Posts Tagged ‘Heinz Leymann’

Workplace Bullying: Dare we call it terror?

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

Posing this question on the internet is risky, certain to draw unsolicited government surveillance attention in paranoid America. You see, terror existed before America’s Sept. 11, 2001. Just ask Britain. We should be able to use the word when it applies to a variety of situations. But after 9-11, the semantic gods yielded control of the term to western governments.

Here is Merriam-Webster’s definition:

noun \ˈter-ər, ˈte-rər\

1:  a state of intense fear
2 a :  one that inspires fear :  scourge b :  a frightening aspect c :  a cause of anxiety :  worry d :  an appalling person or thing; especially :  brat
3:  reign of terror
4:  violent or destructive acts (as bombing) committed by groups in order to intimidate a population or government into granting their demands

Origin of TERROR
Middle English, from Anglo-French terrour, from Latin terror, from terrēre to frighten; akin to Greek trein to be afraid, flee, tremein to tremble First Known Use: 14th century

Thus, a practitioner of terror, the terrorist, is a person who deliberately instills fear and anxiety in others in an intimidating fashion. Isn’t that what a workplace bully does when she or he abuses others? From fear comes paralysis. Shocked and paralyzed targets and witnesses do not respond to aggression with aggression.

Look at the fourth term in the above definition. The goal of intimidation is have “a population or government,” proxies for organizations, grant the bully’s demands. Bullies get their way with their employers. Perpetrators are rarely punished. They abuse others with impunity, rarely facing consequences. American employers do next to nothing to stop bullies while innocent guileless targets lose their jobs, livelihoods and sanity at alarming rates.

Logically, workplace bullies are terrorists within organizations. They are organizational terrorists. Their actions fit the definition. We simply are applying a label appropriately.

Bullying is not simply eye rolling as bully apologists like to characterize it. It is workplace violence, albeit a non-physical form. It is a mistake to underestimate the effects verbal abuse, threats, intimidation, humiliation and domination have on human beings.

History is on our side. The founder of the international movement in Sweden, Heinz Leymann, titled one of his early English-language journal articles — “Mobbing and Psychological Terror at Workplaces.” Of course, he chose the term mobbing to connote the interpersonal destruction of workplace victims by multiple perpetrators. To assess the extent to which a target was harmed, he developed his own instrument, the LIPT, the Leymann Interpersonal Psychological Terrorization scale. Leymann minced no words. He died in 1999 before other nations followed America’s descent into paranoia about terrorism. I wonder how close he was to naming the phenomenon we know today as bullying, terrorization.

When Dr. Ruth and I made the commitment to begin the work which evolved into the Workplace Bullying Institute back in 1996-97, we had a choice of two reasonable terms. Mobbing was the Scandinavian and European term. Workplace Bullying was the British term. We deliberately chose to import “workplace bullying” for a variety of reasons. We originally did discuss “terrorization,” but felt it would be considered too radical to be accepted by American media. A short four years later, Sept 11 happened. The movement would have been stopped in its tracks for adopting anything related to “terror.”

Looking back after more than 17 years, in the spirit of realistically naming the destructive force that workplace bullying is, I now see “terrorization” as an entirely appropriate synonym to add to the list of acceptable terms. Invoking Leymann’s courage to call it what it is, bullying is terrorism.

Which employers will launch a “war” against it within their walls? Call us. We’ll help you do it right.


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Posted in Commentary by G. Namie, The New America, Tutorials About Bullying, WBI Education | 3 Archived Comments | Post A Comment () »

Mobbing or Bullying in the Workplace: Preventable Misery by Any Name

Friday, October 12th, 2012

The founder of the international movement was Heinz Leymann. He dubbed the phenomenon “mobbing.” We imported the British term, “workplace bullying,” which followed Leymann’s work by a few years. The authoritative account of Leymann’s contributions can be found in Ken Westhues’ incomparable mobbing portal website. See his tribute to Leymann.

Westhues writes:

In the workplace, a mob consists of ordinary workers who, after deeming an individual worker a threat, collectively attack the perceived enemy. Like birds, the individual workers harm the target by collective and relentless small jabs. The mob of workers can be understood as an entity in and of itself. Once it is formed, it takes on a life of its own, even when members may question the benefit of continuing to punish the target. As an aggressive force, a mob is very different from the”toxic worker” described in bullying literature. The toxic worker is understood as an aggressive individual who willfully attacks innocent others. By contrast, the mob is a collection of ordinary workers who collectively demonize an individual and destroy him or her.



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Posted in Tutorials About Bullying, WBI Education | 6 Archived Comments | Post A Comment () »

PTSD: A tale of two countries

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder) is a severe consequence for about a third of individuals bullied at work. That is, their coping responses to stress are overwhelmed just as is done to people in war zones or those subjected to personalized assaults akin to rape. For those who suffer PTSD’s symptoms (intrusive thoughts, hypervigilance (including anger), and avoidance of triggering places and situations), the causal connection between bullying and PTSD is clear. Many mental health professionals agree. Heinz Leymann, founder of the international movement, published research documenting the link in the late 1980’s.

Two current stories illustrate the vast gulf between American and Canadian approaches to this mental health dilemma.



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Posted in Bullying-Related Research, Employers Gone Wild: Doing Bad Things | 4 Archived Comments | Post A Comment () »

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