Workplace Violence and Bullying at Work

Workplace Violence and Bullying at Work Overview

In Scandinavia, the symptoms experienced by those who had suffered bullying were recognized as resembling the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). British research also recognized that prolonged exposure to small traumatic events could lead to PTSD. However, they preferred to use the term Prolonged Duress Stress Disorder (PDSD) to distinguish prolonged work related stress from one traumatic event.

In a 1999 study in Norway, the symptoms of victims of bullying were compared with victims of well-known disasters. It was found that more than three in four victims of bullying qualified to be diagnosed with PTSD. (Rayner, et al., 2002).

Other researchers suggest that is still too premature to determine if victims of bullying are really suffering from PTSD. (Mikkelsen & Einarsen, 2002).

A person’s work is often incorporated into their self-image and their self-worth. Experiencing bullying at work may therefore shatter someone’s image of themselves, as their significance in the workplace is put into question. Leymann identified what he called “secondary bullying” when colleagues or friends question the target’s honesty in reporting bullying. He compares it to that of rape victims whose intentions are questioned.

Victims of bullying may therefore exaggerate their contributions or efforts at work in order to hold on to their faltering self-esteem. Some victims of bullying may ultimately commit suicide. Research in Norway indicates that 40 percent of highly bullied victims have considered taking their life.

Because people rarely commit suicide for one single reason the relationship to workplace bullying is not clear. Worth mentioning is that suicide has not only been linked to victims of bullying but also to the bully. (Rayner, et al., 2002).


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