30 April 2009

BOOK REVIEW - Bullying and Harassment

Bullying and Harassment

Editor: Justin Healey
ISBN 978 1 920801 41 0
Year 2006

Bullying and Harassment

Volume 231, Issues in Society

Bullying and harassment occur when people (bullies) use and abuse power to trouble, oppress or annoy a person. Bullying and harassment are common in Australian schools and workplaces – it has been estimated that at least 20% of Australian school students have experienced bullying and harassment; cost estimates of bullying in Australian workplaces have been as much as $3 billion a year. Continual bullying can have serious short- and long-term effects on the psychological and physical wellbeing of a large number of victims. This book explores the various forms of bullying and harassment – verbal, psychological, physical, social and sexual – and presents advice on how to develop strategies in schools and workplaces and how to identify and deal with bullying and harassment behaviour.

Chapter 1 Bullying and Harassment at School
Understanding bullying; Bullying; Harassment; Violence at home breeds bullying ; Let’s harass bullying out of existence; Beating the schoolyard bully; Cyber bullying; No place to hide from cyber bullying; ‘We h8 u!’; Mobile phones and bullying; Bully for you; What to do if you are being bullied; Bullying: information for parents; Bullying and restorative justice; Principles for managing school bullying; In and out of class.

Chapter 2 Bullying and Harassment at Work
Bullying in the workplace; Good practice, good business: eliminating discrimination and harassment in the workplace; Workplace bullying; Examples of workplace bullying or unacceptable behaviour; Reasons for bullying behaviour; The effects of bullying; Bullying: impact on the individual; Impact of bullying on organizations; 20 years on: the challenges continue ... sexual harassment in the Australian workplace; Dealing with workplace bullies; Workplace harassment and bullying – how to handle it appropriately; Resolving or investigating complaints.

FAST FACTS from this volume

  • People are often bullied because of a perceived difference. The difference can be related to culture, sex, sexuality, physical or mental ability or disability, religion, body size and physical appearance, age, cultural or economic background or being new to a school, workplace, to a country, to a social group, or being new to a sports team.
  • There are many ways that someone can be bullied: verbal; physical; social; and psychological.
  • A bully can be an individual, or a group of people. It can either be someone your own age or older, including friends, your boyfriend or girlfriend, brother or sister, or an extended family member. A bully can also be an older person, or someone in a position of power such as a teacher, parent or boss.
  • Students are more likely to attack someone at school if they are male; they live with one or no parents; their mother is 35 or younger; their parents use corporal punishment; they are poorly supervised at home; they have family problems; they have problems reading or writing.
  • One in six Australian children is bullied weekly and 20-50% of children are bullied at some point in their school life.
  • Students who are bullied have a greater likelihood of reduced school achievement, loss of self-esteem, loss of trust in others, dropping out of school, using drugs and alcohol and developing depression; 20% of all youth suicides are related to present or past bullying.
  • The ringleaders who initiate bullying situations are more likely to become involved in anti-social behaviours e.g. 65% of students who bully others on an ongoing basis have a criminal conviction by the age of 24. They are also more likely to become involved in domestic abuse and physical abuse of their children.
  • Up to 50% of children have been bullied in the past year, with new research indicating up to 10% of children are bullied on a weekly basis.
  • Primary school students report being bullied more often than secondary school students.
  • Boys are more likely to experience direct physical bullying, including hitting, kicking and pushing.
  • Girls are more likely to be the victim of indirect, non-physical forms of bullying, such as exclusion and having rumours spread about them.
  • Direct verbal bullying, such as cruel teasing and name-calling, is the most common form of bullying in children, with boys and girls experiencing this about equally.
  • Physical and mental health factors associated with being bullied include poorer health, lower self-esteem, greater feelings of ineffectiveness, difficulties with relationships, higher levels of depression, increased anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.
  • A Queensland university study discovered that 13% of students had experienced “cyber bullying”, 25% knew of someone who had been bullied in this way and more than 50% thought it was on the rise.
  • Workplace bullying behaviours range from social bantering to teasing, verbal abuse, blame, humiliation, personal and professional denigration, overt threats, harassment (e.g. racial, sexual) manipulation of job specifications, unrealistic workload, aggressive emails or notes, professional and personal exclusion or isolation, sabotage of career and financial status, whistleblower attack, blackmail, overt aggression/violence, criminal assault and murder.
  • The incidence of bullying in the workplace varies from 4-5% in Norway, to 10-20% in the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Other research mentions up to 50% being bullied.
  • We could make a guesstimate from the current research that an average of 15% of people are being regularly bullied in the Australian workplace at any time.
  • Studies have found that 85% of bullies have bullied previously, 34% of new supervisors exhibited bullying behaviours and 51% of victims changed jobs because of bullying.
  • Workplace bullying costs Australian employers between $6 and 13 billion dollars every year, when hidden and lost opportunity costs are considered, using a very conservative prevalence estimate of the extent of the bullying (3.5% rate). Between $17 and 36 billion dollars per year is lost when a somewhat higher estimate of 15% prevalence is applied. The number of victims can be assessed at 350,000 Australian workers based on the first estimate and 1.5 million workers based on the second calculation.
  • In Australian research, most victims reported that the workplace bullying directly affected their health and wellbeing. Physical and psychological symptoms like depression, fatigue, and sleep disorders were reported by about three-quarters of victims surveyed in one study, and 32% sought medical or counselling help. Over half also said that their relationship with their partner or family had worsened because of the bullying.
  • In a recent South Australian study, almost three-quarters of victims sought medical attention or professional counselling for symptoms resulting from workplace bullying incidents.
  • In an Australian study, 34% of bullied victims took time off work. The average time taken was 50 days, including 28 days on paid sick leave. Almost one-quarter resigned or retired, and organisations incur costs in replacing those staff as well as losing valuable experience.
  • A Human Rights and Equal Opportunity survey found that 41% of Australian women aged between 18 and 64 years and 14% of men have experienced sexual harassment. Two-thirds of this sexual harassment occurs in the workplace, with 28% of Australian women and 7% of Australian men having experienced sexual harassment at work.

28 April 2009

PAPER - Confucianism and the Impact of Sociopathy, Part II

by Oh

Japan has been called an "economic animal" for behaviors Milton Friedman surely would have been pleased by. On the other hand, the pure economic model he preached would have eluded him here like a will-o-the-wisp. Japan has its own peculiar way of participating enthusiastically in the schemes of the global elite while at the same time remaining stubbornly unchanged in ways that benefit its own citizenry. There is a good deal of inertia built into its culture, and it has developed resistance techniques that would be good to know in our modern age because they were born from the years of living under perhaps the cleverest tyrants the world has ever seen: the Tokugawa regime, whose 260-some-odd-year grip on power served as a model to Stalin.

The Soviet Union failed to achieve anything close to that record of longevity. In fact, that degree of stability itself suggests to me that the Tokugawas were not sociopaths at all, their ruthless, bloodthirsty tactics notwithstanding. Any hint of rebellion, including the influence of Christianity, was immediately and resoundingly crushed. Despite the regime's iron fist (or perhaps because of it) peace reigned and culture flourished during that period of Japan's history. It would be wrong to assume that tyrants are all necessarily sociopaths.

Currently, one of the chief advantages of living in Japan I find is that it provides a satisfying, comfortable work environment with considerably less inter-personal stress than in America. My education and experience, for example, make me a valued professional in Japan, while in the US, friends with similar qualifications are nothing but a resource to be used and discarded, if recognized at all. (See "How Japan's Other Hybrid Can Save American Jobs." Thanks to Starla Immak for the quicklink!)

Friend after friend of mine in America worked hard for abusive drug-addict bosses who goofed around while their subordinates took responsibility and lost their jobs when trouble occurred. To cultivate hope of a better life, these friends turned to direct marketing and other get-rich schemes, but progress eluded them. The shy ones studied an American variety of "assertiveness." Though I realize that ideally it is an expression of maturity, what I saw struck me as mostly cultivation of aggressive self-interest. What they call "chutzpah," in particular, appears to mean the ability to grab things of value for oneself or one's clique with no regard to how that affects others. It seems to be a highly positive term, akin to "guts." Is it really a sign of maturity? Anyway, I've never seen it used in reference to people who put their lives on the line to defend the powerless. There, the simple word "courage" seems to suffice.

Robert Kiyosaki, who wrote "Rich Dad Poor Dad," on how to succeed in America's modern capitalistic system, emphasized that anyone who wanted to achieve economic freedom needed to learn to sell. By this, he meant not only hawking goods for a company, but persuading others of ones own value in society. I agree with him and think this would be valuable everywhere, though the tactics will differ. His "Poor Dad," who happened to be his real father, was an idealistic educator who had inherited Japanese ethics from his ancestors. An open-minded man, he tried to apply his successful son's skills, but couldn't manage to break out of his old way of thinking. Feudal Japan had been so inimical to capitalism it designated merchants fourth class citizens and made knowledge of accounting something no samurai would admit to without shame. My husband shuns people who "keep accounts," i.e., scheme to get as much from a relationship as they give. I admire Kiyosaki for saying that the poor receive a lousy, self-defeating financi
al education (e.g., your house is an "asset" so go into serious debt and buy an enormous one). He tried to free people from an unacknowledged form of slavery, and through his generosity, I believe he lived up to his father's ethics.

He points out that a formal education will not lead to wealth in these times, which he calls the "Information Age," as opposed to the "Industrial Age," in which education and hard work were the keys to success. The high-paced flow of data makes a formal education obsolete in a short time. Kiyosaki's "Rich Dad," actually his friend's father, had only a high school education but he cultivated an awareness of the real rules governing business.

In the Preface to "Snakes in Suits," Babiak and Hare echo Kiyosaki's observation in noting that the corporate takeovers, mergers and breakups starting from the 70s led to social and financial upheaval and a more free-form, faster paced organizational environment, which became the norm in the 90s.

They say:

"Unfortunately, the general state of confusion that change brings to any situation can make psychopathic personality traits-the appearance of confidence, strength and calm-often look like the answer to the organization's problems... Egocentricity, callousness and insensitivity suddenly became acceptable trade-offs in order to get the talents and skills needed to survive in an accelerated dispassionate business world."

They say furthermore that psychopaths find the new environment inviting. During the same years, Japan attempted to keep up with trends in globalization and was persuaded to relax some of its rules.

An Internet service provider called "Livedoor" was founded as a web consultancy in 1995 by the charismatic, controversial Takafumi Horie (reminiscent of probable sociopath, case B, whom I describe below). It was de-listed from the Tokyo Stock Exchange in 2006 pursuant to a scandal involving securities law violations. Its stock price plunged and its leaders, including Horie, were jailed. Because some of its investors were large corporations, there was some hope of government intervention and a few savvy investors bought up shares at bargain prices only to be disappointed. The government considered equity investments to have an inherent risk of loss. Ethics trumped cronyism.

In any society, there will be situations in which sociopaths (I use this term inclusive of "sociopaths and psychopaths" indicating varying types or degrees of the disorder) tend to feel more comfortable and congregate in greater numbers than usual. In Japan, I have witnessed greater tendencies toward sociopathic behavior among participants in adventure sports, among human rights advocates and in situations where many foreigners congregate. Adventure sports would appeal to the reportedly stronger need sociopaths have for stimulation. Advocates are working with victims undergoing change and stress--easy pickings for sociopaths; and foreigners are less critical of unusual behavior and may even be favorable to sociopathic thought if they are from countries less critical of it than Japan.

In Japan, sociopaths may also pursue careers in politics or the media, especially TV, or take advantage of the authority conferred by religion. Some may turn to the underworld, but while the latter engages in plainly illegal activities, Japan's Yakuza bosses take pride in traditions and keep strict control over their members, and it is especially there that Confucian ethics is emphasized.My husband says a sociopath would not get very far in that world. (At least not with all his fingers intact.*)

In the following examples of possibly sociopathic individuals and apparently ponerogenic unions in Japan, I have made a strong effort to conceal the identities of the individuals involved, because first, I lack the qualifications to diagnose this set of disorders and second, even given that, innuendo about suspected individuals could ruin their or others' lives. The ones who broke the law are now in jail. 'Nuff said. Thus I have created analogous stories that illustrate only the most important distinctions of the people and unions I witnessed, with the context intact only to the degree I deemed relevant. In essence I created a total fiction with some basis in observed anonymous cases. My apologies right off to anyone who knows more about jet-skiing than I.

Cases A and B were individuals who partook in the passively elegant art of jet-skiing. They were prominent members of two clubs with different jetties along the shore of the same lake. Both wanted to be king of the lake and to spend their entire life roaring around the lake in style. They took two different approaches.

Case A was one of the earliest members of Club A. He never aspired openly to leadership, but was a long-standing honorary "advisor" because he had made an agreement with the owner of the jetty that the rental contract would go through him exclusively and also because there were a lot of jet-skiers who agreed with his laissez-faire attitude. They were there to get away from the world of rules and just be themselves. Of Mr. A, my husband sighs and says, "He will be a lonely man." I doubt Mr. A is capable of that emotion.

Club A used to be the finest jet-skiing club in Japan, with the highest standards for entry and the strictest rules to ensure safety. It initially had two strong leaders, who recognized Mr. A as the biggest threat to the club, but they couldn't oust him because of the contract agreement. Subsequently one retired and went abroad and the other was gradually overwhelmed by pressure from the laissez-faire crowd until he had to resign on account of failing health. Now Club A is a shadow of its former self, the best members having left after being forced to take responsibility for others' mistakes and misdeeds.

The big festival they held on the lake each August has been permanently cancelled because of an embarrassing accident in which a visitor nearly died of exposure after crashing on the far shore and being forgotten and left alone all night. Anyone who attempts to enforce the club's rules becomes unpopular and is subjected to bullying. Mr. A never owned a car nor rented an apartment. At the lake, he stayed at a club member's summer home. He never paid the suggested fee and the owner, who was unhappy about this, couldn't make him pay nor get him to stay elsewhere. He never cleaned up after himself, relying on his "girlfriend" or others to do this. When this was not sufficient, he would lie about others' habits. He inspired similar behavior in others around him.

Mr. A never aspired to any form of career advancement, but was contented to just get by. He resided in company housing until retirement and then moved back into his parents' house. He lacked good looks, but was nonetheless confident, optimistic and charismatic. I must note that I, in fact, still like him despite recognizing his severe limitations. He is eminently pleasant.

His "girlfriend" would drive him to the lake, where he kept the brand newest hottest jet-ski on the lake in a rented storage unit. Once he arrived, he would take off on his jet-ski for an exploration of the far shore of the lake and we would only see glimpses of him again until dusk. Some areas of the lake are off limits to jet-skis in order to protect other users. Mr. A is one of the jet-skiers who's been photographed crossing through them. Club A refuses to enforce its own rules on such infractions, because everybody just wants to have fun. (Actually, there has been a deep split of opinion, with the laissez faire-side winning out and the other side warning of disaster, but being ignored.) When the police show up again--there was already a fatal accident at the lake involving a jet-skier colliding with a windsurfer (the jet-skier died)--all Club A can do is show them the photographic evidence and hope throwing the bums out will suffice rather than banning jet-skis at the lake, the most likely outcome.

Mr. A was the eldest son in his family and by tradition was groomed to become head of the family, but they realized early on that he was not suited to any form of responsibility, so the honor went to his younger brother. It is said that when his father lay dying, Mr. A was out jet-skiing. When his "girlfriend" hit a cable and was nearly drowned, he was nearby, but ignored the event. He wasn't even curious to see if she had survived. His "girlfriend" had suffered a metabolic condition in childhood that left a faint mark on her features and made her subject to bullying at school. In later life, her "flaw" made her unmarriageable. She remains Mr. A's "girlfriend" despite the one-sided nature of the relationship. She is certain she would never find another.

Mr. A continues to participate actively in what remains of Club A. About half of the club recognizes his attitude as a serious problem, but as long as he himself causes no accidents there is not much they can do but tolerate him. There may be less visible sociopaths among the half that supports him, but I think most are simply naive and don't recognize the way he has ruined the club and recklessly endangered the safety of everyone involved by promoting a scofflaw attitude.

My husband says what tipped off most of his detractors to him early on was his lack of following protocol, a chief virtue stressed under Confucianism. In Japan, "protocol" can be extremely complicated, but basically it means showing gratitude to people who have done you a favor and maintaining harmony in society. Mr. A seems blithely unaware of others' favors. Because Mr. A never actually broke an enforced law nor exceeded other limits of toleration (he is probably studiously aware of where the line is drawn), Club A leaders had to limit the damage by talking to the other members of the club individually and persuading them as much as possible of the necessity of rules.

The abetting factors in Mr. A's case were some degree of latent sociopathic influence within Club A, probably because the exciting sport draws that type of person (in addition to others who take responsibility), and a taboo on discussing negative personality traits of others (probably taboo everywhere), which hobbled those whose background in Confucian ethics gave them an awareness of Mr. A's undesirable attitude.

I think this type of case is actually very common in Japan. The society and workplace are structured to give slackers a place they can just get by without getting in the way or getting into trouble. On the weekend, they go off and raise hell somewhere, and this is tolerated within certain limits. In hard times, these slackers are the first to lose their jobs. In the past, they were likely to be ostracized from their communities and left to fend for themselves. This and the practice of arranged marriages, in which adults with more experience and wisdom chose marriage partners for their children, probably did a lot to limit the reproductive success of sociopaths and may be one reason for the lower rate of occurrence Martha Stout ("The Sociopath Next Door") reported for Japan.

Anyone who lived in Japan in the 80s and early 90s will remember sleepless nights as hordes of punks on motorcycles roared up and down every major thoroughfare. Japan tolerated this amazingly well for year after year, until finally someone persuaded the police to crack down on it. Confucian thought stresses the creation of harmony in society by having well-defined roles for everyone. I guess this is how they deal with some of the sociopaths, by giving them a place and an outlet, and the Yakuza help deal with some of the more ambitious ones. And then there are some who are just not satisfied with those options.

Club A had the foresight and fortitude to oust case B a couple of years before the police showed up to question all his acquaintances because he'd been arrested on suspicion of murder. He denies this from his jail cell to this day, but few outside his closest family members believe him. The members of his own club considered him capable of such. The evidence was circumstantial, but nonetheless overwhelming.

The motive was clear--a loan being called in. The murderer took steps to obscure the identity of the victim and time of death. He'd gotten unlucky because someone discovered the body very soon afterward when the trail leading to Mr. B was still fresh.

Like Mr. A, Mr. B was adept at getting others to support him. Unlike Mr. A, however, he was not happy biding his time at a simple job waiting for the weekend. He was more ambitious. His first step was to organize a club, which started out as a clique within another club, Club C at the same lake as Club A. Club C has since devoted itself entirely to windsurfing and banned jet-skis from its jetty and surrounding area. Similar to Mr. A's supporters, Mr. B's clique detested rules. By the time Club C ousted them, they had evolved into quite a pack of bullies, who would park their cars blocking traffic and leave their equipment in the way of others while they went off together to have lunch.

After their ouster, they went down the shore a little way and built a spanking new jetty that was the envy of everyone else on the lake and at other lakes as well. As the newly formed Club B, they roared about the lake, ignoring all traffic rules and causing so many accidents it was astounding no one died (at least not at first). Club C meanwhile had lost many of its jet-skiers to Club B while picking up many more wind surfers in a boom engendered by Japan's faltering economy, as sportsmen downgraded. They urged their remaining jet-skiers to go to either Club A or Club B.

Everywhere I have traveled, jet-ski clubs have been roughly the same: a mob of happy-go-lucky partiers there to have fun and leaders with furrowed brows and no sense of humor from having to enforce rules. Club B stood out as different. They were open to anyone and had no rules. No rules, that is, until you crossed Mr. B. Then the rule was "watch your back." He had a really scary side that he would show to just a few people. Everyone else thought he was a real sugar daddy, so trying to warn them was pointless. Of him, my husband says, "Poor guy. No one did him the favor of teaching him a harsh lesson when he was young." From what I've read about sociopaths, though, I reckon it would have been as effective as punishing a cat.

Club B took in all the Club A rejects. They buzzed the windsurfers near Club C's jetty, which had gotten seriously crowded with new members. This is said to have once resulted in a smash-up involving twelve wind surfers and one jet-ski, which clipped the first wind surfer's board, who then ran into two other wind surfers and on down the line, with everyone recovering, except unlucky thirteen, who ran into the rocks near the jetty. As there were no injuries, most laughed it off as a joke, but this really encouraged Club B to do more of the same, even when Club C banned jet-skis from a clearly defined area near its jetty after the fatality involving a jet-skier from Club B, which prompted the police to take action. This action included closure of Club B's fancy jetty to jet-skis, because it was too near Club C's jetty, and removal of Club B's jet-skiers to a smaller jetty owned by Club A for use by visiting non-members.

Mr. B had been trying to turn his club into a profitable business by encouraging wind surfers to join and use their fancy facilities. They had a big clubhouse with a restaurant, bathhouse and on-site jet-ski storage. Mr. B drove a BMW and swaggered a lot. Everyone knew, though, that he was up to his eyeballs in debt because he owed a lot of his club members money he intended to repay "someday." A lot of somedays came and went, and not a few Club B members came to my husband to complain to someone with a sympathetic point of view.

One of these was owed a large amount that had gone into the big jetty that currently only wind surfers had access to. He'd given up on ever seeing his money again and was contemplating a lawsuit, something rarely considered in Japan, where people attempt amicable agreements or just simple forgiveness. He was sick and tired of seeing Mr. B get away with it. While my husband and I were away for a few weeks, he committed suicide under circumstances that leave us all wondering. His burnt out car was found with his remains inside far away from any place we ever knew him to frequent.

Mr. B had paid the first year's rent on his club's lake-shore site plus a site at a smaller lake and then failed to pay rent after that for more than a decade. In Japan, the law favors renters, and landlords have trouble collecting and evicting. Especially in rural areas, many think they have no recourse at all. These people will never see their money.

While there is strong resistance to the advancement of sociopaths in Japanese society, which I will describe in more detail later, once sociopaths acquire power over people, the Japanese are much more helpless and vulnerable to their manipulations. This is what led them down the unhappy road to World War II.

Club B members would receive calls from Mr. B's landlord in Tokyo inquiring about past-due rent on his luxury apartment. The Tokyo landlords knew that the trick was to harass the renter and his acquaintances persistently. After a while, Mr. B would leave that apartment and go pay the requisite three-to-four months rent in advance on a new place and live there rent-free until the calls became too embarrassing. No registration fees were paid on the club's fleet of vans, as one driver found out when the police stopped him. Thus Club B members were acutely aware of Mr. B's financial troubles and they had all heard rumors of his scary side. Nonetheless, they just ignored these signs. They were a rat pack.

Mr. B had taken up dealerships in several makes of jet-skis. He'd sell as many as he could while owing the manufacturers larger and larger sums, until they quit delivering; then he'd switch to a different company. On a particularly windy day, a fire broke out in some garbage near Club A's jet-ski storage shed and incinerated it along with its contents. Many of Club A's members then turned to Mr. B to purchase new jet-skis. Later, a fire broke out in one of Club B's jet-ski storage sheds, with less costly results.

Meanwhile Club B along with some Club A members continued flouting the rules. Of the resulting accidents, Mr. B would say, "In any collision, both parties are equally to blame." On the surface, it sounded to many like a good rule of thumb. Everyone should be alert. In practice, though, this favored the scofflaws, who took delight in running other jet-skiers into the rocks as the latter followed the rules in an attempt to avoid a collision.

One Club A member, aware of the situation, gathered evidence and wrote an expose on Club B, naming Mr. B as the biggest culprit. That writer woke up one cool autumn night to see a nasty glow in his kitchen and found a fish tank heating element plugged in and left on the wooden table, set for 16 degrees (60 F). A few other unseemly incidents finally resulted in pressure for Mr. B's ouster from Club A, where he had been a joint member. Club B started out explicitly as a group of scofflaws, thus it fits Lobaczewski's ("Political Ponerology") definition of a primary ponerogenic union: one that starts out with evil purposes. It was successful owing to the genius of Mr. B and the famous patience of the Japanese.

The whole world could see what was going on. In these cases, as in the case of Aum Shinrikyo, the cult that gassed Tokyo's subways, most of the people in the vicinity know what is happening, but are powerless to stop it. Few try to approach the police or initiate lawsuits. The police are typically unresponsive at first. They collect evidence that they can use to build a strong case against the group later on, but in the meantime, there are a lot of victims. This was the response of people within Club A, too. Hobbled by the need for harmony and compromise within Club A with members who liked Messrs. A and B, the leaders took to collecting evidence and ultimately cooperated with the police in prosecuting Mr. B.

*A Yakuza member who has broken rules shows penitence by cutting off his little finger. This ritual is supposed to be voluntary, but in reality a great deal of force may be involved. People with multiple fingers missing are to be feared.


26 April 2009

PAPER - Confucianism and the Impact of Sociopathy, Part I

..and now for something quite different, yet still relevant in understanding how the world works.

Presented in two parts, a paper by Oh


Sociopathy has surged to the forefront of political discussions recently. The symptoms of this disorder unmistakably manifest themselves in global affairs, particularly with the rise of the Neoconservative movement in the United States. The response of normal people to the phenomenon is shock and abhorrence, so we tend to blame the more obvious sociopaths involved and engage in a lot of hand wringing because they are in power and there is not a lot we can do about it. For example, we can write letters to Congressmen, urging them to show some understanding of common people's needs, but it has already become evident to them--and us--that they no longer need to consider our needs at all.

Drawing others' attention to the threat of further consolidation of their pathological power is crucial, and I take heart to see how much effort is going into that. What is really needed now, in addition to that, is some introspection, because we ourselves managed to let this bunch of deviants rise to positions of power over us, and our own activities and natural inclinations may exacerbate the situation if we are not careful.

I set out to write this article because I have seen the phenomenon from a completely different point of view living in Japan, where for a long time I did not realize how the many restrictive, burdensome societal rules actually protect that society from the more severe manifestations of sociopathic dominance. Martha Stout in the Sociopath Next Door says that sociopaths typically make up about 4% of people in society, but that some societies have established crude means of detecting and eliminating these defectives and that, furthermore, it appears that in Japan, the percentage of sociopaths is somewhat less than in other countries.

I do not know whether that is true or not, and it would be beyond my abilities to determine such. Stout suggests that the low figure may be due to suppression of the manifestation of this disorder by the structure of that society and patterns of interaction of people within it.

I set out to try to ascertain how Japanese society deals with sociopathy. I found immediate examples of sociopathic activity at hand, including two partially developed ponerogenic associations (see Andrew Lobaczewski's Political Ponerology, highly recommended to anyone with an interest in this subject), one primary and one secondary.* Over time I could see that the success of these associations had been limited due to awareness in society of the consequences of letting them advance. There were two factors fostering this awareness. One was a recent shocking example of a secondary ponerogenic association running amok: the religious group Aum Shinrikyo, whose members released sarin gas in the Tokyo subways, killing many people. This turned people's attention to the question of how such groups could get started. The other factor was widespread observance of a set of principles imported centuries ago from China that elucidate and condemn behavior typical of sociopathy and organize society in a way that impedes advancement of such deviants. This set of principles is called Confucianism, and it is worth noting that Lobaczewski also mentions Confucius and his distant contemporary Socrates, who both lived under sociopathic rule and devised principles for dealing with it.

I am too poorly acquainted with Socrates to discuss his possible contributions to getting us out of the quandary we are in. I invite others with more knowledge of this subject to contribute their thoughts.

Below I will describe Confucianism and in further installments I will describe how it, together with Buddhism and other Oriental philosophies, has impeded the progress of sociopathy in Japan. I will also discuss its notable failures to prevent pathocracy.

First, in the interests of improved objectivity, I must introduce myself and describe my sources. I have no formal background in psychology. I am a language specialist, teaching and translating in Japan. I am among the first foreigners to acquire qualifications of Shinto priesthood, which I undertook in order to help my community by saving a mountain from being bulldozed and carted away in an endless stream of dump trucks. The laws of Japan put priority on traditional religious/cultural property--the ancient shrine at the peak--but only if it was in active use. The other priests were old and in failing health, so I volunteered.

Through this experience, I gained access to a deeper understanding of Japan's culture than most foreigners ever acquire. It also forced me to consider what had happened to Japan prior to World War II that had allowed my adopted religion (I was raised a Buddhist) to play a role in the belligerent actions of the military elite. Indeed, as religion can be tremendously uplifting, including Shinto, I resolved to study how a person might enjoy its benefits without falling prey to its well-known dangers.

My husband, from a proud samurai family that he can trace back nearly 1300 years, has been instrumental in helping me understand traditional Japanese principles. He has also pointed out persons with psychological and character defects I would never have spotted, because my own psychological education was too poor. His psychological education was not formal, but of a much better, more practical kind. He was brought up by his widowed mother who ran their house as an inn for working men, so there was a constant stream of patrons bearing the wisdom of the laboring class and eager to talk to anyone in earshot. Many were former soldiers. My husband says he had to become sharp at recognizing possibly dangerous people among them. He was an attentive student.

Other sources I will not name out of respect for their privacy. Martha Stout's book, mentioned above, was among my first inspirations, followed by a variety of articles on the Internet. I am in the middle of reading Lobaczewski's work, writing copious notes in the margins. I also have Paul Babiak and Robert D. Hare's Snakes in Suits on hand. Given the urgency of the times, however, I do not want to wait until I've finished reading them, but would rather get my scattered thoughts on this matter organized and present them in the hopes this information can help people. Let me first describe Confucianism.

Confucius is the Latinized name of a Chinese political figure, educator and social philosopher who lived from 551 to 479 BC and whose thoughts, together with elaborations by Mencius and Xun Zi, were developed into a system of philosophy known as Confucianism. It is practiced as a religion in China, with temples and ceremonies, but elsewhere it was imported strictly as a philosophy. Summarizing the highlights in Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confucius ), the teachings and philosophy of Confucius have deeply influenced Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Taiwanese and Vietnamese thought and life, with an emphasis on governmental morality, proper social relationships, justice and sincerity. His thoughts were passed down as a collection of brief "aphoristic fragments" which were written down by others after his death.

He put the highest emphasis on study. He urged his followers to think deeply for themselves and keenly observe the outside world. He advocated studying the old scriptures and considering how past political events related to current moral problems. He lived during a time of warring feudalistic factions, and envisioned a unified royal state with ascension to the throne based on merit rather than heredity, and he also argued for limiting the power of rulers.

As sociopathy has been shown to have a genetic basis, we can understand this as an attempt to address the serious shortcomings of pathocratic rule in his time.

The meritorious rulers were to devote themselves to the people and strive for personal and social perfection. The ruler was to serve as a good example to the people rather than to impose proper behavior with laws and rules.

Confucius is said to have articulated an early version of the Golden Rule, in its inverse: "Do not do unto others what you would not have them do unto you." His ethics stressed "righteousness" (described as ethical best practices for each context, enhancing the greater good based upon reciprocity, as contrasted with self-interest) and "benevolence" based upon empathy and harmony, cultivating an identification of the interests of the self and others. He downplayed the rule of law, because he said that people would try to avoid punishment but have no shame. Within Confucian thought, "He who has no shame" has come to be considered the lowest sort of person. Confucius exposed thereby what was at the heart of sociopathy. He argued for honesty in facial expression (notably lacking in sociopaths).

He emphasized the need to respect ones superiors in the government or at home, but said that it also demanded advising the superior when he was thought to be taking a mistaken course of action. While advocating a hierarchy of "ethical sages," Confucius recognized failures in this regard, saying "A corrupt government official is to be feared more than a tiger." Corruption of government officials has been considered one of the worst sins under Confucian thought. Thus we see the ferocity with which exposed corrupt officials are punished in China, even though the Communist Party considered Confucianism reactionary and feudalistic and banned its observance for many years.

Righteous poverty was to be preferred to riches and honors acquired by dishonest means.

I note that the stability of the hierarchical "natural order" he advocated may deter sociopathic individuals, who lack the patience to deal with it and are quickly exposed.

Compared with Buddhism and other Oriental philosophies/religions, Confucianism is less mystical and more practical in its orientation toward developing a government and society favorable to the majority of honest, hard-working citizens. By contrast, Buddhism teaches that "Everyone has Buddha-nature," thus disavowing the presence of people who differ organically in their ability to feel empathy. Of course, one could construe "Buddha-nature" more loosely and claim that tigers, for example, also have it. Buddhism, fortunately, brings us the helpful concept of "thusness," promoting the acceptance of the fact that the tiger will kill and the sociopath will cheat, because that is their nature. Buddhism sidesteps the problem of sociopathy somewhat by advocating withdrawal from the material world, the existence of which in all its terror serves a useful reminder that Buddhism offers a choice far preferable to people with normal sensibilities. There is nothing in an austere Buddhist monastery that would attract a sociopath, but outside of that, there have been notable cases of sociopathic penetration in Buddhism, and the same can be said of Japan's other major religion, Shinto.

In my next article, I will describe a few cases of probable sociopathic individuals and ponerogenic associations I have observed in Japan and factors that either impeded or abetted them.

*A primary ponerogenic association is one that is clearly corrupt from the outset, like a gang; while a secondary one starts off with good intentions but becomes infiltrated by people who use the good reputation and image as a cover for deceitful activity.


24 April 2009

DEFAMATION in the Workplace - Gossip and Bullying

When Workplace Gossip crosses the line.

General information - not Australia Specific:

In law, defamation (also called calumny, libel (for written publications), slander (for spoken word), and vilification) is the communication of a statement that makes a claim, expressly stated or implied to be factual, that may give an individual, business, product, group, government or nation a negative image. It is usually, but not always, a requirement that this claim be false and that the publication is communicated to someone other than the person defamed (the claimant).

In common law jurisdictions, slander refers to a malicious, false and defamatory spoken statement or report, while libel refers to any other form of communication such as written words or images. Most jurisdictions allow legal actions, civil and/or criminal, to deter various kinds of defamation and retaliate against groundless criticism. Related to defamation is public disclosure of private facts, which arises where one person reveals information that is not of public concern, and the release of which would offend a reasonable person. "Unlike [with] libel, truth is not a defence for invasion of privacy."

False light laws are "intended primarily to protect the plaintiff's mental or emotional well-being." If a publication of information is false, then a tort of defamation might have occurred. If that communication is not technically false but is still misleading, then a tort of false light might have occurred.


1. What is defamation?

The law of defamation protects the reputation of individuals and corporations by permitting the injured party to sue for damages. There is no specific legislation dealing with the issue of defamation on the internet. Each Australian State takes a slightly different legislative approach to defamation.

Generally the following elements must be present to establish defamation:

(a) defamatory matter (including the written or spoken word, or an image) must be published;

(b) defamatory matter must be published to a third person (ie. at least one person other than the complainant); and

(c) the complainant must be identified.

See the Defamation Fact Sheet in relation to who can prosecute and the defences against prosecution.

Defamation can be a civil offence and a criminal offence.

Australian law tends to follow English law on defamation issues, although there are differences introduced by statute and by the implied constitutional limitation on governmental powers to limit speech of a political nature established in Lange v Australian Broadcasting Association (1997).

Since the introduction of the uniform defamation laws in 2005 the distinction between slander and libel has been abolished.

A recent judgment of the High Court of Australia has significant consequences on interpretation of the law. On 10 December 2002, the High Court of Australia handed down its judgment in the Internet defamation dispute in the case of Gutnick v Dow Jones. The judgment established that Internet-published foreign publications that defamed an Australian in his or her Australian reputation could be held accountable under Australian libel law. The case has gained worldwide attention and is often said, inaccurately, to be the first of its kind. A similar case that predates Gutnick v Dow Jones is Berezovsky v Forbes in England.[24]

Slander has been occasionally used to justify (and with some success) physical reaction, however usually the punishment for assault is only slightly reduced when there is evidence of provocation.

Among the various common law jurisdictions, some Americans have presented a visceral and vocal reaction to the Gutnick decision.[25] On the other hand, the decision mirrors similar decisions in many other jurisdictions such as England, Scotland, France, Canada and Italy.

Controversial uniform legislation was passed in Australia in 2005 severely restricting the right of corporations to sue for defamation (see, eg, Defamation Act 2005 (Vic), s 9). The only corporations excluded from the general ban are those not for profit or those with less than 10 employees and not affiliated with another company. Corporations may, however, still sue for the tort of injurious falsehood, where the burden of proof is greater than for mere defamation, because the plaintiff must show that the defamation was made with malice and resulted in economic loss.


All information must remain confidential.

Especially by HR, who should not gossip or take any action to undermine of go after the victim as the ‘problem’. It is not HR’s responsibility to say anything to the person who they say is harassing and/or bullying them or to spread rumours about someone. If HR participates in spreading rumours they may be subject to a defamation action.

One common manipulative action the defamer takes is although knowing the information is false, they go ahead and claim it as fact. This is when all witnesses and records must be kept for evidence.

23 April 2009

CENSORSHIP? Bizarre reporting by BBC on real reasons why London Train Divers Stike over unsafe Workplace Bullying and Harassment.

It appears there is some censoring of the real issues of why the train drivers have walked off the job, the omittance of the full picture and nature of complaints by BBC takes away the impact of the truth of the strike and worse still short changes the public tax payers who fund this corporation and the public who ride on this train line each day, expecting 100% safety guarantee and the hope that the workers (like them) of the railways work in a healthy and safe workplace environment, free from harassment and bullying, especially if for whistleblowing which is the most feared and most targeted form of harassment.

It is clear what the issues of the strike are...

As reported by WORKERS LIBERTY

The RMT rail union has announced: RMT train operators working out of the Seven Sisters depot, covering the Victoria Line, will be on strike from 21.00 hours Tuesday 21 April to 20.59 hours Wednesday 22 April in a dispute over the failure to install Correct Door Side Enabling Equipment and the continuing bullying, harassment and victimization of RMT members.

RMT members voted overwhelmingly for the 24 hours of action on four key areas of dispute:

  • The failure to install the Correct Door Side Enabling Equipment on the Victoria Line which is operational on all other lines on the Underground.
  • A demand for the reinstatement of sacked train driver Carl Campbell.
  • An end to management misuse of attendance and disciplinary procedures.
  • An end to the victimisation of RMT activist Glenroy Watson

"There can be no excuse for the failure to install Correct Door Side Enabling Equipment. It is operational on all other sections of the Underground and this dangerous penny-pinching on the Victoria Line puts both our members and the general public at risk," RMT general secretary Bob Crow said today.

"There is a culture of bullying and harassment of our members and representatives on the Victoria Line which is reflected in the sacking of Carl Campbell and the continued victimisation of Glenroy Watson and we are determined to put a stop to it.

"RMT remains available for talks and we hope that management will see sense and take the necessary steps to resolve this dispute," Bob Crow said.

Correct reporting in this Article

The entire Victoria line has been suspended as a drivers strike continues to choke the underground.
Nearly 200 tube drivers on London's busiest line walked out at 9pm last night over "safety and harassment" and are not set to return to work until 8.59pm this evening.

Rail and Maritime and Transport described the strike from train operators working out of the Seven Sisters depot, "rock solid".

"Bullying and harassment"

The union have also accused London Underground management of "bullying, harassment and victimization" of a RMT activist and demand the reinstatement of a sacked college.

At the heart of the dispute is the Correct Door Side Enabling Equipment which ensures doors on the right side of the platform are opened and is in operation on all other lines – except the Victoria.

RMT General Secretary Bob Crow accused LU of "penny pinching" that is "puts both our members and the general public at risk."

He added: "There is a culture of bullying and harassment of our members and representatives on the Victoria Line…
"RMT remains available for talks and we hope that management will see sense and take the necessary steps to resolve this dispute."

Also correct reporting from Financial Times

'Union warns of Tube disruption'
London commuters were warned they could face travel trouble today after Victoria line Tube drivers were due to begin a 24-hour strike over passenger door safety and alleged "bullying and victimisation" of union members. The RMT union, which called the strike, said disruption could affect the Piccadilly line. Transport for London said the strike was "completely unnecessary" as London Underground had responded to all of the issues raised.

..then there was this from BBC NEWS

'Tube line stays shut after strike'

Disruption continues for Tube passengers as one of the busiest London Underground lines remains closed following a drivers' strike.
The Victoria Line was suspended from Wednesday morning after a 24-hour walk-out by 180 drivers on Tuesday night.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport union claims trains need safety features to stop doors opening on the wrong side.
Transport for London (TfL) said it expected to resume a normal service on the line on Thursday.
TfL described the strike action as "completely unnecessary".
The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) said the correct door-side enabling equipment had been installed on all other Tube lines.
A statement from TfL said: "Correct side door enabling equipment is in place on the new Victoria Line trains which will come into service in the next year.
"To retrofit the equipment in the existing trains would be hugely expensive and would take longer than the introduction of the new trains."
He added: "This dispute is not about the safety of passengers or staff.
"Safety is our top priority and London Underground has an excellent safety record."

No mention of the toxic work environment, nor any mention of the real issue of concern for drivers who whistleblow.
Amazing, the BBC News also 'selected' a top propaganda quote to highlight in the article ..." Safety is our top priority and London Underground has an excellent safety record " -TfL spokesman. No direct "quotes" from the Union!!!

Is it clear who the BBC is working for?

News Sniffer - Revisionista 'Strike forces Tube line closure' diff viewer ...
This article is from 'bbc', was first published or seen on Wed Apr 22 07:02:11 UTC 2009 and has 8 versions.
CLICK HERE TO SEE THE ENTIRE 8 VERSIONS being slowly censored and any reference to Bullying and Harassment washed out;


'Culture of bullying'

General secretary Bob Crow also accused the management of "a culture of bullying and harassment" of union members on the Victoria Line.

"The rock solid support from our members for [the] strike on the twin issues of safety and bullying should send a clear message to the management that we expect our concerns to be sorted out swiftly," he said.

This confirms that the BBC had stripped ALL references to Bullying and Harassment from the news story!!!! See it for yourself. This is propaganda in action.

22 April 2009

RESEARCH - Norwegian research on bullying at work - Empirical and Theoretical contributions

Associate Professor Ph.d. Ståle Einarsen
Department of Psychosocial Science
University of Bergen


The aim of this paper is to present Norwegian research on bullying at work conducted during the last 10 years. This research has focused on the issues of "who is doing what to whom, where why and with what kinds of consequences". Bullying is defined as a situation where one or more persons persistently over a period of time, perceive themselves to be on the receiving end of negative actions from one or several others in a situation where the one at the receiving end has difficulties defending himself against these actions. According to this definition, at least some 5 % report to be the victims of bullying at work. Large, male dominated organisations seems to be at risk, as do older workers. Men are seen as offenders more often than women. Bullying occurs more often in organisations that are characterized by a negative psychosocial work environment. Bullying seems to have very negative effects on the victim's health and well-being.

Correspondence and request for reprints of the cited studies should be sent to Dr. Ståle Einarsen, Department of Psychosocial Science, University of Bergen, Christiesgate 12, N-5015 Bergen, Norway.


Norwegian research on harassment and bullying at work started in the late 80thies (Kile, 1990; Matthiesen, Raknes & Røkkum, 1989; Einarsen, et al., 1990: Einarsen, 1996; Raknes & Einarsen, 1995) inspired by a long tradition in research on bullying among school children (see Munthe, 1989; Olweus, 1994, for a review). Since the early 1970s, bully/victims problems in schools had received substantially interested both by the public and by researchers. Following the Norwegian Work Environment Act of 1977 which secures the rights of employees to remain mentally healthy during work and which places a high value on the psychological aspects of the work situation, focus was set by media and union-representatives on a seemingly parallel phenomenon in the workplace. A first documentation, using a representative national sample, showed that some 17% had observed others being bullied, or in Norwegian mobbed, at their present work-site. Yet, empirical investigations were few, even internationally (see Brodsky, 1976 for an exception). Although there were some public concern, the issue was still a taboo.

As we saw it when we started out our research program in 1990, the first generation of research on bullying and harassment at work had to be the thorough documentation of the frequency, risk groups, behaviours involved, effects and causes. Descriptive and exploratory studies, using both quantitative and qualitative methods had to be conducted within a vast array of organizations. In short, our research has so far focused on the issues of "who does what to whom, why and with what kinds of consequences". This paper presents an short overview of our findings, based on surveys and interviews among a total of some 8000 Norwegian employees.

What is it?

Building on definitions of bullying in the school yard, we define bullying to occur when someone persistently over a period of time, perceives himself to be on the receiving end of negative actions from one or several others, in a situation where the one at the receiving end has difficulties defending against these actions (Einarsen et al, 1994). Although the concept of bullying, or in Norwegian "mobbing", normally refer to incidents of non-sexual and non-racial harassment, such problems can also be implied in this concept. Bullying refers to all situations where one or more persons feels subjected to negative behaviour from others over a period of time in a situation where the victim for different reasons are unable to defend him/herself. Typically, a victim is constantly teased, badgered and insulted and perceives that he or she has little recourse to retaliate in kind. What is not bulling then, is the everyday struggles and conflicts that are a part of all human interaction. In research among school-children, Olweus (1993) distinguished between "direct bullying" with open verbal or physical attacks on the victim, and "indirect bullying" which takes the form of more subtle acts, as excluding or isolating the victim from his or her peer-group. Among 137 Norwegian victims of bullying at work, social isolation and exclusion, devaluation's of ones work and efforts, and exposure to teasing, insulting remarks and ridicule, were the most commonly negative acts, as reported by the victims (Einarsen et al., 1994).

Bullying seems not to be an either-or phenomenon, but a gradually evolving process. Many victims have difficulties in pinpointing the exact on-set of their problems (Einarsen et al, 1994). Interviewstudies as well as observations made during third parties interventions, indicate that Norwegian bullying cases are often triggered by a work-related conflict (Einarsen et al., 1994). During an escalating conflict a person may acquire a disadvantaged position, and may gradually be the subject of stigmatizing actions by colleagues or shop-floor management. These aggressive behaviours may be quite a number of different activities used with the aim or at least the effect of humiliating, intimidating, frighten or punish the victim. The stigmatizing effects of these activities, and their escalating frequency and intensity, makes the victims constantly less able to cope with his or her daily tasks and the cooperation requirements of the job, thus becoming continually more vulnerable and "a deserving target".

During the early phases of the bullying, the victim are subjected to aggressive behavior that are difficult to pinpoint by being very indirect and discrete (Einarsen et al., 1994; Björkqvist, 1992). Later on more direct aggressive acts appear. The victims are clearly isolated and avoided, humiliated in public by being the laughing-stock of the department and so on. In the end both physical and psychological means of violence may be used. Victims of long lasting harassment are attacked more frequently than victims with a shorter history as victims. In early phases, the victims seems to be attacked only now and then. As the conflict escalates, the frequency of the attacks comes more frequent and more harsh, and after some time the victims are attached on a weekly or even daily basis (Einarsen & Skogstad, 1996).

If continued and escalated, bullying seems to place a stigma on the victim which makes the organization treat the victim as the problem. As long as the victims is recognized as such, most organization will probably take action or the victim will at least experience substantial support from other organization-members. What makes bullying especially difficult to handle is that the victims is not believed and supported when making a complaint. It is typical that upper management, union representatives, or personnel administration accept the prejudices produced by the offenders, thus blaming the victim for its misfortune. Third-parties or managers seldom acknowledges the harm done to the victim as in fact bullying and harassment, but rather a no more than fair treatment of a difficult and neurotic person (Einarsen, et al., 1994; Leymann, 1990; 1996) Expulsion of the victim is therefor common, be it long-term sick-leave, no work provided (but still employed), relocation to degrading tasks or plain notice.

Frequency of bullying in Norway

Einarsen & Skogstad (1996) reports data on the frequency of bullying from 14 different Norwegian "Quality of working life" surveys (n = 7986) including a wide range of organisations and professions like school teachers, university employees, hotel and restaurant workers, clerks, electricians, psychologists, health care workers and industrial workers. The sample consisted of 43.9% men and 55.6% were women, mostly employed in public organizations (85%). On average, 8.6% of the respondents had experienced bullying and harassment at work during the last six months. At least some 4.5% of the respondents were victims of very serious bulling. Many of these victims had been victimized for a long period of time. Mean duration of all reported bullying episodes was reported to be 18 months. Hence, bullying as reported by these victims is not isolated episodes or short conflict intermezzos, but rather ongoing situations where the victims repeatedly experience aggression from others at work.

Organisations with many employees, male-dominated organisations and industrial organisations had the highest prevalence of victimization during the last six months. Older workers had a higher prevalence rate than younger workers. The prevalence rate among those between 51 and 60 years was 10.3%. Even if men and women did not differ in prevalence of bullying, significantly more men were reported as bullies. While 49% were bullied by one or more men, 30% were bullied by female perpetrators. Ninety per cent of all male victims reported men among the bullies, while women were bullied to a larger extent by both men and women. Victims reported superiors as bullies as often as they reported colleagues as tormentors. Twenty per cent of the victims were bullied by both superiors and colleagues.

A closer look at a large (n= 500) almost all-male, industrial organisation showed that a large part (89%) of the work-force had been subjected to some kind of harassment during the last six months(Einarsen & Raknes, 1997). On a weekly basis, 7% of the men reported to be subjected to at least one of the following behaviours from co-workers or supervisors; ridicule and insulting teasing, verbal abuse, rumours and gossips spread about oneself, offending remarks, recurring reminders of blunders, hostility or silence when entering a conversation, or devaluing of one's effort and work. As many as 22% reported to be subjected to one or more of these acts at least once a month. Bullying seemed to be highly embedded in this culture, making it a rather common phenomenon.

Antecedents of bullying at work

Different causal models of bullying and harassment at work can be distinguished. From two decades of research on bullying among school children Olweus (1991 concludes that the typical victim of bullying is more anxious and insecure than other students and often seen as cautious, sensitive and quiet. The victims react with withdrawal when attacked and they have a more negative self-esteem than other students. Bullies, on the other hand, are self-confident, impulsive and do not suffer from lack of self esteem. They do, however, show a general aggressive reaction pattern in many different situations. Victims of bullying and harassment at work have been described as conscientious, literal-minded, and somewhat unsophisticated, being often an overachiever with an unrealistic view of both oneself and ones situation (Brodsky, 1976). In our study among 2200 members of six Norwegian Unions (Einarsen et al, 1994; Einarsen et al, 1996), victims of bullying at work had lower self-esteem and were more anxious in social settings than their non-bullied colleagues. This may make them easy targets of aggression and scapegoating processes and may make them vulnerable when faced with interpersonal aggression and conflicts. However, a victim with low social competence may also elicit aggressive responses in others through his or her behavior. In research among children, a small group of victims were characterized as "provocative" victims (Olweus, 1993) victims were found to be both anxious and aggressive, and were experienced by most other pupils as annoying.

On the other hand, Brodsky (1976) claimed that harassment may in fact be an inherent characteristic and a basic mechanism within all human interaction. A similar view was presented by Thylefors (1987), who regarded bullying as a scapegoating process found in most organisations. However, the causal model of bullying and harassment at work that has received most public attention in Scandinavia, emphasises the quality of the organisations work environment as the main determinant of such misconduct. Norwegian Labour Union officials, as well as governmental campaign agents, have strongly advocated such a situational view of the problem. According to this view, harassment is primarily caused by work environment and social environment problems within the organization. Based on case studies, Leymann (1993) claims that four factors are prominent in eliciting harassment at work: (1) deficiencies in work design, (2) deficiencies in leadership behavior, (3) a socially exposed position of the victim, and (4) a low moral standard in the department.

The work environment hypothesis has been explored in a couple of studies. Einarsen, Raknes & Matthiesen (1994) showed that the occurrence of bullying and harassment correlated significantly with several aspects of the organizational and social work environment, in particular leadership, role conflict and work control. Work environments where bullying exist had employees who reported an elevated level of role conflict and who were dissatisfied with their social climate, their superiors leadership behavior, and the possibility of self monitoring ones work. Both victims of bullying and observers of bullying suffered from an ill-conditioned work environment. Observers of bullying also reported an elevated level of role conflict as well as dissatisfaction with the social climate at work, the leaders of the organization and the possibilities of self monitoring ones work. Work conditions accounted for 10% of the variance in bullying, ranging from 7% to 24% in the different organizational settings investigated (Einarsen, Raknes & Matthiesen, 1994).

In our study among male industrial workers, a strong correlation existed between exposure to harassment and dissatisfaction with work pressure, the social climate at work, the supervisors leadership practice and the lack of stimulating and challenging work (Einarsen & Raknes, 1997). In a Finnish study, Appelberg and associates (1991) found a relationship between work related factors (hectic and monotonous work) and the experience of interpersonal conflicts and problems at work. Although significant relationships existed between bullying and both work-overload and monotonous and low challenging work in our study (Einarsen, Raknes & Matthiesen,1994), it does not seem to be hectic and monotonous work in itself that may cause bullying at work. Rather, the lack of possibilities to monitor and control one's own work, the lack of clear and unconflicting goals, as well as the lack of constructive leadership within this situation, may be even more important. A group of German victims (Zapf, Knorz & Kulla, 1996) reported to have little control over there own time and had high cooperation requirements. A situation where people are forced to work closely together and are highly interdependent, offers more possibilities for conflicts. As a consequence of peoples restricted control over their own time, unresolved conflicts may escalate into harassment, particularly if the work group climate is characterized by "humor going sour" (Brodsky, 1976).

The tension, stress and frustration caused by a job situation characterized by high role conflict, lack of self monitoring possibilities and poor performing supervisors, may in itself be perceived as harassment when attributed to hostile intentions (Brodsky, 1976). Role-conflict and lack of work control may also be related to bullying and harassment through its creation of elevated tension, stress and frustration in the work group. A high degree of ambiguity or incompatible demands and expectations around roles, tasks and responsibilities may have created a high degree of frustration and conflicts within the work group, especially in connection to rights, obligations, privileges and positions. This situation may then act as a precursor of conflict and poor inter-worker relationships. The experience of great work strain is generally found to have a negative impact on a person's relationships with colleagues (French & Caplan, 1972). According to the revised frustration-aggression hypothesis (Berkowitz, 1989), a high-stress work situation may lead to aggressive behavior through the production of negative affect. This implies that harassment and bullying may flourish in ill-conditioned work environments, most probably through environmental effects on aggressive behavior. Alternatively, a social-interaction approach to aggression (Felson, 1992) would argue that stressful events will indirectly affect aggression through its effect on the victim's behavior. Distressed persons may violate expectations, annoy others, perform less competently and even violate social norms describing polite and friendly interactions (Felson, 1992), and hence elicit aggressive behavior in others.

Consequences of workplace bullying

Several studies based on interviews with victims have stressed the serious negative impact bullying may have on both health and well-being. In the study among 500 male industrial workers, a significant negative association was found between exposure to bullying and psychological health and well-being (Einarsen & Raknes, 1997). Exposure to harassment explained 23% of the variance in self-reported psychological health and well-being. The strongest relationship existed between experiences of personal derogation and psychological well-being. In our study among Union members, significant relationships were found between experienced bullying and both psychological, psychosomatic and muscle-skeletal health complaints. The strongest correlation's were found between bullying and psychological complaints where experienced bullying predicted 13% of the variation. A total of 6% of the variation in muscle- skeletal problems could be statistically predicted by the different measurements of exposure to bullying. These findings are very much in line with those of Niedl (1995) and Zapf, Knorz & Kulla (1995). In the latter studies, mental health variables showed highly significant differences between harassed and non-harassed respondents. Zapf and associates (1995) also found that victimization in the form of personal attacks had especially strong correlation's with mental health variables.

The relationships between harassment and health found in the study by Einarsen et al., (1996) were moderated by the victims level of social anxiety and the victim's self-esteem and lack of social support. Victims high on social support at work or off work, are probably less vulnerable when faced with aggression. Social support may also reduce the emotional and physiological activation of the victim, hence reducing the health effects of long term harassment. Personality traits may be positively related to an individual's health by causing the individual to respond to a difficult situation in an optimistic, flexible and enduring manner (Rodin & Salovey, 1989). Victims who are not anxious in social interactions and victims with a positive self image, may cope better than others when faced with interpersonal problems. They may be less vulnerable in such situations and may possess a "hardiness" that prevents further impairment of their health (Kile, 1990). Another way of looking at these results is that bullying causes health problems only if the bullying is intense enough to harm the self-esteem of the victim.

Negative effects of bullying and harassment at work may also be observed on an organizational level. In the study among Norwegian union members, 27% claimed that harassment had influenced negatively on the productivity of their organization (Einarsen, et al., 1994).


The main objective of conducting research on bullying at work must be to contribute to the prevention and constructive management of such problems, and to the healing of individual and organizational wounds resulting from such episodes. To accomplish this, different types of information have to be provided. First we must provide descriptive information on the phenomenon itself, both from a conceptual and an empirical point of view. A review of our findings in this respect has been presented in this paper. Secondly, information on the causes and consequences of the problem is needed, both theoretical and empirical. Descriptive data and personal experiences gathered by both victims and professionals may be helpful in this respect, but are by no means sufficient for the implementations of effective interventions, which may only be accomplished through the development of theoretical and empirically sound models of the causes and effects involved in bullying at work. Although both personality and psychosocial factors at work seems to play a role in bullying at work, the causal links and the relative importance of these factors still need further research. A broad outlook taking into account both personal, situational, contextual and social factors is definitely needed.

The third kind of information needed concerns the actions that may be taken to resolve or prevent the problem. Not all possible causes of bullying and harassment at work may be easily altered. Information is therefore needed regarding possible interventions and actions steps and the cost-benefit of the different strategies. In addition to the causal theories, we need theories of action and empirical data on the effectiveness of these actions. Research conducted by Dan Olweus (1993, 1994) on bullying among children has revealed that personality traits among victims and bullies are highly important causes of victimization in schools. However, the intervention program developed by Olweus (1991) has a strong focus on the school and the classroom as a social system, and involves all children, teachers and parents of the particular school (Olweus, 1991). Although prevention programs and interventions strategies have also been proposed on the issue of bullying at work (Einarsen et al., 1994), these have not yet been based on systematic research and evaluations, and have thus not been presented in this paper. More research is needed on the causes of bullying before such programs can merit a scientific status.


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