Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Bullies Spread Rumors to Gain Flying Monkey Supporters (Proxies)-A2

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Bullies are a menace to the people they create conflicts with but it is us as a society that have tolerated them. Without a supportive network of people bullies are just plain "angry, disgruntled people" who don't know how to engage in appropriate conflict management. They are sort of just...well.....inconsequential! Add a network of people and the bully turns into a little "Hitler" running around and punishing those who shake their false sense of security.

I'm spending some time raising awareness of bullies and their devastating impact on communities, people, and victims. I will also post a link to an organization that you can volunteer and support if you desire. Stopping bullying requires people to raise the standard of behavior and discouraging poor behavior. Unfortunately, the sad reality is that far to often such behavior is consider fun, exciting, and gossipy which allows such behavior to continue.

This makes such organization such as the National Bullying Prevention Center so important. They not only try and prevent bullying they also advocate for victims of bullying. We have such organizations because we as a people have not yet taken responsibility for ourselves!

Cindy as an Example of Toxic Behavior That Leads to Group Aggression

Let me give you a hypothetical but also for some people a very real example before we move into the motivations and reasons. Proxy, or flying monkeys, are a term used to describe people who act on behalf of an abuser. It actually comes from the flying monkeys in the Wizard of Oz that worked on the behalf of the witch. Cindy seems like a normal person but hides some deeper secrets that have happened to her and actions she has done to others. She tries to gain supporters in her abuse so she can control and manipulate a person into silence.

Cindy starts by making negative comments about the target and seeing who is supportive or indifferent to her beliefs. Its starts small but over many months others start to listen. She begins to weave a web in the truest sense of social psychological manipulation by trying to create a wedge between the target victim and potential supporters. She gets others emotional involved by highlighting differences and making up stories to encourage others to lie, snub, attack or hurt the victim.

In this case Cindy is has so little boundaries for the victim that she gets her husband, kids, siblings or anyone else she can involved. Vaknin 2010 believes such flying monkeys can be....

1. Friends & Family
2. Associates
3. Authority Figures

She turns normally reasonable people into co-conspirators in the abuse. Almost none of them have the capacity to step above the rhetoric to see that perhaps it is they who are now guilty of the same behaviors. As they begin to act on the victim they also blame the victim for defending him/herself. This is where things can begin to escalate without taking direct action. The reaction of the victim now becomes a reason for more abuse because the context has been distorted. Even shielding one's kids from potential abuse, or setting up appropriate boundaries can misconstrued as another reason to show more aggression.

Cindy doesn't have normal constraints on her behavior and without being discouraged by her social group can turn into hate crimes, violence, and criminal activity (Think of Nazi Germany, Gangs, Radicalism, and other activities that lead to victimization of others). The victim may not be at fault for anything Cindy says, but no one from her social circle cares. Flying monkeys are more concerned about maintaining their social networks than being responsible adults. Mature people use their critical thinking skills to determine that such aggression is not appropriate. Proxies don't often have the moral backbone to avoid getting sucked into the drama that makes abuse possible (i.e. there were only a few people in Nazi Germany that protected Jews).

According to psychologist George K. Simon manipulation of others occurs when...

1. There is a form of social aggression to damage and ostracize a person. 
2. A chance to exploit others vulnerabilities. 
3. Enough ruthlessness to cause others harm.

Bully Motivations to Find Proxy Help in Abuse

1. Rumors to Manipulate and Proxy Others: Add a word, take a word, share only part of the information, expand things, tell people "juicy" information nuggets that get them upset. Rumors and lies are designed to do damage and are a form of aggression. Bullies spread rumors to get people to "gang" up on someone and punish them for perceived wrong doings. The actual wrong doings may have nothing to do with what the bully says. The inflammatory and often delusional stories are designed to excite and anger others to get them to act. 

2. Covers Feelings of Powerlessness: Bullies feel powerless. Somewhere in their life they were left damaged and traumatized. Lying, bullying, and manipulating others seeks to create a sense of power. That power comes from influencing others through manufactured crisis. You can tell the passive-aggressive powerlessness by watching how they have made a habit talking negatively about others. There is constant comparisons. Its a pattern of feeling powerless and then trying to control others through anti-social behavior (clinical definition).

3. It Lowers Feelings of Guilt: When you have friends and people agree with you, even if they were provided with lies, you don't feel as guilty. The inner turmoil the bully feels is mitigated by their support network who doesn't question the logic being offered. Most of us know from experience that people just sort of agree with us if we don't give all of the information or are not making it explicitly clear that we want "honest" feedback. Thus our friends and family members help us feel as though we are "right" thereby reducing the cognitive dissonance associated with guilt.

4. Groups Take Less Responsibility: We have all watched shocking videos on YouTube, News, or the Web where groups have brutalized someone; even killing victims in plain sight. Sometimes that person has done nothing wrong except try and avoid being in a conflict. If you are a police officer, or sheriff, much of their job is dealing with issues related to the inability of people to take responsibility. Even criminals that have been convicted through evidence and a court of law scream it wasn't their fault all the way to prison! The more people a bully can get involved, the more damage they cause and the less responsibility the bully takes. Sometimes groups become so destructive they openly attack people in public in front of a crowd of bystanders.

5. It Hides Painful Secrets: Bullies are all about hiding their pain. Bullying is a form of aggression based on trauma. This is one of the reasons why aggression is so pathological. As the bully projects onto a target, he/she takes the spotlight off of themselves and puts it on the victim. The bully no longer needs to deal with their issues because the target is forced to take responsibility for them. This is one reason why much of what bullies say are more a reflection of the bully's issues. Targets are not chosen randomly. Usually they are people the bully envies and often are intelligent, sensitive, and caring.

6.) Bullies Need Validation: Bullies need validation that they are important. Somewhere in their life they were made to feel unwanted. This is the tragedy that bullying creates more bullies. Their boundaries were often violated by parents, uncles, and others. When they get people to support their behavior they feel a sense of validation that they are important. Attacking others puts them somewhere above the victim. Proxies help validate the "worthiness" of the bully and the "worthlessness" of the victim.

Vaknin S (2010) Abuse By Proxy: From Smear Campaigns to 3rd-party Stalking and Abuse

Simon, George K (1996). In Sheep's Clothing: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People. ISBN 978-1-935166-30-6.

Why You Should Encourage Bullies to Get Help? Life Long Disruption A1

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