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This article is about mobbing in humans. for the article about mobbing in animals see: Mobbing behavior Mobbing is a modern term for systematic bullying, harassment, or psychological terror, especially in schools and workplaces, whereby one person is "ganged up" on and stigmatized by peers and/or superiors for reasons that are not genuinely or justifiably known to most of those who are mobbing the victim. This lack of understanding on the part of the harassed people, those who are faced with the inflicted aggressions is often even greater. Mobbing can be compared to bullying at the workplace. Mobbing denotes, however, more specifically a "ganging up" by co-workers, subordinates or superiors, to force someone out of the workplace through rumor, innuendo, intimidation, discrediting, isolation, and particularly, humiliation. Mobbing is a serious form of nonsexual, nonracial harassment. Legally it has been described as a status-blind harassment.

Mobbing affects the mental and physical health of victims to a great extent. It extracts staggering emotional and economic costs from victims, their families, their organizations, and society.

Traits which often lead to mobbing include those of atypical people, over-qualified or burdensome people, those who resist formatting (too honest, too scrupulous, too dynamic people), those who made misalliances or do not rally to the good network - isolated employees stand for perfect targets; generally disunity is organized for those who are well liked or have allies, protected employees, less “effective” people, temporarily weakened people, etc. There are other predictive factors, certain people will be less protected: those with a negative regard of oneself, people very invested in their job, sensitive people, precarious workers i.e. low status employees who may be dependent on the good will of others for their jobs.

Study after study in psychology proves that people draw a perverse strength from the group and will do in a group what they would never do alone. Normal moral behavior--even decent behavior--is discarded (similar to a gang rape). The manager whose employees decide to drive him out, the competent but beautiful new receptionist who's pulled down by jealous co-workers, the manager who becomes threatened by the talents of an employee. When done by peers, subordinates and superiors, the goal is to force someone out using gossip, ostracism, intimidation, discreditation, humiliation, and just plain meanness. The blame is projected on the victim, who, 'gas lighted,' becomes confused, has trouble perceiving correctly (that people could really do this), and accepts that he or she is incompetent, to blame, etc.

Research into the phenomenon was pioneered in the 1980s by German-born Swedish scientist Heinz Leymann, who borrowed the term from animal behavior due to it describing perfectly how a group can attack an individual based only the negative covert communications from the group.

A longer-established technical use of mobbing is in the study of animal behaviour, especially in ornithology, where it refers to the behaviour of birds harassing something that represents a threat to them.

Mobbing in human society

Mobbing is typically found in work environments that have poorly organized production and/or working methods and incapable or inattentive management. According to [1], mobbing victims are usually "exceptional individuals who demonstrated intelligence, competence, creativity, integrity, accomplishment and dedication".

Mobbing is also found in our school systems and this too was discovered by Dr. Heinz Leymann. Although he preferred the term bullying in the context of school children, some have come to regard mobbing as a form of group bullying. It is interesting to note that a German born doctor practicing in Sweden chose the English term "Mobbing" to describe this social phenomenon. As professor and practicing psychologist, Dr. Leymann also noted one of the side-effects of Mobbing is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and is frequently misdiagnosed. After making this discovery he successfully treated thousands of mobbing victims at his clinic in Sweden.

Mobbing is also a serious criminal offence in Scotland, relating to public order.


[1] Noa Davenport et al. (1999). Mobbing: Emotional Abuse in the American Workplace. .

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