The Psychology of Love, Friendships, Family, and Bullying

Ali Mattu with Chase Masterson, WonderCon 2014

I usually keep my psychology of science fiction articles off this website, but the most recent episode of Dr. Andrea Letamendi and my psychology of Star Trek VS. Star Wars panel series explored topics that are relevant here. We discussed the psychology of love, friendship, family, and bullying.

Here's an excerpt from our discussion of bullying: 

Andrea: It’s not a new problem but what is new is the internet and the bullying process. I grew up in a time when people said, “suck it up, get over it, get a thick skin, this is a right of passage, everyone goes through it.” But when you see the true impact of bullying, there’re long standing psychological repercussions including anxiety, depression, and PTSD. I do want to be clear bullying happens in a different way because of the internet. The anonymity of the internet can generate more bullying behavior. It’s a struggle to identify it and intervene with it.

Brian: Andrea you’re a trainer and Ali you work with this on a case by case basis. Talk about your experiences with it.

Ali: My experiences are both professional and personal. I got into Star Trek with Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country around 4th grade. I didn’t realize that Star Trek wasn’t cool. I thought it was very cool! I used to bring my Star Trek stuff to school all the time. When I got to middle school, there was a group of students who came to school with their Star Trek shirts and were bullied. I stood by and I did nothing. I did nothing because everyone did nothing. I learned a lesson that day – Star Trek isn’t cool. Don’t talk about it otherwise you’ll get beat up. Moving forward, I was at high school and reading the Star Trek 30th Anniversary Magazine at a bookstore. A bunch of guys came in, started yelling at me, and said a bunch of derogatory things to me. It took years and years and years to undo that psychological damage until I was able to talk about Star Trek. It wasn’t until my fiancée over there [points at audience] was able to help me…wait, I should mention her name, Nhu-An Le is your name and I love you, until my fiancée was able to encourage me to be a proud geek and then the good doctor over here [points to Andrea] helped me figure out how to weave these things together – that’s how this panel came to be. The way we change this is by changing the culture. Make it unacceptable to see bullying and just stand by. We know the research on conformity – it only takes one person to stand up and change the situation. That’s exactly what Cat and Chase are doing here. They’re creating awareness and making it cool to stop these things from happening.

For a full recap of our panel, visit Brain Knows Better.