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Manager who took settlement after being “exhausted” fighting his dismissal describes “bullying” NHS culture

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f1896 (Published 20 March 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f1896

Re: Manager who took settlement after being “exhausted” fighting his dismissal describes “bullying” NHS culture

Bullying is ubiquitous and iniquitous, but misunderstood. Although it’s usually considered sadism with vulnerable victims, bullying is actually a neuropsychiatric disorder (which I call “neuro-bullying”) that is rooted in our autonomic nervous system.

Our autonomic nervous system consists of two opposing branches: the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic system responds to fear and pain with hate and “fight or flight.” The parasympathetic system responds to trust and pleasure with relaxation and vulnerability.

Ideally, the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems are in dynamic balance. But just as fear and pain can overpower trust and pleasure, the sympathetic system can overpower the parasympathetic system, which causes us to fear and hate vulnerability, both in ourselves and others.

I propose that bullying is fear and hatred for the vulnerability of the parasympathetic system. This is why bullies target vulnerable groups like women and children, as well as the poor, elderly, disabled, and socially stigmatized.

Finally, the cure for bullying, and most social woes, is protecting the vulnerable parasympathetic system, because vulnerability is not weakness or bleakness, but the greatness of meekness, the elixir of life and fixer of strife.

Competing interests: No competing interests

31 March 2013
Hugh Mann
Physician
Retired
Eagle Rock, MO, USA