Psychological harassment 8 Types Causes and Consequences

Psychological harassment is a set of abusive behaviors in the form of attitudes, words, messages or gestures that weaken and damage the identity and/or physical dignity of the person who suffers from it. In some cases, it is a problem that is difficult to detect and can progressively cause damage, since, to speak of psychological harassment, the behaviors must appear persistently and not in isolation. 

What is Psychological Harassment?

In practice, the terms psychological harassment, moral harassment and mobbing are used interchangeably. However, there are nuances between them that set them apart. In this article we will focus on defining exactly what psychological harassment is.

Psychological harassment, according to psychology and psychiatry professor José Luis González de Rivera, is understood as the persistent and intentional maintenance of patterns of psychological abuse , which take the form of certain actions. For example:

  • Threatening, ridiculing, criticizing, harassing a person…
  • Inducing negative feelings like fear, confusion, insecurity in her…
  • Interfering with their mental dynamics, making it difficult to carry out their tasks, overloading with demands and expectations that the person cannot fulfill…

8 Types of psychological harassment

The types of psychological harassment are as follows:

School harassment or bullying

School harassment consists of any type of psychological, physical or verbal abuse or aggression, practiced within the school environment, but not necessarily during classes. The harasser repeatedly intimidates the victim known to his school environment, either alone or in a group.

Sexual harassment

Intimidating or coercive behavior of a sexual nature, whether physical, non-verbal or psychological, which we are currently addressing. All of the different behaviors encompassed here can happen to varying degrees, ranging from mild and annoying to dangerous.

Professional harassment or mobbing

This form of harassment is characterized by taking place within the work environment. It usually happens to a greater degree in a psychological way, through mockery, threats, spreading rumors… There is the possibility that these behaviors end up in violence, but it does not always happen. The usual characteristic is that the work environment becomes a source of potent stress.


Virtual Harassment. The harasser uses digital means to produce his offenses or make the victim feel uncomfortable. The main motivation of the harasser is to create psychological and emotional discomfort in the victim in question.

school cyberbullying

Type of virtual harassment already mentioned, and more frequent. It happens in the school environment and is also a form of bullying, as it is usually another way to maintain harassment (through the virtual world).

Physical harassment or stalking

It consists of invasively and constantly chasing the victim, with the aim of establishing contact with her against her will. It’s a truly uncomfortable type of harassment.

real estate harassment

Behaviors practiced by homeowners or real estate to get tenants to decide to leave the building or cancel the lease contract against their will. It is characterized by behaviors that seek to create a hostile environment, both materially and socially, and can range from cutting off gas, electricity or water to depredating the home and refusing to fix it.

family harassment

Harassing behaviors and attitudes that take place within a family environment.

Causes of psychological harassment

The causes of psychological harassment are diverse. The most frequent are the feelings of jealousy and envy that the harassers feel towards the victim, as well as the perception that they have of the other due to some distinctive characteristic , be it color, social class… There are also environmental factors that generate conflicts and are possible causes of future harassment.

In the specific case of mobbing , which is a very common type of psychological harassment, it also happens because the victim does not allow himself to be manipulated or submit to harassment. When a person does not accept the organization’s status quo , major psychological harassment can often ensue. The demonstration of power by the harasser is also a key factor, especially in the workplace.

Consequences of psychological harassment

The psychological consequences derived from this type of harassment can be devastating. A key factor in this type of harassment is low self-esteem, as it is possible not only to be a consequence, but also one of the causes why the person does not defend himself. Among the most common problems resulting from psychological harassment, we find: anxiety, stress, isolation, mood swings, irritability, addictions, insomnia, depression … Furthermore, victims can often take a while to realize that they are suffering this type of harassment.

In some cases it is common for the following to appear among the consequences:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder . Stressful behaviors that are repeated for so long that the victim feels alert and stressed not only psychologically but also physically.
  • Adaptive disorder . Show greater than expected distress in response to a stressful situation and a significant decrease in social and professional activity.
  • Generalized anxiety disorder . Excessive worry and anxiety about a wide range of activities, which lasts for at least six months, and causes the individual to be in a constant state of insecurity. Here you can see the symptoms and treatment of generalized anxiety disorder .
  • Mood disorders . Depressive feelings and states, insomnia, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, decreased ability to concentrate…

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