A while back we reported on a study which seems to show that social exclusion is closely associated with terrorism. The study seemed to show that people who have felt alienated from and oppressed by their societies are more likely to turn to violence and extremism.
Now, another study shows just how dangerous social exclusion is. In Rejection Kills in Aeon, Elitsa Dermendzhiyska looks at how recent research demonstrates that for the brain, a broken bone and a broken heart are just about as painful, and just as hard to mend. People who have been bullied, excluded, tormented, or otherwise socially traumatized tend to feel it their whole lives. (Think about the time you were bullied in seventh grade. Still feel a twinge?)
Thus, social exclusion really is a serious health problem for the people who are excluded. It may affect their mental and physical health forever.
Ah, but there’s the rub. It is also a problem for society as a whole. People who have been excluded, or even just feel like they are, are less happy, less productive, and less co-operative then they would be otherwise. And, as we’ve already seen, they are more likely to turn to violence, crime, or political terrorism.
The message, then, is that one of the best ways of stopping hate and political murder is to keep a close eye on bullies and the bullied in settings ranging from schools to the streets. If you can break that deadly cycle, you may be able to stop a mass killing before it happens.