Mobbing and its psychiatric implications

Written by: Dr. Sergio Oliveros Calvo
Edited by: Top Doctors®

What is mobbing and what end does it pursue?

The verb mob in English means "the harassment of the rabble". It was coined by Konrad Lorenz in studies of animal behavior when one group of animals harassed another, of the same species or of another species and is the term that was already adopted in the United States in the late 1970s to refer to workplace harassment. The end that mobbing pursues is an irrational end. Mobbing is the discharge of an aggressive impulse, usually from a person of superior rank to one of lower rank with the purpose of destroying it, simply the object of destroying it. The motivations that this person may have, this superior over their employee may be diverse as well. It may be a superior, usually mediocre, narcissistic structure that fears that the employee may shade him, which can replace him at any given time. Or it may be a psychopathic profile that enjoys the pain of others and the humiliation of the employee.


As potential victims, can we prevent or prevent it?

The only way to prevent it would be to restructure the work environments in order to prevent that from happening. Unfortunately that is impossible, it is not contemplated in the business schools, nor in the administrations, nor anywhere. Therefore, what we must always do is to detect it in time to avoid that the damages derived from the mobbing are already serious or irreversible. The way to prevent, reduce that damage, which we would say in tertiary prevention medicine, would then be directed to the identification of the first symptoms, which may be adaptive and milder symptoms, anxiety, depression, insomnia, etc.. Because it already gives rise to more serious symptoms, with irritability, can develop alcoholism, can develop isolation, even family, deterioration of social relations and ultimately can cause casualties or even as occurred in the French company France Telecom, suicide that affected seventy subjects between the years 2008 and 2010. In this company for example an institutional intervention was made, the president was dismissed and that substantially reduced the suicide rate.


What is therapy? What is the main objective?

The treatment of harassment in patients affected by workplace harassment is directed essentially to the treatment of symptoms. Within the symptoms we will have anxious, depressive symptoms, we can also have symptoms of burn out, burnout, the patient has exhausted its mechanisms of adaptation and in the psychotherapeutic plane we will have to mainly affect in returning to the patient his capacity of reaction. Occupational harassment usually leads patients to a feeling of total helplessness, whatever they do they will always get the same aggression with which they understand that they have no defense capacity. When we have a stress factor, normally, as shown in the chart, we have an initial adaptation through the catecholamines, then there is a longer phase through the cortisol and then collapse. In that collapse it is precisely where we have to act psychotherapeutically.


Is it advisable to stay away from harassment?

In medicine the first measure is to limit the exposure of the patient to the agent that is causing the disease. Obviously, therefore, the first therapeutic measure in workplace harassment is to limit patient exposure to workplace harassment, to work. Therefore in a situation of work is when it should be treated. Normally it is also advisable to initiate legal proceedings against workplace harassment insofar as it is already covered by the penal code and redirects its employment orientation in another direction or the harasser is removed from his job.


*Translated with Google translator. We apologize for any imperfection

By Dr. Sergio Oliveros Calvo

Dr. Sergio Oliveros Calvo is a psychiatrist specialized in psychotherapy oriented to the psychology of the self, with special dedication to personality disorders and somatization disorders; offers a complete and integrated vision of mental illness thanks to its solid training in psychiatry and psychotherapy, and its more than 25 years of clinical and research experience. He has done part of his training in the United States and directed numerous scientific investigations. His knowledge and professional trajectory have enabled him to be a teacher in numerous centers, both in Spain and in the United States.

*Translated with Google translator. We apologize for any imperfection

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