February 28, 2007

To anyone who is bullied

The following message was recently posted on our online forum:

"I ask anyone who has experienced academic bullying to take a step back, remove oneself emotionally from the situation, and look at the situation as if one were a complete outsider. The truth is that academic bullying can cause death, suicide and other types of violence. I have seen brokenhearted and disappointed scholars die of cancer within ten years of a disappointment. That is why we who have been bullied or mistreated have to see the situation for what it is and not allow ourselves to be manipulated or instigated by it. We have to be clear about the kind of values and lives we want for ourselves, whether or not this will ultimately involve remaining in academia. We have to be clear that the people who mistreat us want us to be ruined and that we have to see them for who they are and build an emotional stone wall between ourselves and them."

Posted by: lseltzer@alumni.caltech.edu

5 comments:

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon said...

Bullying and suicide, from http://www.bullyonline.org/stress/health.htm#Suicide

We know that at least sixteen children in the UK kill themselves each year because of bullying at school. Each of these deaths is foreseeable, preventable and unnecessary. The true total could be as high as 80 or more. These estimates, which are published in the book Bullycide: death at playtime by Neil Marr and Tim Field, are endorsed by leading childcare charities.

People who are bullied have many common characteristics including an unwillingness to resort to violence (or legal action) to resolve conflict, and a tendency to internalise anger rather than express it outwardly. Focusing anger inward is a recognised cause of depression. Bullying is perpetrated over a long period of time, perhaps measured in years, and the internalised anger builds to the point where one of these three occur:

* the target starts to exhibit all the symptoms of stress as the internal pressure causes the body to go out of stasis (this happens in every case)
* the target focuses the anger onto themselves and self-harms, either by using drugs (usually alcohol), or by attempting or committing suicide (the UK has the highest suicide rate in Europe)
* in rare cases, and the target "flips" and starts to exhibit the same behaviours as the bully; in extremely rare but well-publicised cases, the target returns to the workplace to carry out a spree killing

How many adult suicides are caused by bullying? Consider the following:

bullying (an abdication and denial for the effect of one's behaviour on others)
...causes...
prolonged negative stress (psychiatric injury)
...which includes...
reactive depression (the cause is external - someone is responsible and liable)
...which results in...
fluctuating baseline of one's objectivity (balance of the mind disturbed)
...which leads to...
contemplated suicide (being viewed as suffering mental illness)
...culminating in...
attempted suicide (cry for help)
...which may end in...
suicide (manslaughter - causation)

It's likely that many suicides are the result of bullying, but the target's lack of awareness of what is going on, their unwillingness to confide what is happening, the traumatization, and the inability to articulate, everyone else's denial, the bully's accomplished lying and Jekyll and Hyde nature, plus the general lack of knowledge and awareness of society, prevent the real cause from being identified.

Anonymous said...

Currently it is difficult to mobilise legal action because bullying is not illegal and solicitors deal with the law; they are therefore relucatant to take on cases linked to bullying. However there are solicitors - just a few- who are prepared to take on these cases - and some of these cases have been successful.

There also appear to be a few MPS who are pushing for legislation...

... it would be better for institutions to develop the skills to deal with wpb themselves... but that will take time so in the meantime...

...we need more cases that can be won and more solicitors who will take on the cases. Because that will help to galvanise instititions into action.... bullying will become too expensive...

As we have seen so clearly on this blog there is a stunning silence form UCU on the issues of bullying...

...so we need a union that is more confident and skilled in supporting members...

I am sure that many people weigh this up - lack of legal support - lack of union support - institutions who don’t have the skills to deal with cases of bullying - and they decide to walk away from bullying cultures..... and so the bullying festers and just keeps growing until it is rife in academia.

However there are now a growing number of people who are fighting back - because sadly it is about fighting at the moment...

Yes it can be a useful strategy to build an emotional stone wall to protect yourself from the bullying - but stone walls alone will only provide temporary respite - they will not tackle the culture of bullying.

Bullies need help and institutions that condone bullying need help...urgently

Universities are funded with public money - so they should provide value for money - there is an economic argument around bullying as well as moral and ethical arguments....some people might be swayed more by economics than by morals

...many days are lost through stress related illness caused by bullying cultures - this cannot be sustained....

...those of us who have been targets of bullying but who still have the energy to address such cultures must work together...

...many people have been damaged so severely that they can do nothing but try to recover... it is for them as well that we must work hard....

...we must also work hard for those people who have taken their lives because they were bullied....

I take great strength from this blog and from other sites where people are working towards solutions....

Bullying has to be and will be eradicated.

Aphra Behn

Anonymous said...

name and shame. destroy them or they will destroy us.

Unsane said...

human dignity.

Anonymous said...

The topic of bullying omits a very important and missing study. That is, the bullying by post-graduate supervisors for academic, policical and racist reasons.

When one researcher is stifled for the sake of allowing another researcher to go ahead for reasons that will bring financial rewards to that university, etc.
This type of bullying is covery corruption and fraud, but who will reseach it? How will supervise it?
I was one person whose research was belittled by my own supervisors who stated "there is no such thing as fraud!" etc. Nobody helped me. Because there was a man researching, under full "scholarship by that same university, one reason being, that such a person with a doctorate, would bring dozens of overseas students to that university from his home country as he could speak the language. Despicable. Fraud! Fraud!