They are tired. They have no energy for any passion. They escape from their emotions into TV series. How can we talk with children and teenagers about their problems? Psychologist and psychotherapist Agnieszka Carrasco-Żylicz talks to Aleksandra Pezda about the mental health of the young today.
This interview deals with suicidal ideation and suicide among children.
Aleksandra Pezda: In Poland, more than 600,000 children need psychiatric or psychological treatment. What problems do they most commonly present to you?
Agnieszka Carrasco-Żylicz: The fear of rejection is the biggest one. They feel insignificant, invisible. They say: “In a group I am no-one”, “I don’t count”. Adolescence is the period in one’s life when the fundamental questions include What do others think of me?, and whether one is liked overrides other goals in life. From the perspective of a teenager, group disparagement is the worst that can happen. In today’s world, each bit of back-biting or rejection by one’s peers can be escalated on social media and go around the world within minutes. A banal conflict or unimportant argument doesn’t run its course before the next lesson, but turns into real hate that ruins the psyche.
Teenagers fall into the trap of the internet?
Not completely. They fall into more or less the same traps as they did before, only these are more refined and dangerous. Before the days of the internet, we were generally dealing with bullying and extortion, with physical violence. The reach of this type of violence was limited both in time and space. It was relatively easy to spot and support the victim. Fortunately, these days, there is less physical violence, but unfortunately the aggression has moved onto the net. Disputes don’t end immediately, and sometimes become a form of deliberate torture. Psychological violence dominates; not everyone could punch their peer with a fist, but the majority are able to take out their feelings in words. The internet has made this exponential. It allows for huge impact, with its unlimited range, anonymity and physical distance. It is easier to torment someone from behind a screen than in a face-to-face conversation.
Are you saying that peer psychological abuse has become commonplace?