As my articles have shown, I have for some time been interested in people who are seen as different, outcasts and marginalized. That goes for all kinds of “outsiders” in our society. In my articles I will also mention depression. There are people who feel themselves being put on exception, bullied and discriminated by people at our workplaces and in the established society. Without a doubt, these feelings of worthlessness often lead to depression and these experiences are very much real, where this exclusion of a person is even more emphasized with the help of mental as well as physical violence. I will deal with this later on in my article series. In my article I will also highlight the article series on Adult Bullying, written by journalist Maciej Zaremba.
– Guess what!
– (The manager) called me the other day and offered me a job as an assistant in her company for homecare for elderly!
– Who is (the manager)?
– My former boss, the manager at (the company.) You remember her, she accused me for doing a bad job and that I made several elderly to leave our services to go to another homecare provider. She also told me back then, that I was a lousy employee!
– Huh? Is she still a manager at (the company?)
– No, she left just after me, she also got tired of everything that happened there. Now she is a manager for a private homecare provider and she has obviously saved my telephone number. She must have forgotten our discussions we had one and a half years ago.
– So, what happened? What did you say to her?
– Well, as I felt my anxiety coming back, I told her the truth, that I was “long-term sick due to the severe depression and anxiety disorder I got from (the company) while you were there, unfortunately I can not accept your offer.” But I was kind to her and then I said; “thank you for calling!”
– Good on ya! That was a good answer, bloody oath, mate!
Continue reading my following articles, to know what this is all about.
More on the Outcasts – A Society Divided
Throughout my articles, I have asked many questions, maybe not always to get answers in all respects. There are probably no single answers because we are all different, equipped with different traits and conditions of life. Our view of fellow humans are directed by many factors. People can sometimes put themselves in difficult situations, while the larger part of people, all too many, have become vulnerable to outside influences of other fellow humans. It is this last category of people who have come to interest me. What is it that determines our worldview? What determines our view of our fellow humans? This time I want to ponder over the causes and effects for people facing bullying and victimization and how it manifests itself.
What I have tried to highlight in my articles are precisely these mechanisms that create victims and perpetrators in the community, what are these mechanisms and what are their origin? Man is a fragile and yet a very strong individual equipped with characteristics and traits that determine who we are and will be as unique individuals. Factors that play a major role in this development are for example genetics, biology, heredity and environment, upbringing, culture, traditions, politics, religious faith etc. It is difficult, if not impossible, to just pick out one parameter explaining that this is what determines our personality, weaknesses and strengths. We are way too complex individuals for this to be done!
This diversity that it means to be a unique individual can sometimes lead to difficulties in this interaction when people meet in various situations such as workplaces, schools, churches, supermarkets, the subway and other social environments. In this meeting, culture, ethnicity, sexuality or social status can erect barriers instead of opening gates. That is what I also want to highlight in my article series. Different circumstances create situations in which some of us are being ostracized, segregated and victimized and this will further on lead to stigmatization.
Let me give you some examples. It is in the same way as when they far back in history marked thieves and other criminals in society with a mark burned into their skin, just like the branding of cattles.
The word for brand, Trade Mark – ™ – and branding is derived from the old Norse (Scandinavian) word “brandr” in the sense of branding or marking up the cattle to accurately show who owns the animals. It is a sort of a sign of ownership.
Another example from history; a woman who had made an abortion, separated from her husband or having an affair with another man, she immediately became stigmatized and seen as a member of the outcast by society for the rest of her life, reinforced by the mark on her skin. Yet another example; the numeric combination that prisoners in Nazi concentration camps had tattooed on their arms is another example of a marking, a sign that wanted to show that this person had been selected as being a deviation from the standards because of different types of characteristics that for some reason were not accepted.
This image can also be transferred to our modern society. Here a brand gets a metaphorical meaning used on people who are labelled as being deviant. Here is where psychology comes in, a person being a victim of abuse, becomes stigmatized and for ever marked through bullying, discrimination and offensive responses as the perpetrator has put his discriminatory marks on that person. These marks or signs can not be seen with our physical eyes, but they are still there! Today, we are talking about people with “social stigma” because of a disparaging view on fellow humans, which have turned some people in society into misfits. They have even been called “White trash,” a rather new type of branding in today’s language. There are many other brands and labels we put to people, because of characteristics that we do not always agree with. These are people regarded as odd characters that have not been “adapted” into the heteronormativity in society. The consequences of this abusive treatment can produce severe psychological problems in people who constantly feel like outsiders, put on waivers and being bullied.
Etymology of the term stigma/stigmatization
To be stigmatized, is to be branded, or marked with a sign. But here is something interesting. A phenomenon I read about many years ago, happened in a Catholic monastery in Italy. The hands of a statue of Mary, the mother of Jesus, began to bleed. There was a big commotion and people from around the world flocked to the monastery.
On another occasion, I read about a young Catholic woman who also had bleeding hands, just as the wounds must have occurred on Jesus when he was nailed to the cross by the Roman soldiers! I believe the article (in Italian) said that the woman was stigmatized by the wounds of the Lord. So here we got the etymological meaning of the term “stigmatized,” a brand, a mark.
THE BULLIES AND THE JUSTICE
I read an article in the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter a couple of years ago, which was about bullying among grown up people. Bullying is usually something we associate with schools and kids, but it happens just as often in workplaces; that is adult bullying.
The article, published 2010-05-30, which was the first part of a whole series of articles, was written by the highly acclaimed Maciej Zaremba during the summer of 2010. I recognized myself in these stories. I have also been bullied, ridiculed, and backstabbed at my last job and in different situations in life. More on that later in my series.
Here is a recap from the first article in the series “Mobbarna och rättvisan” (“The Bullies and the justice”):
“What happens when employees at Swedish workshops and clinics seek psychiatry with the same symptoms as war victims?…”
“…In his acclaimed stories, Maciej Zaremba is looking at adult bullying, the hidden shame in Swedish working life.”
“The room is locked from the outside. The man is sitting easily tipped forward on the couch. When he is not keeping his arms around his body, he pinches the hands between his knees. He apologizes for his unclear speech: “My tongue swells due to the medicin. Simvastatin, Brufen, Ziprexa, Xanal, and Zopi… something, it is to make me sleep.” I see the small tremors. I have seen it before with a refugee from Mostar. He dreamed of his torturers at night, although it was several years ago. Also, Safet, the man in the locked room is haunted by dreams of his tormentor. “The terrible, smiling face…”
Safet’s diagnosis is “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” (PTSD) but he has not been involved in any wars. He did not survive a natural disaster or the attack on the World Trade Center. He gets psychological care because of the horrific experiences of bullying, harassments and other cruel experiences at a mechanics workshop in a Swedish town. This is the reality of everyday life for many people in our country. The situation may be the same everywhere as it seems to be universal, where companies only think of profits and savings of costs at the expense of personal safety and security. Victimization of people is a bad one. This is a game of death!
Additional articles about adult bullying by Maciej Zaremba
”Säg inget vänligt till mig”
Do not say anything friendly to me
“Kerstin and Carina are two Swedish women who have been deprived of faith in their fellow humans. It happened at work. What happens when ordinary employees seek psychiatric care with the same symptoms as war victims? And who will pay? Maciej Zaremba’s reports about adult bullying at Swedish workplaces continues.”
Fritt fram i Sverige. Men brottsligt i Frankrike
Freely in Sweden. But a crime in France
“Where do all these bullies come from? Maciej Zaremba is seeking response in France where harassment at work is regarded as violent crime and can lead to imprisonment.
”De skiter i vilket” – Så sviker vi de mobbade
They do not care whatever – Here is how we are betraying the bullied
Adult bullying at Swedish workplaces cost society huge sums each year, but is invisible in the statistics. In many cases, the legal system has completely failed. Why? In the fourth part of his series of articles Maciej Zaremba shows how authorities are hiding a gigantic social problem.
”Värst för dig själv” – Vår heder har inget pris
“Worst for yourself” – Our honor has no price
– It may be worse for you if you report to the police.” That is how it may sound in Morocco when a woman wants to report a rape. Likewise it sounds from the Swedish Work Environment Authority when a bullied wants to report a work injury. Today Maciej Zaremba ends his noted coverage on adult bullying, as denied in Sweden as well as that of domestic violence in Muslim countries.
The article series was published as a pocket book in 2010.
Mobbarna och Rättvisan. ©Maciej Zaremba and Dagens Nyheter, 2010.
Biography Maciej Zaremba
Maciej Zaremba has worked on Dagens Nyheter since 1989, where he has written countless number of articles in topics such as the labour movement, forced sterilizations, Eugenics, anti-Semitism, Swedish criminal law, protectionism, xenophobia, immigration and refugees, bullying, the Swedish school and more. He has also written the article series “Waiting for Sweden,” “Colony Kosovo” and “First offended wins.”
He has written numerous bibliographies on various topics, and been honored several Awards in Journalism; among others the Journalism Award in the category of Narrator of the Year in 2006. In 2012 he was decorated with the Officer’s Cross of the Republic of Poland’s Order of Merit. Maciej Zaremba is born in 1951 in Poznań, Poland, and fled the anti-Semitism and came to Sweden 1969.
MY OWN THERAPIES
For many years I have suffered from depression because of the difficult conditions that prevailed in my previous workplace; stress, overtime, harassments, discomfort and difficulties in the group to cooperate. I suffered nervous breakdowns which have caused severe anxiety attacks and a deep depression until today. That is coming up next! Just to give you a hint of my next article, let me give you the remember-list that I wrote after doing a lot of my own “therapies” last year. Here is my list:
First some woolly things:
– I have tried to do many things to get better. Listening to positive and catchy music to boost my self-asteem, affirmations, positive thinking, Mindfulness©, mirror exercises where I admire my reflection pondering my inner beauty!
– Meditation techniques, TM™, reiki, yoga, breathing and relaxing exercises, keeping a diary with a compilation of exercises that I have done and long walks.
And then some social stuff:
– I have been surrounded by friends to socializing and to break my isolation, a coffee down town, going to the movie theatre, restaurants, exhibitions, joining a club.
Then some action plans:
– I have made an Activity Plan with a Satisfaction Scale resp. a Performance Scale, where I every day and every hour mapped with grades, how great a satisfaction that an activity has given me and how I experienced this activity (easy going or hard and tuff). It has not generated good results!
Followed by some science:
– Once a month, I have done either of the self-tests QIDS-SR, Goldberg Depression Test, MADR-S and the HAD-Scale.
And some dietary things:
– Changes in eating habits; less meat, more salmon and other fish, more vegetables, no sweet, alcohol intake nonexistent (zilch), tobacco use greatly reduced (just a half a pack/day).
– Daily supplement of 13 vitamins and 9 minerals (all B-vitamins).
Here is what I wrote in my notes last year:
The results from my self-tests showed an excessive weight on Depression, which may indicate that I might be depressed, but I hope that a doctor can decide for that, because I am still waiting for a diagnosis. I have tried everything, it was incredibly unsuccessful! I do not believe that depression has anything to do with behavior or changing my thoughts. It does not work for me. By the way, aren’t there any pills or therapy for this kind of problems, and where is my doctor?”
I gave my nurse this list so he could see that I have been working very hard on myself.
Note: My nurse got the list when I visited him in November 22, 2011. After additional visits in early spring 2012, I finally received my diagnosis, depression, as my nurse continually has discussed my case with a doctor. At last! Why did it take such a long time? I have not a clue!
Next on The Meadow of Tzedaqyal: Part 2, My own story of Victimization.
© 2012 Jonathan Axelsson
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