Bullying among siblings makes psychotic disorders three times more likely

A first-ever study looks at how sibling bullying leads to the development of psychotic disorders later in life.

Do you have memories of fighting with your brother or sister growing up? In a study that hopefully doesn’t affect you personally, scientists found that people who experience sibling bullying are three times more likely to develop such psychotic disorders as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder in their early adulthood. And what’s surprising, it doesn’t matter if you are the bully or the bullied - the researchers saw that the more frequently a child is involved in bullying, either as the bully or the victim - the more likely they are to get a psychotic disorder. 

The research by the team at the University of Warwick was led by the psychology Professor Dieter Wolke. Their first-of-its-kind study looked at the relationship between sibling bullying and future psychotic disorders in the data from 3,600 children. The kids completed a bullying-related questionnaire when they were 12 and a standardized clinical examination for psychotic symptoms when they turned 18.  

From the cohort, 664 were victimized by their bullying sibling, 486 were the bullies and 771 were both bullies and victims themselves. By the age of eighteen, 55 of the kids developed a psychotic disorder. 

"Bullying by siblings has been until recently widely ignored as a trauma that may lead to serious mental health problems such as psychotic disorder, “ explained Professor Dieter Wolke. "Children spend substantial time with their siblings in the confinement of their family home and if bullied and excluded, this can lead to social defeat and self-blame and serious mental health disorder -- as shown here for the first time."

The scientists established a link between the frequency of bullying and developing disorders. And what’s profound - they saw that both the bully and the victim are traumatized by the experience. The more frequent the involvement in bullying, the more likely the child would have a psychotic disorder later. In fact, those who engaged in bullying either as a bully or victim a few times a week or month were two to three times more likely to develops such illnesses.  

Victims of the sibling bullying were found to be most at risk. Kids who were victimizing both by their siblings and at school were even worse off - becoming four times more likely to develop psychotic disorders.

The study’s first author Slava Dantchev from the University of Warwick pointed how why:

"If the bullying occurs at home and at school the risk for psychotic disorder is even higher,” said Dantchev. “These adolescents have no safe place.”

He added that there is also the possibility that problems in social relationships could be early signs of a looming mental health issue rather than the cause of it. 

The researchers hope that their findings will be used in developing new interventions to reduce and possibly prevent incidents of aggression within families. 




Tesla introduces new Model 3 at $45,000

The new version's battery has a shorter range and a price $4,000 lower than the previous starting price.

Tesla Model 3 (Photo: Tesla)
Technology & Innovation
  • Tesla's new version of the Model 3 costs $45,000 and can travel 260 miles on one charge.
  • The Model 3 is the best-selling luxury car in the U.S.
  • Tesla still has yet to introduce a fully self-driving car, even though it once offered the capability as an option to be installed at a future date.
Keep reading Show less

Are you a Boltzmann Brain? Why nothing in the Universe may be real

A mind-bending paradox questions the nature of reality.

Surprising Science
  • Boltzmann Brains are hypothetical disembodied entities with self-awareness.
  • It may be more likely for a Boltzmann Brain to come into existence than the whole Universe.
  • The idea highlights a paradox in thermodynamics.
Keep reading Show less
Mind & Brain
  • When it comes to educating, says Dr. Elizabeth Alexander, a brave failure is preferable to timid success.
  • Fostering an environment where one isn't afraid to fail is tantamount to learning.
  • Human beings are complicated and flawed. Working with those complications and flaws leads to true knowledge.
Keep reading Show less

What is kalsarikänni? The Finnish art of being "pantsdrunk"

Drinking home alone in your underwear just might be what you need to be as relaxed as the Finnish.

Big Think art department / Finnish tourism department
Personal Growth
  • Päntsdrunk is the latest trend to come out of Northern Europe and it involves drinking alone at home.
  • Finnish writer Miska Rantanen outlines the philosophy in his newest book titled: Pantsdrunk: Kalsarikanni: The Finnish Path to Relaxation.
  • Kalsarikänni is a word in Finnish that literally means "drinking at home and alone in your underwear."
Keep reading Show less

Yes, Mega Millions just passed $1 billion. What does that look like?

It's hard to imagine such a number. But these images will help you try.


The Mega Millions lottery just passed $1 billion for tonight's drawing.

What does that even look like, when represented by various currencies?

It takes just 6 numbers to win. You can only, however, purchase tickets up until 10:45 ET tonight.

Keep reading Show less

The surprising psychology of sex with your ex

We all know sleeping with your ex is a bad idea, or is it?

Sex & Relationships
  • In the first study of its kind, researchers have found sex with an ex didn't prevent people from getting over their relationship.
  • Instead of feeling worse about their breakup after a hookup, the new singles who attempted sexual contact with their ex reported feeling better afterwards.
  • The findings suggest that not every piece of relationship advice is to be taken at face value.
Keep reading Show less

Denmark has the flattest work hierarchy in the world

"It's about having employees that are empowered."

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Denmark may be the birthplace of the Lego tower, but its workplace hierarchy is the flattest in the world.

According to the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report 2018, the nation tops an index measuring "willingness to delegate authority" at work, beating 139 other countries.

Keep reading Show less

Relationship hack: Why class clowns make better partners

Want a happy, satisfying relationship? Psychologists say the best way is to learn to take a joke.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
Sex & Relationships
  • New research looks at how partners' attitudes toward humor affects the overall quality of a relationship.
  • Out of the three basic types of people, people who love to be laughed at made for better partners.
  • Fine-tuning your sense of humor might be the secret to a healthy, happy, and committed relationship.
Keep reading Show less