The Mobbing Encyclopaedia
Information about Psychoterror in the Workplace
Frequently Asked Questions
© Heinz Leymann - File 00005e
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- What is meant by "mobbingÒ or "bullyingÒ?
These words refer to a situation in which one or more people (employees)
at the workplace show hostile behavior toward (1) most often, only one
employee (2) very often and (3) over a very long period of time (months
or years), thereby victimizing him or her. More information can be found
under Mobbing definition.
- What is the difference between a conflict and mobbing/bullying?
One difference is that a conflict occurs between equally strong people.
In a mobbing/bullying situation, the hostility is directed by one or more
strong people towards a weaker individual who has become the underdog.
This person is further weakened because of the immense pressure caused
by the frequency and the duration of the attacks. More information can
be found under Mobbing definition.
- What happens when a person is mobbed/bullied? The attacks
aim at destroying or sabotaging the mobbed person´s reputation, disturbing
or destroying communication to or from the mobbed person; or, manipulating
his or her work performance or work assignments. More information can be
found under Mobbing Activities.
- Do the mobber´s or victim´s personality traits play
a part? No personality traits shared by victims have thus far been
detected in research. The causes of mobbing are to be found in the social
structures and power structures that are dominant in the workplace organization.
More information can be found under Personality Theories.
- Why, then, does it happen? In analyses of mobbing/bullying
cases, research thus far has always detected serious organizational problems.
Organizational disorder and poor management automatically cause conflicts.
Some of these conflicts exaggerate opposing views (most often because of
a power struggle), and end up by designating a scapegoat or "loserÒ.
If this is allowed to continue with any frequency or over a longer period
of time, a mobbing/bullying situation will take root. More information
can be found under Mobbing Causes.
- Why don´t people leave the workplace and take other employments?
People actually do move to other workplaces. Nevertheless, this
is difficult or almost impossible for certain employees because of difficulties
in the labor market. Sometimes no other employer can be found and individuals
are forced to remain where they are. In quite a few cases, the individual
chooses unemployment rather than remaining in a mobbing/bullying situation,
andthereby ruins his or her own social and financial situation. More information
can be found under Mobbing - The Legal Situation.
- Is mobbing a problem between people or is it a management problem?
Of course, this is a communicative problem between people. However, the
fact that employees can´t act freely as if they where members of
a club must be taken into consideration. The organization in which individuals
are employed affords them, by definition, minimal possibilities of controlling
their own situations in every respect. It is the manager´s job to
keep order in the organization and to ensure efficient and orderly production.
Management always bears the responsibility if mobbing/bullying is not stopped.
More information can be found under Mobbing Negotiations.
- Is this a new problem in society or has it always existed?
This problem between people has always existed in different societies.
Thanks to the work of Professor Heinz Leymann and his associates, light
has been shed on the problem, and for the first time, a detailed analysis
has been presented. More information can be found under The Autencity
of Mobbing Research.
- Why, then, has the problem been discovered so late and just recently?
In an advanced industrial society, all disturbances in production and administration
are very costly. On the other hand, advanced societies have to provide
their citizens with greater security and health care in order to maintain
the so-called industrial culture. At the same time, citizens demand more
security and integrity (as stated in these societies´ constitutions).
Societies gain prosperity by maintaining law and order and arranging for
codes in order to further enhance prosperity (Harlem, New York, will never
be a place in which an economy can grow). In order to focus on this goal,
it is easy to forget other values such as the psychosocial climate in a
company. Stigmatization of the mobbed person (that is, arguing that only
certain individuals will get mobbed) is often a last resort when the company
doesn´t want to be bothered. This process of producing fog instead
of insight also creates difficulties for the researcher. More information
can be found under Research backgrounds
and also Stigmatization.
- Can a person become ill as a consequence of mobbed/bullied?
Yes he or she can. Quite frequently, victims develop serious anxiety, as
well as posttraumatic stress disorder, a condition that must be treated.
More information can be found under The onset of
- What is the cost to the victim? In the end, the cost
to the victim may be enormous: his career may be destroyed as well as his
social and financial situation, along with his health. More information
can be found under The onset of PTSD.
- What is the cost to the employer? Mobbing is very costly.
The employer pays, at least for a certain period of time, full salary to
a victim who no longer is able to perform very well. Mobbing also destroys
the psychosocial work environment and its psychological climate, infecting
the morale of other personnel badly as well. More information can be found
under The employer´s costs.
- Does society also have to pay? Yes. Society has to take
over the costs of a sick person by paying insurance and health care, etc.
More information can be found under Society´s costs.
- Can anything be done about it? Certainly. Correcting
the situation is actually quite easy once an employer decides to do something
about it. Different measures can be employed to achieve different objectives.
More information can be found under Measures.
- Can the victim recover from the illness caused by mobbing/bullying?
Yes, but it requires special treatment programs. More information can be
found under Treatment.
- How frequent is this problem in society? It is very frequent.
The only representative study in the world so far (in Sweden), where a
randomly chosen group, representing the entire Swedish work force, were
interviewed, showed substantial figures: 3.5% of the work force found themselves
mobbed/bullied situation (154.000 of 4,4 million), with an average duration
per case of 15 months (!). Assuming that the individual´s average
length of time in the labor market is about 30 years, the risk of being
subjected to this devastating treatment for at least a period of 6 months
during their careers is 1:4 for young people entering the labor market.
Approximately 10% to 20% of these will eventually suffer from severe PTSD-problems.
More information can be found under Epidemiology.
- Why is mobbing so widespread in organizations? In almost
every organization, stress is endemic. As a consequence, organizations
lose the organizational correctness that allows employees are less able
to perform their work assignments as well as before. Management, supervisors
and the work force experience more and more frustration. People who are
frustrated tend to come into conflict with each other. Hostility can mount
towards a single person over a longer period of time, bringing about a
mobbing situation. More information can be found under Mobbing
- Why are several words used for the same thing, such as mobbing,
bullying etc.? The reason is that different research groups during
their first years chose different names for their subject of study. More
information can be found under Terminology.
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