My Letter To Keith Olberman

Dr. Mr. Olberman,

If you could talk about the workplace bullying you are going through you could help a lot of people and bring focus on one of the worst consequences of being a corporate controlled country. We are struggling to get laws passed against workplace bullying. One of the techniques they use is vague rules which are only enforced for certain people, as was done in your case. They use suspensions, write ups and poor evaluations as bullying techniques. After a period of time workplace bullying generally makes the person ill from the stress and they start calling in sick, then they get "counseled", written up, etc. for being sick. At this point the bullying management engages the human resources department which helps step up the bullying process, often convincing the targeted victim falsely that their role is to support them. The person is already ill from the effects of the bullying, they know exactly what they are doing. One would think they are simply trying to run the person off, but this is often not the main goal. They know from experience the person will become barely able to function and make mistakes, becoming just as incompetent as they the bullies are. They also know how to engineer a nervous breakdown to break the person they despise for being so good at their job and the very person they know they can never be. They seek to destroy those who they see as the cause of their own anxieties.

By the time the employee comes into contact with human resources they have been demonized in the eyes of others (through false rumors spread by lesser sycophant bullies and those with weak personalities) and seen as very negative by most of management. Their ability to see the truth has been clouded by lies. It is very tribal, they band together to fight against the person who is the main target of the bullying (called mobbing). In my case there were two layers of two serial bullies working together, one layer in management and on layer lateral to me as co-workers. When I worked in the Tacoma-Seattle area with very intelligent people most of us rejected rumors and defended our co-workers from malicious gossip (She is not here to defend herself, she is a very good nurse, I will not participate in malicious gossip nor will I put up with it, she is one of the most talented nurses I have ever worked with, etc). In less enlightened populations such as states where a large percentage of people vote for candidates like Sarah Palin or Joe Miller the bullies are followed like sheep. Over 34% of the people in Alaska voted for Miller knowing full well what his record was (this man had worked as a magistrate and temporary district judge, which is almost too much to fathom).
Workplace bullying eventually causes PTSD and the person is high risk to become suicidal or commit murder/suicide as we have seen in so many instances. It causes PTSD as bad as a war veteran may have with all the same symptoms and comorbid problems such as chemical dependency. In my case I was suicidal (I was even higher risk for suicide due to health problems I had that also have a high rate of suicide) and I was arrested for something I did that I do not have a memory of (yet I know it did happen). In bush Alaska the judicial system is corrupt and they do not allow mitigating circumstances or even the truth, especially the village where I was. Where I live now in Alaska there was a workplace bullying related shooting of two people and another woman who tried to kill her supervisor, this was at a hospital like my incident.

You have the characteristics they target, competence, intelligence, high ethics, you are knowledgeable, people like you, you are a hard worker, you have a sense of humor, and you make bullies feel stupid. Workplace bullies are people with a particular set of issues that make them feel incompetent and stupid, so they conduct themselves in ways that undermine the competent, intelligent people. They scapegoat others for their own personal shortcomings. They use many tactics which include taking credit for the target’s work, spreading false rumors about them, sabotaging their work, setting them up for disciplinary action, spreading malicious lies about them, excluding them from socializing with coworkers, making fun of them, constant nasty remarks, dumping tons of work on them that is impossible to finish and much more. They do this over a period of time in a systematic way.

I have long standing health problems which cause many to be 100% disabled, yet I struggled for over twenty years to stay working successfully. After my experiences I am now on disability. Workplace bullying causes loss of needed professionals and puts people on disability who could have contributed to the economy rather than collect disability from Social Security. Workplace bullying is the leading reason for the nursing shortage and has been used by health care corporations on purpose to get rid of the more educated, intelligent nurses because they are more difficult to deal with, as well as older more experienced nurses who they have to pay more (those older, more experienced people may respond to requests that are unsafe for patients with a statement like, I don‘t think so… or perhaps, I am not going to do that because the research shows….). Workplace bullying is not only a form of workplace violence which causes psychological damage, it is a great financial drain to society and to the businesses in which it flourishes and in government agencies it wastes tax payer dollars.

One of the worst consequences is their quest to shut up those who are strong enough to stand up to them and protest their bullying and incompetence. Without those voices of truth nothing will be changed and the bullies stay in their positions of power. That, Keith Olberman, is one of the reasons so many of us were outraged at your targeted suspension. Most of those who are targeted as you have been do not have an audience nor do we command any power, we are completely on our own. You speak for so many who have no voice. Most of the unions that protected us from this kind of abuse as you well know were destroyed over decades. Those who are in the middle of being bullied in the workplace often are clueless as to what is happening to them. This is one of the reasons it makes people so sick. Without dissemination of information about workplace bullying those targeted are unable to understand their situation and learn to defend themselves and those who could help them don’t know what to do. You could bring this subject into focus and let people know they do have the power to fight abuse because that which we can not do alone we can do together.

There is very little mental health care for PTSD in Alaska, I have essentially been on my own. Most of the practitioners are undereducated, prejudiced, know nothing about workplace bullying or PTSD and many actually practice gossiping about clients in the rural areas themselves. Those who have been targeted are on Social Security and are low income. There is a huge amount of prejudice against those who are on so called "entitlement" programs in Alaska by even those who are supposed to be working with populations of low income people. Fortunately I finally went to a program at Providence Hospital in Anchorage that was helpful. The program is not specific to PTSD, it is about bring yourself back into balance. Anchorage is very different than the more rural areas and the bush is a third world country.

I have been workplace bullied before, I was a nurse for over twenty years, one of two professions with the highest rates of workplace bullying (the other is teaching). What I realize is the reason it did not make me become ill with PTSD in the past was I was supported by my co-workers who knew I was a good nurse who was being targeted by a sick manager and in fact many of them came to me and told me so. That support included doctors who went out of their way to support me. Support of fellow workers and others makes all the difference.

In this incident in Alaska which involves less sophisticated people (to put it nicely) almost everyone in and out of the hospital followed along without examining the facts even though it was well known the management had been harming people there for years to the point that some native people thought the place was full of evil spirits. I told them it was not evil spirits it was sick and evil white people. I stood up to them, their incompetence, lack of health care standards, their treating the native people like they were less than human, and their laziness. This is a native owned, Indian health facility with huge problems where the most essential standards such as universal precautions for infection control were not practiced. I was appalled, good nursing care does not cost a lot of money. It is the hard work and knowledge of the nurses that result in high quality care. Workplace bullying management results in incompetence, corruption and inability to do the job at hand, because their agenda is something other than producing quality work.

This hospital was supposed to have mostly native staff, the nurses workplace bullied all of the native nurses out of the inpatient unit. They had a native CEO for a short time. I went to see him and told him they would get rid of him soon. He said they could not as he had a contract. A month later he was gone. Racism was involved. Religious and political beliefs other than those of the main clique are also major reasons for being targeted for bullying.

One thing your case proves is supporting the person who is workplace bullied changes the outcome and that is why I am asking you to do a segment on workplace bullying. People often stand by helplessly while their co-workers are destroyed not knowing what to do because they are afraid they will be next. Sometimes it isn’t even this fear, they simply don’t understand what is going on nor have a clue what to do. They have been told through the demonizing process the person is bad who is a friend and have ambivalent feelings about what they are being told because it goes against what their own experience tells them. This has a psychologically deleterious effect on them also. You could give them the tool they need to get together and protect those being bullied while ultimately protecting themselves, standing in solidarity with those being targeted.

The populist support for you is also a message to the people of this country that if we get together when we are outraged about how a fellow citizen is treated we can do something about it.

                                                                Thank You For Being You.
                                                                Celia Harrison


SPN Headlines said...

Palin today revealed another money-making venture - this one a consumer rating guide called "Sarah's Scores" - REVEALING story at:


Peace! :-)

krex said...

Thanks for bringing up this issue . I am experiencing this in my current job and it is frightening ...being an aspie with limited options for employment, I have more to loss by this bullying then some NT's.

I think your statement....

I stood up to them, their incompetence, lack of health care standards, their treating the native people like they were less than human, and their laziness.

Is exactly why I am the current target. I work with 4 women with disabilities and for a company that intentionally hires 20 year old to be house managers because they are less likely to speak against the company or unable to see when they are doing something unethical, if not illegal .

The individual who is actively trying to get me fired through slander, gossip and actually doing something wrong so she can show manager how I messed up....is lazy and crazy but not the kind of person who would ever call the company on their own lack of ethics so they would prefer believing her complaints then the reality that I was working without any complaints for the previous 6 years before she started . I think she has already gotten another staff fired several months ago who was also a hard worker who made her look lazy .

Celia Harrison said...

@Krex, Be careful. Temple Grandin says anytime what she calls, "office politics" are aimed at an autistic person they should be removed from the situtation. It affects us way more than NTs and we are targets frequently. You can end up very ill with PTSD. The real mistake that I made in the situtation I was in was in not leaving. Of course leaving jobs now is more difficult because of the economy, for many impossible. Document everything the bullies do. Aspies are actually the exact profile of the kind of people they go after, hard working, go to work to do their work (rather than for social reasons), competent, knowlegable, intelligent, has a sense of humor and people like them. There is usually an incident where the target comes up against the bully that triggers the start of the bullying. With Aspies this occurs easily, when confronted with something we think is wrong we will say it is wrong and/or refuse to do it, while the NTs go along with it. An incident can be something simple, like not being interested in someone's vaction pictures because you are trying to do your work and think it is inappropriate to use your employer's time for that kind of activity. You would think an employer would appreciate this, but they don't.