…Bullies! – One of the toughest parts about going back to school is facing bullies. Brain scans show that unusually aggressive youth may actually ENJOY inflicting pain on others.

Scans of the brains of bullies show that an area that is associated with rewards was highlighted when they watched a video clip of someone inflicting pain on another person. Kids who did not exhibit aggressive behavior did not have that response.

Psychiatrist Jean Decety says, “This work will help us better understand ways to work with juveniles inclined to aggression and violence.”

We know that sociopaths are produced by repeated childhood sexual abuse, but we don’t know the mechanism that produces bullies. It’s clear from this study that it is hardwired into the brain, but it’s not clear if it’s a genetic predisposition that cannot be changed. If that’s the case, we will have to learn how to control it.

It’s easy to tell when you’re being bullied, but how about something much more subtle: being snubbed? It?s easier to recognize this if you?ve been snubbed before?it turns out that people who have often faced rejection by peers, friends and even family members have an enhanced ability to determine whether the “happy” face before them is genuine.

Researcher Michael Bernstein says, “This seems to be a skill we’ve acquired through evolution. Living in groups several hundreds of years ago was extremely important to survival. Being kicked out of the group was like death, so they became very good at reading facial expressions and social cues. People these days who are rejected are in a dangerous place because of evolutional pressure to find their way back into a group.”

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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