In 1998, former New Yorker editor Tina Brown went into business with Harvey Weinstein. That was a colossal mistake.
- Tina Brown was never sexually harassed by Harvey Weinstein, however in 1998, she began a business partnership with Weinstein founding a new magazine following her success rebooting The New Yorker.
- She describes the experience as a "colossal mistake" and Weinstein as a brutal bully who abused and humiliated his staff and left Brown shell-shocked. The venture was dropped, and Brown's regret is that she didn't pull the plug as soon as she learned what Weinstein was like behind closed doors.
- Before you get into business with anyone, get to know who they are, advises Brown. Make phone calls to people who have worked with them in the past, and draw a line in the sand so you do not become roped into a bully's world.
A study reveals these brains exhibit less cortical surface area and gray matter.
- A study finds grownup bullies' brains exhibit a smaller cortical surface area and less thickness in their gray matter.
- Bullies' executive function, motivation, and control of affect are likely affected.
- The adult brains of adolescent bullies who've outgrown antisocial behavior don't exhibit the same shortcomings.
The study<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjgzMzM5Mi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzMTI2NjIwNX0.ePjFi0ueZD2yO6LVw0VN0L-woOnlBWnrU-4EHdWHmT0/img.jpg?width=980" id="3e3f7" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="60d0e5a1ecc85d787ad219e8008bcc0b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Image source: Carlisi, et al<p>The new study, published in <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/action/showPdf?pii=S2215-0366%2820%2930002-X" target="_blank"><em>Lancet Psychiatry</em></a>, studied brain scans of 672 45-year-old participants. Based on reports from their families, teachers, and their own recollections, the subjects were divided into three groups:</p><ul><li>441 people (66%) had no history of antisocial behavior.</li><li>151 people (23%) had exhibited antisocial behavior only in their adolescences.</li><li>80 people (12%) were lifelong bullies.</li></ul><p>Each participant's cerebral cortex was assessed through the measurement of the gray matter's thickness and available cortical area as shown in MRI scans. Researchers also measured 360 different regions <em>within</em> the cortex.</p><p>Using the first group of people — those with no history of antisocial behavior — as a baseline, the authors of the study found that lifelong bullies had "smaller surface area and thinner cortex in brain regions associated with executive function, motivation, and affect regulation."</p><p>Underscoring the significance of this finding is that these abnormalities were <em>not</em> evident in the brains of those who'd been adolescent bullies but had grown out of it. That group, however, did exhibit some puzzling reduction in surface area and thickness in "two regions in the right temporal lobe that have not been consistently implicated in previous studies of antisocial behaviour." For bullies, though, these deficiencies appeared in a more predictable place: the "paralimbic frontal and temporal regions that have been previously implicated in antisocial behaviour."</p>
Takeway: Destined to be a despot?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjgzMzM5OS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY3MDE4MDI0M30.dr49n1k7oDdnkK8eThEcOEbSGTaV1crm2p0TFA-WXds/img.jpg?width=980" id="da736" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a86d56a11342c803e5b71485e2e4fb61" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Image source: Carlisi, et al<p>While this is the first study to reveal such a marked difference between the brain structures of lifelong bullies and everyone else, figuring out what to do with this information will have to wait for further research.</p><p>For one thing, <a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-02/tl-pss021420.php" target="_blank">says</a> co-author UCL's Essi Viding, "It is unclear whether these brain differences are inherited and precede antisocial behaviour, or whether they are the result of a lifetime of confounding risk factors (eg, substance abuse, low IQ, and mental health problems) and are therefore a consequence of a persistently antisocial lifestyle."</p><p>Another co-author, Terrif Moffit of Duke University, likewise cautions against the temptation to use MRIs as a means of identifying people likely to be or become bullies, saying, "We caution against brain imaging being used for screening, as the understanding of brain structure differences are not robust enough to be applied on an individual level."</p><p>One implication is clear: The usual punishments meted out to young bullies should be reappraised in light of their likely brain differences. On the other hand, while there appears to be more going on here neurologically than previously thought, it's way too soon to give lifelong bullies a free pass for their antisocial behavior.</p>
Your co-workers could be causing your insomnia.
- A new study has shown the reasons why incivility at work causes sleep problems such as insomnia.
- Negative health problems associated with workplace stress include cardiovascular disease, negative mood, and increased blood pressure.
- The researchers suggest creating a "psychological buffer" between you and your workplace through a variety of techniques.
How to start changing an unhealthy work environment | Glenn D. Rolfsen | TEDxOslo<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="11c5d02d8c6369aaa8a4b74c703d3c31"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/eYLb7WUtYt8?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Oakland University assistant professor Caitlin Demsky, one of the authors of the study, became interested in the topic after observing how incivility affected her own mental well-being, as well as that of family and friends. As she <a href="https://www.psypost.org/2019/04/ruminating-about-rude-behavior-at-work-linked-to-higher-levels-of-insomnia-study-finds-53587" target="_blank">says</a>: </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Workplace incivility is an extremely common workplace stressor, unfortunately, and I have devoted much of my work to understanding how and why incivility affects employees both at work and outside of work. Given the prevalence of incivility, I am also interested in understanding ways in which organizations and employees can protect themselves from the negative effects of incivility."</p><p>To understand why incivility results in sleep issues, the researchers used two psychological models. The <strong>perseverative cognition model</strong> of stress posits that rumination over negative events leads to negative health outcomes. A co-worker is rude and you mentally play out the instance over and over, creating a negative feedback loop. This model has been shown to reduce cortisol and cardiovascular recovery time, implying that the fight-flight-freeze mode of your nervous system remains ramped up, hours and days after the event has occurred. </p><p>The <strong>effort-recovery model </strong>states that recurring workplace stressors add up over time. Isolated incidents repeat, contributing to chronic health problems. Being preoccupied with work when work is no longer happening perpetuates, adding to your cognitive load. </p><p>The combination of these two models appears to contribute to insomnia. Not only does rudeness set off your nervous system in a detrimental fashion, it also leads to increased self-blame and higher levels of rumination. Despite your attempts to "let go" of troubling instances, they remain in your consciousness well into the midnight hour. </p><p>The researchers suggest that the key to dealing with this problem is creating psychological detachment from incivility. Translation: Engage in activities between work and bedtime that reduce stress and take your mind off these issues. Ruminating and escape mechanisms, such as drinking alcohol and scrolling through social media late at night, do not contribute to positive health outcomes. Instead, the authors offer one word: relaxation.</p>
Zen sesshin (retreat) in Lanau, Cantal, France. Kin hin walking meditation.
(Photo by: Godong/UIG via Getty Images)<p>Numerous means for relaxing exist. In the paper, the researchers mention five to help build a psychological buffer:</p><p><strong>Exercise</strong>. There is no shortage of literature supporting the fact that moving your body relaxes you. Cardiovascular exercise <a href="https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/exercising-to-relax" target="_blank">stimulates the production of endorphins</a> while reducing levels of cortisol and adrenaline—one of the exact problems that rumination causes. </p><p><strong>Volunteering</strong>. I'm currently reading <em>Trillion Dollar Coach</em>, an homage to the legacy of Silicon Valley coach, Bill Campbell. The authors note that while bookshelves are lined with endless "self-help" books, few are "help-others" focused. Volunteering has been shown to <a href="https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/volunteering-may-be-good-for-body-and-mind-201306266428" target="_blank">lower blood pressure and elongate life span</a>. Often, it isn't all about you, <em>and</em> you can benefit by moving out of your own way in the service of others. </p><p><strong>Meditation</strong>. Reducing blood pressure and pain; tamping down certain psychological disorders; reducing anxiety, depression, and insomnia—these are just a few of the <a href="https://nccih.nih.gov/health/meditation/overview.htm" target="_blank">benefits of meditation</a>. This is one of the most <a href="https://bigthink.com/big-think-edge/sharon-salzberg-meditation" target="_blank">well-studied and verified techniques</a> for calming an overactive nervous system. </p><p><strong>Taking a walk</strong>. As Rebecca Solnit writes in her tribute to walking, <em>Wanderlust: A History of Walking</em>, "Thinking is generally thought of as doing nothing in a production-oriented culture, and doing nothing is hard to do. It's best done by disguising it as doing something, and the something closest to doing nothing is walking." In other words, a great way to get your mind off of it by putting it elsewhere. And yes, walking <a href="https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/exercising-to-relax" target="_blank">reduces stress</a> and <a href="https://bigthink.com/21st-century-spirituality/walking-and-creativity" target="_blank">boosts creativity</a> as well. </p><p><strong>Listening to music</strong>. The journal that published this study is run by the American Psychological Association, a resource rich in details on the <a href="https://www.apa.org/monitor/2013/11/music" target="_blank">relaxing power of music</a>. From pain treatment and stress reduction to sleep aid, identifying the right music can do wonders to a person. For a deep dive on this topic, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fV8EOwgEDzk" target="_blank">check out</a> neuroscientist <a href="https://bigthink.com/u/daniel-levitin" target="_blank">Dan Levitin</a>'s work. </p><p>While the emphasis of this study is placed on buffering techniques utilized by the worker, Demsky notes that employers also play a role in mitigating the effects of stress on their employees as well. She concludes: </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"While our research focused on specific employee behaviors that can help protect victims of incivility from sleep problems (i.e., psychological detachment from work, relaxation), organizations play an important role in addressing workplace incivility as well as encouraging employees to take time away from work to recover. This may be through explicit policies or modeling strategies such as supervisors avoiding sending work-related communications outside of work hours."</p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a> and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a>.</em></p>
Big and strong? That's not what makes an alpha male, says primatolgist Frans de Waal.
- The cultural notion of an alpha male as a strong, mean aggressor is rampant but wrong. The reality is more complex.
- Frans de Waal notes two types of alpha males: Bullies and leaders. In chimpanzee society, the former terrorizes the group while the latter mediates conflict.
- The reign of alpha male bullies usually ends poorly in the wild. Chimpanzee bullies get expelled or even killed by their group, while leader alphas are somewhat democratically kept in power, sometimes for as long as 12 years.
Outraged by something on the internet? Yawn. You may be simply falling for a very old trick... and becoming a run-of-the-mill bully in the process.
Outrage on the internet is very, very easy to find. It seems that everyday someone has done something that other people can't stand and have to say something about (pro tip: this happened before the internet, too, it's just that there's a bigger audience for it thanks to social media). People dog pile on top of the person or thing they're outraged about, get worked up about it, and move on. But what does this constant anger actually say about us? Never before in human history has it been so easy to have an anonymous avatar to hide behind, and it's created a backwards and heightened version of outrage that neuroscientist Molly Crockett finds extremely interesting.