Saturday, December 6, 2008

NARCISSIST in positions of authority

"He knows not how to rule a kingdom, that cannot manage a province; nor can he wield a province, that cannot order a city; nor he order a city, that knows not how to regulate a village; nor he a village, that cannot guide a family; nor can that man govern well a family that knows not how to govern himself; neither can any govern himself unless his reason be lord, will and appetite her vassals; nor can reason rule unless herself be ruled by God, and be obedient to Him."

Hugo Grotius


Are narcissists in position of authority more likely to take advantage of their patients/students/subordinates?


Being in a position of authority secures the uninterrupted flow of Narcissistic Supply. Fed by the awe, fear, subordination, admiration, adoration and obedience of his underlings, parish, students, or patients – the narcissist thrives in such circumstances. The narcissist aspires to acquire authority by any means available to him. He may achieve this by making use of some outstanding traits or skills such as his intelligence, or through an asymmetry built into a relationship. The narcissistic medical doctor or mental health professional and his patients, the narcissistic guide, teacher, or mentor and his students, the narcissistic leader, guru, pundit, or psychic and his followers or admirers, or the narcissistic business tycoon, boss, or employer and his subordinates – all are instances of such asymmetries. The rich, powerful, more knowledgeable narcissist occupy a Pathological Narcissistic Space.

These types of relationships – based on the unidirectional and unilateral flow of Narcissistic Supply – border on abuse. The narcissist, in pursuit of an ever-increasing supply, of an ever-larger dose of adoration, and an ever-bigger fix of attention – gradually loses his moral constraints. With time, it gets harder to obtain Narcissistic Supply. The sources of such supply are human and they become weary, rebellious, tired, bored, disgusted, repelled, or plainly amused by the narcissist's incessant dependence, his childish craving for attention, his exaggerated or even paranoid fears which lead to obsessive-compulsive behaviours. To secure their continued collaboration in the procurement of his much-needed supply – the narcissist might resort to emotional extortion, straight blackmail, abuse, or misuse of his authority.

The temptation to do so, though, is universal. No doctor is immune to the charms of certain female patients, nor are university professors asexual. What prevent them from immorally, cynically, callously and consistently abusing their position are ethical imperatives embedded in them through socialisation and empathy. They learned the difference between right and wrong and, having internalised it, they choose right when they face a moral dilemma. They empathise with other human beings, "putting themselves in their shoes", and refrain from doing unto others what they do not wish to be done to them.

It is in these two crucial points that narcissists differ from other humans.

Their socialisation process – usually the product of problematic early relationships with Primary Objects (parents, or caregivers) – is often perturbed and results in social dysfunctioning. And they are incapable of empathising: humans are there only to supply them with Narcissistic Supply. Those unfortunate humans who do not comply with this overriding dictum must be made to alter their ways and if even this fails, the narcissist loses interest in them and they are classified as "sub-human, animals, service-providers, functions, symbols" and worse. Hence the abrupt shifts from over-valuation to devaluation of others. While bearing the gifts of Narcissistic Supply – the "other" is idealised by the narcissist. The narcissist shifts to the opposite pole (devaluation) when Narcissistic Supply dries up or when he estimates that it is about to.

As far as the narcissist is concerned, there is no moral dimension to abusing others – only a pragmatic one: will he be punished for doing so? The narcissist is atavistically responsive to fear and lacks any in-depth understanding of what it is to be a human being. Trapped in his pathology, the narcissist resembles an alien on drugs, a junkie of Narcissistic Supply devoid of the kind of language, which renders human emotions intelligible.

Narcissistic Leaders

The narcissistic leader is the culmination and reification of his period, culture, and civilization. He is likely to rise to prominence in narcissistic societies.

The malignant narcissist invents and then projects a false, fictitious, self for the world to fear, or to admire. He maintains a tenuous grasp on reality to start with and this is further exacerbated by the trappings of power. The narcissist's grandiose self-delusions and fantasies of omnipotence and omniscience are supported by real life authority and the narcissist's predilection to surround himself with obsequious sycophants.

The narcissist's personality is so precariously balanced that he cannot tolerate even a hint of criticism and disagreement. Most narcissists are paranoid and suffer from ideas of reference (the delusion that they are being mocked or discussed when they are not). Thus, narcissists often regard themselves as "victims of persecution".

The narcissistic leader fosters and encourages a personality cult with all the hallmarks of an institutional religion: priesthood, rites, rituals, temples, worship, catechism, mythology. The leader is this religion's ascetic saint. He monastically denies himself earthly pleasures (or so he claims) in order to be able to dedicate himself fully to his calling.

The narcissistic leader is a monstrously inverted Jesus, sacrificing his life and denying himself so that his people - or humanity at large - should benefit. By surpassing and suppressing his humanity, the narcissistic leader became a distorted version of Nietzsche's "superman".

But being a-human or super-human also means being a-sexual and a-moral.

In this restricted sense, narcissistic leaders are post-modernist and moral relativists. They project to the masses an androgynous figure and enhance it by engendering the adoration of nudity and all things "natural" - or by strongly repressing these feelings. But what they refer to as "nature" is not natural at all.

The narcissistic leader invariably proffers an aesthetic of decadence and evil carefully orchestrated and artificial - though it is not perceived this way by him or by his followers. Narcissistic leadership is about reproduced copies, not about originals. It is about the manipulation of symbols - not about veritable atavism or true conservatism.

In short: narcissistic leadership is about theatre, not about life. To enjoy the spectacle (and be subsumed by it), the leader demands the suspension of judgment, depersonalization, and de-realization. Catharsis is tantamount, in this narcissistic dramaturgy, to self-annulment.

Narcissism is nihilistic not only operationally, or ideologically. Its very language and narratives are nihilistic. Narcissism is conspicuous nihilism - and the cult's leader serves as a role model, annihilating the Man, only to re-appear as a pre-ordained and irresistible force of nature.

Narcissistic leadership often poses as a rebellion against the "old ways" - against the hegemonic culture, the upper classes, the established religions, the superpowers, the corrupt order. Narcissistic movements are puerile, a reaction to narcissistic injuries inflicted upon a narcissistic (and rather psychopathic) toddler nation-state, or group, or upon the leader.

Minorities or "others" - often arbitrarily selected - constitute a perfect, easily identifiable, embodiment of all that is "wrong". They are accused of being old, they are eerily disembodied, they are cosmopolitan, they are part of the establishment, they are "decadent", they are hated on religious and socio-economic grounds, or because of their race, sexual orientation, origin ... They are different, they are narcissistic (feel and act as morally superior), they are everywhere, they are defenceless, they are credulous, they are adaptable (and thus can be co-opted to collaborate in their own destruction). They are the perfect hate figure. Narcissists thrive on hatred and pathological envy.

This is precisely the source of the fascination with Hitler, diagnosed by Erich Fromm - together with Stalin - as a malignant narcissist. He was an inverted human. His unconscious was his conscious. He acted out our most repressed drives, fantasies, and wishes. He provides us with a glimpse of the horrors that lie beneath the veneer, the barbarians at our personal gates, and what it was like before we invented civilization. Hitler forced us all through a time warp and many did not emerge. He was not the devil. He was one of us. He was what Arendt aptly called the banality of evil. Just an ordinary, mentally disturbed, failure, a member of a mentally disturbed and failing nation, who lived through disturbed and failing times. He was the perfect mirror, a channel, a voice, and the very depth of our souls.

The narcissistic leader prefers the sparkle and glamour of well-orchestrated illusions to the tedium and method of real accomplishments. His reign is all smoke and mirrors, devoid of substances, consisting of mere appearances and mass delusions. In the aftermath of his regime - the narcissistic leader having died, been deposed, or voted out of office - it all unravels. The tireless and constant prestidigitation ceases and the entire edifice crumbles. What looked like an economic miracle turns out to have been a fraud-laced bubble. Loosely-held empires disintegrate. Laboriously assembled business conglomerates go to pieces. "Earth shattering" and "revolutionary" scientific discoveries and theories are discredited. Social experiments end in mayhem.

It is important to understand that the use of violence must be ego-syntonic. It must accord with the self-image of the narcissist. It must abet and sustain his grandiose fantasies and feed his sense of entitlement. It must conform with the narcissistic narrative.

Thus, a narcissist who regards himself as the benefactor of the poor, a member of the common folk, the representative of the disenfranchised, the champion of the dispossessed against the corrupt elite - is highly unlikely to use violence at first.

The pacific mask crumbles when the narcissist has become convinced that the very people he purported to speak for, his constituency, his grassroots fans, the prime sources of his narcissistic supply - have turned against him. At first, in a desperate effort to maintain the fiction underlying his chaotic personality, the narcissist strives to explain away the sudden reversal of sentiment. "The people are being duped by (the media, big industry, the military, the elite, etc.)", "they don't really know what they are doing", "following a rude awakening, they will revert to form", etc.

When these flimsy attempts to patch a tattered personal mythology fail - the narcissist is injured. Narcissistic injury inevitably leads to narcissistic rage and to a terrifying display of unbridled aggression. The pent-up frustration and hurt translate into devaluation. That which was previously idealized - is now discarded with contempt and hatred.

This primitive defense mechanism is called "splitting". To the narcissist, things and people are either entirely bad (evil) or entirely good. He projects onto others his own shortcomings and negative emotions, thus becoming a totally good object. A narcissistic leader is likely to justify the butchering of his own people by claiming that they intended to kill him, undo the revolution, devastate the economy, or the country, etc.

The "small people", the "rank and file", the "loyal soldiers" of the narcissist - his flock, his nation, his employees - they pay the price. The disillusionment and disenchantment are agonizing. The process of reconstruction, of rising from the ashes, of overcoming the trauma of having been deceived, exploited and manipulated - is drawn-out. It is difficult to trust again, to have faith, to love, to be led, to collaborate. Feelings of shame and guilt engulf the erstwhile followers of the narcissist. This is his sole legacy: a massive post-traumatic stress disorder.

This article appears in my book, "Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited"


Narcissism in the Boardroom Posted on August 15, 2008 by samvaknin

The perpetrators of the recent spate of financial frauds in the USA acted with callous disregard for both their employees and shareholders - not to mention other stakeholders. Psychologists have often remote-diagnosed them as “malignant, pathological narcissists”.

Narcissists are driven by the need to uphold and maintain a false self - a concocted, grandiose, and demanding psychological construct typical of the narcissistic personality disorder. The false self is projected to the world in order to garner “narcissistic supply” - adulation, admiration, or even notoriety and infamy. Any kind of attention is usually deemed by narcissists to be preferable to obscurity.

The false self is suffused with fantasies of perfection, grandeur, brilliance, infallibility, immunity, significance, omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience. To be a narcissist is to be convinced of a great, inevitable personal destiny. The narcissist is preoccupied with ideal love, the construction of brilliant, revolutionary scientific theories, the composition or authoring or painting of the greatest work of art, the founding of a new school of thought, the attainment of fabulous wealth, the reshaping of a nation or a conglomerate, and so on. The narcissist never sets realistic goals to himself. He is forever preoccupied with fantasies of uniqueness, record breaking, or breathtaking achievements. His verbosity reflects this propensity.

Reality is, naturally, quite different and this gives rise to a “grandiosity gap”. The demands of the false self are never satisfied by the narcissist’s accomplishments, standing, wealth, clout, sexual prowess, or knowledge. The narcissist’s grandiosity and sense of entitlement are equally incommensurate with his achievements.

To bridge the grandiosity gap, the malignant (pathological) narcissist resorts to shortcuts. These very often lead to fraud.

The narcissist cares only about appearances. What matters to him are the facade of wealth and its attendant social status and narcissistic supply. Witness the travestied extravagance of Tyco’s Denis Kozlowski. Media attention only exacerbates the narcissist’s addiction and makes it incumbent on him to go to ever-wilder extremes to secure uninterrupted supply from this source.

The narcissist lacks empathy - the ability to put himself in other people’s shoes. He does not recognize boundaries - personal, corporate, or legal. Everything and everyone are to him mere instruments, extensions, objects unconditionally and uncomplainingly available in his pursuit of narcissistic gratification.

This makes the narcissist perniciously exploitative. He uses, abuses, devalues, and discards even his nearest and dearest in the most chilling manner. The narcissist is utility- driven, obsessed with his overwhelming need to reduce his anxiety and regulate his labile sense of self-worth by securing a constant supply of his drug - attention. American executives acted without compunction when they raided their employees’ pension funds - as did Robert Maxwell a generation earlier in Britain.

The narcissist is convinced of his superiority - cerebral or physical. To his mind, he is a Gulliver hamstrung by a horde of narrow-minded and envious Lilliputians. The dotcom “new economy” was infested with “visionaries” with a contemptuous attitude towards the mundane: profits, business cycles, conservative economists, doubtful journalists, and cautious analysts.

Yet, deep inside, the narcissist is painfully aware of his addiction to others - their attention, admiration, applause, and affirmation. He despises himself for being thus dependent. He hates people the same way a drug addict hates his pusher. He wishes to “put them in their place”, humiliate them, demonstrate to them how inadequate and imperfect they are in comparison to his regal self and how little he craves or needs them.

The narcissist regards himself as one would an expensive present, a gift to his company, to his family, to his neighbours, to his colleagues, to his country. This firm conviction of his inflated importance makes him feel entitled to special treatment, special favors, special outcomes, concessions, subservience, immediate gratification, obsequiousness, and lenience. It also makes him feel immune to mortal laws and somehow divinely protected and insulated from the inevitable consequences of his deeds and misdeeds.

The self-destructive narcissist plays the role of the “bad guy” (or “bad girl”). But even this is within the traditional social roles cartoonishly exaggerated by the narcissist to attract attention. Men are likely to emphasise intellect, power, aggression, money, or social status. Narcissistic women are likely to emphasise body, looks, charm, sexuality, feminine “traits”, homemaking, children and childrearing.

Punishing the wayward narcissist is a veritable catch-22.

A jail term is useless as a deterrent if it only serves to focus attention on the narcissist. Being infamous is second best to being famous - and far preferable to being ignored. The only way to effectively punish a narcissist is to withhold narcissistic supply from him and thus to prevent him from becoming a notorious celebrity.

Given a sufficient amount of media exposure, book contracts, talk shows, lectures, and public attention - the narcissist may even consider the whole grisly affair to be emotionally rewarding. To the narcissist, freedom, wealth, social status, family, vocation - are all means to an end. And the end is attention. If he can secure attention by being the big bad wolf - the narcissist unhesitatingly transforms himself into one. Lord Archer, for instance, seems to be positively basking in the media circus provoked by his prison diaries.

The narcissist does not victimise, plunder, terrorise and abuse others in a cold, calculating manner. He does so offhandedly, as a manifestation of his genuine character. To be truly “guilty” one needs to intend, to deliberate, to contemplate one’s choices and then to choose one’s acts. The narcissist does none of these.

Thus, punishment breeds in him surprise, hurt and seething anger. The narcissist is stunned by society’s insistence that he should be held accountable for his deeds and penalized accordingly. He feels wronged, baffled, injured, the victim of bias, discrimination and injustice. He rebels and rages.

Depending upon the pervasiveness of his magical thinking, the narcissist may feel besieged by overwhelming powers, forces cosmic and intrinsically ominous. He may develop compulsive rites to fend off this “bad”, unwarranted, persecutory influences.

The narcissist, very much the infantile outcome of stunted personal development, engages in magical thinking. He feels omnipotent, that there is nothing he couldn’t do or achieve if only he sets his mind to it. He feels omniscient - he rarely admits to ignorance and regards his intuitions and intellect as founts of objective data.

Thus, narcissists are haughtily convinced that introspection is a more important and more efficient (not to mention easier to accomplish) method of obtaining knowledge than the systematic study of outside sources of information in accordance with strict and tedious curricula. Narcissists are “inspired” and they despise hamstrung technocrats.

To some extent, they feel omnipresent because they are either famous or about to become famous or because their product is selling or is being manufactured globally. Deeply immersed in their delusions of grandeur, they firmly believe that their acts have - or will have - a great influence not only on their firm, but on their country, or even on Mankind. Having mastered the manipulation of their human environment - they are convinced that they will always “get away with it”. They develop hubris and a false sense of immunity.

Narcissistic immunity is the (erroneous) feeling, harboured by the narcissist, that he is impervious to the consequences of his actions, that he will never be effected by the results of his own decisions, opinions, beliefs, deeds and misdeeds, acts, inaction, or membership of certain groups, that he is above reproach and punishment, that, magically, he is protected and will miraculously be saved at the last moment. Hence the audacity, simplicity, and transparency of some of the fraud and corporate looting in the 1990’s. Narcissists rarely bother to cover their traces, so great is their disdain and conviction that they are above mortal laws and wherewithal.

What are the sources of this unrealistic appraisal of situations and events?

The false self is a childish response to abuse and trauma. Abuse is not limited to sexual molestation or beatings. Smothering, doting, pampering, over-indulgence, treating the child as an extension of the parent, not respecting the child’s boundaries, and burdening the child with excessive expectations are also forms of abuse.

The child reacts by constructing false self that is possessed of everything it needs in order to prevail: unlimited and instantaneously available Harry Potter-like powers and wisdom. The false self, this Superman, is indifferent to abuse and punishment. This way, the child’s true self is shielded from the toddler’s harsh reality.

This artificial, maladaptive separation between a vulnerable (but not punishable) true self and a punishable (but invulnerable) false self is an effective mechanism. It isolates the child from the unjust, capricious, emotionally dangerous world that he occupies. But, at the same time, it fosters in him a false sense of “nothing can happen to me, because I am not here, I am not available to be punished, hence I am immune to punishment”.

The comfort of false immunity is also yielded by the narcissist’s sense of entitlement. In his grandiose delusions, the narcissist is sui generis, a gift to humanity, a precious, fragile, object. Moreover, the narcissist is convinced both that this uniqueness is immediately discernible - and that it gives him special rights. The narcissist feels that he is protected by some cosmological law pertaining to “endangered species”.

He is convinced that his future contribution to others - his firm, his country, humanity - should and does exempt him from the mundane: daily chores, boring jobs, recurrent tasks, personal exertion, orderly investment of resources and efforts, laws and regulations, social conventions, and so on.

The narcissist is entitled to a “special treatment”: high living standards, constant and immediate catering to his needs, the eradication of any friction with the humdrum and the routine, an all-engulfing absolution of his sins, fast track privileges (to higher education, or in his encounters with bureaucracies, for instance). Punishment, trusts the narcissist, is for ordinary people, where no great loss to humanity is involved.

Narcissists are possessed of inordinate abilities to charm, to convince, to seduce, and to persuade. Many of them are gifted orators and intellectually endowed. Many of them work in in politics, the media, fashion, show business, the arts, medicine, or business, and serve as religious leaders.

By virtue of their standing in the community, their charisma, or their ability to find the willing scapegoats, they do get exempted many times. Having recurrently “got away with it” - they develop a theory of personal immunity, founded upon some kind of societal and even cosmic “order” in which certain people are above punishment.

But there is a fourth, simpler, explanation. The narcissist lacks self-awareness. Divorced from his true self, unable to empathise (to understand what it is like to be someone else), unwilling to constrain his actions to cater to the feelings and needs of others - the narcissist is in a constant dreamlike state.

To the narcissist, his life is unreal, like watching an autonomously unfolding movie. The narcissist is a mere spectator, mildly interested, greatly entertained at times. He does not “own” his actions. He, therefore, cannot understand why he should be punished and when he is, he feels grossly wronged.

So convinced is the narcissist that he is destined to great things - that he refuses to accept setbacks, failures and punishments. He regards them as temporary, as the outcomes of someone else’s errors, as part of the future mythology of his rise to power/brilliance/wealth/ideal love, etc. Being punished is a diversion of his precious energy and resources from the all-important task of fulfilling his mission in life.

The narcissist is pathologically envious of people and believes that they are equally envious of him. He is paranoid, on guard, ready to fend off an imminent attack. A punishment to the narcissist is a major surprise and a nuisance but it also validates his suspicion that he is being persecuted. It proves to him that strong forces are arrayed against him.

He tells himself that people, envious of his achievements and humiliated by them, are out to get him. He constitutes a threat to the accepted order. When required to pay for his misdeeds, the narcissist is always disdainful and bitter and feels misunderstood by his inferiors.

Cooked books, corporate fraud, bending the (GAAP or other) rules, sweeping problems under the carpet, over-promising, making grandiose claims (the “vision thing”) - are hallmarks of a narcissist in action. When social cues and norms encourage such behaviour rather than inhibit it - in other words, when such behaviour elicits abundant narcissistic supply - the pattern is reinforced and become entrenched and rigid. Even when circumstances change, the narcissist finds it difficult to adapt, shed his routines, and replace them with new ones. He is trapped in his past success. He becomes a swindler.

But pathological narcissism is not an isolated phenomenon. It is embedded in our contemporary culture. The West’s is a narcissistic civilization. It upholds narcissistic values and penalizes alternative value-systems. From an early age, children are taught to avoid self-criticism, to deceive themselves regarding their capacities and attainments, to feel entitled, and to exploit others.

As Lilian Katz observed in her important paper, “Distinctions between Self-Esteem and Narcissism: Implications for Practice”, published by the Educational Resources Information Center, the line between enhancing self-esteem and fostering narcissism is often blurred by educators and parents.

Both Christopher Lasch in “The Culture of Narcissism” and Theodore Millon in his books about personality disorders, singled out American society as narcissistic. Litigiousness may be the flip side of an inane sense of entitlement. Consumerism is built on this common and communal lie of “I can do anything I want and possess everything I desire if I only apply myself to it” and on the pathological envy it fosters.

Not surprisingly, narcissistic disorders are more common among men than among women. This may be because narcissism conforms to masculine social mores and to the prevailing ethos of capitalism. Ambition, achievements, hierarchy, ruthlessness, drive - are both social values and narcissistic male traits. Social thinkers like the aforementioned Lasch speculated that modern American culture - a self-centred one - increases the rate of incidence of the narcissistic personality disorder.

Otto Kernberg, a notable scholar of personality disorders, confirmed Lasch’s intuition: “Society can make serious psychological abnormalities, which already exist in some percentage of the population, seem to be at least superficially appropriate.”

In their book “Personality Disorders in Modern Life”, Theodore Millon and Roger Davis state, as a matter of fact, that pathological narcissism was once the preserve of “the royal and the wealthy” and that it “seems to have gained prominence only in the late twentieth century”. Narcissism, according to them, may be associated with “higher levels of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs … Individuals in less advantaged nations .. are too busy trying (to survive) … to be arrogant and grandiose”.

They - like Lasch before them - attribute pathological narcissism to “a society that stresses individualism and self-gratification at the expense of community, namely the United States.” They assert that the disorder is more prevalent among certain professions with “star power” or respect. “In an individualistic culture, the narcissist is ‘God’s gift to the world’. In a collectivist society, the narcissist is ‘God’s gift to the collective.”

Millon quotes Warren and Caponi’s “The Role of Culture in the Development of Narcissistic Personality Disorders in America, Japan and Denmark”:

“Individualistic narcissistic structures of self-regard (in individualistic societies) … are rather self-contained and independent … (In collectivist cultures) narcissistic configurations of the we-self … denote self-esteem derived from strong identification with the reputation and honor of the family, groups, and others in hierarchical relationships.”

Still, there are malignant narcissists among subsistence farmers in Africa, nomads in the Sinai desert, day laborers in east Europe, and intellectuals and socialites in Manhattan. Malignant narcissism is all-pervasive and independent of culture and society. It is true, though, that the way pathological narcissism manifests and is experienced is dependent on the particulars of societies and cultures.

In some cultures, it is encouraged, in others suppressed. In some societies it is channeled against minorities - in others it is tainted with paranoia. In collectivist societies, it may be projected onto the collective, in individualistic societies, it is an individual’s trait.

Yet, can families, organizations, ethnic groups, churches, and even whole nations be safely described as “narcissistic” or “pathologically self-absorbed”? Can we talk about a “corporate culture of narcissism”?

Human collectives - states, firms, households, institutions, political parties, cliques, bands - acquire a life and a character all their own. The longer the association or affiliation of the members, the more cohesive and conformist the inner dynamics of the group, the more persecutory or numerous its enemies, competitors, or adversaries, the more intensive the physical and emotional experiences of the individuals it is comprised of, the stronger the bonds of locale, language, and history - the more rigorous might an assertion of a common pathology be.

Such an all-pervasive and extensive pathology manifests itself in the behavior of each and every member. It is a defining - though often implicit or underlying - mental structure. It has explanatory and predictive powers. It is recurrent and invariable - a pattern of conduct melding distorted cognition and stunted emotions. And it is often vehemently denied.


Bully at Work Posted on August 15, 2008 by samvaknin

Bully at Work
Posted on August 15, 2008 by samvaknin

In 1994 Tim Field was bullied out of his job as a Customer Services Manager which resulted in a stress breakdown. Turning his experience to good use he set up the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line in 1996 and his web site Bully Online in 1997 since which time he has worked on over 5000 cases worldwide. He now lectures widely as well as writing and publishing books on bullying and psychiatric injury. He holds two honorary doctorates for his work on identifying and dealing with bullying. He is the Webmaster of Bully Online.

Question: What is workplace bullying?

Answer: Workplace bullying is persistent, unwelcome, intrusive behaviour of one or more individuals whose actions prevent others from fulfilling their duties.

Question: How is it different to adopting disciplinarian measures, maintaining strict supervision, or oversight?

Answer: The purpose of bullying is to hide the inadequacy of the bully and has nothing to do with “management” or the achievement of tasks. Bullies project their inadequacies onto others to distract and divert attention away from the inadequacies. In most cases of workplace bullying reported to the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line, the bully is a serial bully who has a history of conflict with staff. The bullying that one sees is often also the tip of an iceberg of wrongdoing which may include misappropriation of budgets, harassment, discrimination, as well as breaches of rules, regulations, professional codes of conduct and health and safety practices.

Question: Should it be distinguished from harassment (including sexual harassment), or stalking?

Answer: Bullying is, I believe, the underlying behavior and thus the common denominator of harassment, discrimination, stalking and abuse. What varies is the focus for expression of the behavior. For instance, a harasser or discriminator focuses on race or gender or disability.

Bullies focus on competence and popularity which at present are not covered by employment legislation.

Bullies seethe with resentment and anger and the conduits for release of this inner anger are jealousy and envy which explains why bullies pick on employees who are good at their job and popular with people. Being emotionally immature, bullies crave attention and become resentful when others get more attention for their competence and achievements than themselves.

Question: What is the profile of the typical bully?

Answer: Over 90% of the cases reported to the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line involve a serial bully who can be recognised by their behaviour profile which includes compulsive lying, a Jekyll and Hyde nature, an unusually high verbal facility, charm and a considerable capacity to deceive, an arrested level of emotional development, and a compulsive need to control. The serial bully rarely commits a physical assault or an arrestable offence, preferring instead to remain within the realms of psychological violence and non-arrestable offences.

Question: What are bullying’s typical outcomes?

Answer: In the majority of cases, the target of bullying is eliminated through forced resignation, unfair dismissal, or early or ill- health retirement whilst the bully is promoted. After a short interval of between 2-14 days, the bully selects another target and the cycle restarts. Sometimes another target is selected before the current target is eliminated.

Question: Can you provide us with some statistics? How often does bullying occur? How many people are affected?

Answer: Surveys of bullying in the UK indicate that between 12-50% of the workforce experience bullying. Statistics from the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line reveal that around 20% of cases are from the education sector, 12% are from healthcare, 10% are from social services, and around 6% from the voluntary / charity / not-for-profit sector.

After that, calls come from all sectors both public and private, with finance, media, police, postal workers and other government employees featuring prominently. Enquiries from outside the UK (notably USA, Canada, Australia and Ireland) show similar patterns with the caring professions topping the list of bullied workers.

Question: Could you estimate the economic effects of workplace bullying - costs to employers (firms), employees, law enforcement agencies, the courts, the government, etc.?

Answer: Bullying is one of the major causes of stress, and the cost of stress to UK plc is thought to be between £5-12 billion (US$7-17 billion). When all the direct, indirect and consequential costs of bullying are taken into account, the cost to UK plc (taxpayers and shareholders) could be in excess of £30 billion (US$44 billion), equivalent to around £1,000 hidden tax per working adult per year. Employers do not account for the cost of bullying and its consequences, therefore the figures never appear on balance sheets.

Employees have to work twice as hard to overcome the serial bully’s inefficiency and dysfunction which can spread through an organisation like a cancer.

Because of its subtle nature, bullying can be difficult to recognise, but the consequences are easy to spot: excessive workloads, lack of support, a climate of fear, and high levels of insecurity.

The effects on health include, amongst other things, chronic fatigue, damage to the immune system, reactive depression, and suicide.

The indirect costs of bullying include higher-than average staff turnover and sickness absence. Each of these incur consequential costs of staff cover, administration, loss of production and reduced productivity which are rarely recognised and even more rarely attributed to their cause. Absenteeism alone costs UK plc over £10 billion a year and stress is now officially the number one cause of sickness absence having taken over from the common cold. However, surveys suggest that at least 20% of employers still do not regard stress as a health and safety issue, instead preferring to see it as skiving and malingering.

The Bristol Stress and Health at Work Study published by the HSE in June 2000 revealed that 1 in 5 UK workers (around 5.5m) reported feeling extremely stressed at work. The main stress factors were having too much work and not being supported by managers. In November 2001 a study by Proudfoot Consulting revealed the cost of bad management, low employee morale and poorly-trained staff to British business at 117 lost working days a year. At 65%, bad management (often a euphemism for bullying) accounted for the biggest slice of unproductive days with low morale accounting for 17%. The study also suggested that in the UK 52% of all working time is spent unproductively compared to the European average of 43%.

The results of a three-year survey of British workers by the Gallup Organization published in October 2001 revealed that many employers are not getting the best from their employees. The most common response to questions such as “how engaged are your employees?” and “how effective is your leadership and management style?” and “how well are you capitalising on the talents, skills and knowledge of your people?” was an overwhelming “not very much”. The survey also found that the longer an employee stayed, the less engaged they became. The cost to UK plc of lost work days due to lack of engagement was estimated to be between £39-48 billion a year.

Question: What can be done to reduce workplace bullying? Are firms, the government, law enforcement agencies, the courts - aware of the problem and its magnitude? Are educational campaign effective? Did anti-bullying laws prove effective?

Answer: Most bullying is hierarchical and can be traced to the top or near the top. As bullying is often the visible tip of an iceberg of wrongdoing, denial is the most common strategy employed by toxic managements. Only Sweden has a law which specifically addresses bullying. Where no law exists, bullies feel free to bully. Whilst the law is not a solution, the presence of a law is an indication that society has made a judgement that the behaviour is no longer acceptable.

Awareness of bullying, and especially its seriousness, is still low throughout society. Bullying is not just “something children do in the playground”, it’s a lifetime behaviour on the same level as domestic violence, sexual harassment, and rape.

Bullying is a form of psychological and emotional rape because of its intrusive and violational nature.


Thursday, December 4, 2008


According to a research from University of Minnesota, Psychology effect caused by office bullying is far scarier than sexual harassment. Office bullying might consists of:

1. Attacking commentaries or looking down to others
2. Specific yells (even work related issues) - especially in front of many people
3. Disrespectful of job rank and our role
4. Disrespectful of our working results

If any of you ever experienced one of the above, you have to immediately confront the abuse right on spot. For example, when someone mocks you, look the person on the eyes and tell him/her that you don’t find it amusing and that you want that person to stop doing that. Tell him/her that you are a professional and you deserve to be treated politely.

Bear in mind, that when you say that, maintain your tone and emotion, because your emotional weakness is what that person is trying to proof. So, whenever you don’t think that you can control your wrath, you’d better stay away and calm yourself down.

However, if you think that everything is out of line and has gone from bad to worse, please write a written report, stating every detailed aspects, including places, time, type of abuse, plus eye witness of the harassment,

And know when to stop, if the written report is proven ineffective, instead, making things worse, it is time that you find a better working place. Never mind with the thought that the abuser will be thrilled to see you walk away that door, because your pride and mental wellness are far more important than what others might think.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Narcissist in the workplace

Narcissism in the Workplace
online conference transcript

Our guest, Dr. Sam Vaknin, has a Ph.D. in philosophy and is the author of the book Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited. We discussed various aspects of narcissism in the workplace, including how to recognize a narcissist, what personality types can work with a narcissist and how to cope with a narcissistic employer.

David Roberts is the moderator.

David: Good Evening. I hope your day went well. Welcome to and our chat conference on "Narcissism in the Workplace." I'm David Roberts, the moderator of tonight's chat. Some of the topics we'll be discussing include: How to cope with a narcissistic boss, co-worker, supplier, colleague, partner, competitor, manager, or employee. And when is it time to toss in the towel and leave that troublesome job?

Our guest is Dr. Sam Vaknin, author of Malignant Self Love: Narcissism Revisited and an authority on the subject of narcissism. You can read more about Dr. Vaknin by clicking on the link.

Just to clarify, Dr. Vaknin is not a therapist or medical doctor of any sort. However, he is an expert on the subject of narcissism and a self-proclaimed narcissist. Good Evening Dr. Vaknin and welcome to Just so we are all clear on the subject, can you give us a brief overview of what narcissism is?

Dr. Vaknin: Great to be here again. Thank you for having me and for the kind words. Hello, everyone.

Narcissists are driven by the need to uphold and maintain a false self. They use the False Self to garner narcissistic supply which is any kind of attention adulation, admiration, or even notoriety and infamy.

David: How does one recognize a narcissist?

Dr. Vaknin: It is close to impossible and that is the secret of their astounding success. Narcissists are good actors. They are adept at charming others, persuading them, manipulating them, or otherwise influencing them to do their bidding. The narcissist's sense of self-worth is unstable (labile) so, the narcissist relies on input from other people to regulate his self-esteem and self-confidence. He focuses on potential sources of supply and engulfs them with focused attention and simulated deep emotions. Only in later encounter, as time passes and the number of interactions grows, is it possible to tell that someone is a narcissist. Narcissists are preoccuopied with grandiose fantasies unrealistic plans. They are poor judges of reality. They are bullies and often resort to verbal and emotional abuse. They exploit people and then discard them. They have no empathy and regard their co-workers as mere instruments objects, tools, and sources of adulation, affirmation, or potential benefits.

David: So, in the beginning, you are saying they will get on your good side by charming you and pretending to be interested in you and what you're doing. Later, what kind of behaviors should a person expect from the: (1) narcissistic boss and (2) colleague? And I'm assuming here that the behaviors for the two might be different.

Dr. Vaknin: Workplace narcissists seethe with anger and resentment. The gap between reality and their grandiose flights of fancy (the "grandiosity gap") is so great that they develop persecutory delusions, resentment and rage. They are also extremely and pathologically envious, seeking to destroy what they perceive to be the sources of their constant frustration: a popular co-worker, a successful boss, a qualified or skilled employee. Narcissists at work crave constant attention and will go to great lengths to secure it - including by "engineering" situations that place them at the center. They are immature, constantly nagging and complaining, finding fault with everyone and everything, Cassandras who constantly predict impending doom. They are intrusive and invasive. They firmly believe in teir own omnipotence and omniscience. They feel entitled to special treatment and are convinced that they are above Man-made laws, including the rules of their place of employment. They are very disruptive, poor team members, can rarely collaborate with others without being cantankerous and quarrelsome. They are control freaks and feel the compulsive and irresistible urge to interfere in everyting to micromanage and overrule others. All in all, a highly unpleasant experience.

David: If you work with or under a narcissist, it sounds like your work life might be a living hell.

Dr. Vaknin: You would never forget it. It is traumatic and very likely to end in actual bullying and stalking behaviors. Many workers end up with PTSD - Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Others quit, or even relocate.

David: What kind of individual, personality-wise, is best suited to work with a narcissist co-worker or boss?

Dr. Vaknin: Certain pathological personalities - for instance, someone with a Dependent Personality Disorder - or an Inverted Narcissist may get along just fine. A submissive person whose expectations are limited, moods are subdued and willingness to absorb abuse is extended would survive with a narcissist, or even thrive in such an environment. But the vast majority of workers are likely to suffer ill-health effects, clash with the narcissist, or end up being sacked, reassigned, relocated, or demoted. The narcissistic bully very often gets his way: He gets promoted, the ideas he "adopted" become corporate policy, his misdeeds are overlooked, his misbehavior tolerated. This is partly because, as I said earlier, narcissists are excellent liars with considerable thespian skills - and partly because no one wants to mess around with a thug, even if his thuggery is limited to words and gestures.

David: We have a lot of audience questions, Dr. Vaknin. Let's get to a few and then I have a few more questions to ask you. Here's the first one:

for more go to original article

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Narcissists, NPD and the serial bully

Narcissistic Personality Disorder Narcissists, NPD and the serial bully
The serial bully displays behaviour congruent with many of the diagnostic criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Characterised by a pervasive pattern of grandiosity and self-importance, need for admiration, and lack of empathy, people with narcissistic personality disorder overestimate their abilities and inflate their accomplishments, often appearing boastful and pretentious, whilst correspondingly underestimating and devaluing the achievements and accomplishments of others.

Often the narcissist will fraudulently claim to have qualifications or experience or affiliations or associations which they don't have or aren't entitled to. Belief in superiority, inflating their self-esteem to match that of senior or important people with whom they associate or identify, insisting on having the "top" professionals or being affiliated with the "best" institutions, but criticising the same people who disappoint them are also common features of narcissistic personality disorder.

Narcissists react angrily to criticism and when rejected, the narcissist will often denounce the profession which has rejected them (usually for lack of competence or misdeed) but simultaneously and paradoxically represent themselves as belonging to the profession they are vilifying.

Fragile self-esteem, a need for constant attention and admiration, fishing for compliments (often with great charm), an expectation of superior entitlement, expecting others to defer to them, and a lack of sensitivity especially when others do not react in the expected manner, are also hallmarks of the disorder. Greed, expecting to receive before and above the needs of others, overworking those around them, and forming romantic (sic) or sexual relationships for the purpose of advancing their purpose or career, abusing special privileges and squandering extra resources also feature.

People with narcissistic personality disorder also have difficulty recognizing the needs and feelings of others, and are dismissive, contemptuous and impatient when others share or discuss their concerns or problems. They are also oblivious to the hurtfulness of their behaviour or remarks, show an emotional coldness and a lack of reciprocal interest, exhibit envy (especially when others are accorded recognition), have an arrogant, disdainful and patronizing attitude, and are quick to blame and criticise others when their needs and expectations are not met.

To read the rest of this article go to

Saturday, November 15, 2008

This is what makes being a Supervisor worth it!

Wednesday November 12th was a very interesting day for me. I am a supervisor at a major university and I have a staff of around 15 people. We are required to give a monthly safety meeting which I decided rather than to give the usual 15 minute quick meeting at the start of the shift about the usual topics such as lifting safety, or eye safety. I decided that I would dedicate an hour to talk about Abuse and Bullying, particularly workplace bullying. I wasn’t sure how the subject was going to go over with the staff but I was pleasantly surprised. I went over three questionnaires with them which sparked them thinking. The first one was “am I a Bully”? The second are we mobbing”? And the third was about witnessing someone being bullied. By the end of the shift I had 3 people come to me and thank me, two of the three were the ones I had hoped to reach, so I was very happy when I left at the end of the day. The third person gave me kudos and positive feedback.

Thursday November 13th the following day different employees came to me and said “oh by the way I want you to know that (a certain other employee) came to her after the meeting and apologizes to her for going off on her a couple of months ago. He acknowledged that what he had done was bullying and he was wrong and sincerely sorry. I have to say that made my day for sure.

Friday November 14th two days after the meeting another staff member came to me and said that one of the two that I had hoped to reach came to her and another female co-worker, and apologized to them both. He apologized for the way he has treated them, and for calling them liars in a meeting this past summer. She told me that she and the other women also apologized to him as well. She was on cloud nine when she told me this and thanked thanked me for giving that safety meeting. She told me that it made her feel really good. Later on Friday the other one I had hoped to reach told me she was going to keep the list where she can keep looking at it. She didn’t realize some of those behaviors were abusive but she does now. It just keeps getting better1 The person who gave me kudos the day of the meeting came to me again on Friday and said he wanted to talk to me. He had in his hand a folder which he had put together. It had the handouts from the meeting and he had a suggestion for the next meeting, along with a short essay that he wrote on people respecting each other, and parents needing to hold hug their kids. He read it to me and I was very touched by it. I asked him if he would mind sharing it, and told him about this website, and asked if he would let me post it here. He told me he would but he wanted to revise it first. I will be posting it once I receive it from him. I thought it was good and should be shared.

Well I guess you just never know who you may touch or who you will reach, or if you will reach anyone at all, but this shows what a little information and education can do. To me this is what makes being a supervisor worth it.
~ abusenomore

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Bullying caused woman's suicide, inquiry told

Natasha Wallace Health Reporter
July 9, 2008

CHRISTINE HODDER, 38, was a much-loved woman with a husband and a three-year-old daughter, and had almost completed her Bachelor of Nursing degree when she killed herself in her backyard.

Ms Hodder, after enduring years of bullying by male colleagues at Cowra ambulance station, where she was the first and only female officer, hanged herself on her child's swing in April, 2005, a parliamentary inquiry into the NSW Ambulance Service has heard.

She could not even leave her car at work because the tyres were let down, her toilet at work was urinated "all over" and she was constantly ridiculed by fellow officers in front of patients, her mother-in-law, Carolynn Hodder, has told the inquiry in a written submission. She believed her death was the culmination of

sustained victimisation by colleagues since she started at Cowra in 1999. She said the bullying went up the line to management and was ignored.

Christine Hodder had lodged two formal complaints, one in 2001 and another a few months before she died, about bullying and harassment by several officers and had twice been on stress leave.

In a five-page complaint dated February 20, 2005, which has been made public, Christine Hodder said she felt she had never been accepted there because she was a woman.

"In the past six years I have been badly treated as other staff members collectively bullied, belittled and intimidated me," she said.

"The staff in this station has constantly alienated and attacked my character and physical appearance since my arrival."

She felt "totally ridiculed" and officers had said she had a "hairy lip" and that her "hair looked like one of the Aboriginal ladies at the mission", she said.

Yesterday her husband Jason, who is struggling to cope with his wife's death while caring for their daughter, Brittany, now 6, said several managers told him that bullying was a problem but were not prepared to speak publicly or put it in writing for fear of litigation.

"Every high-ranking ambulance person I spoke to was quite happy off the record to say this is really, really bad … and told me that they don't see that much is going to happen [change]," Mr Hodder told the Herald. "This is why it nearly took me as well … I've only just survived."

Mrs Hodder said that on the day before her daughter-in-law died she had told her she felt the situation was hopeless and she had lost faith in management over dealing with her complaints.

"She felt that nobody cared and there was nowhere she could go. Nobody listened," Mrs Hodder told the Herald.

In her submission, Mrs Hodder described Christine, who immigrated from France when she was 15, as "a clever, shy, beautiful girl in both appearance and manner".

"Christine initially laughed off the harassment from her fellow officers, but it was relentless, and when it continued over the years, it became very hard to bear. She often said, 'What is wrong with me? Why do they hate me so much?' There were so many incidents perpetrated against Christine," she wrote.

"She took her own life by hanging herself from her daughter's swing in the family backyard. We didn't see it coming, and I cannot even begin to describe the utter horror, disbelief, grief, and unbelievable sadness we feel because she isn't in our lives any more.

"We miss her, and what utterly saddens me is she will never see her beloved daughter grow up. For the people who have caused this devastation, the whole chapter is finished. Unfortunately for us, the life of a much-loved wonderful girl is also finished. We will never see Christine again."

She urged the inquiry to ask "serious questions" of the NSW Ambulance Service.

"Why they have allowed these types of behaviours to continue to the point where people from that one station are transferring away, going on stress leave and in Christine's case becoming so demoralised and depressed that she committed suicide."

In July, 2005, the chief executive of the NSW Ambulance Service, Greg Rochford, wrote to Mr Hodder and said an investigation had been completed.

The letter, also made public, reveals the service began the investigation three days before Christine Hodder died and found a culture of male dominance, "acceptance of poor standards of cleanliness" and "white-anting".

It recommended staff receive training in workplaces free of harassment and bullying, that the service should explore how to change the behaviour of staff, and that no female officer be appointed to Cowra for six months.

No officer was disciplined.

Last week Christine Hodder's former colleague Phil Roxburgh gave evidence that she had been victimised, that management ignored her complaints and that he himself was bullied when he tried to support her.

For help call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

This story was found at:

The Cost of Co-Worker Bullying

Co-worker BullyingPosted by Molly DiBianca On August 18, 2008 In: Jerks & Bullies at Work
Workplace bullying has been a hot topic since the release of the 2007 Zogby survey, which showed that 49% of American workers report that they’ve been the target of a bully’s bad behavior. Employers have begun instituting tolerance training and implementing respectful-workplace policies. Awareness is key in preventing this prevalent workplace disease. One way to make top management place value on eliminating jerks at work is to talk dollars.

Bullying costs companies big money. Here are some of the ways that your bottom line is directly affected if you fail to eradicate bullying at work:

1. Targeted employees have higher absenteeism rates. Wouldn’t you? When the workplace becomes increasingly intolerable and unpleasant, people stop coming to work.

2. Decreased productivity. Those who do manage to get themselves into work are less productive. They’re nursing emotional wounds, meaning they’re more likely to hide in their office than dare engage with others at the risk of being put on the firing range. Stress-related illness is not conducive to high productivity, either. If you don’t feel well, you’re not putting your best efforts into your work.

3. High turnover. Replacing an employee can cost a business up to 3 times that employee’s yearly salary. And dedicated, enthusiastic employees are not easy to find. Yet, employees who are bullied at work will almost certainly leave. Some leave because of their health. Others leave because the bully has succeeded in sabotaging their reputation.

4. Unhealthy Employees Are Expensive. Employers have campaigned to rid the workplace of smokers, who are more costly to insure. Obese employees may be next on the list. But what about bullied employees? Targets are affected with depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, which is especially common with male targets, and other stress-related illnesses. Physiological illnesses, such as headaches and backaches.

5. Infected-Workplace Syndrome. As devastating as these effects can be, they can, and likely will, get worse. Bullies are infectious and contagious. Other employees who witness bullying behavior feel sympathy for their coworkers and guilt for doing nothing about it. They shrivel up, just like the target, in the fear that the bully will turn his or her anger towards them next.
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on August 21, 2008 at 5:50 pm

ABC NEWS~ Is Your Boss Making You Sick? A Mean Boss May Hurt Your Health

Oct. 26, 2005

They supply seemingly endless fodder for movies like "Office Space," "9 to 5" and "Swimming with Sharks," but for many Americans, nasty bosses are a reality.

Considering that most people spend at least eight hours a day at work, a mean boss can have a hugely detrimental impact on someone's quality of life. According to one poll, 40 percent of people say their job is either "very" or "extremely" stressful.

Researchers in Finland found that workers who felt they were being treated fairly had a much lower incidence of coronary heart disease, the leading cause of death in all Western societies. They tracked the 10-year incidence of heart disease in more than 6,400 male civil servants in London. Researchers found that men who felt they were treated fairly at work had a 30 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease.

"The evidence is becoming increasingly clear that stress, wherever it's coming from, is becoming hazardous to our health," said Dr. Bruce Spring, assistant professor at the University of Southern California School of Medicine.

Health care costs are 50 percent higher for those who are stressed out at work. In addition, poor employee-supervisor relationships can take a toll on workplace productivity.

"You're not going to have good productivity if you have employees taking sick leave every once in awhile because they can't handle the stress," said labor attorney Rania Sedhom.

Mean bosses also drive many people out of their jobs for good. The No. 1 reason people quit is because of a bad boss -- and according to a Gallup poll, half would fire their boss if they could.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Workplace bullying From Wikipedia

'''Workplace bullying''', like childhood bullying, is the tendency of individuals or groups to use persistent aggressive or unreasonable behavior against a co-worker. Workplace bullying can include such tactics as verbal, nonverbal, psychological, physical abuse and humiliation. This type of aggression is particularly difficult because unlike the typical forms of schoolyard bullying, workplace bullies often operate within the established rules and policies of their organization and their society. Bullying in the workplace therefore takes a wide variety of forms, from being rude or belligerent, to talking in a dismissive tone ("talking down") to subordinates and/or peers, screaming or cursing, having an arrogant attitude in general, e.g., "I'm right and everyone else is always wrong", being quick to criticize and slow to praise, destruction of property or work product, character assassination, spreading malicious rumors or gossip about others, not providing appropriate resources and amenities in a fair and equitable manner, social ostracism, and even physical assault.

= Leading pioneers in the understanding of workplace bullying =

The following pioneers made particularly important contributions to the understanding of workplace bullying.

* Heinz Leymann Dr Heinz Leymann Sweden
* Andrea Adams UK
* Tim Field Dr Tim Field UK
* Robert Hare (psychologist)Dr Robert Hare USA
* Paul Babiak Dr Paul Babiak USA
* Gary Namie Dr Gary Namie USA
* Dr. Pamela Lutgen-Sandvik USA
* Dr. Sarah J. Tracy USA

== Defining workplace bullying ==

While there is no single, formally- agreed-upon definition of workplace bullying, several researchers have endeavoured to define it. Some categorize all harmful boss-behavior and actions of :wikt:malintent malintent directed at employees as bullying. Bullying behaviours may be couched in humiliation and hazing rites and iterative programs or protocols framed as being in the best interests of employee development and coaching. Others separate behaviors into different patterns, labeling a subset of those behaviors as bullying, explaining that there are different ways to deal effectively with specific patterns of behavior depending. Some workplace bullying is defined as involving an employee’s immediate supervisor, manager or boss in conjunction with other employees as complicit, while other workplace bullying is defined as involving only an employee’s immediate supervisor, manager or boss.

For example, according to Tracy, Lutgen-Sandvik, and Alberts Tracy, Lutgen-Sandvik, and Alberts[ Nightmares, Demons and Slaves, Exploring the Painful Metaphors of Workplace Bullying], 2006, researchers associated with the Project for Wellness and Work-Life workplace bullying is most often "a combination of tactics in which numerous types of hostile communication and behavior are used" (p. 152).

Gary and Ruth Namie define workplace bullying as "''repeated, health-harming mistreatment, verbal abuse, or conduct which is threatening, humiliating, intimidating, or sabotage that interferes with work or some combination of the three''.".Namie, Gary and Ruth Workplace Bullying Institute Brochure. Pamela Lutgen-SandvikLutgen-Sandvik, Pamela [ Take This Job and . . . : Quitting and Other Forms of Resistance to Workplace Bullying] expands this definition, stating that workplace bullying is "persistent verbal and nonverbal aggression at work, that includes personal attacks, social ostracism, and a multitude of other painful messages and hostile interactions." Noa Davenport, Ruth Distler-Schwartz and Gail Pursell-Elliot identify “mobbing” as a particular type of bullying that is not as apparent as most, defining it as "''…an emotional assault. It begins when an individual becomes the target of disrespectful and harmful behavior. Through innuendo, rumors, and public discrediting, a hostile environment is created in which one individual gathers others to willingly, or unwillingly, participate in continuous malevolent actions to force a person out of the workplace''." Marilyn Haight identifies thirteen patterns of bad-boss-behavior, with workplace bullying being only one of those patterns: "''Bully Bosses try to intimidate the people who report to them. They insult, taunt, harass and threaten employees. They snap, shout, ridicule, and/or curse at them. While abusing people, both verbally and psychologically, bullying bosses have that cat-that-swallowed-the-canary, satirical expression on their faces. They appear to be out of control while attacking, but they are very much in control and keenly aware of the emotional reactions of the people around them''."

Because it can occur in a variety of contexts and forms, it of also useful to define workplace bullying by the key features that these behaviors possess. For example, Lutgen-Sandvik (2006) explains that bullying is characterized by repetition (occurs regularly), duration (is enduring), escalation (increasingly aggressive), intensity (behavior is hostile), and power disparity (the target lacks the power to successfully defend their self). This distinguishes bullying from isolated behaviors and other forms of job stress and allows the term workplace bullying to be applied in various contexts and to behaviors that meet these characteristics.

According to Pamela Lutgin-SandvikLutgin-Sandvik, Pamela, The Communicative Cycle of Employee Emotional Abuse], 2003, the lack of unifying language to name the phenomenon of workplace bullying is a problem because without a unifying term or phrase, individuals have difficulty naming their experiences of abuse, and therefore have trouble pursuing justice against the bully. Unlike the term "sexual harassment," which named a specific problem and is now recognized in U.S. law (and many international laws), workplace bullying is still being established as a relevant social problem and is in need of a specific vernacular. Marilyn Haight has taken a step toward isolating and naming thirteen specific behavioral patterns which are typically lumped together under the generic term of bullying.

Transsexual people are extremely vulnerable to workplace bullying. Even after transition they may be taunted and harassed despite company policy and legal safeguards. This is particularly prevalent amongst the skilled artisans and people who work with their hands. Most of this grouping just leave the employment pool altogether. Those that do not often have to suffer very hostile treatment from their management and coworkers{{cite web
| last = Rhodes
| first = Stephenne
| title = Workplace Harassment of Gender Variant People in the United States
| publisher = Gender Identity Research and Education Society
| date = July 2008
| url =
| format
| accessdate = 2008-10-4}}

== Statistics ==

StatisticsBully Busters Workplace Bullying Defined] from the Waitt Institute for Violence Prevention show that one in three employees personally experiences bullying at some point in their working lives. At any given time, 1 out of every 10 employees is a target of workplace bullying. Nearly half of all American workers (49%) have been affected by workplace bullying, either being a target themselves or having witnessed abusive behavior against a co-worker.

Although socio-economic factors may play a role in the abuse, researchers from the Project for Wellness and Work-Life suggest that "workplace bullying, by definition, is not explicitly connected to demographic markers such as sex and ethnicity" (p. 151). Because one out of ten employees experiences workplace bullying, the prevalence of this issue is cause for great concern, even as initial data about this issue are reviewed.

In terms of gender, the Workplace Bullying Institute (2007) states that women appear to be at greater risk of becoming a bullying target, as 57% of those who reported being targeted for abuse were women. Men are more likely to participate in aggressive bullying behavior (60%), however if the bully is a woman, her target is more likely to be a woman as well (71%).

Race also may play a role in the experience of workplace bullying. According to the Workplace Bullying Institute (2007), "the comparison of combined bullying (current + ever bullied) prevalence percentages reveals the pattern from most to least: Hispanics (52.1%), African-Americans (46%), Whites (33.5%) and Asian-Americans (30.6%). The reported rates of witnessing bullying were African-Americans (21.1%), Hispanics (14%), Whites (10.8%), and Asian-Americans (8.5%). The percentages of those claiming to have neither experienced nor witnessed mistreatment were among Asian-Americans (57.3%), Whites (49.7%), Hispanics (32.2%) and African-Americans (23.4%)."

== Health effects of bullying ==

According to Gary and Ruth Namie, as well as Tracy, et al.Namie, Gary and Ruth The WBI 2003 Report on Abusive Workplaces], workplace bullying can harm the health of the targets of bullying. Organizations are beginning to take note of workplace bullying because of the costs the organization in terms of the health of their employees.

According to scholars at the The Project for Wellness and Work-Life] at [[Arizona State University]], "workplace bullying is linked to a host of physical, psychological, organizational, and social costs." Stress is the most predominant health effect associated with bullying in the workplace. Research indicates that workplace stress has significant negative effects that are correlated to poor mental health and poor physical health, resulting in an increase in the use of "sick days" or time off from work (Farrell & Geist-Martin, 2005).

In addition, co-workers who witness workplace bullying can also have negative effects, such as fear, stress, and emotional exhaustion. Those who witness repetitive workplace abuse often choose to leave the place of employment where the abuse took place. Workplace bullying can also hinder the organizational dynamics such as group cohesion, peer communication, and overall performance.
Bullying is not a good thing, it can scar people for life.

== Financial cost of bullying to a company ==

In a report by the International Labour Organization of Geneva, they highlight three interesting facts about the financial cost of bullying in the work place:

* According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety Health (NIOSH) mental illness among the workforce leads to a loss in employment amounting to $19 billion and a drop in productivity of $3 billion (Sauter, et al., 1990).

* Heinz_Leymann|Leymann (1990) estimated the cost of bullying for the organisation to account for approximately $30,000-100,000 per year for each individual subjected to bullying.

* A recent Finnish study of more than 5,000 hospital staff found that those who had been bullied had 26% more certified sickness absence than those who were not bullied, when figures were adjusted for base-line measures one year prior to the survey (Kivimaki et al, 2000). According to the researchers these figures are probably an underestimation as many of the targets are likely to have been bullied already at the time the base-line measures were obtained.

Research by Dr Dan Dana has shown organizations suffer a large financial cost by not accurately conflict management|managing conflict and bullying type behaviors. He has developed a tool to assist with calculating the cost of conflict. Dan Dana In addition, researcher Tamara Parris discusses how employers need to be more attentive in managing various discordant behaviors in the workplace, such as, bullying, as it not only creates a financial cost to the organization, but also erodes the companies human resources assets. [ Hugh Downs School of Human Communication]

== Types of workplace bullying==

Tim Field suggested that workplace bullying takes these formsField, Tim, Bullying: what is it?:
* Pressure bullying or unwitting bullying
* Organizational bullying
* Corporate bullying
* Institutional bullying
* Client bullying
* Restroom bullying
* Serial bullying
* Secondary bullying
* Pair bullying
* Characterization bullying (e.g. Pokémon Characterization)
* Gang/group bullying, also called mobbing
* Vicarious bullying
* Regulation bullying
* Residual bullying
* Cyber bullying

== Workplace bullying tactics==

Research by the Workplace Bullying Institute, see , Workplace Bullying Institute Harper Collins, 2006] suggests that the following are the most common 25 tactics used by workplace bullies.

  1. Falsely accused someone of "errors" not actually made (71 percent).

  2. Stared, glared, was nonverbally intimidating and was clearly showing hostility (68 percent).

  3. Discounted the person's thoughts or feelings ("oh, that's silly") in meetings (64 percent).

  4. Used the "silent treatment" to "ice out" and separate from others (64 percent).

  5. Exhibited presumably uncontrollable mood swings in front of the group (61 percent).

  6. Made up own rules on the fly that even she/he did not follow (61 percent).

  7. Disregarded satisfactory or exemplary quality of completed work despite evidence (58 percent).

  8. Harshly and constantly criticized having a different standard for the target (57 percent).

  9. Started, or failed to stop, destructive rumors or gossip about the person (56 percent).

  10. Encouraged people to turn against the person being tormented (55 percent).

  11. Singled out and isolated one person from coworkers, either socially or physically (54 percent).

  12. Publicly displayed gross, undignified, but not illegal, behavior (53 percent).

  13. Yelled, screamed, threw tantrums in front of others to humiliate a person (53 percent).

  14. Stole credit for work done by others (47 percent).

  15. Abused the evaluation process by lying about the person's performance (46 percent).

  16. Declared target "insubordinate" for failing to follow arbitrary commands (46 percent).

  17. Used confidential information about a person to humiliate privately or publicly (45 percent).

  18. Retaliated against the person after a complaint was filed (45 percent).

  19. Made verbal put-downs/insults based on gender, race, accent or language, disability (44 percent).
  20. Age is another factor.
  21. Assigned undesirable work as punishment (44 percent).

  22. Created unrealistic demands (workload, deadlines, duties) for person singled out (44 percent).

  23. Launched a baseless campaign to oust the person; effort not stopped by the employer (43 percent).

  24. Encouraged the person to quit or transfer rather than to face more mistreatment (43 percent).

  25. Sabotaged the person's contribution to a team goal and reward (41 percent).

  26. Ensured failure of person's project by not performing required tasks, such as sign-offs, taking calls, working with collaborators (40 percent)

== Bullying and personality disorders ==

In 2005, psychologists Belinda Board and Katarina Fritzon at the University of Surrey, UK, interviewed and gave personality tests to high-level British executives and compared their profiles with those of criminal psychiatric patients at Broadmoor Hospital in the UK. They found that three out of eleven personality disorders were actually more common in managers than in the disturbed criminals, they were:

* Histrionic personality disorder: including superficial charm, insincerity, egocentricity and manipulation
* Narcissistic personality disorder: including grandiosity, self-focused lack of empathy for others, exploitativeness and independence.
* Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder: including perfectionism, excessive devotion to work, rigidity, stubbornness and dictatorial tendencies.

They described the business people as successful psychopaths and the criminals as unsuccessful psychopaths. Board, B.J. & Fritzon, Katarina, F. (2005). Disordered personalities at work. Psychology, Crime and Law, 11, 17-32

Robert Hare and Paul Babiak discuss psychopathy and workplace bullying thusHare, Robert and Babiak, Paul, Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work'' Harper Collins, 2006:

:“Bullies react aggressively in response to provocation or perceived insults or slights. It is unclear whether their acts of bullying give them pleasure or are just the most effective way they have learned to get what they want from others. Similar to manipulators, however, psychopathic bullies do not feel remorse, guilt or empathy. They lack insight into their own behaviour, and seem unwilling or unable to moderate it, even when it is to their own advantage. Not being able to understand the harm they do to themselves (let alone their victims), psychopathic bullies are particularly dangerous.”

:“Of course, not all bullies are psychopathic, though this may be of little concern to their victims. Bullies come in many psychological and physical sizes and shapes. In many cases, “garden variety” bullies have deep seated psychological problems, including feelings of inferiority or inadequacy and difficulty in relating to others. Some may simply have learned at an early stage that their size, strength, or verbal talent was the only effective tool they had for social behaviour. Some of these individuals may be context-specific bullies, behaving badly at work but more or less normally in other contexts. But the psychopathic bully is what he is: a callous, vindictive, controlling individual with little or no empathy or concern for the rights and feelings of the victim, no matter what the context.”

In 2007, researchers Catherine Mattice and Brian Spitzberg at [[San Diego State University, USA, also found a strong relationship between Narcissism (psychology)|narcissism and the motivation to bully, and further discovered narcissism to be unrelated to aggressive forms of bullying (e.g., threatening violence, making false accusations), but related to more indirect, or passive, forms of bullying (e.g., ignoring, micromanagement|micromanaging) (Mattice & Spitzberg, 2007).

== Workplace bullying and the law==
=== Australia ===
Each state has its own legislation.

In Queensland there is no law against workplace bullying although anti-discrimination and stalking laws could be used to prosecute if appropriate.

In Victoria (Australia)|Victoria, legislation comes from Worksafe Victoria. If bullying endangers a worker's health causing stress or any other physical harm, a corporation can be found liable for not providing a safe place for their employees to work. Worksafe, Victorian Workcover Authority

=== Canada ===
The Canadian Province of Quebec introduced legislation addressing workplace bullying on 1 June 2004. In its Act representing Labour Standards "psychological harassment" is prohibited. The [ Commission des normes du travail] is the organization responsible for the application of this act. Commission des normes du travail

Under the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act 1979, "all employers must take every precautions reasonable in the circumstances to protect the health and safety of their workers in the workplace. This includes protecting them against the risk of workplace violence " Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act 1979 Ministry of Labor, Ontario, Canada. The Act requires establishment of Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committees for larger employers.

Under the act, workplace violence is defined as ''"...the attempted or actual exercise of any intentional physical force that causes or may cause physical injury to a worker. It also includes any threats which give a worker reasonable grounds to believe he or she is at risk of physical injury"''[ Workplace Violence] Ministry of Labor, Ontario, Canada. Currently, as the Act is written, the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act does not specifically cover the issue of psychological harassment .

On Dec 13, 2007 MPP Andrea Horwath introduced for first reading a new Bill, Bill-29, to make an amendment to the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act. This Bill-29 is proposing "to protect workers from harassment and violence in the workplace" and will include protection from psychological abuse and bullying behaviors in the workplace in Ontario. [ Legislative Assembly of Ontario, Canada]

The Canadian Province of Saskatchewan made workplace bullying illegal in 2007 by passing The Occupational Health and Safety (Harassment Prevention) Amendment Act, 2007. The act broadened the definition of harassment, as defined in the The Occupational Health and Safety Act 1993, to include psychological harassment.[ The Occupational Health and Safet (Harassment Prevention) Amendment Act, 2007 in Saskatchewan

=== Ireland ===
In Republic of Ireland|Ireland, there is a Code of Practice for employers and employees on the prevention and resolution of bullying at work. Republic of Ireland - 2007 Code of Practice for Employers and Employees on the Prevention and Resolution of Bullying at Work
The Code notes the provision in the Safety, Health and Welfare Act 2005 requiring employers to manage work activities to prevent improper conduct or behaviour at work. The Code of Practice provides both employer and employee with the means and the machinery to identify and to stamp out bullying in the workplace in a way which benefits all sides.

=== Sweden ===
Workplace bullying in Sweden is covered by the ''Ordinance of the Swedish National Board of Occupational Safety and Health containing Provisions on measures against Victimization at Work'', which defines victimisation as ''"...recurrent reprehensible or distinctly negative actions which are directed against individual employees in an offensive manner and can result in those employees being placed outside the workplace community."''Ordinance of the Swedish National Board of Occupational Safety and Health containing Provisions on measures against Victimization at Work AFS 1993:17 [ Official English translation

The act places the onus on employers to plan and organise work so as to prevent victimisation and to make it clear to employees that victimisation is not acceptable. The employer is also responsible for the early detection of signs of victimisation, prompt counter measures to deal with victimisation and making support available to employees who have been targeted.

=== United Kingdom ===
In the United Kingdom, although bullying is not specifically mentioned in workplace legislation, there are means to obtain legal redress for bullying. The Protection from Harassment Act 1997[ Protection from Harassment Act 1997] is a recent addition to the more traditional approaches using employment-only legislation. Notable cases include Majrowski v Guy's & St Thomas' NHS Trust wherein it was held that an employer is vicariously liable for one employee's harassment of another, and Green v DB Group Services (UK) Ltd, where a bullied worker was awarded over £800,000 in damages. In the latter case, at paragraph 99, the judge Mr Justice Owen said:

:''"...I am satisfied that the behaviour amounted to a deliberate and concerted campaign of bullying within the ordinary meaning of that term."''

Bullying behaviour breaches other UK laws. An implied term of every employment contract in the UK is that parties to the contract have a (legal) duty of trust and confidence to each other. Bullying, or an employer tolerating bullying, typically breaches that contractual term. Such a breach creates circumstances entitling an employee to terminate his or her contract of employment without notice, which can lead to a finding by an Employment Tribunal of unfair dismissal, colloquially called constructive dismissal. An employee bullied in response to asserting a statutory right can be compensated for the detriment under Part V of the Employment Rights Act 1996, and if dismissed, Part X of the same Act provides that the dismissal is automatically unfair. Where a person is bullied on grounds of sex, race or disability ''et al'', it is outlawed under anti-discrimination laws.

It was argued, following the obiter comments of Lord Hoffman in Johnson v. Unisys in March 2001, Judgments - Johnson (A.P.) v. Unisys Limited], Uk Parliament - Publications Johnson v Unisys Ltd [2001] IRLR 279 House of Lords], Case Summaries, Equal Opportunities Commission, UK that claims could be made before an Employment Tribunal for injury to feelings arising from unfair dismissal. It was re-established that this was not what the law provided, in Dunnachie v Kingston upon Hull City Council, July 2004 Dunnachie v Kingston upon Hull City Council 2004] wherein the Lords confirmed that the position established in Norton Tool v Tewson in 1972, that compensation for unfair dismissal was limited to financial loss alone. Unfair dismissal compensation is subject to a statutory cap set at £60600 from Feb 2006. Discriminatory dismissal continues to attract compensation for injury to feelings and financial loss, and there is no statutory cap.

=== United States ===
In the United States, comprehensive workplace bullying legislation has yet to be passed by the federal government or by any U.S. state government, but since 2003, many state legislatures have considered bills.{{cite web
| last = Said
| first = Caroline
| title = Bullying bosses could be busted: Movement against worst workplace abusers gains momentum with proposed laws
| publisher = San Francisco Chronicle
| url =
| accessdate = 2007-10-19 }}
As of October 2007, 13 U.S. states have proposed legislation; these are: Workplace Bullying Institute
* New Jersey (2007)
* Washington (2007, 2005)
* New York (2006)
* Vermont (2007)
* Oregon (2007, 2005)
* Montana (2007)
* Connecticut (2007)
* Hawaii (2007, 2006, 2005, 2004)
* Oklahoma (2007, 2004)
* Kansas (2006)
* Missouri (2006)
* Massachusetts (2005)
* California (2003) '''Sign the Anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill Petition'''

These workplace bullying bills have typically allowed employees to sue their employers for creating an "abusive work environment," and most have been supported by the notion that laws against workplace bullying are necessary to protect public health.

Although most U.S. states operate under the 19th Century doctrine of at-will employment (which, in theory, allows an employer to fire an employee for any reason or no reason), American workers have gained significant legal leverage through discrimination and harassment laws, workplace safety laws, union-protection laws. etc., such that it would be illegal under federal and the laws of most states to fire employees for a whole host of reasons. These employment laws typically forbid retaliation for good faith complaints or exercising legal rights, such as organizing a union. Discrimination and harassment laws enable employees to sue for creating a "hostile work environment," which can include bullying, but the bullying/hostility must be tied in some way to a characteristic protected under the discrimination/harassment law, such as race, sex, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, etc.

==Tips for Dealing with Workplace Bullying ==

Researchers at the Project for Wellness and Work-Life have compiled their research to offer a set of tips for workers that are witnesses or targets of workplace bullying. They suggest the following tips for establishing the credibility of a bullying claim/grievance:

  1. Be rational: prepare a rational explanation of the problem including key points.

  2. Express emotions appropriately: offer vivid descriptions of how this bully or abusive behavior makes you feel in order to convey the emotionality of the experience.

  3. Provide consistent details: document the abusive behavior as it occurs so you can provide a detailed history of the problem.

  4. Offer a plausible story: keep your description simple/relatable rather than highlighting the extreme. Reference existing research and how your own experiences are similar to these findings.

  5. Be relevant: focus on the bully's actions and why they are inappropriate and harmful to the work environment. Try to gain support from other coworkers that share your experiences.

  6. Emphasize your own competence: highlight your professional credibility and history of career success to convey that this abusive behavior is hindering your ability to work at your potential.

  7. Show consideration for other perspectives: avoid whining by exploring the potential that the bully may not realize the effects their actions are having on the entire organization.

  8. Be Specific: Use clear language, provides concrete details (dates, times, behaviors, etc) and avoid vague descriptions

This paper offers more specific tips regarding each of these 8 suggestions and can be accessed at How to Bust the Office Bully: Eight Tactics for Explaining Workplace Abuse to Decision-Makers.

== References ==

# ''Mobbing: Emotional Abuse in the American Workplace''; Noa Davenport, Ph.D.; Ruth Distler Schwartz; and Gail Pursell Elliot; Civil Society Publishing; 1999, 2002; ISBN 0-9671803-0-9
#''Who's Afraid of the Big, Bad Boss? How to Survive 13 Types of Dysfunctional, Disrespectful, Dishonest Little Dictators''; Marilyn Haight; Worded Write Publishing; 2005, 2008; ISBN 978-0-9800390-1-6

Einarsen, S., Hoel, H., Zapf, D., & Cooper, C. L. (2003). The concept of bullying at work. In Bullying and emotional abuse in the workplace: International perspectives in research and practice. (pp. 3-30). London: Taylor & Francis.

Lutgen-Sandvik, P. (2006) Take this job and…: Quitting and other forms of resistance to workplace bullying. Communication Monographs, 73, 406-433.

Lutgen-Sandvik, P. & McDermott, V. (2008). The constitution of employee-abusive organizations: A communication flows theory. Communication Theory, 18, 304-333.

Tracy, S. J., Lutgen-Sandvik, P., & Alberts, J. K. (2006). Nightmares, demons and slaves: Exploring the painful metaphors of workplace bullying. Management Communication Quarterly, 20, 148-185.

== External links ==
* Beyond Bullying - workplace bullying information, based in Australia
* Project for Wellness and Work-Life, Arizona State University
* Workplace Mobbing in Academe
* Stress and psychosocial risks European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (OSHA)
* TV-Interview, Workplace Bullying
* Workplace Bullying News & Resources
* The Serial Bully
* Mobbing-U.S.A.
* Tips for Dealing with Bullying Bosses and Other Types
* Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) resources on bullying and harassment
Category:Social psychology
Category:Business ethics
Category:Organizational studies and human resource management