Dr. Neufeld's refreshing developmental analysis of bullies reveals instinctive roots embedded in the dynamics of attachment and the flight from vulnerability. Invited to keynote on Canada's first national conference on bullying, Dr. Neufeld shares the insights that have evolved as a result of years of experience working with bullies of all kinds, combined with his mastery of the developmental literature. This material is especially useful for educators struggling to provide safe school environments.

Course Description

Once we understand how bullies are made, our attempts to unmake them can be truly effective and long-lasting. Most prevailing approaches to this problem assume that bullying is either learned behaviour or the result of failure to acquire social skills. In contrast, Dr. Neufeld dissects the bully syndrome to reveal its deep instinctive roots in the dynamics of attachment and vulnerability.

Most attempts to change bullies, or even to teach them a lesson, are not only futile but counterproductive. The reason for this is that most interventions are blind, devoid of an understanding of what makes a bully in the first place. Part of the problem is that the bully is an enigma. There are at least three reasons for this. First of all, very few bullies would identify themselves as such or confess to the act. Secondly, bullies lack self-reflection and so cannot tell us about themselves. Thirdly, the violating nature of the bully's behaviour distracts from the salient issues and underlying dynamics. The symptoms are social but the dysfunction is psychological. The arena of violation is in children's relating to each other but the genesis of the problem is in relationship to adults. The demeanor is one of toughness, yet the sensitivity to slight is acute. The behaviour is pushy and demanding, yet the personality is highly dependent and immature. Unless we can shed some light into the internal workings of the bully, our interventions will inevitably be off base.

Attempting to treat a bully without addressing the contributing conditions is at best ineffective and, most often, counterproductive. Key to the bullies unmaking is proper attachment hierarchy and a tolerance of felt vulnerability. Strategies are presented that are grounded in understanding and that can be applied in a wide range of settings.

Genesis of the material

The experiential root of this material was working with young offenders. In the prison system, everyone tends to be a bully or a victim or both. Once the mystery was unravelled, the bully syndrome became readily recognizable in other populations and settings and in children as early as toddlerhood and the preschool stage.

The conceptual roots of the material are in an understanding of the dynamics of attachment, vulnerability and psychological immaturity. These three keys unlock the mystery of bullying and reveal how bullies are created. These dynamics also point the way to change and the unmaking of a bully.

The didactic roots of this material were in the desperate requests of educators for something with a bit more depth and psychological accountability than what is usually offered.


Bullies come in all ages and exist in all settings, including marriage and the marketplace. The dynamics discussed, therefore, apply to all. This course should therefore be of use to anyone interested in taking a more in-depth approach to bullying. The primary focus of this course, however, is bullies in the school setting. This course can be used to glean insight into particular bullies, create plans for treatment or intervention, or to create prevention and intervention programs for schools and districts.

Formats & Fees

This course is available in the following formats: LECTURE VIDEO, DVD. See Course Format Options for format delivery, access, and content details. Please note: current formats available for the Bullies course are based on the original course, not the re-filmed 2021 version.

LECTURE VIDEO FORMAT - $90 (*discount available for Bullies: Their Making and Unmaking alumni)
Click on the Purchase Access to Lecture Video button on the left-hand side of the course details page to register.

*Lecture Video format 50% discount available for students who have previously taken the course as an Online Campus Course or in-person. Email our office for a promo code BEFORE you register.

DVD FORMAT - $90 + shipping and taxes (available while quantities last)
Click on the Purchase DVD button on the left-hand side of the course details page to register.


The primary objective of this course is to make sense of the bully from inside out, and from this foundation of insight, prepare the way for change.

Course objectives include:

  • to provide a working definition of bullying that will enable participants to recognize the bully dynamic in its myriad manifestations and across a multitude of settings
  • to make sense of the bully from inside out and from a foundation of understanding, to outline the steps required for lasting change
  • to create an understanding of the role of escalating peer orientation and of current parenting practices in fostering the bullying dynamic
  • to convey why conventional discipline and social learning approaches can make matters worse
  • to provide the conceptual tools - specifically attachment theory and vulnerability theory - to dissect the bully syndrome and uncover its instinctive roots
  • to provide basic guidelines for addressing the bully problem that can be employed in a variety of venues and settings
  • to outline the most significant factors in keeping students safe

This course will help shed light on:

  • the 12 traits of the bully syndrome traced to their roots
  • the role of the limbic system (emotional brain) in bully making
  • the nature of the dark union that begets the bully
  • the attachment problems of bullies
  • common pitfalls in the treatment of bullies
  • how bullies & the bullied can be cut from the same cloth
  • why schools are becoming bully factories
  • why conventional discipline backfires with bullies
  • why bullies are driven to dominate
  • key target points for effective intervention

Course Outline

This course is divided into four sessions.

Session 1 - Neufeld's Alpha Perversion Model of Bullying

This session begins with reviewing the four prevailing explanations for bullying before looking at the bully response through the lenses of attachment, emotion, and development. What is revealed is a two-factor model that involves basic attachment instincts as well as core attachment emotions. These interacting factors are revealed as rooted in certain conditions that impact development. The good news is that once the dynamics that drive bullying are understood, steps can be taken to reverse these dynamics. ​

Session 2 - Phenomena Explained by the Perversion Model

A model is evaluated upon its power to explain behaviour and phenomena that cannot otherwise be made sense of. Included in this session is the relationship of the bully syndrome to other alpha syndromes, why bullies have the emotional problems they do, the relationship between peer orientation and bullying, how the bullied can become bullies, and the twelve traits associated with the bully syndrome. ​

Sessions 3 & 4 - Changing the Bully's Heart and Mind

Given that bullies are made, they can also be unmade. For this to happen, however, the interventions need to touch the bully's heart and mind, especially if they are to generalize across relationships and last into adulthood. Practices are introduced that build on the developmental insights gleaned in the first sessions. The implications for prevention are also discussed.​

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