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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter September 4, 2013

Bullying, psychiatric pathology and suicidal behavior

  • Yuriy Dobry EMAIL logo , María Dolores Braquehais and Leo Sher


Bullying is a highly prevalent behavior which carries a significant social, medical and financial cost for its victims and perpetrators, with powerful and long-lasting psychological and social impact. Bullying has been defined as a specific form of intentional, repeated aggression, that involves a disparity of power between the victim(s) and perpetrator(s). The aggression can take physical, verbal or gestural forms. The behavior of bullying crosses sociodemographic categories of age, gender, ethnicity, level of academic achievement and professional environment. It has been abundantly observed by teachers and parents in elementary schools, but has also shown its negative presence in corporate boardrooms. The direst outcome of bullying, for both victims and perpetrators, is an increased risk of psychiatric disorders including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders, substance abuse and suicidal behavior. Cruelty (and bullying, as one of its manifestations) breaks the basis of morality. Mental health professionals usually treat the victims of those actions unfortunately long after they have been exposed to the harm. The evidence does not support the idea that the majority of cruel actions are intrinsically “pathological”, in the sense of being motivated by “mental disorders”. Therefore, only moral rules and legal actions – but not psychiatric or psychological interventions – may dissuade humans from this form of cruelty.

Corresponding author: Yuriy Dobry, MD, Department of Psychiatry, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Box 1240, New York, NY 10029, USA


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Received: 2012-10-23
Accepted: 2012-12-10
Published Online: 2013-09-04
Published in Print: 2013-09-01

©2013 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston

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