Dear Aspie: Why Are Unusual People Bullied?

Dear Aspie:
?What is it about humans that makes them want to tease/mock/exclude those who are different??

–jman

Read on for GroovyDruid’s response!
Dear Aspie:
?What is it about humans that makes them want to tease/mock/exclude those who are different??

–jman

?Different? is a funny thing. Everybody?s different, but certain kinds of differences receive more tolerance?or sometimes praise?than others. Asperger?s Syndrome and its attendant deficits get the short end of the stick by and large at this time in human development. There?s no debating that fact. People who tell you that everybody gets teased or bullied occasionally and not to worry about it clearly never wrestled with the reality of someone on the autism spectrum.

Of the three ill treatments you mention, exclusion breaks down into two groups: passive exclusion and active exclusion. Passive exclusion simply means that the group cannot communicate with an aspie. The way people are put together, they cannot built affinity or share a reality with another human being until they can communicate with him. It just doesn?t happen. In the case of most aspies, though, when they find it hard to become part of a group, they are running up against a simple fact: the group can?t communicate with the aspie, so they stay away from him. Body language, small talk, conversation, style of dress, and all the myriad communication lines have gone down, and the cool people and NTs get feeling weird. It?s not persecution?as much as it feels like it?just nothing coming across. Active exclusion means that some person or persons work to keep another out of their group despite good communication.

Active exclusion, teasing, and mocking require additional problems on top of bad communication. These three fall under the pall of bullying. Armchair psychologists and teen movies will tell you that the reason bullies ply their skills on us stems from their own insecurities, coupled with a Darwinian urge to weed out ?the weird ones.? That?s in the ballpark, but let?s be more specific:

Bullies wreak wonton pain on victims because the victim occupies an identity the bully once had and now wants to be rid of. This rule you can take to the bank. If a bully attacks someone without provocation, the reason is in the past, and he?s trying to work it out in the present. What was the problem? Well, the bully was in the victim?s place at some point. He got whooped on by somebody, and he decided, ?I?m going to destroy that part of myself that got me whooped on.? So off go his nerdy glasses and polo shirt. He starts to work out, wear combat boots, and mouth off to the teacher. Why? Because he?s bent on destroying that identity he used to have, the one that caused him so much pain. Doesn?t matter to him whether the identity is in himself or someone else. So what happens when somebody in nerdy glasses and a polo shirt dares cross his path? Yep, that?s right: WHAM! He doesn?t really have anything against the fellow; however, he recognizes the identity as loathsome, something he must wipe from the face of the earth. The glasses and polo shirt demonstrate obviously the point I?m making, but the bully could recognize anything in a conflicting identity: manner of speaking, a way of treating people, lack of friends, habits, etc.

This swapping of identities explains why children who come from abusive homes often end up bullying others at school. The bully who crushed their old identity is invisible: an adult at home, or maybe an abusive sibling. The abused children pass on the bullying to their friends at school, and quite often later in life to their spouses.

Does the past crushing of a bully?s identity excuse his present-time behavior? Heck no. But knowing how he ticks helps tremendously to parry his onslaught. For one thing, you can know this: Any time a human being negates the good feeling between himself and another, there must have been some good feeling to begin with. Broadly, for someone to go to the trouble of negating something, there must be something to negate. Sound crazy? It is, but it?s also true, and you can infer it from the discussion of identity above. The bully liked his old nerd identity. He wouldn?t have put it on otherwise. So ? there?s something about the nerd he abuses that he really likes. He?s not merely an evil Darth Vader of a person out to destroy the nerd. He likes him a lot and can?t stand to remember it. That?s why he?s so malicious.

If you can pinpoint the part of an attacker that before mirrored you, you have a good shot at neutralizing him. For one thing, he can?t intimidate you anymore. You?ve got his number. An objective look will often do it: ?What about this guy used to be like me?? Quite often, you can figure it out, or find out from someone. If more than your own piece of mind is required, confront him by building communication and reality with him. Example:

BULLY: Can?t you learn not to leave your trash in the copy room? Jeeze. You?re such a slob. If I give the word to Rob, he?ll fire your butt. You better watch out.

YOU: Yes! You hate my trash in the copy room! You think it?s really, really annoying. You hate it! You think I?m such a slob. A slob is intolerable. You have Rob?s ear. You are in good with the boss, that?s for sure. He has the ability to hire and fire in this company.

If you deliver something akin to this without sarcasm or bad intent, I guarantee you the bully?s head will explode in front of you. Why? Because you have communicated your acknowledgement to him, and you have shown a willingness to enter his reality. You didn?t run yourself down at all. You just refused to fight and showed in big verbal gestures that you heard him. All the sudden, he doesn?t have anyone to fight with! He tried to intimidate and destroy whatever identity you occupy, and instead, that identity turned around and communicated with him! You won?t cure him, but by golly, you will establish yourself as a force to be reckoned with. No one is more powerful than the person who can take on different viewpoints and without fighting understand them all. Such people are feared and respected.

A note of caution: Don?t use your knowledge of the bully?s past weakness on him. In the example above, you would probably have learned through co-workers that the bully was fired years ago because he left some documents lying around and they got shredded?at which point the boss shredded him. If you tell him, ?Oh! So you think I?m a slob? I happen to know you screwed up over at MortgageMax?? Whoa, baby. He will make it his life?s mission to destroy you by any means. Think it was bad when he yelled at you? Now, he?ll use covert operations. You?ll suddenly find yourself arrested for embezzlement, and he?ll have the proof. And on top of that, if you bring up his weakness, you?ll be in a fight, and fights don?t go anywhere but down. Instead, communicate about the weakness. Communicate?as in the example above?in the area that gave him trouble, without criticizing him. He will suddenly find he has some affinity with something he couldn?t stand before, and he will be nonplused in the extreme, without your hurting him or fighting. It truly works like magic.

Send your questions to ?Dear Aspie?! Just PM your question to GroovyDruid or send an e-mail to [email protected] Questions of a personal nature may be submitted anonymously, though printing a user name is preferred. ?Dear Aspie? reserves the privilege of editing for spelling and clarity. Thanks for your submissions!

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