May 15, 2006

The serial bully

'...Ensure you know how to identify, expose and deal with the serial bully, who is often an unrecognised sociopath. It is estimated one person in thirty is a serial bully. Find out how the serial bully gets away with their unacceptable behaviour repeatedly. Start by learning to recognise the serial bully from his/her behaviour profile.

Know how to investigate a case of bullying. it's a specialised job and an investigation is more than just asking questions and taking statements. The serial bully is adept at creating conflict between those who would otherwise pool negative information about them whilst indulging their gratification of seeing others (employer and employee) destroy each other. The serial bully is also adept at distorting people's perceptions of them. In the event of the serial bully being identified and held to account, the bully may leave, resulting in the employer defending litigation (for the bully's behaviour) which may last years.

If you have a serial bully on the staff, then the bullying you see will be only the tip of an iceberg of wrongdoing by that person...'

From: Life After Adult Bullying


'... [The serial bully is] An individual who repeatedly intimidates or harasses one individual after another. A victim is selected and bullied for an extended period of time until he/she leaves...

Since there are often no witnesses, HR may accept the account of the bullying staff member, possibly a serial bully. The bully may even convince the organization to get rid of the troublesome victim. Once the victim is out of the organization, the bully usually needs to find a new victim. This is because the bully needs someone on whom he can project his inner feelings of inadequacy. The bully may prevent others from sharing negative information about him by sowing conflict...

Most cases of bullying involve a serial bully - one person to whom all the dysfunction can be traced. The serial bully has done this before, is doing it now - and will do it again. Investigation will reveal a string of predecessors who have either left unexpectedly or in suspicious circumstances, have taken early or ill-health retirement, have been unfairly dismissed, have been involved in disciplinary or legal action, or have had stress breakdowns. Serial bullies exploit the recent frenzy of downsizing and reorganisation to hinder recognition of the pattern of previous cases...

Most people with this profile are incompetent at their job and the bullying is intended to hide this incompetence...'


'...[The sociopath] Pathological Lying. Has no problem lying coolly and easily and it is almost impossible for them to be truthful on a consistent basis. Can create, and get caught up in, a complex belief about their own powers and abilities. Extremely convincing and even able to pass lie detector tests.

Lack of Remorse, Shame or Guilt. A deep seated rage, which is split off and repressed, is at their core. Does not see others around them as people, but only as targets and opportunities. Instead of friends, they have victims and accomplices who end up as victims. The end always justifies the means and they let nothing stand in their way.

Shallow Emotions. When they show what seems to be warmth, joy, love and compassion it is more feigned than experienced and serves an ulterior motive. Outraged by insignificant matters, yet remaining unmoved and cold by what would upset a normal person. Since they are not genuine, neither are their promises...'

From: Profile of the Sociopath

'...Imagine - if you can - not having a conscience, none at all, no feelings of guilt or remorse no matter what you do, no limiting sense of concern of the well-being of strangers, friends, or even family members. Imagine no struggles with shame, not a single one in your whole life, no matter what kind of selfish, lazy, harmful, or immoral action you had taken. And pretend that the concept of responsibility is unknown to you, except as a burden others seem to accept without question, like gullible fools. Now add to this strange fantasy the ability to conceal from other people that your psychological makeup is radically different from theirs. Since everyone simply assumes that conscience is universal among human beings, hiding the fact that you are conscience-free is nearly effortless. You are not held back from any of your desires by guilt or shame, and you are never confronted by others for your cold-bloodedness. The ice water in your veins is so bizarre, so completely outside of their personal experience that they seldom even guess at your condition...'

From: Inside the Mind of a Sociopath

  • Lesson learnt: Look for the early symptoms, the unjustified behaviour, the lack of rational explanations, keep an early diary.
  • Lesson learnt: Academic managers have no idea how to recognise the signs of bullying. They need to develop awareness due to the organisation's duty of care towards the employees.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

academic managers sometimes cover up bullying because they share with the bully an unacceptable work habit. Plus HR view anyone who brings in money (academic managers) to be beyond reproach.

I was once asked to cheat by a colleague. I couldn't report the incident to the college because complaints that I made earlier on the quality of their work, the accompanying insults, and the exclusions were never upheld; thanks to my academic manager, who was covering up his double-counting (among other things).

For the record, this colleague went on to submit the same set of results twice and claim that they were calculated using different assumptions. He even invited the evaluators to compare the two sets of results in graphical forms!