An Introduction to the Psychodynamics of Workplace Bullying

Author(s) : Sheila White

An Introduction to the Psychodynamics of Workplace Bullying

Book Details

  • Publisher : Routledge
  • Published : November 2013
  • Cover : Paperback
  • Pages : 252
  • Category :
    Organisational Psychology
  • Catalogue No : 33530
  • ISBN 13 : 9781780491622
  • ISBN 10 : 178049162X
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This book gives in-depth insights into the core issues of workplace bullying from the perspectives of the individuals involved, their interpersonal relationships, the group dynamics and organisational contexts. Workplace bullying is costly: increasingly petty conflicts are being registered as formal complaints and, in no time, legalities take over and costs spiral out of control. Preventive actions and interventions need to be based on a sound knowledge of the deeper issues which foster bullying scenarios.

This book gets to the roots of why and how bullying occurs. Four main chapters are devoted to individuals, interpersonal relationships, group dynamics, and organisational contexts. The fifth chapter is a case study of the ‘turn round’ of a workplace in which bullying was rife. There are three recurring themes: recognition, loss, and space. New ways of conceptualising bullying are presented from drawing on the literature on the subject, as well as a range of psychodynamics theories. Bullying is described as a perverse and pernicious form of projective identification, occurring around organisational vacuums and structural fractures. Individuals, seeking recognition, get trapped in what the author terms ‘a dance of death’. The group dynamics fragment on the surface but collusions, at unconscious/subconscious levels, create deep impasses. A question and answer section at the end of the chapters, brings together theory and practice. The book is very structured and designed to be used as a text, or hand, book for academics, HR managers, organisational consultants, psychotherapists, counsellors and ‘life coaches’.

Reviews and Endorsements

‘Sheila White has been a pioneer in the recognition, understanding, and management of workplace bullying. Her interest and expertise in this area, covering more than a decade of research, is presented here in a distilled form, accessible to readers from academia to industry. Her primary aim is “to explore the hidden worlds that exist beneath the emotional and unpredictable aspects of workplace bullying”. She does this admirably by not simplifying causes, nor reducing management to name-calling and accusation. Rather, she has managed to use her psychoanalytic insights to explore and understand the manifest behaviours she describes. Chapters cover individual, interpersonal, group, and organisational examples, and are replete with easy-to-follow and instructive examples. This is a long-overdue book.’
— Dr Stanley Gold, past President of the International Society for the Psychoanalytic Study of Organizations (ISPSO)

‘This book offers a long-awaited re-conceptualisation of workplace bullying – different from the general linear view of perpetrator versus innocent bystander. 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. Systemically, it offers insights into the dynamics of both bully and victim and the objects they represent for one another, followed by the accompanying group dynamics and the institutionalisation of bullying in the organisation. Logically structured and clearly written, it facilitates understanding of the psychodynamics and direction for managers, leaders, and HR practitioners to recognise and act on bullying dynamics.’
— Frans Cilliers, DPhil, Professor of Industrial and Organisational Psychology, University of South Africa, psychologist, and organisational consultant

‘As the author herself says, the root causes of workplace bullying are very complex and the impact of this phenomenon deeply affects not only the victim, but also onlookers and the larger systems in which they are imbedded. In this masterful volume, she offers a clear analysis of what lies below the surface of bullying in organisations and provides important guidance in how to cope with such destructive occurrences.’
— Rose Redding Mersky, organisational development consultant, and past President of ISPSO

About the Author(s)

Sheila White is an honorary research fellow at Birkbeck, University of London, and has spent many years carrying out research on workplace bullying. Her background is in teaching and work in the voluntary sector. She is a member of ISPSO (International Society for the Psychoanalytic Study of Organizations), IAWBH (International Association of Workplace Bullying and Harassment), OPUS (an Organisation for Promoting Understanding of Society) and CMI (Chartered Management Institute).

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