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Keywords:

  • bullying;
  • persecutory symptoms;
  • paranoid ideation;
  • aggression;
  • childhood experiences of abuse

Background

Bullying has been considered as a traumatic experience that can lead to paranoid ideation in students (Campbell and Morrison, 2007). This study aimed to explore differences concerning experiences of childhood trauma, the display of social anxiety behaviours, paranoid ideation, and aggressive traits and behaviour in a mixed clinical population with and without persecutory delusions, between individuals who reported being victims of bullying versus those who did not.

Method

A total of 61 individuals with diagnoses of paranoid schizophrenia and social anxiety disorder were given a battery of questionnaires that measured bullying experiences, childhood abuse and experiences of threat and subordination, paranoid ideation, social anxiety behaviours, shame, and aggressive traits and behaviours.

Results

Data on the differences between the victims of bullying and non-victims, in terms of recalling being bullied, showed higher scores on childhood abuse, experiences of threat and subordination within the family, aggressive traits and higher display of persecutory symptoms and less social anxiety behaviours.

Conclusion

Bullying is a traumatic phenomenon that is reported by people who suffer from persecutory delusions to a higher degree than those who do not. This study, thus, gives support to the idea that childhood abuse within the family is associated with bullying experiences and that a traumatic infancy may lead to the use of aggressive traits and behaviours to deal with a threatening environment (Bentall and Fernyhough, 2008). This argument raises clinical issues regarding anger management and addressing bullying experiences in individuals with persecutory ideation. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Key Practitioner Message

  • The importance of bullying experiences in clinical practice: anger management and the relationship between aggressive temperaments and persecutory ideation.