Are You Crossing Over Into Dehumanizing Others?

 “People are hard to hate close up.  Move In.” ~Brene Brown

I don’t know about you, but I avoid talking about politics. 

I started to avoid it after George W Bush won and Al Gore lost the election and there was so much conflict around that presidential race. At this point, I almost ran from those conversations. There is a physical feeling I get when people have strong opinions about their candidate.  My chest tightens, my fight or flight feeling kicks in, and I feel like someone is being bullied. As social media has expanded this conversation, it hasn’t gotten any easier to avoid the topic or feelings.  It just keeps increasing and I have never known exactly why I am feeling this way.  After reading this article I get it.

It is the dehumanizing language that is used and images. It is bullying language.

I am sensitive to those conversations. Having been bullied from all sides as a kid, adults to other classmates.  Here is a nice side story, I actually had a fellow student step in once because a teacher was bullying me so much in elementary school. Thanks Chris. As I got older I would at times engage in bullying others as a way to fit in, be liked or just to feel a little bit of power. I could not have explained it like that at the time, but I can see if for what it was now.

As a member of the neurodiverse community, I can be defensive when people make statements like.

“They can’t even spell this right, how stupid are they.”

“What’s wrong with you, you can’t even spell___________?”

There are a whole lot more statements, but I have worked to forget most of them, and I am not going to bring them back to my memory just for this story, it is not worth it.

Those are dehumanizing statements and most of the people that said them, didn’t know anything more about dyslexia than what their parents or tv might have told them, which wasn’t a whole lot. We know a lot more about dyslexia today and the research continues to expand our understanding of the brain.

Take a moment to make sure that you are not adding to the dehumanization that seems to be increasing and be a champion for adding rehumanization to the conversations. Simple things like getting to know more details about someone before you judge them. You never know, there might be something physically different about them, that you can’t see that makes it impossible for them to do what you are asking them to do or be who you want them to be.


Rehumanization is to restore human qualities to:

Rehumanization is the process by which one reverses the damage done by dehumanization. That is, in individuals or groups, the process of rehabilitating one’s way of perceiving the other in question in one’s mind and in consequent behavior and actions. 

5 Steps to Start the Rehumanization Process

  1.     Find at least three things about the person that makes them a human being
  2.     Dignity for each person – Listen, share information, keep your promises
  3.     Universal respect – applying that everyone deserves respect.  That respect can come with boundaries for your own safety and wellbeing. It includes respect of self
  4.     Building a strong community for yourself based on trust, caring and friendship
  5.     Find at least three things you can relate to in their life


I have had to do this with a few people in my life. Really study their motives and understand where they might have been coming from when they made the decisions they made about our lives. And really when I look back at the process, I went through it was rehumanizing them. I needed to understand them as humans. Average, everyday, flawed humans.

I am not encouraging this process to make the world a better place and coming from a whole granola and tree hugger space. What I am suggesting is finding true inner peace.  What I am offering you is a path to true forgiveness of self and others.  Maybe it is worth learning a little more about this and adding it as a tool to your toolbox.


JoyGenea Schumer
Business Owner, International Neurodiversity Coach, and Speaker


P.S. I really encourage you to take a moment and read Brene Brown’s article on dehumanization. 

In case you’re not going to go do that, I will share with you, my notes.




Dehumanizing Always Starts With Language

“People are hard to hate close up. Move In.” ~Brene Brown

In her research participants who put true belonging into practice talked openly about their boundaries. The clearer and more respected the boundaries, the higher the level of empathy and compassion for others. Fewer clear boundaries, less openness. It is hard to stay kind-hearted when you feel people are taking advantage of you or threatening you.

*What is the limit to being vulnerable with people?

*Safety – physical or emotional safety

*Dehumanization is a response to conflicting motives.

*Let’s take harming someone for example.  It goes against our wiring as members of a social species to actually harm, kill, torture, or degrade other humans.  It requires us to dehumanize ourselves.

*Maiese defines dehumanization as “the psychological process of demonizing the enemy, making them seem less than human and hence not worthy of humane treatment.”

*Dehumanizing often starts with creating an enemy image. As we take sides, lose trust, and get angrier and angrier, we not only solidify an idea of our enemy, but also start to lose our ability to listen, communicate, and practice even a modicum of empathy.

*Dehumanizing always starts with language, often followed by images.


*There is a line. It’s etched with dignity.



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