Bullying: "many against one"

Several figurines surround another (Hofschlaeger/pixelio.de)
"Several against one"- the phenomenon of bullying (Hofschlaeger/pixelio.de)

If a person is being bullied, this can result in extreme cases of severe depression. However, there are solutions. An introduction by expert Dr. Eva-Maria Groh.

All though the term "bullying" has become more and more present, there is no general definition yet. The term was originally introduced by Konrad Lorenz, who used it to describe the behaviour of animals in situations when several animals attacked another. However, this behaviour is usually a form of defence; while in humans, it is more of an offensive.

Typical bullying places: work place and school

As later it became clear that phenomenon "many against one" also occurs in humans, the term was gaining ground in modern social or psychological research. The main places where mobbing is discussed is the workplace or when children and adolescents are affected by it at school.

Generally speaking, the term "bullying" means that several people take action against one other person – for example, they discriminate, harass or defame the other person. If you want to use the controversial polarisation of offender and victim, there are usually one or more offenders and one victim - what of course can vary.

Gaining ground: cyber bullying

In very simple terms: the question arises "when a colleague harasses me and everyone else in the team just watches ... how many have really been bullying me?" Additionally, the so-called "cyber bullying" (bullying over the internet) is more and more increasing; here social networks like Facebook can turn into dangerous ground for children and young people.

According to a bullying report by the German Federal Government, bullying often takes place between colleagues or peers; however, in almost 50 percent of the cases, supervisors are also involved. It is believed that the phenomenon of bullying is not only favoured by the personality of the “victim” but rather by organisation-related factors.

Excessive demand or overwhelming at the workplace for example can lead to stress what can turn into bullying. But it is important that victims do not fall into believing that they themselves and their personality is solely responsible for bullying.

Portrait picture of Groh (Photo: Dr. Eva-Maria Groh)
Bullying may cause the loss of working capacity explains the psychologist (Photo: Dr. Eva-Maria Groh)

Professional help in extreme cases

The most serious negative consequences of bullying may include the loss of work capacity and mental health as well as a general reduction in joy and satisfaction of the bullied person. Sometimes it can even go so far that the victim must or want to seek professional help because they are overwhelmed by the bullying experience.

It is important not to forget that these developments can be prevented and that there are many proven treatment programs and methods to help victims.

Competence to say NO

One for example could be a social skills training included in a behavioural therapy. With such trainings, you learn how to set bounds, to say no as well as to affront others and push through your own interests.

Central note is that in the case of bullying, no-one must stay the "victim" but by his/her own effort, the situation can change. Here, an experienced psychotherapist could provide comprehensive support.

Harassment contact officers in the company

There are a number of initiatives that have committed to the fight against bullying. The MyHandicap forum can also be a first contact for affected people.

Text: Dr. Eva-Maria Groh - 02/2012

Photos: pixelio.de / Dr. Eva-Maria Groh