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• Bullying as an addiction

Bullying as an addiction:

 Is the bully fully in control of his behavior?  If not, is the bully ‘addicted’ in some way?

Psychologists recognize 2 kinds of addictions, substance and process addictions. The first has to do with drugs, alcohol, smoking etc., The second has do with gambling, overworking, excessive shopping etc;,

Bullying is not regarded as an ‘addiction’ at all. Nevertheless, let us examine the implications of thinking of it as such as a working concept in an attempt to find a better answer.


  • Addiction is defined as the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.
  • Process Addictionis defined as certain mood-altering behaviors, such as eating disorders, gambling, sexual activity, overwork, and shopping.
  • Although bullying is not officially defined as a process addiction, considering that it is as a working concept is very useful in addressing the behavior effectively.


  1. To best resolve the bullying problem think of bullying as an unidentified process addiction and the bully as often unaware that he is addicted to bullying.   
  2. The cause of the addiction in bullies is the absence of sufficiently perceived love and affection that may have occurred years earlier. However, unlike drug addictions that feed on renewed drug use, the bullying addiction does not require renewed ‘feeding’ to remain strong. That is why the ‘groundwork’ of perceived insufficient love and affection laid in the bully’s early years may well be enough to create a lifetime of bullying behavior.
  3. Curing the bully of the ‘addiction’ is both easier in some ways and yet harder in others, than curing a drug addict.
  4. It is easier because it is a psychological not a physical problem. That means that it is susceptible to a much quicker resolution through painless and highly satisfying intellectual insight, as well as the substitution of favorable experiences.Whereas a drug addict must go through an extended period of treatment and endure a substantial degree of withdrawal pain.
  5. It is harder because the bully, unlike a drug addict, is often not aware of his addiction. Therefore the first step is to get the bully to admit that he may be a bully.
  6. It is sometimes possible that a bully who later receives substantially increased love and affection may change his ways. That may happen whether the increased love occurs through an attempt to correct bullying or simply as a result of good fortune. It is almost certain that that is the only way a bully will change his behavior. However, it is also virtually certain that the desired behavioral change will occur much faster and with greater certainty if the bully is made aware of the psychological processes at play.

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