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The Identity Formation of the Victim of 'Shunning'

The Identity Formation of the Victim of 'Shunning'

Abstract

This study investigates the concept of shunning, which can be differentiated from other types of bullying through focusing on the victimizing process. Shunning represents the collective exclusion of an individual by being ignored by their peers and it is the typical type of Ijime (bullying) in Japan. I present two brief cases that describe experiences of classmates being shunned. I examine the cases and then introduce four different positions of the victim's reaction to the experience of being shunned which correspond to four different identity statuses. Papadopoulos (1999) put forward the idea of'storied community' through his clinical work with refugees, which provides victims with coherent narratives and transitional space as a secure base. This concept seems to have useful applicability in the phenomenon of shunning. However, the devastating dilemma for shunned victims in Japan is that the most available storied community, which could offer them refuge, is the one of 'suicide as revenge on the tormentors'. In this way, the choice is impossible between finding refuge in that story or losing the sense of identity. The implications for the clinician to relate to the victim of shunning are discussed, within the context of this approach.
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