6 thoughts on “Bullying and its long term effects

  1. Waxwings2

    Thank you for posting the NPR link on bullying, and asking us to think about the findings of this long and comprehensive study done in the UK about the subject. I found it fascinating–and helpful–when thinking about our Doc.

    In Series 6 of DM, we are perplexed by ME’s’ spiral into insomnia and despair, and his constant lack of response to Louisa ‘s perpetual question of “what’s wrong”? He seems unable to say. He is perplexed by his non responses as well.

    He had been fine solo, but suddenly, he finds he must adjust to life as a threesome. He doesn’t adjust well, and when confronted, he shuts down. He knows it’s not the fault of Louisa and James. It’s his fault–in the same way that it was his fault that he was the subject of his bulliers. Something is lacking in him. He is the problem. That’s what the bullies knew.

    His reaction to J and L is the classic response of the person who has been bullied.

    All his young life he had been pummeled and demoralized for who he was perceived to be, and he had come to think of himself as worthless. What could he possibly offer, and what could he possibly say to someone who thinks him NOT worthless? This is an incongruous position.

    He has seen himself as worthless all his life, but now someone he admires, and someone who has born his son, finds him worthwhile? This is beyond his ability to understand, or even accept. To do so would be to bring him into community with another. Even a dependent community. (This he has echewed all his life). He finds that he is being asked to walk into a trusting relationship with another human being, something he has never had, or even experienced. Few bullied people have…His impulse is to destroy the invitation, and the option. It means sabotaging the relationship. He becomes self-destructive in the face of a healthy relationship and it’s outcome and so it must go.

    This is the legacy of bullying that he knows and he’s felt, the result of personal degradation. It is a form of violence. It finds expression in later life as a mirror image: Of doing harm as harm has been done to you. But with the intelligence of a ME, it becomes a double horror. How and why does he do it to Louisa? He knows better, but seems to be powerless over the destruction he is causing or may cause…

    I believe this is the fate for the victim of bullying. ME knows it as well, and seeks to protect L and J against himself.

    May S7 provide much needed counseling in the DM show. May we all do everything in our own lives to stop bullying when we see it. Courage. Faith. Good will. Did I say courage?

  2. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Marta, I am impressed with your application of the findings of this study to ME. I always feel a little uneasy, however, about using information like this. I think it’s too much to expect that any of the writers of the series would have had this sort of study in mind when conceiving of ME as a character. Nevertheless, I have argued in some of my academic papers that writers can be remarkably prescient about medical and psychological conditions. So, I guess I have to hedge a bit and say even the writers may not have actually known that the character they created could have had many of his symptoms as a result of experiences like bullying but they intuitively included that possibility. Perhaps this is another example of good writing that encompasses more than was originally intended. It’s also another example of how the show stimulates us to think!

  3. Santa Traugott

    These writers have always struck me as being quite psychologically acute. I am probably sterotyping writers or overgeneralizing, but my sense is that good writers have to be good, in fact excellent observers of the human condition. I think too that they must be pretty intuitive and introspective, so the insights they have into what goes on internally don’t surprise me. Also, the writers/directors/creative team of DM (and other dramas) may be of a generation and profession that are users of psychotherapy, and pick up insights that way too.

    Writers, or show-runners (not always the same thing) often have “back stories” about their characters, in order to make them hang together consistently over multiple installments and to get a more intuitive sense of what a character would do in a given situation. That back story for Martin was finally made explicit in the climactic conversation with Ruth — that he doesn’t “deserve” Louisa. I think he must have felt that sooner or later Louisa would discover this as well, and he needed to push her away before she rejected him. Bullying certainly could have contributed to this feeling of defectiveness.

  4. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Your points about the writers are well taken. These writers have certainly included a lot about cognitive behavioral therapy and many psychological conditions. I agree that they probably would have developed a back story for the primary characters. We have to give them all a lot of credit, huh?

  5. Barb

    I have read your blog for a while now, but I’ve never thought of posting myself until now. I stumbled on to Doc Martin one day while just seeing what was on PBS. It was the episode where Louisa had just returned from London and was walking up hill to see Martin. I was somehow hooked from that moment on, and I have become addicted to this show! I haven’t seen season 1 or 2, but I recently found some on the web to watch. I search for things to read about Doc Martin. Sadly, I relate to ME in some ways.

    This brings me to bullying. I was bullied and unloved growing up. I didn’t have any friends, and I was very lonely. I didn’t throw myself into studying until later in life, but I spent many hours as a child reading books. I feel like the ugly duckling who turned into a swan, but it didn’t really help. Most of the “friends” in my life turned out to be users, and I ended up removing them. As I got older, I found I’d rather spend time with myself than those people. I only have 1 friend in my real life now, but I have several long time online friends. I don’t know why that is… like Doc… I’m not very comfortable in social activities. I don’t think I’m rude or say inappropriate things like Doc does, but I don’t interact well in groups. I did suffer from depression and anxiety during some stretches of my life, but I decided I wouldn’t fall prey to that again. I did go for counseling for a short time, and it was quite helpful. The counselor said I was co-dependent, and gave the titles of a couple of books to read. They really did my help my situation.

    I’m very much looking forward to season 7 to see how they will resolve things. Perhaps I’ll be able to buy the series because I would love to see what I missed as well as review the ones I have seen. I’m sure I’ve missed some things.

    Keep up the good work because I thoroughly enjoy your take on things.

  6. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Thanks for reading the blog. I’m sorry you’ve had so many difficult experiences. I look forward to season 7 too.

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