how to recognize and manage it and the health consequences

Nearly one and a half million workers in Italy are victims of mobbing every year. What are the typical attitudes and how to recognize them, we asked the psychiatrist Antonio Vento.

Interview with Professor Antonio Vento

Psychiatrist, founder of the National Mobbing Observatory

Anxiety, low self-esteem, migraines, indigestion, depression, relationship difficulties, are all symptoms common to victims of mobbing. The English term that we use today in the world of work, to define a certain type of behavior, was in fact used for the first time in the animal world by the ethologist Konrad Lorenz to designate violent behavior between individuals of same species in order to exclude a member of the group. It was a few years later that the German psychologist Heinz Leymann used the same term to define a series of aggressive and frequent behaviors towards a worker carried out by the employer, superiors or colleagues. “Today we know that harassment is a widespread phenomenon that can occur in any workplace, whether public or private, by colleagues (in this case we are talking about horizontal harassment) or managers or superiors (vertical intimidation). Especially in this second case, when there is the intervention of bosses who aim to dismiss an employee, we speak of ‘Bossing'”. Professor Antonio Vento, psychiatrist and founder of the National Mobbing Observatory, explains to

How to recognize bullying

Although the term has now become mainstream and it seems easy to define bullying, understanding when you suffer from it can be a longer and more complex process than you think. “As Leimann said, it is a situation in which there is persistence towards a person through a series of acts and behaviors. In particular persecutory attitudes, characterized by psychological violence – Vento explains – But it’s all happening in a very slow, subtle, even subtle way.” Occupational medicine has also highlighted certain typical phases of harassment, such as behaviors that tend to physically isolate the worker (for example, transfer to another place or deprivation of equipment such as computers and telephones) or behaviors that affect the worker’s relations within the company. such as the spreading of rumors or the exclusion of significant moments such as meetings or refresher courses, or even behavior ridiculing the worker, which damages his reputation, finally we speak of moral harassment when the victim is entrusted with humiliating or degrading tasks or that you are not recognized vacation or leave periods. “The characteristic of harassment, however, is also its continuity, at least six months”. According to the latest surveys, harassment is rather democratic from a gender perspective. “It is aimed at women in 52% of cases and at men in 48%. Until a few years ago, we had almost five hundred thousand cases a year of harassment against women on maternity leave: four out of ten women are forced to quit because of oppressive or discriminatory behaviour. This is a phenomenon that occurs mainly in the north. The most serious thing is that it is more difficult for them to file a complaint”.

Mobbing and health

Voluntarily stopping going to the office, feeling like you can’t quit work because it’s necessary to live, but knowing you’re in an unhealthy environment, where you suffer all kinds of oppression, is bad for you. health. “We are talking about somatization. The anxiety that one feels at the idea of ​​going to work is somatized in conversion symptoms such as headaches, intestinal disorders, depression, insomnia. One of the worst effects of bullying is the loss of self-esteem: “We become unable to find a solution, we no longer believe in our abilities, we feel humiliated.

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What to do in case of mobbing

When you realize you’re going through mobbing it is very important to contact an expert. “A presidium, an association, someone who deals with the subject of harassment and who can help us”. Dealing with this malaise caused by all the persecutory attitudes suffered will not be easy and the support of the family may be necessary above all. “The family members will have to show a lot of patience and attention, be particularly understanding and try to ease the feeling of frustration that grips the victim. In some cases, it may also be necessary to consult a doctor “. Very often, a consequence of bullying is the victim’s request for transfer. “In this case, work becomes a drug, it serves to slowly regain confidence, self-esteem and to metabolize the past”.

The information provided on is designed complement, not replace, the relationship between a patient and his doctor.

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