Neuroscience of Bullying

Victoria Stern

Three new books reveal how we deal with suffering and trauma.

A child who is bullied by her playmates may kick her kitten in retaliation. Passing pain to others is not just a human trait—payback can also be seen in many animals. In Payback: Why We Retaliate, Redirect Aggression, and Take Revenge (Oxford University Press, 2011), husband-and-wife team evolutionary biologist David Barash and psychiatrist Judith Lipton explain how we evolved such vengeful behavior, why it occurs (it turns out our brains are hardwired to redirect hostility), and how we can prevent it.

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