Justice or Revenge

In simple terms, justice comprises a set of rules that a group of people are bound by. If you break a rule, you receive a proportionate punishment. The punishment acts as a retribution and as a deterrent. The deterrent aspect acts as a form of protection to any potential victims of potential wrongdoers.

Revenge is personal. Punishment is less likely to be seen as proportionate.


In some cultures, adultery is a crime that is punishable by death. The adulterer is buried up to their chest, and crowds of people throw rocks and stones at the adulterer's head until they die a slow, painful and humiliating death.

Rape victims can be considered adulterers too.

Proving adultery under Muslim law is difficult, as it requires four witnesses to the act of sexual intercourse. Each witness must have a good reputation for truthfulness. This makes me think that it is just an excuse for victimisation. Who on Earth would have adulterous sex in the presence of four people well known for their truthfulness? Surely there must be safer ways to spice up your sex life.

In the UK, adultery is not a crime, but it is grounds for divorce. Often the spouse of a repeat adulterer will choose to stick with the marriage. The UK has an online dating agency for adulterers. It boasts over half a million members.

Two different cultures have completely different views on adultery. Which one is correct? Is either correct? How would we measure correctness? A referendum?

Individuals may be devastated to discover that their partner has been unfaithful. They might feel that justice isn't enough, and seek revenge. They may even kill their partner and then themselves. Would society have sympathy for such an individual, or their partner? When they married, they knew there was no law against adultery, and although they vowed to remain married until death, that is not enforcable.

Honour killings

Honour killings are often connected to accusations of adultery. Honour killings continue to be legal in parts of the world.

Part of article 340 of the Penal Code of Jordan states that "he who discovers his wife or one of his female relatives committing adultery and kills, wounds, or injures one of them, is exempted from any penalty."

In Syria, Article 548 states that "He who catches his wife or one of his ascendants, descendants or sister committing adultery or illegitimate sexual acts with another and he killed or injured one or both of them benefits from an exemption of penalty."

Bad justice

Consider the situation where several wrongdoers perform punishable acts against a victim. Due to corruption, there is injustice, and instead of the wrongdoers being punished, the victim is punished with devastating effect. The wrongdoers and the corrupt justice deliverers are aware of the devastation they've caused the victim. How would society react to the victim causing devastation to one or more of the wrongdoers? What if the victim's act is seen to be way out of proportion to the acts of the wrongdoers? The victim may consider that the effect of the act is more important than the act itself, and he wants at least one of the wrongdoers to suffer at least the same amount of devastation as he did, and to bitterly regret their wrongful acts every day for the rest of their lives. They may have carried out their wrongful act on a whim, for a bit of fun. The victim would want them to desperately wish they could go back in time and make a different choice. How much sympathy would society have for such a wrongdoer?

The fear of revenge is a form of deterrent, but revenge is a very poor and dangerous substitute for proper justice. Justice not only protects the innocent, it can protect the guilty too by ensuring that the punishment is proportionate to the crime. How would the devastated wrongdoer feel about those who delivered the injustice that left them vulnerable to the disproportionate acts of revenge?

Post-Traumatic Embitterment Disorder

In an earlier post, David Yamada describes Post-Traumatic Embitterment Disorder (PTED). "Those with PTED were hard working and mentally healthy people until a
triggering event destroyed their core values and shattered their basic beliefs. People feel wronged, humiliated and that some injustice has been done to them."

According to psychiatrist, Dr. Michael Linden, those with PTED suffer from intrusive thoughts and memories long after the triggering event, phobicly avoid places related to the event and are pathologically consumed by an intense desire for revenge.

"The critical part is this [long] lasting and very intensive emotional embitterment, a mixture of depression and helplessness and hopelessness. It's a very nasty emotion."

Dr Linden estimates that 1-2% of people become so stressed out by the triggering event that "they can barely function other than to ruminate about their circumstances."

Dr. Linden suggested that loving, normal individuals who suddenly snap, killing either their family or coworkers and then themselves may actually be suffering from post-traumatic embitterment syndrome.

One wonders how much violent crime has been triggered by bad justice.

Detection and deterrent

Potential wrongdoers are also deterred if they believe there is a great risk of detection. Improved forensic science, including DNA evidence and an increase in CCTV must be putting off some would be criminals.

What is the purpose of punishment? It is believed that most people in the UK think that the death penalty should be brought back for murder. This suggests to me that they want revenge, because all the evidence shows that murder rates are higher where the death penalty exists. Murderers either don't think they will be caught or they don't care if they are executed. On the other hand, the threat of the death penalty would act as an excellent deterrent for crimes that have a high detection rate, such as illegal parking, and putting a washing out to dry on a Sunday.


Against all odds, I'm still alive.

In 2005, when I began to realise that Kathy McCabe was mistreating me, I increased my alcohol intake to help dull the psychological pain, and to stop the intrusive thoughts that prevented me from sleeping at night.

In case you only intend to read a small part of this post, let me tell you that that was not the correct response to bullying. So if you are being bullied at work, I do not advise you to drown your feelings in alcohol. The correct response is probably to see your own doctor. If your employer has an Occupational Health doctor, then you might want to visit them, however you should be aware that they may not be completely independent. They could just be an extension of management, in much the same way that HR may be. Yes, I had foolishly thought that HR was there to look after the employees. Many people still do!

Unfortunately, I didn't seek help from a doctor. For one thing, I didn't have a doctor, but even if I had, I probably wouldn't have visited them. I'm a man, and it seems that we men have a natural tendency to bottle up our problems. 'Doctors are for people who are REALLY ill. They don't need the likes of me taking up their valuable time.'

To be honest, I thought the alcohol was helping me. It helped me get some sleep, and if you're sleeping, then all those nasty intrusive thoughts can't fill your head and make you toss and turn all night. To be honest, that still seems to me to have been a tangible benefit from drinking alcohol at that time, but I think the problem lies in the longer term. The underlying problem of the bullying didn't go away, and I found that I was having to increase my dosage in order to gain the same relief. My main choice of medicine was whisky, although I also added wine, vodka, brandy and lager to the mix. By 2009, I was consuming roughly 120 cl of whisky every day. That's almost two bottles, or nearly 3 pints.

Looking back, the weird thing is that it didn't effect my work or my attendance. I didn't need or think about alcohol while I was working. Ironically, work was therapeutic and helped to reduce the stress. That is until there was a bullying incident, or a discussion related to bullying that would cause the stress to go through the roof.

I've never suffered from hangovers. That may not be a good thing though. Maybe hangovers are nature's way of telling you to cut back. And I should have cut back, because while I was enjoying the benefits of the alcohol, I wasn't giving any thought to the damage it was causing me.

Firstly, alcohol is a depressant. It's like Kathy McCabe in a bottle. Secondly, it kills. It kills people who drink far less than I did for far shorter periods than I did. I've read up on this a bit, and I'm amazed to still be alive. For several years I was drinking as much as 16 times the recommended limit for a man.

It still wasn't enough to prevent the intrusive thoughts. Around the same time that I began over-drinking, I began to gamble excessively. The theory was that while I was thinking about gambling, I couldn't be thinking about anything else. And to some extent that worked. However, the higher the level of stress I was under, the higher the amount of money it was necessary to gamble. Like work, it was therapeutic. But under the conditions of stress and alcohol, my gambling was erratic and out of control.

I had a particularly stressful meeting with Mark Toole and my union rep in December 2009. He pretended that he hadn't witnessed Kathy bullying me. After the meeting, I was shaking like a leaf. When I got home, I filled up with alcohol, and gambled away almost £10,000 (ten thousand pounds) that same evening. Losing that amount of money is depressing too, but only for a relatively short period. It's not like being bullied for years. In a two week period in June 2010 when I knew that Mark Toole was conducting a sham disciplinary process and I was about to lose my job, I lost £32,909.47 by gambling erratically. It was different from my previous gambling. I had given up on life. I had no need for money because it was inevitable that I was going to kill myself.

I was seeing the Occupational Health doctor regularly at this time. He was aware of the alcohol and gambling and my intention to kill myself. He had advised me to cut back on the alcohol, but there was no point in that. I wanted to be dead, and it was killing me, while at the same time, providing a measure of relief.

I hadn't intended to make a claim to the Employment Tribunal, because I thought I would most likely be dead by the time the case came to court. However, I was aware of the three month time limit for claims, so just before time ran out, I lodged my claim. Unexpectedly, I was still alive, and I thought I'd better make the claim just in case I didn't kill myself. Ironically, I think it's the ET case, and the possibility of justice that has kept me alive. Initially, my blog was intended to be my suicide note.

However, the suicidal thoughts haven't stopped, and I still have intrusive violent thoughts and intrusive memories too. Eventually, I visited my GP. I'd had a couple of days when I'd felt an improvement, so I made an appointment. By the time I was due to see my GP, three things had happened to make me feel worse, but I attended anyway. I was prescribed anti-depressants, but I didn't notice any difference. I was referred to a psychiatrist. The problem is that the psychiatrist felt nothing could be done to help me until I had greatly reduced, or even eliminated my alcohol consumption. As I said earlier, alcohol is a depressant, and an obstacle to treatment.

I've managed to reduce my alcohol consumption by a large amount, but I've still a long way to go. I was referred to a substance misuse expert. They want me to go into hospital for about ten days to detox, but I said No, No, No! I keep a daily diary of every drop of alcohol I take. I have good days and bad. When I was working, I generally drank between 6pm and 1am, except at weekends when I'd start earlier. Without work, I now start to feel an urge to take alcohol around 3pm; earlier if something causes me to feel anxious. Unfortunately, by reducing the alcohol, my sleep has reduced too. I'm told that alcohol induced sleep is not good quality sleep, but for me it's a case of 'never mind the quality, feel the width'.

A word of caution to anyone who intends to reduce their alcohol intake. Please seek advice from your GP as it can be very dangerous to do this too quickly, ie cold turkey.


Post-Traumatic Embitterment Disorder and workplace bullying

From MINDING THE WORKPLACE hosted by David Yamada.

Can some targets of severe workplace bullying become so angry and embittered by their experiences that they are unable to move forward in their lives?

In 2003, Dr. Michael Linden, a Berlin psychiatrist, proposed recognition of a new condition, Post-Traumatic Embitterment Disorder (PTED), asserting that a traumatic event could trigger “embitterment and feelings of injustice” that impair one’s “performance in daily activities and roles.” These reactions can be so strong and enduring that they render someone helpless to address the situation.

PTED is not listed in the current version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), and this absence limits its application as a formal diagnosis. Linden believes the evidence merits its addition to the next version, now under deliberation.

While some disagree with creating a separate psychiatric diagnosis, others cite PTED as an important breakthrough in our understanding of trauma. For example, I recently cited Cheryl Dellasega’s invocation of PTED in her new book When Nurses Hurt Nurses (2011).

PTED and workplace bullying

I do not have sufficient expertise to pass judgment on the DSM debate, but the concept of PTED rings true based on my knowledge of the experiences of some bullying targets, especially those who have experienced job loss and career impacts. At times, the anger and embitterment run so deep that they disable individuals from taking actions in their self-interest.

This is not a negative judgment on someone’s character, and I wish to distinguish it from the maddening “it’s time to get over it” line that so many targets of abuse hear from well-meaning family, friends, and associates. Furthermore, I’m not talking here about the normal angry feelings that bullying targets often experience, some of which can be awfully hard to let go.

Indeed, words like “angry,” “bitter,” and “embittered” carry very negative connotations when used to describe people. They paint individuals as unpleasant and unsympathetic figures, while downplaying or ignoring the events that caused them to be this way.

By contrast, the concept of PTED helps us to understand that anger and bitterness may be natural responses to trauma and injustice, in some cases becoming disabling. Equally important, it may lead us to, as Linden suggests, “specific therapeutic interventions.”

PTED and workplace violence

On occasion, acts of severe workplace violence have been committed by those who purportedly were bullied at work. Could PTED explain why? As reported in the blog Living the Scientific Life (link here):

Dr. Linden suggested that loving, normal individuals who suddenly snap, killing either their family or coworkers and then themselves may actually be suffering from post-traumatic embitterment syndrome.


The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

At the Employment Tribunal hearing, Karen Stark gave evidence, and the university's lawyer, Alun Thomas asked her how often HR has to deal with grievances. She replied that there are not many. The impression they were hoping to give was that HR and management take great care to ensure that staff and students are happy, and that therefore I am unusual, and perhaps the type of person who complains for no good reason. It would perhaps have provided the tribunal with a more accurate impression if Mr Thomas had asked how many grievances are taken seriously, and how many people who raise grievances end up sacked. However, in this case, it's not Mr Thomas' job to present the tribunal with the whole truth, but to persuade it that I am the problem, and that the university acts in a highly professional manner. That means he has to create barriers to prevent the tribunal from learning the whole truth.

In 2009, Mr Thomas represented the university at an employment tribunal hearing dealing with a complaint from former Psychology Researcher, Dr Rhodes. She had previously complained to the university that David Donaldson, a Senior Lecturer in her department, had removed her name from a research funding application, and replaced it with his own eleven times. Her complaint resulted in her being sacked, and Donaldson was later promoted to a professorship. The university conceded that Dr Rhodes had been unfairly dismissed. But they had achieved their main aim by getting rid of a whistleblower and deterring other unfairly treated employees who may have been thinking about making a complaint. Story at Times Higher Education.

In 2010, a Postgraduate Researcher complained to the university about bullying. Deputy Secretary, Eileen Schofield was supposed to handle his complaint, but instead she ended up lying to him. This made him very angry, and he threatened to kill her if she lied to him again. You would have to be in his position to understand just how frustrating it is when your complaint is not taken seriously, and the person who is responsible for dealing with it takes part in a strategy to cover up. It is a form of torture. The Researcher who has gained an MA, a BA and an MSc has been expelled from the university. More important than his qualifications though, just like me, he is a man who considers honesty and integrity to be important. Like me, his natural instinct is to trust people in authority, and he is shocked and overwhelmed to find that they are corrupt.

Since I began writing my blog in September 2010, at least one university employee has written to me saying that they had made a complaint of bullying, and that HR was not taking it seriously. I've also heard a rumour that there are more.

By raising the subject of the number of grievances the university receives, they may have scored an own goal, because it is my job to ensure the tribunal learns the whole truth.

Andy Coulson - a bully!

It was widely reported on TV and in the press that yesterday (8 July 2011) Andy Coulson was arrested in connection with phone hacking and police corruption. Fewer people will be aware, however, that David Cameron's former spin doctor is also a bully.

In November 2009, an Employment Tribunal ordered the News of the World to pay Matt Driscoll £792,736 in compensation for being the victim of "a consistent pattern of
bullying behaviour", led by the paper's former editor, Andy Coulson. The bullying continued when Driscoll was signed off on sick leave for stress related depression.

Story at the Guardian.

Tommy Sheridan's lawyers have called for a police investigation into Mr Coulson's suspected lying on oath after he told a perjury trial that there was no culture of phone hacking at the News of the World.


Colin Sinclair - A great disappointment!

I first got to know Colin through playing football. We were team mates in the intramural 6-a-side competition for a few years. He also took part in the IS mile races that I organised every couple of months. I'd met his wife and kids at Kathy McCabe's home a couple of times. The Sinclairs and the McCabes are close friends and neighbours. Colin was someone that everybody immediately warmed to. He was a devout family man with a great sense of humour. Like Kathy, he also managed a team in Information Services. I dated a woman from his team for a few months, and she thought the world of him. Ruth had met Colin a couple of times at social events, and she too took a shine to him.

It was a great disappointment to discover that Colin is a liar.

In 2008, Kathy and I attended mediation. Colin attended in support of Kathy, and Ruth attended to provide support for me. The mediator had instructed us to prepare a statement that we were to read to each other, followed by questions we were to ask each other. We both read our statements. In my statement I mentioned that Kathy had been dishonest with me at work. She didn't like that. She demanded that I withdraw it. I wouldn't. I asked her if she would like examples of her dishonesty. She didn't. She went on and on and on about how honest she was. She said that honesty went to the core of her very being. Colin chipped in and said that Kathy was one of the most honest people he had ever known. I genuinely believed that he meant it.

The mediator instructed us to start asking questions. Kathy refused to ask questions, and she refused to allow me to ask questions. She said that if I asked any questions, she would leave the mediation. She could tell from my statement that she was going to have to face some difficult questions.

Colin was interviewed as part of the grievance investigation. He was asked if Kathy answered my questions, and he said she did. At the end of his interview he falsely states that whenever he asked me for help, I would tell him I was too busy. His library computer system was running at snail pace for a while. He had been in regular contact with the suppliers who were contracted to fix such problems, but they didn't fix it. When he told me about it, I fixed it right away in my own time, even though it wasn't my job to do so.

You can see from the correspondence between the mediator and me just three weeks after the mediation that Kathy neither asked nor answered questions. Colin's statement is below. There's also an email from his colleague thanking me for fixing his system just two days before mediation.