March 18, 2007

Effects of Psychological Harassment

'Individual Effects

Many studies show that psychological harassment has extremely negative effects for individuals. Generally, there are three individual consequences. The first effect is a deterioration of the victim’s physical and mental health (McCarthy, et al. 1995, 1998, 2001, Leymann 1996b, Ayoko, et al. 2003, Di Martino, et al. 2003, Einarsen & Mikkelsen 2003, Djurkovic, et al. 2004, Matthiesen & Einarsen 2004, Nielsen, et al. 2004).

Typically, research points to increased stress levels and reduced physical and psychological wellbeing, with the most frequently identified negative health related outcomes including: anxiety, depression, psychosomatic symptoms (hostility, hyper sensibility, loss of memory and feelings of victimisation), aggression, fear and mistrust, cognitive effects (such as, inability to concentrate, or think clearly, and reduced problem solving capacity), isolation, loneliness, deterioration of relationships, chronic fatigue and sleep problems.

Workplace bullying not only affects the targets, but also their colleagues or other bystanders. According to different studies (Einarsen & Mikkelsen 2003), witnesses of bullying reported more mental stress reactions than workers who had not witnessed anyone being bullied in their department. Witnesses may also suffer due to a real, or perceived, inability to help the target.

In the most severe cases of bullying, victims have frequently been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD (Leymann & Gustafsson 1996, Matthiesen & Einarsen 2004, Nielsen, et al. 2004, Tehrani 2004). The PTSD diagnosis refers to a constellation of stress symptoms typically exhibited by victims of exceptionally traumatic events.

The hallmark symptoms of PTSD are reexperiencing, avoidance numbing and arousal. First, the trauma is relived through repeated, insistent and painful memories of the event(s) or in recurring nightmares. Also, the victims may experience an intense psychological discomfort and/or react physically when exposed to reminders of the trauma.

Second, victims with PTSD tend to avoid stimuli related to the traumatic situation(s) and exhibit a general numbing of responsiveness. For instance, they may have problems remembering the actual event(s) or may exhibit a reduced interest in activities they used to enjoy. Often they feel detached from others.

A third symptom is hyper arousal. This may be manifested in, for example, sleeping problems, concentration difficulties, highly tense and irritable behaviour, as well as in exaggerated reactions to unexpected stimuli (Einarsen & Mikkelsen 2003). Some authors (Leymann 1996a, Hirigoyen 2001) have claimed work harassment to be a major cause of suicide. Psychological harassment may also have wider ramifications beyond those directly involved. Research has shown that witnessing violence may lead to fear of future violent incidents and as such has similar negative effects as being personally assaulted or attacked (Di Martino, et al. 2003).

The second effect of psychological harassment is the economic consequence for the victim. A loss of income is often real. Harassment may generate coping strategies and health effects which can develop into sickness absence, a lessening of productivity, a reduction of performance, resignation from the organisation, and work incapacity because of a loss of self confidence. Hirigoyen (2001) notes that in 36 per cent of the cases, the victim leaves the firm. In 20 per cent of the reported cases, the person is laid off, in nine per cent of the cases, the departure is negotiated, in seven per cent of the cases, the person resigns and in one per cent of the cases, the person is put in anticipated retirement.

In addition to this loss of incomes, the victim may have medical expenses, psychotherapeutic spending and fees of lawyers. According to Hirigoyen (2001), 30 per cent of the victims stopped working due to illness, disability, or are made redundant for medical inaptitude. In 66 per cent of the cases, the victim is actually excluded from the work world.

The third effect of bullying is the family and social implications. The results of exposure to psychological harassment are likely to affect several important spheres of life, for example, relationship with family or friends, leisure activities, household duties or sex life (Einarsen & Mikkelsen 2003). Di Martino, et al. (2003) report that in a German national study of bullying, a total of 20 per cent of the sample reported conflicts with partners or family, with eight point one per cent eventually leading to a separation from their spouse. Research shows that all of these individual effects are dependent on various variables such as severity and duration of harassment, coping strategy of the victim, coping strategy of the organisation, characteristics of the victim (sensitivity, education and experience). These effects create many costs for the organisation.

Poilpot-Rocaboy, G. (2006). Bullying in the Workplace: A Proposed Model for Understanding the Psychological Harassment Process, Research and Practice in Human Resource Management, 14(2), 1-17.

Complete paper available online.
Can somebody please forward the above to Sally Hunt?


Anonymous said...


Workplace bullying

Main article: Workplace bullying

According to the Workplace Bullying and Trauma Institute, workplace bullying is "the repeated mistreatment of one employee targeted by one or more employees with a malicious mix of humiliation, intimidation and sabotage of performance."

Statistics show that bullying is 3 times as prevalent as illegal discrimination and at least 1,600 times as prevalent as workplace violence.

Statistics also show that while only one employee in every 10,000 becomes a victim of workplace violence, one in six experiences bullying at work.

Bullying is also far more common than sexual harassment and verbal abuse.

Unlike the more physical form of schoolyard bullying, workplace bullying often takes place within the established rules and policies of the organization and society. Such actions are not necessarily illegal and may not even be against the firm's regulations; however, the damage to the targeted employee and to workplace morale is obvious.

Aphra Behn

Anonymous said...

Posted on Sally Hunt's blog with the message below.

Sally this is what some of your members are suffering... tonight and tomorrow and the next night...


I suggest that if you are being bullied you email Sally to tell her... we need our leader to understand the hidden and not so hidden world of academia.

There is currently no legislation to prevent work place bullying. There is no legal definition of bullying. So your members Sally are being bullied day after day after day... it is not illegal to bully someone.

...some may kill themselves...

Aphra Behn


My name is DANIEL E SHAFFER JR. I was born in the inner city of YORK PENNSYLVANIA & raised by an extremely poor working class family. I joined the US ARMY in order to escape poverty. I earned 3 honorable discharges (88-96 & after 9/11 03-05). I earned big 10 degrees in SOCIOLOGY. I am a SOCIOLOGIST. I am a former counselor to children & families.

I am the victim of a bullying/mobbing & HATE CAMPAIGN that happened in the area's of Lancaster, HERSHEY, Lebanon & South Central Pennsylvania extending down to Delaware. Some of my experiences are posted in a series of letter on this website:


The mobbing syndrome is a malicious attempt to force a person out of the workplace through unjustified accusations, humiliation, general harassment, emotional abuse and/or terror.

"It is a "GANGING UP" by the leader(s)-organization, superior, co-worker, or subordinate-who rallies others into systematic and frequent "mob-like" behavior.

"Because the organization ignores, condones, or even instigates the behavior, it can be said that the victim, seemingly helpless.

MOBBING: Emotional Abuse in the American Workplace by Davenport, Schwartz and Elliott 1999.

Often "MOBBING" activities are directed at WHISTLEBLOWERS.

WHISTLEBLOWING in casual usage means speaking out from within an organization to expose a social problem.

Instead of their message being evaluated, the full power of the organization is turned against the WHISTLEBLOWER. This is commonly called the shoot-the-messenger-syndrome... The means of suppression are impressive none-the-less. They include ostracism by colleagues, petty harassment (including snide remarks, assignment to trivial tasks and invoking of regulation not normally enforced), spreading of RUMORS, formal reprimands, transfer to positions with no work (or too much work)., demotion referral to psychiatrists, dismissal, and BLACK LISTING & BLACK BALLING.

MOBBING: Emotional Abuse in the American Workplace by Davenport, Schwartz & Gail Pursell Elliot 1999

Page 58 "We suggest that the mobbers actions derive from his/her inability to value life and difference, from pretense and dishonesty, from an inflated sense of self, i.e., from a need for self aggrandizement. The personality of the mobber has been described with such traits as excessively controlling, COWARDLY, neurotic, and power hungry. Many of his or her actions maybe driven feelings of insecurity and fear. Mobbing occurs because people sometimes with out even realizing their harmful ways, act in an evil manner"

Website: (A series of LETTERS are posted on this website. Letters 6 DISEASED ANIMAL & LETTER 9 CATHOLIC SANDWICH. If you had banged your spoon just a little louder, you may have earned a "C" PSYCHO MIKIE MIC of Manheim/Lancaster Pennsylvania. DEAN MICHAEL CORRIDINO "CATHOLIC" at Harrisburg Area Community College in Lancaster Pennsylvania stated, "WHY DID YOU GIVE MICHAEL PATTERSON a "B" grade DANIEL? Clearly he didn't earn it?"

WHY DID I GIVE PSYCHO MIKIE MIC OF MANHEIM/Lancaster PENNSYLVANIA a "B" grade when clearly he didn't earn a "C" grade???"


Here is an item dear to the hearts of organized stalking targets and those victims who had been mobbed/harassed.

PAGE 70 "Can mobbees be held responsible for what happens to them???

"Yet we found that the people (targets) we interviewed were exceptional individuals. They demonstrated throughout their professional careers many positive qualities: intelligence, competence, creativity, integrity, accomplishment and dedication."

Anonymous said...

I was interested to see that the author felt this should go to UCU General Secretary, Sally Hunt. Many UCU members feel that the UCU stress surveys are designed to disguise rather than genuinely identify harassment of members- since UCU does not have funds to take legal cases against harassment.

Worse still UCU members should know that Sally Hunt has her own bully, UCU's decidedly un-democratic Head of Democratic services who got a fat pay-off from UCU but has been re-employed as Sally's enforcer....his job is to enforce the rulings of UCU officials as UCU has never actually been a democracy of members.

And this is a union which paid out almost £ a million to reduce its staff numbers by 5.....

It is also a union which bankrupted itself by when having 2 perfectly good buildings on its merger with NATFE lost its members an estimated £10 million by selling both at a massive loss, moving to a new site at Mornington Crescent!

With a management team all of whom get more than 100k a year, UCU is divorced even from the salaries of the member professoriate.....Sally's own package is now 150k and UCU perks include a Presidential apartment in Hamstead.