Inside Serial Bullies

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Angry, compulsive, obsessive 1234
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Are you being bullied? Bullying is persistent unwelcome behaviour, mostly using unwarranted or invalid criticism, nit-picking, fault-finding, also exclusion, isolation, being singled out and treated differently, being shouted at, humiliated, excessive monitoring, having verbal and written warnings imposed, and much more.

The lack of interpersonal, social, and empathic skills are reminiscent of autism; the serial bully relies almost entirely on rules, procedures, aggression, denial and mimicry to hide their lack of people skills.

Introduction to the serial bully

Embittered by an abusive upbringing, seething with resentment, irritated by others' failure to fulfil his or her superior sense of entitlement, and fuelled by anger resulting from rejection, the serial bully displays an obsessive, compulsive and self-gratifying urge to displace their uncontrolled aggression onto others whilst exhibiting an apparent lack of insight into their behavior and its effect on people around them.

Jealousy and envy motivate the bully to identify a competent and popular individual who is then controlled and subjugated through projection of the bully's own inadequacy and incompetence.

When the target asserts their right not to be bullied, a paranoid fear of exposure compels the bully to perceive that person as a threat and hence neutralise and dispose of them as quickly as possible. Once a person has been eliminated there's an interval of between 2 days and 2 weeks before the bully chooses another target and the cycle starts again.

Traits of a serial bully

I estimate one person in thirty, male or female, is a serial bully. Who does the following profile describe in your life?

  • is a convincing, practised liar and when called to account, will make up anything spontaneously to fit their needs at that moment
  • has a Jekyll and Hyde nature - is vile, vicious and vindictive in private, but innocent and charming in front of witnesses; no-one can (or wants to) believe this individual has a vindictive nature - only the current target of the serial bully's aggression sees both sides; whilst the Jekyll side is described as "charming" and convincing enough to deceive personnel, management and a tribunal, the Hyde side is frequently described as "evil"; Hyde is the real person, Jekyll is an act
  • excels at deception and should never be underestimated in their capacity to deceive
  • uses excessive charm and is always plausible and convincing when peers, superiors or others are present (charm can be used to deceive as well as to cover for lack of empathy)
  • is glib, shallow and superficial with plenty of fine words and lots of form - but there's no substance
  • is possessed of an exceptional verbal facility and will outmanoeuvre most people in verbal interaction, especially at times of conflict
  • is often described as smooth, slippery, slimy, ingratiating, fawning, toadying, obsequious, sycophantic
  • relies on mimicry, repetition and regurgitation to convince others that he or she is both a "normal" human being and a tough dynamic manager, as in extolling the virtues of the latest management fads and pouring forth the accompanying jargon
  • is unusually skilled in being able to anticipate what people want to hear and then saying it plausibly
  • cannot be trusted or relied upon
  • fails to fulfil commitments
  • is emotionally retarded with an arrested level of emotional development; whilst language and intellect may appear to be that of an adult, the bully displays the emotional age of a five-year-old
  • is emotionally immature and emotionally untrustworthy
  • exhibits unusual and inappropriate attitudes to sexual matters, sexual behaviour and bodily functions; underneath the charming exterior there are often suspicions or hints of sex discrimination and sexual harassment, perhaps also sexual dysfunction, sexual inadequacy, sexual perversion, sexual violence or sexual abuse
  • in a relationship, is incapable of initiating or sustaining intimacy
  • holds deep prejudices (eg against the opposite gender, people of a different sexual orientation, other cultures and religious beliefs, foreigners, etc - prejudiced people are unvaryingly unimaginative) but goes to great lengths to keep this prejudicial aspect of their personality secret
  • is self-opinionated and displays arrogance, audacity, a superior sense of entitlement and sense of invulnerability and untouchability
  • has a deep-seated contempt of clients in contrast to his or her professed compassion
  • is a control freak and has a compulsive need to control everyone and everything you say, do, think and believe; for example, will launch an immediate personal attack attempting to restrict what you are permitted to say if you start talking knowledgeably about psychopathic personality or antisocial personality disorder in their presence - but aggressively maintains the right to talk (usually unknowledgeably) about anything they choose; serial bullies despise anyone who enables others to see through their deception and their mask of sanity
  • displays a compulsive need to criticise whilst simultaneously refusing to value, praise and acknowledge others, their achievements, or their existence
  • shows a lack of joined-up thinking with conversation that doesn't flow and arguments that don't hold water
  • flits from topic to topic so that you come away feeling you've never had a proper conversation
  • refuses to be specific and never gives a straight answer
  • is evasive and has a Houdini-like ability to escape accountability
  • undermines and destroys anyone who the bully perceives to be an adversary, a potential threat, or who can see through the bully's mask
  • is adept at creating conflict between those who would otherwise collate incriminating information about them
  • is quick to discredit and neutralise anyone who can talk knowledgeably about antisocial or sociopathic behaviors
  • may pursue a vindictive vendetta against anyone who dares to held them accountable, perhaps using others' resources and contemptuous of the damage caused to other people and organisations in pursuance of the vendetta
  • is also quick to belittle, undermine, denigrate and discredit anyone who calls, attempts to call, or might call the bully to account
  • gains gratification from denying people what they are entitled to
  • is highly manipulative, especially of people's perceptions and emotions (eg guilt)
  • poisons peoples' minds by manipulating their perceptions
  • when called upon to share or address the needs and concerns of others, responds with impatience, irritability and aggression
  • is arrogant, haughty, high-handed, and a know-all
  • often has an overwhelming, unhealthy and narcissistic attention-seeking need to portray themselves as a wonderful, kind, caring and compassionate person, in contrast to their behaviour and treatment of others; the bully sees nothing wrong with their behavior and chooses to remain oblivious to the discrepancy between how they like to be seen and how they are seen by others
  • is spiritually dead although may loudly profess some religious belief or affiliation
  • is mean-spirited, officious, and often unbelievably petty
  • is mean, stingy, and financially untrustworthy
  • is greedy, selfish, a parasite and an emotional vampire
  • is always a taker and never a giver
  • is convinced of their superiority and has an overbearing belief in their qualities of leadership but cannot distinguish between leadership (maturity, decisiveness, assertiveness, co-operation, trust, integrity) and bullying (immaturity, impulsiveness, aggression, manipulation, distrust, deceitfulness)
  • often fraudulently claims qualifications, experience, titles, entitlements or affiliations which are ambiguous, misleading, or bogus
  • often misses the semantic meaning of language, misinterprets what is said, sometimes wrongly thinking that comments of a satirical, ironic or general negative nature apply to him or herself
  • knows the words but not the song
  • is constantly imposing on others a false reality made up of distortion and fabrication
  • sometimes displays a seemingly limitless demonic energy especially when engaged in attention-seeking activities or evasion of accountability and is often a committeeaholic or apparent workaholic
Oblivious to insight

The serial bully appears to lack insight into his or her behaviour and seems to be oblivious to the crassness and inappropriateness thereof; however, it is more likely that the bully knows what they are doing but elects to switch off the moral and ethical considerations by which normal people are bound.

If the bully knows what they are doing, they are responsible for their behaviour and thus liable for its consequences to other people. If the bully doesn't know what they are doing, they should be suspended from duty on the grounds of diminished responsibility and the provisions of the Mental Health Act should apply.

The focus here is the serial bully, however, the profile is relevant to most types of abusers, including:

  • adult bullies in the workplace
  • abusive and violent partners and family members
  • abusers of those in care
  • bullying neighbours, landlords, authorities, etc
  • con artists and swindlers
  • cult leaders
  • child bullies who are going to grow up (sic) to be adult bullies
  • racial and sexual harassers
  • sexual abusers and paedophiles
  • stalkers
  • arsonists
  • rapists and those who commit acts of sexual violence
  • violent offenders including organized serial killers (ie those not suffering paranoid schizophrenia etc)
Control, domination and subjugation

The common objective of a bully is power, control, domination and subjugation. What varies is the means by which these are pursued, ie the way in which his or her violence is expressed. The serial bully commits mostly non-arrestable offences, for example:

  • negligence
  • incompetence
  • maladministration
  • neglect of duty
  • dereliction of duty
  • misappropriation of budgets
  • financial irregularities and fiddling the books
  • fiddling expenses
  • falsifying time sheets
  • pilfering
  • stealing, diverting, skimming, or "losing" clients' money and investments
  • embezzlement
  • fraud
  • deception
  • malpractice
  • misrepresentation
  • conspiracy (eg to obstruct or pervert the course of justice)
  • using the employer's resources to run their own business on the side
  • moonlighting for employer's clients or competitors
  • leaking information to people who should not be in possession of that information
  • awarding contracts to family and friends
  • failure to fulfil obligations
  • breaches of health and safety regulations
  • breaches of rules and regulations
  • breaches of codes of conduct
  • improper use of fraternal allegiances
  • indiscretions
  • impropriety
  • inappropriate sexual conduct
  • being the target of previous grievance and disciplinary action
  • being the target of previous legal action (unfair dismissal, harassment, personal injury, etc)
  • fraudulent qualifications and misleading or bogus claims of professional affiliation (check the bully's CV carefully)
  • collusion
  • corruption
  • being sacked or asked to leave their previous job(s)
  • recruitment through nepotism or favouritism rather than ability
  • extra-marital affairs
  • at home: poor credit rating, verbal abuse, domestic abuse, neglect, abandonment

Most cases of bullying involve a serial bully - one person to whom all the dysfunction can be traced. The serial bully has done this before, is doing it now - and will do it again.

[ Inside Serial Bullies: Traits of A Serial Bully © by Bully Online - Tim Field. Thank you for making this information available. ]

About Tim Field

Tim Field, prominent British anti-bullying activist with his main focus relating to workplace bullying.

From 1971 to 1975 he studied computing science in Stafford at the North Staffordshire Polytechnic, now Staffordshire University, and was awarded a First Class Honours degree.

He then worked in the computer industry for nineteen years until he had to stop due to the effects of experiencing severe workplace bullying.

In 1996 he founded the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line and Success Unlimited Website. He wrote and self-published a book "Bully In Sight" based on his own experiences, and impressions of calls to the advice line in 1996.

First published with the long title "Bully In Sight - How to predict, resist, challenge and combat workplace bullying" the first ten chapters of the book seek to define bullying and bullies. The second part offers suggestions on how to challenge and combat workplace bullying. He also founded its companion web site Bullyonline.

Tim Field died from cancer on 15 January 2006 aged 53. In 2010, the Tim Field Foundation - Working for a World Free of Bullying with its associated website was set up to further Tim Field's cause against bullying.


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