These have been translated from the original Swedish by Sue Baxter. They will be available to purchase in English from Edwin Mellen Press in mid 2009.

Original edition
Leymann, Heinz (1986).  Vuxenmobbing – om psykiskt vald I arbetslivet. Stockholm: Studentlitterateur.

Adult Mobbing: on Mental Violence in Working Life

Let us agree to refrain from using the term mobbing. We're talking about mental violence. We're talking about emotional rape. Let's call things by their rightful name.

— Leymann, Adult Mobbing: on Mental Violence in Working Life

This is one of Leymann’s first publications. In it, he describes the results of some of his first research explorations into the areas of mobbing and mental violence in working life. This book is a great place to start to learn about mobbing, as it answers some of the most basic questions.

First of all, what is mobbing? Leymann discusses his first few research projects on workplace mobbing and gives a definition of what the term actually means. He emphasizes that, if anything good is to come from his research, mobbing must be clearly defined and the differences between it and similar negative phenomena (for example: racism, gender inequality, etc) should be very cautiously observed.

Next, how do people mob someone else? Leymann describes the first interviews he conducted with professionals who had come into contact with someone who was mobbed (for example: psychiatrists, personnel consultants, union representatives). He created a typology of mobbing behaviors, and divided these into five categories based on their effect on the victim. (They either affected the victim’s ability to communicate, social contacts, reputation, work situation or physical health).

What kinds of situations are conducive to mental violence? Leymann identified five different types of mobbing situations and he details each with case examples: mobbing by co-workers, mobbing by subordinates, mobbing by superiors, the famous cases in which the victim supposedly acts like a dogmatist, and those due to systematic oppression.

How do victims cope? What happens if they can’t cope? Leymann reviews some of the classical literature on coping mechanisms and behavior. He also discusses cases where the victim is driven to such extremes can cope no longer and develop mental illness. These cases tend to be the worse off as mobbers will use this mental instability to their own advantage to eliminate the person once and for all from the labor market. One man Leymann describes in vivid detail, Torsten, wound up in a mental asylum.

Lastly, what can be done? The book finishes positively, as Leymann suggests some practical strategies that victims of mobbing, their friends, family and work leaders can use to help combat the effects of mental violence.

Original edition
Leymann, Heinz (1988). Ingen annan utvag. Stockholm: Wahlström & Widstrand.

No Other Way Out

Sometimes I preferably want to disappear from everything…I try to think to myself "Ingrid, don't bother with them, manage your part and ignore the others," but we all have a need to be liked…Is life worth living under such trying conditions? I can no longer see more through my tears.

The hate just grows and grows. See it as a big mountain that I have to go through. Good God help me. Give me strength to endure.

Excerpt from Ingrid’s diary, No Other Way Out, pg 30

This book is unique in that it gives a first-hand glimpse into the horrors of mobbing.  It presents the actual diary of a woman, simply called Ingrid, who was mobbed at work.  Her diary traces her story in gruesome detail – from the initial conflict, through six years of progressively worse and worse mental trauma. She is harassed, neglected and abused at work. Being referred to a psychiatrist, she is diagnosed with severe depression and is given medication. She contracts insomnia, and has troubles concentrating. She is repeatedly sick-listed. In her diary, she laments feeling “just like air” at work and can’t stop herself from crying. Eventually, her problems are so bad that she can no longer see any other way out but to take her own life.

What happens when a human being is mobbed?  Leymann uses Ingrid’s story as an example to outline the pattern of mental violence and exclusion that he sees as being universal in all cases of workplace mobbing. Mental violence, he argues, does not happen randomly. Poor work organization, an inability to straighten out conflicts and administrative obscurities all contribute to making the workplace prone to these types of situations. He outlines the pattern that is used to exclude someone from work, and the types of exclusion methods that are common. He then discusses how these could be prevented, and gives some practical suggestions for mediation of workplace conflicts. His purpose in doing this is clear: “the most respect we can show Ingrid and all the other people who have been driven to the utmost would be to change our common life environment so that no human being will ever again need to experience life as a single, lengthy torment.” (Leymann, No Other Way Out, page 94)

Original edition
Leymann, Heinz (1989). När livet slårtill. Lund: Natur och Kultur.

When Life Strikes

Victimology is an area of research that is interwoven in political bias. I am of the opinion that it is not possible to study within this field without being conscious of this, and without an honest will to ridicule it.

Leymann, When Life Strikes

What is it like to be a victim of a violent crime – to be raped, tortured or held hostage? For how long after the crime does the victim suffer? And why do some react more strongly than others? This book deals with victimology, the area of research that attempts to answer some of these questions. It offers a comprehensive review of the circumstances surrounding a victim situation – from the key event to the social aftermath for the victim – and criticizes the current psychological theories which still dominant the scientific thought behind this research.

In his introduction, Leymann calls the current victimology research both “surprising” and “troubling.” He criticizes a number of weaknesses within the field. Firstly, since the study of victimology encompasses research from a number of different areas (cognitive psychology, psychiatry, psychoanalysis, and many others) and none of the researchers involved have “read each other’s work” (Leymann, When Life Strikes), there is no unity within the field. The procedures used to survey victim situations are “primitive” (Leymann, When Life Strikes), and the number of myths and propaganda that is allowed to develop around victims is shocking. Much of the book is devoted to critically analyzing these weaknesses. He examines a number of different victim situations – from rape to robbery to brainwash – and argues that the theories used to explain these are either totally ungrounded, or based on outdated concepts.

Leymann also argues that the aftermath of what he calls the key event in a victim situation (the immediate incident — a robbery, etc) can be far more mentally destructive for the victim than the actual violent crime itself. Society has a number of threat indoctrinations, stereotypes of how the victim is meant to feel and behave, which can be harmful to anyone who deviates from the expected pattern. The automatic consequential events – the reactions of the victim’s friends, family, co-workers, employer and local media – spring from these threat indoctrinations and make the victim feel even worse. Leymann finishes by analyzing the current methods used to treat victims of violent crimes, and suggesting some better alternatives.

Original edition:
Leymann, Heinz (1992).
ån mobbning til utslagning i arbetslivet. Stockholm: Publica.

From Mobbing to Eliminiation in Working Life

No answer came. Hadn’t I been clear enough? I wrote another letter. They must understand that I feel rotten by what they have done to me! After all, it can’t be their intention to humiliate me in this way, can it?

Excerpt from Hans, one of the mobbing cases described in From Mobbing to Elimination in Working Life, pg 59

Published quite late in his career, From Mobbing to Elimination in Working Life is considered to be one of Heinz Leymann’s most complete and thoughtful analyzes of the process and consequences of adult mobbing in the workplace.

Most of Leymann’s other publications analyze mobbing from the perspective of the mobbed individual alone. The social anamneses given in Suicide Factory are an example of this. This method has its benefits (among other things, it gives a clear picture of how the course of events unfolds and the immediate effects of this on the victim), but it does not analyze the situation in full from the perspectives of everyone involved. For this book, Leymann analyzed data from several different sources: descriptions of cases from his own work as a mediator, the victims’ writings, articles written by journalists, and documents provided by the social insurance office and Labor Court. From these, he created an inventory list of all the offences and legal infringements commonly committed in mobbing situations, outlining exactly how all the various parties involved – employers, unions, co-workers and other authorities – are at fault. He then illustrates these with several case examples. The benefit of this is clear: we see both the individual actions of everyone involved, and also how all of these work together to result in the final elimination from the workplace.

In his introduction, Leymann describes the labor legislation as being like a “fine meshed net.” If one thread is torn, if one law is forgotten or neglected, the whole thing can begin to unravel. The process, he believes, is really quite simple to understand: a problem arises for whatever reason between two people at work. If this is not solved effectively, it will grow into a conflict which, if it does not lead to a constructive solution, will eventually become a full out crisis. And, from crisis situations, there is typically only ever one outcome: one individual is chosen as a scapegoat. That person is mobbed and eliminated from the workforce. With this book, Leymann makes this deadly process more accessible so that, hopefully, it can be prevented in the future.

Original edition:
Leymann, Heinz; Gustafsson, Annelie (1998). Självmordsfabriken. Stockholm: Norstedts Juridik.

Suicide Factory

Ever since primary care came into being, I have privately been aware that I don’t have any right to exist in society any longer. Therefore, I am deprived of the possibility of living a somewhat acceptable life in the future. I can’t fight it any longer!

Excerpt from a farewell letter written by Sarah, one of the mobbed nurses described in Suicide Factory, pg 169

When this book was first published by Nostedts Juridik AB in 1998, it sparked a great deal of controversy. Its Swedish title — which in English translates to “Suicide Factory” – was so provocative that the National Board of Occupational Safety and Health, the group who was originally meant to publish it, refused to have anything to do with the project. After it was published, because of what it revealed about the conditions in Swedish health care and legislation, Suicide Factory caused a great deal of upset. To this day, it is incredibly difficult to find a copy of this book.

For this research, Leymann teamed up with Annelie Gustafsson, a sociologist in the masters program at Umeå University, to collect 21 case descriptions of nurses who committed, or thought of committing, suicide after being mobbed at work. Their purpose was two-fold: to establish if (and to what extent) conditions in the labor market create a risk of suicide and to suggest possible prevention strategies to eliminate these problems. They chose to focus on nurses in the health care system since, according to previous research, this was the profession with the greatest rate of mortality due to suicide (hence the title Suicide Factory).

To illuminate the problem, the authors describe the case histories of three nurses. In Sarah’s Golgotha, a nurse is mobbed by her superiors for asking too many questions. Her social anamnesis is of interest because her employers were allowed to see and comment on it before it was published, a fact which makes the story much more creditable. Next, in Union Handling of a Mobbing Case, the authors present Martha, a nurse who became gravely ill because her labor union refused to help her out of difficulties at work. Lastly, in Poorly Treated at the Workplace: Hung Out in the Media, we meet Marie. Her problems were caused by a journalist who disclosed her story in a local newspaper in her little community where everyone knew everyone else. The humilation she suffered because of this was unendurable. Two of these three women take their own lives. The third suffers from a severe case of PTSD.

The authors then attempt to answer the question of why mobbing like this is allowed to continue. The Swedish legislation has a powerful plan in place for preventing suicides, but the implementation of it is faulty. Leymann and Gustafsson suggest some ways the implementation of Swedish legislation can be improved.