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Effects of Stress

Mental Illness vs. Psychiatric Injury

Differences Between Paranoia and Hypervigilance

Differences Between Mental Illness and Psychiatric Injury


The Effects of Stress on Targets of Bullying and Mobbing Can Result in Permanent Damage

stress releif training software and meditation.

One of the early researchers of workplace mobbing, Prof. Heinz Leymann, said, "The mobbed employee who has become our patient suffers from a traumatic environment: psychiatric, social insurance office, personnel department, managers, co-workers, labor unions, doctors in general practice, company health care, etc., can, if events progress unfavorably, produce worse and worse traumata.

Thus, our patients, like raped women, find themselves under a continuing threat. As long as the perpetrator is free, the woman can be attacked again. As long as the mobbed individual does not receive effective support, he or she can be torn to pieces again at any time.

Torn out of their social network, the majority of
mobbing victims face the threat of early retirement,
with permanent psychological damage.

Thus, these individuals find themselves in a prolonged stress - and in a prolonged trauma-creating situation. Instead of a short, acute (and normal!) PTSD reaction that can subside after several days or weeks, theirs is constantly renewed: new traumata and new sources of anxiety arise in a constant stream during which time the individual experiences rights violations that further undermine his or her self-confidence and psychological health. The unwieldy social situation for these individuals consists not only of severe psychological trauma but of an extremely prolonged stress condition that seriously threatens the individual's socio-economic existence. Torn out of their social network, the majority of mobbing victims face the threat of early retirement, with permanent psychological damage."

As the effects of stress and the relentless abuse takes its toll bullies will be quick to point out changes in the targets behavior.

Anxiety, stress, depression, sleep deprivation and PTSD can overwhelm anyone, especially if they are subjected to this treatment for long periods of time. In some of the worst cases of mobbing this torment has gone on for years. It is not surprising that many of these cases end tragically in suicide or in workplace violence and homicide.

However, long before it reaches that stage bullies claim that their victims are mentally ill. When targets come forward with complaints of abuse they are branded as "paranoid" by the bullies and often by those in authority as well.

The effects of stress caused by the bullying or mobbing are used against the target to further victimize them and characterize them as mentally ill. Using emotional buzz words such as "paranoid" is designed to cast aspersions on the mental health of the victim. It is a way of silencing them by having whatever they say dismissed as "paranoid" ravings. Once bullies can convince others that the target is mentally ill, nothing the target says is taken seriously.

The target of bullying may even wonder themselves if they are going insane. Nothing about mobbing makes sense.

The person who is being bullied will eventually say something like "I think I'm being paranoid..."; however they are correctly identifying hypervigilance, a symptom of PTSD, but using the popular but misunderstood word paranoia. The differences between hypervigilance and paranoia make a good starting point for identifying the differences between mental illness and psychiatric injury.

Differences Between Paranioa and Hypervigilance:



paranoia is a form of mental illness; the cause is thought to be internal, eg a minor variation in the balance of brain chemistry is a response to an external event (violence, accident, disaster, violation, intrusion, bullying, etc) and therefore an injury
paranoia tends to endure and to not get better of its own accord wears off (gets better), albeit slowly, when the person is out of and away from the situation which was the cause
the paranoiac will not admit to feeling paranoid, as they cannot see their paranoia the hypervigilant person is acutely aware of their hypervigilance, and will easily articulate their fear, albeit using the incorrect but popularised word "paranoia"
sometimes responds to drug treatment drugs are not viewed favourably by hypervigilant people, except in extreme circumstances, and then only briefly; often drugs have no effect, or can make things worse, sometimes interfering with the body's own healing process
the paranoiac often has delusions of grandeur; the delusional aspects of paranoia feature in other forms of mental illness, such as schizophrenia the hypervigilant person often has a diminished sense of self-worth, sometimes dramatically so
the paranoiac is convinced of their self-importance the hypervigilant person is often convinced of their worthlessness and will often deny their value to others
paranoia is often seen in conjunction with other symptoms of mental illness, but not in conjunction with symptoms of PTSD hypervigilance is seen in conjunction with other symptoms of PTSD, but not in conjunction with symptoms of mental illness
the paranoiac is convinced of their plausibility the hypervigilant person is aware of how implausible their experience sounds and often doesn't want to believe it themselves (disbelief and denial)
the paranoiac feels persecuted by a person or persons unknown (eg "they're out to get me") the hypervigilant person is hypersensitized but is often aware of the inappropriateness of their heightened sensitivity, and can identify the person responsible for their psychiatric injury
sense of persecution heightened sense of vulnerability to victimisation
the sense of persecution felt by the paranoiac is a delusion, for usually no-one is out to get them the hypervigilant person's sense of threat is well-founded, for the serial bully is out to get rid of them and has often coerced others into assisting, eg through mobbing; the hypervigilant person often cannot (and refuses to) see that the serial bully is doing everything possible to get rid of them
the paranoiac is on constant alert because they know someone is out to get them the hypervigilant person is on alert in case there is danger
the paranoiac is certain of their belief and their behaviour and expects others to share that certainty the hypervigilant person cannot bring themselves to believe that the bully cannot and will not see the effect their behaviour is having; they cling naively to the mistaken belief that the bully will recognise their wrongdoing and apologise


Differences Between Mental Illness and Psychiatric Injury:

Mental illness

Psychiatric injury

the cause often cannot be identified the cause is easily identifiable and verifiable, but denied by those who are accountable
the person may be incoherent or what they say doesn't make sense the person is often articulate but prevented from articulation by being traumatised
the person may appear to be obsessed the person is obsessive, especially in relation to identifying the cause of their injury and both dealing with the cause and effecting their recovery
the person is oblivious to their behaviour and the effect it has on others the person is in a state of acute self-awareness and aware of their state, but often unable to explain it
the depression is a clinical or endogenous depression the depression is reactive; the chemistry is different to endogenous depression
there may be a history of depression in the family there is very often no history of depression in the individual or their family
the person has usually exhibited mental health problems before often there is no history of mental health problems
may respond inappropriately to the needs and concerns of others responds empathically to the needs and concerns of others, despite their own injury
displays a certitude about themselves, their circumstances and their actions is often highly sceptical about their condition and circumstances and is in a state of disbelief and bewilderment which they will easily and often articulate ("I can't believe this is happening to me" and "Why me?"
may suffer a persecution complex may experience an unusually heightened sense of vulnerability to possible victimisation (ie hypervigilance)
suicidal thoughts are the result of despair, dejection and hopelessness suicidal thoughts are often a logical and carefully thought-out solution or conclusion
exhibits despair is driven by the anger of injustice
often doesn't look forward to each new day looks forward to each new day as an opportunity to fight for justice
is often ready to give in or admit defeat refuses to be beaten, refuses to give up

This information was compiled and used with permission.
Special thanks to Tim Field - Bully OnLine.



See Also:

Exercise and Stress: Is Stress Ruining Your Health?

Hypnosis for Stress and Anxiety: Can Hypnosis Help You Cope?

Stress Relief Toys, Games and Products: Regain Your Calm

How to Stop Panic and Anxiety Attacks

Stress Affect
A complete stress management guide on how stress affects your health, wellbeing & performance. Don’t eliminate stress – learn about it & use its energy to create your ideal life.


Return from Effects of Stress to Stress Management

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