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Clinical term for being demeaned in a hidden way

Community Member

Greetings all.  I was wondering if any psychologists might be able to provide me with a clinical term (and further definition if possible) about being demeaned in a veiled way.  When I was 10 years old my older sister made me a birthday card that had a lovely poem in it.  However, the poem was all about how that, now I was 10, there should be no more tears or tantrums, how I should clean my room, etc.  Now, this might seem like quite a benign message, but it was written up in a birthday card!!! (and for the world to see).  I sometime think back to that and feel it was quite demeaning.  I have tried to search for various terms to describe it (passive aggressive, emotional abuse, etc), but none of these really quite get to the nub of it.  I did hear a psychologist on the radio one day discussing a topic very similar to this, but I cannot for the life of me remember the term she used.

 Appreciate any assistance and links to literature.  Cheers

3 Replies 3

Community Member
Hi Squeezer.  Greetings to the forums and hoping, apart from your puzzling problem, your days are going well.  How much older than you is your sister?  Often older siblings take over the role of 'mum' to younger siblings.  They seem to think mum needs their help (whether she does or not), so to help her, they become 'bossy britches'.  If her behaviour continued, I would say she is abusing her position as older sister.  If it was a once off, I would ignore it, maybe say a few well chosen words, i.e mind your own etc.   Is your mum aware of the card and how you felt at the time?  May I ask how long ago this happened and what is your relationship like now?  My brother (5 years older than me) used to boss me around too.  I totally ignored him too.  I agree you would've been extremely hurt by this invasion of your life, but, I think she was just being an older bossy sister. 

Community Member

Thanks Pipsy.  My sister is 7 years my senior, and it was not an isolated incident.  I agree that there was a degree of over stepping the requirements of her role when we were growing up.  There used to be a joke (although I never found it funny) "I'm only mean to you".  I'm not really troubled by the event, and I'm not seeking support in that respect.  What I am seeking is the research and academic analysis on this type of thing, what it is known as and what the observed knock on affects are.


Hello Squeezer

It seems to me that the technical term for your sister's treatment of you is called bullying.  As Pipsy has commented, the oldest child often takes on the role of parenting, or tries to. My elder sister did this, but it seems your sister has definitely overstepped the line. That sort of behaviour, in my book, is called bullying.