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Bully Bosses


Oprah may be able to show bully bosses the error of their ways, but television is way outside the government system. Former Oberlin College president Robert Fuller calls bullying "rankism"" and notes that whistleblowers are the ultimate nobodies, and thus subject to abuse. Blindness by superiors, and the OSC, MSPB and Federal Circuit in the whistlebower context make retaliation and escalation rational. Plus, the psychiatric examination amendment enacted in 1994 gives managers the same right to appeal any order requiring them to get counseling and many would strenuously complain about privacy breaches if their medical/mental health histories were put at issue. Here's a British website about bullybosses.

Remember that our legal system focuses on the case before it, and thus the employee. Another crucial concept here is that forcing anyone into therapy virtually guarantees failure--either the person keeps doing whatever he had been doing in resentment at being pushed, or fakes whatever result the therapist seems to prefer. Neither is real or long lasting. Besides, the maxim of therapy in this day and age is "Look inside" not get distracted by the other person's problems. Gnostic philosphers coined it simply as "know thyself;" and then there's the Christian parable about the very human preference to point out the motes in neighbors' eyes....

Psychological literature disagrees about whether bullies suffer from low self-esteem or an inflated sense of self. The only thing that can be said for sure, is that systems which apologize for bullies by looking at them as having low self esteem often ignore victims, as well as the bully's refusal to take responsibility for his or her actions. The other attitude, trying to take a bully down a notch through punishment often doesn't work, for the bully may take the punishment as a mark of honor, or simply be more cautious in punishing or having others punish the tattletale. Bullies don't act in vacuums--they need supportive audiences, so the system must be examined, not just one individual (victim or perpetrator, or both).


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