Lateral Violence in Nursing – Origin of Lateral Violence

The basic association of nursing profession to caring and sensitive behavior makes the occurrence of LV ironical. However one theory – the oppressed-group model – has tried to explain the prevalence of bullying behavior in nursing (Sheridan-Leos, 2008). The theory views the nursing fraternity to be an oppressed and powerless group that is mainly dominated by other groups such as physicians (DeMarco & Roberts, 2003 as cited in Sheridan-Leos, 2008, p. 399). With this perspective nurses are modeled to lack sufficient autonomy and control over their functions, hence counteracting the perceived power loss by overpowering others (Bartholomew, 2006). Victims in such case would either comprise people in junior positions who one supervises or those at equal levels with whom one usually interacts (Sheridan-Leos, 2008).

A second model that predicts the advent of LV in nursing is the task-time theory. If nursing is perceived to constitute rules, tasks and time; then when tasks to be performed overwhelms, individuals could become depersonalized such that they perceive colleagues and patients to be objects rather than individuals requiring respect (Bartholomew, 2006). When this is the case the affected nurses could express their stress by lashing out against colleagues in times of frustration (Sheridan-Leos, 2008). A third theory attributes LV to the predominantly female composition of the nursing profession (Sheridan-Leos, 2008). With female nurturing inclined towards anger absorption; they can accumulate substantial amount of such anger which could be expressed laterally or to persons with less power in times of frustration (Sheridan-Leos, 2008). Irrespective of these diverse conceptualizations of LV antecedents; bullying activity at the work place has been identified essentially to constitute a “learned behavior” rather than a predominantly individual psychological deficit (Lewis, 2006). This means that such can be alleviated by preventing such “learning” or motivating learning of positive behavior. Go to part 3 here.

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