"Toxic Boss as Psychological Injury
The third group of psychological injuries (after childhood traumas and highly stressful life events in adulthood) is not in our personal life, but our work life.
They say they are so depressed that they want to die, or that they wake at three in the morning quivering with fear.
And when I ask why they are in so much pain, they say, “I think it is my boss.” They describe managers who tell them that their work is a 2 out of 10, but give no feedback on how to improve it.
They talk about bosses who claim that their co-worker Kelly dislikes them, but when the person checks in with Kelly, he honestly says that everything is fine.
As they tell me these stories of abuse and manipulation, they start sobbing in my office.
One person, who had been selected employee of the year for a multi-billion dollar company, came back from vacation and was assigned to a bully of a boss. Within weeks of reporting to the toxic manager, he told me he was going into the woods with a weapon and not coming out.
People are also quite psychologically invested in their work, as we evaluate status in our society by the prestige of our occupation.
At social gatherings, people will announce that they are “just a housewife,” indicating they are near the bottom of the ladder of status.
If someone else says they are a neurosurgeon, they automatically receive high status. And not only do our managers influence our status, but getting fired by them can financially ruin people. It also sends a message that the person is a bad employee, and should be avoided by future employers.
The researchers followed the people for two years. Even after controlling for the 13 other variables, they found that people who had low levels of trust in their boss, or felt the workplace policies were quite unfair, had three times the risk of developing depression compared to people with good managers and fair employers.
This shows that toxic bosses cause depression, in the same way that smoking causes lung cancer."
Many professionals out there, do great analyses and understand well the reasons for mental illness, depression, addictions, and chronic illness, that is linked to childhood loss and trauma, and I quote few other professionals in my book to prove that are out there, other professionals saying what Alice miller says, but how they go about to heal those traumas, they use the same old tools like yoga, meditation, 12 steps, and controlled drugs, that all it does is manipulate people's feelings, and repress their authentic feelings all over again.
And as long people go on repressing their authentic feelings, they will be driven by them into the state of compulsion repetition of doing to others, themselves or both, especially their own children, what once was done to them when they were defenseless little children.
It’s the repression of our authentic feelings that cause us long-term harm and not the trauma itself.
In the short-term, repression can have a positive effect in traumatic circumstances. But the subconscious actions that we think are saving our lives as children are what really keep us down as adults.
In fact, Alice Miller believed that it wasn’t so much the traumas we experience that harm us, but “the unconscious, repressed, hopeless despair over not being allowed to give expression to what one has suffered and the fact that one is not allowed to show and is unable to experience feelings of rage, anger, humiliation, despair, helplessness, and sadness.”28
Abused and otherwise traumatized children are forced to repress their true feelings unless they’re lucky enough to find someone to comfort them.
But because enlightened witnesses (and even helping witnesses) aren’t always readily available, most of us develop what Alice Miller calls a false self — usually for the sake of our parents — only to pay for it later in life. In an article entitled “The Essential Role of an Enlightened Witness in Society,” Alice Miller writes that “it seems clear to me that information about abuse inflicted during childhood is recorded in our body cells as a sort of memory, linked to repressed anxiety. If lacking the aid of an enlightened witness, these memories fail to break through to consciousness, they often compel the person to violent acts that reproduce the abuse suffered in childhood, which was repressed in order to survive.
The aim is to avoid the fear of powerlessness before a cruel adult. This fear can be eluded momentarily by creating situations in which one plays the active role, the role of the powerful, towards a powerless person.”29
This is how the vicious cycle of parental abuse continues for generations. And in extreme cases, the repetition compulsion can lead to violent atrocities against humanity."
Also on pages 172: and 173 I write: "I’ve removed all the barriers of false morality and am totally free to experience all my feelings, take them seriously and decide whom, if anyone, to share them with. I’ve faced my past and can deal with my present circumstances in the context of growing awareness instead of childhood fears.
These words by Alice Miller express how I exactly feel: “If I allow myself to feel what pains or gladdens me, what annoys or enrages me, and why this is the case, if I know what I need and what I do not want at all costs, I will know myself well enough to love my life and find it interesting, regardless of age or social status. … I will know that I have lived my own, true life.”81 It really is a powerful feeling, and you’re likely to find yourself possessing a power that will be threatening to a lot of people. Society is on the side of the status quo, so be prepared."