November 21, 2020

Hierarchy and bullying

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:26 am by Aleksan

Bullying was the norm in the 50s and 60s – the strong held sway over the less powerful, the less privileged. Us boys were often humiliated at school, less so at home. We were sworn at, hit and made to know who was boss.

But in the 70s there was a change – we took off our ties, we called even our superiors by their first names. My boss in Psychiatry, a Consultant, once said to me “If you don’t call me Ronnie, how can I be Ronnie?” In short the “Hierarchical pyramid” was for a time, a wonderful enlightened time, flattened. Our team included not just the doctors, but the nurses, the tea lady and the cleaners, all meeting together, working together and feeling a team. No white coats, just bright pullovers. Kindness, and authority existed together in the context of mutual respect.

Then things went awry. In the 90s people (not me) started to wear ties again, and formal titles were restored. Only my equals or superiors called me “Sandy” and although I resisted, others returned to addressing me as Dr Burnfield. Women wore shoulder pads and started power dressing, and men stayed in their offices.

Bullying has returned, but no longer as the norm. Priti Patel has been brought to order. But should she resign, or has she learned her lesson? I don’t know, but I can’t see us returning to those enlightened days of the 70s, not yet anyway, but perhaps one day….

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