Interesting post from yesterday’s Workplace Bullying Institute blog.
June 14th, 2012
A Neurological Basis for Self-Blaming Targets of Workplace Bullying
Blaming oneself for horrific incidents foisted on us by others is a characteristic common to individuals bullied at work. Although witnesses see clearly that it is the bully who controls all incidents and assaults the target without invitation. Nevertheless, the typical scenario involves the target thinking that something about them is flawed and discoverable by the bully, a form of self-blame or guilt.
And we know that 39% of bullied targets state that they have been diagnosed with clinical depression. Research by others links self-blame to a cognitive vulnerability to major depression. An amazing study published on June 4, 2012 mapped the neuroanatomy of guilt (self-blame) feelings experienced by people with depression contrasted with people who did not suffer depression.
Neuroscientists at the University of Manchester (England) and in Brazil began with the premise that moral feelings (both guilt and indignation/anger) trigger social meanings which activate the right superior anterior temporal lobe area of the brain (ATL). In healthy participants, guilt also activates two other brain areas — the subgenual cingulate cortex and adjacent septal region (SCSR). The SCSR is associated with social conceptual knowledge. When others are blamed, the ATL is disconnected (decoupled) from the SCSR. That is, only the ATL neurons fire and not those in the SCSR.
Depressed individuals showed a bias toward self-blame in earlier studies. This new study sought to discover the neuroanatomy of self-blame in both depressed and non-depressed individuals.