In-depth information on bullying in the workplace

Getting to root causes of workplace bullying - why and how bullies bully - is key to prevention and effective action.

Why and how do bullies bully? Very simply - some individuals, when very anxious, defend against their anxieties by excessively spliting 'their worlds' into 'good' and 'bad'. They want to keep feelings of 'goodness' for themselves  but project their feelings of 'badness' outwards. They test boundaries of others to find a 'container' for their unwanted and unacknowledged aspects of themselves. When projections (and perceptions) become fixed, the bullying begins in earnest.

Whether a target becomes a victim (a container) depends on his/her inner resilience, ability to set boundaries, and gain support from e.g. colleagues, HR staff, EAPs, counsellors and family and friends.

But bullying isn't just about individuals. It arises out of organisational systems such as cultures e.g. poor communication and structures, g out of group behaviour, and from interpersonal relationships too.

In the workplace, and elsewhere in schools, homes, and society, unrealistic expectations, vacuums of support, inconsistencies between resources and demands, lack of trust, insecurity, envy, and shame etc  - all generate the potential for bullying.

Further information can be found in 'An introduction to the psychodynamics of workplace bullying' by Sheila White .

This text book, for academics, and handbook, for HR managers, has three aims - to explore the hidden worlds of bullying, to give new ways of conceptualising bullying and to bridge theory and practice.


' A clear analysis of what lies below the surface of bullying in organisations' 'Important guidance on how to cope with such destructive occurrences' Rose Mersky, organisational development consultant, Germany.

'A model of clarity of style, purpose and accessible organisational material' Richard Morgan Jones, Organisational consultant, UK.

'A long awaited reconceptualisation of workplace bullying'. 'It takes the reader on a fascinating journey beneath the surface, discovering the unconscious developmental phases in the relationship between bully and victim with its complex psychic dynamics' Frans Cilliers, Professor of Industrial and Organisational Psychology, University of South Africa.