Book review of
Mobbed!: What to Do When They Really Are Out to Get You
by Janice Harper, Ph.D.
234 pages, Backdoor Press (2013)
Reviewed by Anne Smith
Janice Harper is an author and cultural anthropologist. In her book Mobbed!: What to Do When They Really Are Out to Get You, she combines her career and personal experiences. The result is a very well written examination of mobbing. First, it is good to know we define bullying as when one person repeatedly and purposefully hurts another. More than one person bullying is known as a mob or mobbing. Harper states that group mentality (a mob) takes on a mind of it’s own and is much more difficult and devastating for the target. Everyone is at their worst in a mobbing explains Harper. The tension and stress is high. What is very interesting is that Mobbed! is written for work place mobbing, but the similarities between parent estrangement by your adult child and mobbing in the workplace are strikingly similar.
Harper begins with research and information about animal behavior and reveals similarities to human behavior. She then focuses on what to expect when someone attacks you, spreads lies, alienates or shuns you, defames your reputation or character. It is good to hear you are not alone and that your feelings are ‘normal’. It’s also good to hear what you could do to make things better and what you should avoid doing so you don’t make things worse.
Harper’s approach is very different from the many authors who write on the subject of bullying or mobbing. While most will tell you to ‘talk it out’ with the bully or ‘stand up’ to the bully, Harper suggests we stay quiet and step out of the way of the bully and focus on ourselves instead. We cannot change the mind of someone who is full of rage, hate, or anger. You will not change the person who is bullying so do not try. If you could manage to move forward knowing that, you are likely to find peace.
Harper emphasizes that is extremely important to find a way to feel compassion for those doing the mobbing. Without it, it will be very difficult for you to grow from this experience and heal. She explains that in any social situation, we must stop thinking in terms of good, bad, or evil. What we are seeing in a mobbing are good people going wrong.
Speaking to others, going on and on to family and friends about the situation may alienate you even more. Even your closest family member or friend will tire of the stories. The problem is that you are rightfully overwhelmed, scared, and engulfed in this situation. You must find peace with the compassion for those involved, and then redirect your focus on yourself.
You may be shocked at the turn around from some family and friends. Accusations from the ones you once trusted will hurt you the most. As the mobbing continues, a shift in thinking may occur in some people close to you as they move from ‘what they are doing to you’ to ‘what you did to deserve it’. This is not because those bullying you are correct. It is a normal reaction in a very crazy situation..
I highly recommend Mobbed! to anyone who is mobbed at work or estranged by his or her adult child. The topics covered and the expertise provided delivers a powerful message. Harper does a great job as she explains we cannot shun people, mob or bully them. It is not the way to handle our issues. Also, we cannot change someone else. We can only help ourselves and learn from our own experiences