Psychological Harassment in the Workplace

Psychological harassment in the workplace implies manipulative actions by the perpetrator to cause stress through excessive use of fear & control to wear out the victim and induce inability to function leading to withdrawal from work and being deprived of the means for the victim's sustenance. As an invisible attack it is a potent mental weapon that affects the psyche and harms the body from sleep and food deprivation and total disorientation causing health disorders and even brain dysfunction.

The objective

The usual objective of such psychological harassment is usually exercising mental control to compel the victim to act according to the offender's purpose over the victim's own capacity to emote, reason and act according to his own wish and thinking, thus virtually enslaving the sufferer. It can be for a specific time & objective after which, through a process called gas-lighting, the feeding of false information to the victim to make it appear that what was happening all the while was not real, making the victim doubt his or her own memory, sanity and perception - the perpetrator withdraws his offense.

In this kind of harassment, unlike others, sometimes even a single instance of such mental domination can constitute legal cause of action because this kind of harassment can cause permanent harm and disability to the victim.

The identification of offenses

· Vexatious behavior directed at the victim to reduce or remove self-esteem and ability to continue to work.
· Repetitive and unwarranted abuse in private and before colleagues.
· Humiliating commands & hostile gestures meant to frighten the victim to submission without the ability for refusal.
· Raising demands affecting the victim's dignity or integrity.

In one form for another, domination in organizational hierarchies are universal where seniors in authority cause some amount of mental pressure to be exerted upon juniors for extracting maximum outputs for corporate gain. But that is not in the realm of psychological harassment because the obvious objective is not for personal gain. It is only when there is incidence of harassment of a recurring character for a personal agenda that such behavior becomes malafide.

Employer's obligations

In small businesses the employer is supposed to provide a psychologically stress-free environment but cannot guarantee the same. However he is obliged to prevent any situation of psychological harassment arising among his employees through reasonable means and ensure that in such an event he will intervene and stop such incidents as soon as he is made aware. In large organizations the company may be held responsible for the harmful behavior of any of its employees and adoption of suitable management practices that prevent psychological harassment are mandatory. The company therefore informs all personnel of its commitment to prevent and stop all psychological harassment at work.


However, if it is the small business owner himself or the corporate management itself, who is the source of the harassment, seek outside help, or another employer.

Stephen Hamond has been associated with the for the past few years. He has authored a number of articles on psychological harassment, workplace harassment and other harassment resources. He is an expert in the field of human rights harassment.