The Mobbing Encyclopaedia
Personality as a diagnostic feature
© Heinz Leymann - file 32170e
A very important notion derived from the manuals on psychiatric diagnoses.
It concerns whether the mobbed individual´s personality is of any
One quite often hears the theory that a harassed person´s "pre-morbid
personality" should be blamed as the social factor that triggers for
mobbing situations. This notion is also very widely spread amongst professionals.
But until today, empirical research on adult mobbing, which began in 1982,
has not been able to relate the cause of a mobbing process to the victim's
personality. Not even similar research concerning child mobbing in schools
(e. g. Olweus, 1993) has shown any such
The ICD-10 and the DSM-II-R state that PTSD in its chronic phase can
result in a permanent personality change. Especially the WHO manual
ICD-10 (1992) describes typical symptoms found in individuals suffering
from chronic PTSD (ICD-code F 62.0). This change, according to my
clinical observations, seems to result in one of two predominating anxiety
effects (in rare cases in both), either a serious depression or a serious
obsession. We have seen individuals with both symptoms, mainly individuals
who, after several years of trying to protect themselves, are still suffering
from lengthy and daily victimization at work.
In my clinical work I have, therefore, modified and broadened the description
of the ICD-10 symptoms. In the following list of symptoms, I have marked,
with an asterisk (*), the symptoms originally stated in ICD-10. Since obsession
as the main characteristic is always accompanied by a certain depressiveness
and vice versa, the following symptoms may be found in many patients. These,
then, are the symptoms of permanent personality change. The grouping
into three sections mirrors my clinical experiences and are not to be found
in the original ICD-10 descriptions:
Permanent personality change mainly with obsession predominating
1. A hostile and suspicious attitude toward the surroundings.*
2. A chronic feeling of nervousness that one is in constant danger.*
3. Compulsory fixation on one's own fate to a degree that exceeds the limit of
tolerance of people in one´s surroundings, leading to isolation and loneliness.
4. Hypersensitivity with respect to injustices and a constant identification with the
suffering of others in an almost compulsory manner.
Permanent personality change mainly with depression predominating
5. A feeling of emptiness and hopelessness.*
6. A chronic inability to experience joy from ordinary events in everyday life.
7. A constant risk of drug or psychopharmaceuticals abuse.
Permanent personality change with additional symptoms that indicate that the patient has resigned himself or herself to the situation
8. The individual isolates him- or herself. *
9. The person no longer feels that he or she is part of society (alienating effect).*
10. The person shows a cynical attitude towards the world.
Obviously, it is no longer possible to evaluate the victim's original personality during a chronic PTSD phase. What can be diagnosed is the destruction of the personality. Since PTSD-injured individuals show the same syndrome and thereby the same behavior and symptom mix (namely the syndrome which is called chronic PTSD), it is common that professionals who are not trained to diagnose PTSD falsely assume that it is a certain type of personality that is affected by difficulties following violent events, mobbing, being taken hostage, rape, catastrophe, etc.
Reactive depression: A state of sadness, lack of initiative, low energy, low self-esteem.
Reactive obsession: Persistent, repetitive and intrusive thoughts, great energy to follow
goals to the "bitter end" (with other words: the contrary