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Why would someone who is already in pain wish to inflict it upon others?

218 Answers
Last Updated: 02/05/2022 at 9:09pm
1 Tip to Feel Better
United States
Moderated by

Jennifer Fritz, LMSW, PhD

Clinical Social Work/Therapist

Day to day life can be stressful and overwhelming and my strength is assisting my clients in a supportive, empowering and practical manner.

Top Rated Answers
May 20th, 2015 3:26am
I suppose that they want others to experience the pain that they are feeling. Sometimes, when people are hurting it hurts even more for them to see those around them doing better than they are. Often times, people want to see you do good, but never better than them. Sometimes these people are not truly aware of what they are doing, or they simply do not care. I think people can get to a point where their actions are unlike who they really are inside and what they would normally do, simply because they're in pain and they're depressed. I feel that it shouldn't be taken personally when people do that, but it can also be toxic and a good idea to distance yourself from the person. It's a realization that they have to make on their own, because if they are already in pain and inflicting it upon others, pointing that out may just upset/anger/hurt them more, causing them to inflict more pain upon you or others that they encounter. However, I'm no professional. :) If this situation is personal to you, I truly hope that things begin to look up for you. xx
December 2nd, 2016 8:59am
Because a person in pain wants nothing more than to soothe their own, and seeing others suffer the same thing helps. Also, a person in pain wants others to understand him.
October 27th, 2015 6:07pm
Because they want others to feel the same way as they are. They want them to know what they are going through.
June 28th, 2018 2:14am
People who are in pain usually lash out at others because they are miserable and/or angry and people who are miserable and/or angry usually feel a loss of control. Inflicting pain on others does 2 things for them: 1)it allows them to make others feel as they do (yes, misery does love company) and (most importantly) 2)it provides them with some sort of sense of control. If you are on the receiving end of their pain, it usually helps to acknowledge that they are in pain but that you don't appreciate them projecting on you. Stand your ground and let them know that you would be happy to help them any way you can, but not if they continue trying to hurt you mentally, physically, or emotionally.
January 18th, 2016 11:05am
People often want others to feel the pain that they do. They feel it's unfair that they alone have to suffer when everyone else is smiling and laughing
April 2nd, 2015 9:56pm
I would say that people wish to inflict their pain upon others because they feel as if nobody understands them.
December 7th, 2015 9:51pm
Sometimes pain comes from feeling like you're not in control. Hurting others can be a way to think you have control over something. It's also a way to express emotions people don't necessarily know how to handle. Unfortunately, most people don't realize that this only makes their own pain worse.
September 25th, 2016 4:30am
Probably because that person is feeling bitter or too overwhelmed by the pain that they can't control their actions and thus take it out on others closest to them.
September 15th, 2016 2:40am
I believe someone who is already in pain may wish to inflict in upon others so that they do not feel so alone in their pain.
October 12th, 2016 7:18am
psychologically it makes a person feel better about their pain due to not being the only one in pain
November 17th, 2016 4:54pm
Sometimes people feel that the only way they can truly show others that they are in pain is to inflict that same pain to others. Not that they want others to be hurting as well, but just that they want someone to see that THEY are hurting! And sometimes they don't mean to hurt others, that is simply the only way they have figured out to vent or let off a little steam.
September 28th, 2016 11:59am
Sadly people in pain arent always aware how they may be coming across to other people. This is not an excuse or a reason but may offer some comfort. Would it help them or you to discuss the pain further? Maybe sharing your experience could help you develop / progress further?
July 13th, 2017 5:45pm
People who are in pain often inflict it upon others. Pain takes away a lot of our moral compasses, leaving us with only the primal thoughts of the need to survive and take down others and make them feel our pain. We think that if other people were to suffer too, it would make our suffering lessen.
June 3rd, 2015 9:23pm
Inflicting pain upon others, I think, is a way of trying to forget your own pain. It takes your mind away from what you might be going through, and it also gives you a sense of power over others. It can make you feel stronger, and like you can control something. Most of the time, people inflict pain because of their own insecurities and misery. And as sick as bullying is, and as much I hate it and want it to stop, I don't completely blame them.
November 5th, 2016 9:25am
There are a lot of reasons someone struggling would want others to struggle to. One could be to achieve a sense of revenge against the world. Another could be that they want to feel in control, like they can dish out what they are served.
October 26th, 2016 2:01am
Because to them, the others may have it better. and it causes them to desire that life, when they feel like they don't have it. So they wish worse on others to feel a somewhat relief
January 6th, 2017 7:26am
Because sometimes it's more of a subconscious thing, if I am feeling this, then you deserve it too... And of course that is not correct... And most of the time these people are not horrible... They just don't know any better... Don't know anything else...
July 29th, 2017 3:10pm
As an empathetic person, this is something I have really struggled to understand. I have a good friend who opened up to me recently that she used to bully others when they were feeling vulnerable. My friend told me that when she felt really vulnerable, she wanted to feel like she could have some power-- sometimes power over other people. A lot of people in pain feel as though they have been wronged by other people, and as an attempt to cope feel the need to seek revenge on the people that have hurt them. Because they don't always have access to the same people, it can cause them to turn that frustration onto another target.
April 16th, 2015 6:44pm
They might be experiencing so much pain, they don't know anything else. It could control them and make them think hurting others is the answer, when it is not. It could simply just be too much to handle.
June 29th, 2015 7:17am
Some instances, inflicting pain onto other makes people feel as they do. This allows them to feel that someone can connect to the pain they felt as well.
July 6th, 2015 5:52pm
Maybe they just want to take it out on others or just try to be cool/popularity or show off to there friends
January 22nd, 2017 12:41am
For many that have been hurt have also been manipulated. Especially when those inflicting pain are close friends or family and can sometimes be confused with love or appropriate treatment given the circumstances. For these people who have been hurt and manipulated in this way, it is less of questioning why they wish to inflict harm upon others and more what makes them inflict pain upon others. The answer could be as simple as missing out of some key relationship factors to have been taught that is how to treat other people. #monkeyseemonkeydo
February 4th, 2018 12:53pm
Because that someone thinks wrongly that transferring the pain will lessen his own pain, but the transaction of pain will only further multiply the pain instead of dividing it, this is the law of nature
September 14th, 2016 2:45am
People have different ways of coping with pain, and some people who experience pain don't know how to cope effectively, which often means they will lash out as a result. I generally believe that most do not intend for others to feel the pain that they do, again because lashing out is their coping strategy. However there are no doubt some individuals who feel 'well I'm suffering, so why shouldn't they?', almost in the same way that bullies are often victims of bullying themselves.
February 1st, 2017 12:46am
They want others to know the pain that they are feeling . These people do this because they feel the world is inbalance and they would believe that its unfair that they are the only one suffering. Rather then seek help they simply just choose to harm the people around them
June 18th, 2017 9:00pm
Some people may find it as a way of ignoring their own pain, to cope. However, it's not helpful. Because then people will make others feel the same thing they've been through. Some may be even jealous of others' happiness which is not very acceptable. If someone you know tries to inflict their pain on someone else, talk to them to sort out the issue or at least inform them of their mistake.
December 13th, 2017 9:30am
they probably don’t know how to cope with the pain that they are in. It’s never okay to hurt others because you are, but a lot of people cope by taking their pain out onto someone else
May 7th, 2015 5:01am
They don't know how else to feel better about themselves. Sometimes it's easier to bring someone else down than to lift yourself up.
September 24th, 2016 11:22pm
Sometimes pain internally (mentally or other) and Physically (abuse or other) reaches a point where the solution isn't easy. You know you need something, but you don't know how to get it. Inflicting pain to oneself sometimes gives a sense of control in the middle of the storm. The hardest part is remembering storms pass.
October 2nd, 2016 6:11pm
Based on my experience, bullies usually get their motivation to inflict pain upon others when they're being bullied. Unfortunately, a lot of people think that bullying will make their reputation climb up in school. So when people are bullied, they try to join in, so that they won't be considered an easy target to pick on.