Are Our Brains Wired to Bully Others?

colorful brain

We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves. ~Buddha

In a new study from the Icahn School at Mount Sinai found that brains of bullies react in the rewards region when they are aggressive and bullying. If further proof is found against this first study, it may be the first time that we find that the brain may be effective in determining if you may bully or not.

“Our study is the first to demonstrate that bullying behavior activates a primary brain reward circuit that makes it pleasurable to a subset of individuals,” says Scott Russo, PhD, Associate Professor of Neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.  “Furthermore, we show that manipulating activity in this circuit alters the activity of brain cells and ultimately, aggression behavior.”

The study, one of the first of its kind, shows that the brains of bullies’ are wired to seek pleasure from picking on others. Mice were used for these findings. This has been looked at once before in humans when, in 2008, National Geographic published an article from the journal Biological Psychology may feel pleasure when lying, being aggressive and bullying.

What does this mean to the issue of bullying? I have long thought that it seems like a natural order issue that people bully. If we find that people are doing so, due to the way their brains are wired, then would we change that and if it involved drugs, is that what we want? I also wonder what the brain of the bully victim looks like? How is it wired and is there a predisposition for that as well.

This is an interesting new way to investigate bullying and one that may be the beginning of learning the question of why some people bully others. If enjoyment and pleasure is the issue, it is going to continue to be a tough issue to tackle, as we know we enjoy the feelings that come with pleasure and that will be hard for children to stop.

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About Alan Eisenberg

Alan Eisenberg is a Certified Life Coach, Bullying Recovery activist and author of "A Ladder In The Dark: My journey from bullying to self-acceptance" and "Crossing the Line". He has been writing and speaking to various audiences about the issue of C-PTSD and Bullying Recovery. Mr. Eisenberg has been featured on several print, radio shows and podcasts on this issue, including NPR and in the Boston Globe. He is currently working toward his Master's Degree in Mental Health Counseling.
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  1. Pingback: Are Our Brains Wired to Bully Others? | Bullying Stories

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