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Mobbing: psychological harassment at work

Mobbing: psychological harassment at work

January 23, 2023

The "mobbing "Or occupational psychological harassment it is a situation that occurs in the workplace, in which an individual or several, exercise psychological violence systematically and repeatedly (at least once a week) on another individual or individuals, for a prolonged period of time (at least 6 months).

This causes the communication networks and the reputation of the victim to be destroyed, and causes the disturbance of the exercise of their work and their demotivation at work.

Mobbing: psychological harassment at work

Mobbing actors can be co-workers, superiors or subordinates, and this behavior can affect workers of any type of organization, including small and medium-sized companies.


The characteristics of mobbing

The methodology used by the actors responsible for mobbing in the company can be varied. For example, the spreading of rumors to favor the marginalization of the victim (even outside of work) and to make life difficult within the organization; or bullying and humiliation in front of other employees. Whatever the behavior that takes place, the result is psychological and emotional damage to the victim.

Victims are often the most creative, ethical and competent people in the workplace. These individuals suffer mobbing because the harasser may consider them a threat to their own position within the company. Supervisors can also be victims of mobbing. In these cases, the subordinates act together to undermine him. Women, younger workers and those with more longevity have a high risk of mobbing. Mobbing is growing in sectors such as services, health and education.


The psychological impact on the victims of mobbing

Mobbing can have a devastating effect on the morale and performance of victims, and causes intense discomfort. Below are the consequences of mobbing for those who suffer:

  • Impairment of self-esteem and self-confidence, both personally and at work
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Insomnia
  • Hypervigilance
  • Fatigue
  • Personality changes
  • Difficulties of concentration irritability
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Memories and recurring dreams of traumatic events
  • Feeling of reliving the traumatic experience, hallucinations, flashbacks ...
  • Intense discomfort when starting a new job
  • Reduction of interest in daily, social or leisure activities
  • Sense of detachment from others and restriction of emotions and emotional life
  • Pessimism
  • Feelings of failure and frustration

Physical impact on victims of workplace harassment

Mobbing does not include collective physical harassment of the worker who is the victim. Instead, it focuses on disturbing your inner life. But The emotional toll is so great that it can have physical consequences, because it can cause stress , and therefore its physical symptoms. For example, headaches, gastrointestinal problems, hypertension, etc.


What to do in case of suffering mobbing?

In case of suffering mobbing it is essential to take action as soon as possible , because the psychological damage can be increased as time goes by. Since mobbing is a phenomenon that takes place within the company, it is important to report if the harasser continues to insist on causing harm. In case of suffering mobbing is necessary not only is it necessary to have legal support, but also psychological.

First and foremost, it is necessary communicate to the occupational risk prevention department or to the superior so that he has knowledge of the case. If you are being harassed, this should be your first move.

Due to the complexity of these events, support can be requested from trade union organizations, the Health and Safety Committee of the company, and the situation can be reported to the Labor Inspectorate as a preliminary step to the prosecution of the case.

Once these routes are exhausted, and if mobbing continues to exist, then it will be necessary to denounce . It is important to be clear that it is difficult to gather evidence for different reasons (there is no physical evidence, there is no written evidence or the partners do not commit themselves for fear of reprisals), but the complaint of harassment is proven through any of the means admitted. by law, be it confession, documents, witnesses, experts, etc. Therefore, it will be necessary to gather documents, medical reports and seek witnesses.

Psychological support in cases of mobbing

Due to the psychological and emotional damage suffered by the victim, in many cases it is necessary to go to a psychologist to recover the well-being . Not any professional is accredited to carry out this problem, because it is necessary to go to a professional specialized in psychological and occupational health problems (not a doctor). That is, the symptoms should not be treated only (such as acting on anxiety or depression), but the phenomenon should be understood in its entirety.

It is usual that in this type of cases there is a misdiagnosis and they end up using incorrect treatment strategies (for example, only treating stress or anxiety with drugs). This usually happens when you go to the family doctor instead of an expert psychologist. Unfortunately, this is more common than people think.


Mobbing/psychological harassment in the workplace ❖ Stéphanie TIGG (January 2023).


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