Most of us are probably most familiar with this term because of the movie title, released in 2004 IMDb Mean Girls. The movie is centered around the struggles of a female high school student as she navigates through the social hierarchy of her new school. When she falls for one of the popular boys, who just happens to be the object of affection of one of the A-group girls, she falls victim to the questionable, if not ruthless, tactics of the popular girls. Ultimately, she triumphs, if for the only reason that she is authentic and goodhearted, where the girls who relentlessly pursue her for their own sport are not.
None of us is immune to the tactics of mean people. At one point or another in our lives, we have or will become victims of this behavior. How we perceive it, and the aggressor, will determine how we handle it, and whether or not we succeed in protecting ourselves and moving forward.
The goal is not to become their victim.
The very first step to not becoming a victim is to identify who and what you are dealing with. A general Google search on “mean girls” brings up a bunch of sites related to the movie. Understandable. But, expand that search to “the psychology behind mean girls” and you are rewarded with a plethora of sites that delve into the depths of the aggressor’s – a.k.a. the “Mean Girl”‘s – psychosis. Not only the psychosis, but the sociology and the behavioral aspects of what makes a “Mean Girl” mean. Outstanding information abounds.
From a sociological perspective, mean girls are mean because they are trying to beat down the competition. In his article titled “Mean Girls Are Not Mean Genes” in PsychologyToday.com, Dr. Agustin Fuentes Ph.D. establishes a link between the behavior of mean girls and the social control of female sexuality.
An abstract by Tracy Vaillancourt published by The Royal Society in October 2013 titled “Do Human Females Use Indirect Aggression as an Intrasexual Competition Strategy” draws further connections along the sociological track, but also brings in the concept of behavioral abnormalities of the individual, like the use of indirect aggression and manipulation to achieve the end result.
As I researched further, I noted that the behaviors that were evident in mean girls were the same behaviors that the professionals associated with psychopaths and sociopaths.
Dr. George Simon, Ph.D. has a wonderful site called Counselling Resource. On his site, he has written an informative series of articles delving into this as it relates to Predatory Aggressive Personality a.k.a. psychopaths and sociopaths. These types of individuals believe that they are superior to everyone else and will stop at nothing to achieve what they want or believe is rightfully theirs. They have no concept of boundaries or personal freedom of anyone but themselves. If that right involves you in any way, watch out!
A word of caution as you research your aggressor, whether it is a mean girl with the motives stated above, or just a mean person: every site that I visited, and every article I read, highly suggested that you not waste time trying to figure out “why” your aggressor behaves in this fashion toward you. You will waste a lot of energy for little gain.
Remember that the goal is to not become the victim. Nothing more.
To do this, try the following:
- Learn how to identify them and their actions
- Do not get emotional – they feed off of it
- Remain detached
- Learn how to say “NO” – just like toddlers, they hate that word
Check out this great article: “How to Disarm a Manipulative Sociopath”. It will give you all the tactics you need to ward off – and hopefully put a complete stop to – any mean, controlling person who has targeted you as her next victim.
In conclusion, I believe that we are all prone to some of the behaviors listed in the above referenced articles at some time or another, to varying degrees. The occurrences of those behaviors do not make us psychopaths, sociopaths, or even “mean”. They make us human.
Where human behavior transcends into the psychopath or sociopath is when it becomes endemic of an individual’s personality, and that, when confronted in a humble and non-threatening manner by the “victim”, the individual’s behavior does not subside. In other words, they keep going like a freight train in the direction that they have determined, regardless of the impact of anyone else or consideration of any boundaries not established by their decision.
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