Mobbing: Emotional Abuse in the American WorkPlace


Everyday capable, hardworking, committed employees suffer emotional abuse at their workplace. Some flee from jobs they love, forced out by mean-spirited co-workers, subordinates or superiors -- often with the tacit approval of higher management. The book deals with what has become a household word in Europe: Mobbing. Mobbing is a "ganging up" by several individuals, to force someone out of the workplace through rumor, innuendo, intimidation, discrediting, and particularly, humiliation. Mobbing is a serious form ...
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Everyday capable, hardworking, committed employees suffer emotional abuse at their workplace. Some flee from jobs they love, forced out by mean-spirited co-workers, subordinates or superiors -- often with the tacit approval of higher management. The book deals with what has become a household word in Europe: Mobbing. Mobbing is a "ganging up" by several individuals, to force someone out of the workplace through rumor, innuendo, intimidation, discrediting, and particularly, humiliation. Mobbing is a serious form of nonsexual, nonracial harassment. It has been legally described as status-blind harassment. Mobbing affects the mental and physical health of victims to a great extent - sometimes to the point of suicide. It extracts staggering costs from victims, their families, and from organizations.

With this new book, Mobbing: Emotional Abuse in the American Workplace, there is a name for the problem and help for the victims. The book helps readers to understand what mobbing is, why it occurs, how it affects a victim and organizations, and what people can so. The authors have interviewed victims from across the U.S. and the book contains many quotes that poignantly illustrate the gravity of the mobbing experience. An overview of the literature and research is provided as well as many practical strategies to help the victims, managers, healthcare and legal professionals. Original drawings by Sabra Vidali express the depth of the experience and enhance the authors' work.

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What People Are Saying

Heinz Leymann
This is an important book. It sheds light on great suffering and proposes ideas to reduce this suffering.
— Dr. Heinz Leymann, the Swedish-German researcher who named "mobbing" and brought it to the attention of the European community in the Foreword of this book
Daniel Maguire
Until evil is named, it cannot be addressed. This book names "mobbing," a common and bloodless form of workplace mayhem, and proceeds with brilliance to show its roots and possible cures.
— Daniel Maguire, Professor of Ethics, Marquette University, Author of Ethics for a Small Planet
Kenneth Westhues
This book is a safety manual for avoiding the most terrifying kind of workplace injury. The advice given here is clear, practical, and sound. Its foundation in empirical research is firm. I recommend this book to every employee and manager in America.
—Dr. Kenneth Westhues, Professor of Sociology, University of Waterloo, Canada
Nicole Rafter
This is the first U.S. book on mobbing, a widespread and serious form of workplace victimization. We are in the authors' debt for bringing mobbing to the attention of the American public and recommending ways to halt it.
— Dr. Nicole Rafter, Professor in Northeastern University's Law, Policy, and Society Program
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780967180304
  • Publisher: Civil Society Pub
  • Publication date: 5/1/2002
  • Pages: 213
  • Product dimensions: 5.58 (w) x 8.44 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Joan began having episodes of uncontrollable crying, and for the first time in her life, had anti-anxiety medication prescribed by her physician. A seasoned administrator, she had for months been forced to make decisions without complete information. Her decisions were then questioned or overturned. She was also forced to attend meetings where she was totally ignored. Unrealistic deadlines and a dramatically increased workload overwhelmed her. Furthermore, others in the organization undermined her authority. She resigned with a negotiated settlement. Sean, an experienced tradesman in a service organization, was excluded from meetings and cut off from information necessary to perform his job effectively. He was subjected to constant insults and his work was belittled. He was also forced to perform hazardous tasks without assistance, while supervisors or others watched. Soon after, he suffered a heart attack while on the job. Considered recovered, he returned to his job. He was fired soon after. He filed for unemployment compensation which was denied, appealed and finally granted. With more than 30 years of experience in management, Ron was a successful project leader in a high-tech company. A major project brought almost to fruition, Ron was suddenly relieved of his staff and responsibilities. His new supervisor began to assume full credit for his work. Isolated at a small desk, Ron no longer was included in any meetings or discussions, even though he knew more about the project than anyone else. After a few months, he was found wandering the streets. Blood was streaming down his face--he had just walked into a wall. Weeks later, he suffered a heart attack as he walked back to his desk. Following by-pass surgery, he went on disability and was unable ever to return to work. Like Ron, Jean, and Sean, every year, millions of Americans become victims of emotional abuse inflicted at work. They are damaged to such an extent that they can no longer accomplish their tasks. Co-workers, colleagues, superiors and subordinates attack their dignity, integrity and competence, repeatedly, over a number of weeks, months, or years. At the end, they resign--voluntarily or involuntarily--are terminated, or forced into early retirement. This is mobbing--workplace expulsion through emotional abuse. Ironically and sadly, the victims are portrayed as the ones at fault, as the ones who brought about their own downfalls. Mind you, Ron, Jean and Sean, were not people who had a reputation of not performing well, not meeting organizational standards, or who could not get along with others. They were qualified. They had contributed their talents to the organization. They had been in the organization for a number of years.

How, you might ask, when there seem to be more structures and laws designed to protect workers than ever before, is this particular workplace behavior--mobbing--allowed to exist? There are three reasons. One is that mobbing behaviors are ignored, tolerated, misinterpreted or actually instigated by the company or the organization's management as a deliberate strategy. The second reason is that this behavior has not yet been identified as a workplace behavior clearly different from sexual harassment or discrimination. Thirdly, more often than not, the victims are worn down, feel destroyed and exhausted. They feel incapable of defending themselves, let alone initiating legal action. From Chapter 1: Mobbing is an emotional assault. It begins when an individual becomes the target of disrespectful and harmful behavior. Through innuendo, rumors, and public discrediting, a hostile environment is created in which one individual gathers others to willingly, or unwillingly, participate in continuous malevolent actions to force a person out of the workplace. These actions escalate into abusive and terrorizing behavior. The victim feels increasingly helpless when the organization does not put a stop to the behavior or may even plan or condone it. As a result, the individual experiences increasing distress, illness, and social misery. Frequently, productivity is affected, and victims begin to use sick leave to try to recover from the daily pressures and torment. Depression or accidents may occur. Resignation, termination, or early retirement--the negotiated voluntary or involuntary expulsion from the workplace--follows.

For the victim, death--through illness or suicide--may be the final chapter in the mobbing story. For the organization, mobbing is like cancer. Beginning with one malignant cell, it can spread quickly, destroying vital elements of the organization. Remedial action must be taken at an early stage. Mobbing is aggression against anyone--rather than specific discrimination against someone based on age, gender, race, creed, nationality, disability or pregnancy--using harassing, abusive and often terrorizing behaviors. Mobbing is done intentionally to force the person out of the workplace. Two different types of such malevolent conduct can be identified: Active aggression and passive aggression. These tactics vary according to the subtlety of the aggressor. Passive aggressives are a special problem, since they can wrap their malevolence in acts of occasional kindness and politeness.

The psychological consequences of mobbing should be termed an injury not an illness, thus attributing the cause of the suffering to the persons who intentionally inflicted the harm.

Dr. Heinz Leymann identified 45 mobbing behaviors and grouped them in five different categories, depending on the nature of the behavior. Not all of these will happen in every case.

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    This is a must for Human rights, civil rights advocates

    Mobbing is a hot topic. This text is a great foundation for the newcomer. Its plain, easy to read, and the testimonies are just breathtaking. Kudos to all the authors for putting together such a great resource.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2009

    VERY informative.

    I was unemployed for close to a year and a half when I started working at a local hospital. During the first four months, I was accused of threatening someone that I didn't know and then was unknowingly used to help get another person fired for something he/she didn't do. A doctor at the hospital gave me the name of this book to read. I tend to be a people-watcher and stay to myself. During and after I read this book everything that happened became all too clear. This book described everything that had happened in detail from beginning to end. I would recommend "Mobbing" to ANYONE who has a feeling that he/she is being "setup" or used in some form for the benefit of someone else with an enormous amount of ambition or jealousy or very few skills useful for whatever the job may be. The authors of this book state that "higher education and healthcare have a high prevalence of mobbing" sometimes with a supervisors knowledge. I can definitely say that I see some form of this going on in the hospital I work in. This book should be used by any businesses human resources office.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2008

    Those who should help you are worst than the bully!

    If I was to write a book to help people understand what I am and have been going through for the past 5-7 years... MOBBING is the book. Why don't I JUST QUIT? Friends, therapysts, family, coworkers, etc., question. This book helps explain to those who care, what 'the situation at work' has done to destroy me. I am no longer the person I was. I am broken. I keep saying, 'They've killed me from the inside out, crippled my heart and mind.' How do you move on when you've been destroyed inside? I have nothing left to give and no more ambition. How can I hope that somehow there will be pressure to remove the condoning and ignoring of the hostile work environment? I'm not crazy just because I was victemized by a bully at work...but it's convenient for the company and others untouched to shrug off the issues as the problem of a woman who just needs to 'GET THICKER SKIN'. Some even find it amusing, and poke the sick at me to see what they can get me to do in my cage of powerless isolation. Must I have thicker skin than my peers? Are they saying for me to just get used to being the 'bloody chicken' of the company, as have many others who stay, or have left by one means or another? Well I am dying inside, and it's ruining my life. The negativity associated with the false accusations I've suffered, and the public tears I've shed pleading for help have made me the clown. All stemming from one incident that was anything but handled properly by management. The situation and what it has done to me inside, and to make my body ill on the outside has totally isolated me from everyone. Even my loved ones. It overshadows all conversations when my name comes up, and though I am known to have a kind, hardworking, humble, friendly, honest, cup-half-full, approachable attitude after 7 years of working there, I have NO friends. NO BODY. My hopes and prayers are that through this experience, and strengthening myself with the knowledge provided in books like MOBBING, I can help someone else survive. I would like to see this be a consciousness revolution, as awareness of this nightmare may make it shameful for some to realize they are perpetrators. The working world, workers, managers, ceo's, etc., can be productive and prosperous if more people let this book, MOBBING, become knowledge that leads us to a positive change. Please read this book and be healthy, wealthy & wise.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2008

    emotional abuse / psychological harassment

    Before my experience of becoming a victim of 'mobbing', I had never heard of this word. I've had to deal with a bully or two in the past, and the usual work pressures caused by demanding bosses and strict deadlines. But nothing prepared me for the experience of being mobbed. This book was a great resource for myself, though it made me sad that some friends and relatives couldn't believe such a thing could occur. It really changed my view of people. Of course, I could tell some of the participants would have caused me grief whether or not the mobbing environment existed. And it was easy to see that others were less enthusiastic about the mobbing and just did it to 'fit in' to avoid becoming victims themselves. Since managers were involved in my situation, the only recourse I had was to quit for the sake of my health. This book is written very clearly and will help you understand your situation, and the best way to respond. But after quitting, I then became a victim of 'gang stalking', which has many similarities to mobbing, but takes place in the community. I first encountered the word 'gang stalking' during my research on 'mobbing', and it sounded quite preposterous to be honest. However, now that it is happening to me, I'm finding that it isn't such a new phenomenon either. An example is the FBI's COINTELPRO (Counter Intelligence Program). I keep asking myself 'Why Me?. Its not like I'm a radical trying to bring down the government. I'm sure the number of people that experience 'mobbing' is going to outnumber the number of people who ever experience 'gang stalking', but please believe that this is a reality in modern day America. So much for the 8th amendment about 'cruel & unusual' punishments. But the goals and methods are similar: to Discredit & Destroy people without a trace of evidence and to blame the victim. If you are in a mobbing situation, this book is well worth the money.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2002

    Name it and you can tame it

    I'm a personal and professional development coach and have heard far too many clients talk about this phenomenon, though together we had to grope for words to describe it. Now it has a name, and as the ethics professor says on the cover, that's the first step toward eradicating it. It's almost as hard to watch as it is to endure. It's considered a tort, and it should be. I was also glad to read that if the victim seeks therapy, it should be called an injury, not an illness. 'Badgering,' 'hounding.' and 'pecking' are all things that animals do. Read this book, which will probably resonate for you, unfortunately. It may bring you a lot of relief to know you weren't alone.

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