a lot of people would like social sadism to be illegal, but how would you regulate it? It's so common, who would you make an example of? It seems to be hard to make anything illegal as long as lots of people do it. Once most people stop, then the authorities can crack down on the rest. (This happened with driving drunk - once regular people stopped doing it so much the police could then crack down on the rest.) Also, gathering evidence is a hassle. There are a lot of things that are illegal that have very low conviction rates. You need evidence. Police are reluctant to press charges if they think it won't go anywhere.

Human rights legislation is civil, not criminal, and there is a lot of discrimination out there, but it's hard to prove a case, so most of it goes unpunished. Every once in a while, though, a case comes along that makes an example of someone, and then others change as a result. Social sadism will probably change the same way - a school or office will be sued for not providing a safe place to study/work, then all schools/offices will get their acts together to prevent lawsuits. Or maybe that's already happened. Then if we're lucky this triggers an overall shift in thinking in society, as institutions model better behaviour. ?



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Fri Aug 01, 2008 2:27 pm

It would certianly be nice if 'social sadism' was illegal, but I think the main reason why it is not and never will be is because then it would have an effect on the wealthier people and those in a position of power such as the police (as some of them are real bad for being bullies) or those with high ranking positions at work.

There are some people who bully because, of course, they derive pleasure from making others feel bad about themselves or by abusing them in some way whether it be physical, mental or both. There are also as you pointed out corroonb those who tolerate such behaviour. I think that there are different levels of tolerance here. I think you get those that tolerate by laughing at those that are being victimised as it is in some way entertaining for them to see, but they won't actually participate in the bad behaviour themselves. But then there are those that don't believe that what is going on is right, but they will go along with it and/or say or do nothing to help the victim nor against the perpetrator so that they don't risk becoming the victim themselves. This is what I believe is called bystander apathy and I think this sort of behaviour is actually quite common, therefore, in some way encouraging the perpetrators to continue with their bad activities as there is no one willing to put their foot down and say it isn't right. I once did that with a bully and everyone turned on me after that. Yet he was just one person, ONE PERSON and there were 9 of them. If they would have all just ignored him or told him where to go, that situation wouldn't have occurred in the first place, but no. They were so scared of becoming one of his victims that they picked on me when he told them to. In fact, a part of me believes now that they enjoyed it. I think they only did because their lives really sucked, and they still do, but hey I don't care. Why should I? I live a better life than any of them do now ha ha!! !


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gwynfryn
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Fri Aug 01, 2008 4:29 pm

corroonb wrote:
I have frequently experienced abuse of the verbal or emotional kind throughout my 23 years of existence and I've come to the conclusion that verbal abuse and bullying are an instinctive human behaviour. I can think of no other reason for the lack of a more scientific term being applied to the behaviour than bullying. I think of this behaviour as "social sadism" as the bullies quite clearly derive some sort of pleasure from tormenting others. This may not be the same as physical torture but the pain caused in many cases is just as serious.

Why are such bullies and sadists not charged criminally? The damage done often extends to suicide, low self-esteem and lifelong difficulties.

I can only conclude that society in general finds such behaviour to be acceptable. I myself used to engage in some behaviour of this sort because I have a tendency to imitate and take my social cues from others. I have since stopped this.

I do not want this to be yet another aspie versus nt thread, I would prefer an unemotional discussion about this problem and some ways to address it. I don't think that every human is a natural bully but that many seem to either tolerate it or engage in it. What do you think about this?


It's more easily explained as a "them and us" system; the people in charge spend a great deal of effort into acquiring as much as they can for themselves, but (believe this) they spend at least as much energy into depriving the rest of us.



mysterious_misfit
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Sat Aug 02, 2008 8:20 am

I was just thinking about something similar this morning. People LOVE to think horrible thoughts about other people. They love to attribute terrible motives to others. They just love it, they derive some kind of sick pleasure from it. This is a lesson I have learned time and again over the 26 years of my life.



alba
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Sat Aug 02, 2008 10:01 am

If you have an appearance that isn't seen to be attractive, if you have body language that is awkward or inappropriate, if you fail to observe social cues that most people catch onto .... then you may be vulnerable to bullying. I've been targeted by bullies all my life. Apparently I dress and look weird. If you live in a place where everyone is or looks weird there isn't as much bullying going on. Therefore I tend to prefer those places.

Presently however I'm not residing in one of those places and I would welcome any advice on how I may "fit in" better and avoid looking vulnerable. It isn't my desire to invite bullying yet that is exactly what is happening.

Thankyou for starting this thread. I hope people who have successfully dealt with bullies will contribute.



corroonb
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Sat Aug 02, 2008 10:08 am

alba wrote:
If you have an appearance that isn't seen to be attractive, if you have body language that is awkward or inappropriate, if you fail to observe social cues that most people catch onto .... then you may be vulnerable to bullying. I've been targeted by bullies all my life. Apparently I dress and look weird. If you live in a place where everyone is or looks weird there isn't as much bullying going on. Therefore I tend to prefer those places.

Presently however I'm not residing in one of those places and I would welcome any advice on how I may "fit in" better and avoid looking vulnerable. It isn't my desire to invite bullying yet that is exactly what is happening.

Thankyou for starting this thread. I hope people who have successfully dealt with bullies will contribute.


If I have to fit in better, I basically copy what other people are doing or wearing. Clothes, hairstyles are important indicators of status and social integration. I hate this imitating but its the only way to avoid a lot of bullying.



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