Intellectual Bullying: How Harmful Is It Really?

Published March 27th, 2021 - 07:29 GMT
Intellectual Bullying: How Harmful is It Really?
There is more to hurting a kid than just using fists and jokes, and this is where intellectual bullying comes into light.

When we hear the word bullying, most of us imagine a bigger kid beating or hurting a smaller one. While this is true, this is not the only depiction of bullying. Bullying comes in different shapes and forms, but unfortunately some do not receive as much recognition. 

There is much more to hurting a kid than just using fists and jokes, and this is where intellectual bullying comes. Intellectual bullying is a more manipulative form of bullying that is done through humiliation and sarcasm. Unfortunately, this kind of bullying receives far less recognition even though it can be as damaging. 


So how does intellectual bullying really begin? 
Each and every one of us has their own capabilities and qualifications, and therefore we can be classified into what is called an intellectual hierarchy. This is something that we all learn from our childhoods. Those who have high grades, qualifications or education are usually at the top of the pyramid. Whereas the bottom consists of those with less grades or qualifications. And this is exactly where intellectual bullying happens. It is when people at the top belittle or humiliate those occupying lower positions in the pyramid. 

Intellectual bullies are usually people who are quite intelligent, and thus they might believe they are superior to others. With this sense of superiority and entitlement comes the need to use sarcasm and contempt to humiliate others who are usually less intelligent. This need of superiority usually stems from the fact that the bullies themselves have insecurities that they are trying to hide.

The condensing nature of bullies gives them the sense that they have the right to control or even invade people’s minds, which only comes to show that they are ones who, in fact, need help. Because many times, intellectual bullies might not be smarter than others, however, they might just hold higher positions or have more power, which contributes to their need to feel superior. Some might even point to the fact that intellectual bullying really goes back to jealousy. Not only that, but these kinds of bullies usually lack any sense of empathy or compassion and thus have no problem with hurting others. 

"People who love themselves, do not hurt other people. The more we hate ourselves, the more we want others to suffer." - Dan Pearce

While many might not see this as harmful, intellectual bullying is in fact a form of psychological harassment that can leave a detrimental impact on a person’s mental health and self-esteem. Researchers have also found that humiliation can trigger areas in the brain that are related to pain. Not only that, but humiliation also results in a response that is more intense than joy and much more negative than anger. All of which comes to show how devastating the impact of intellectual bullying can be. 

However, the problem does not only lie in the fact that this type of bullying goes unnoticed or the negative impact it has on others. But also on the fact that the entire educational system is based on the idea that it is okay to belittle someone who isn’t that smart. Many tend to worship people with high IQs and judge those who do not measure up. In addition the way the world works does not really help.

The culture of competition that has been rooted in most people makes it seem okay to become the best at the expense of others. The sad reality is that we still seem to judge people on what they can do and how they look like, instead of accepting them for who they are. At the end of the day, we are humans, and our greatest power is that of connection and kindness. 


"There needs to be an emphasis in education on going back to teaching humanities and great world literature classics; as studies have proven that they do increase people's empathy and ability to put themselves in other people's shoes and more importantly accept people from different backgrounds and origins as they are. Also censoring violent media, video games and even hate speech on social media can be a great help these days if at all possible." - Ruba Hattar, Editor in Chief at Al Bawaba

Therefore, it is important to start showing kids the importance of kindness and compassion, and just as Aristotle said, “educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”

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