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Excerpt: "Whistleblowing a health issue"

In a detailed study in the British Medical Journal Volume 307, 11 September 1993 “Whistleblowing”: a health issue of 31 whistleblowers in Australia, Dr Jean Lennane states in part:

“Whistleblowing” is defined in the American Whistleblower Protection Act 1989 as occurring when a present or former employee discloses information which the employee reasonably believes evidences a violation of any law, rule, or regulation, or gross mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.”

“All subjects had started by making a complaint internally, through what they considered were the proper channels”.

“All subjects in this non-random sample had suffered adverse consequences”.

“Victimisation at work was extensive: dismissal . . . demotion . . . and resignation or early retirement because of illhealth related to victimisation . . . were common.”

Dr Lennane continued:

“The most upsetting aspects of the experience [of Dr Lennane’s survey] were classed as lies, deceit, and corruption in high places . . . attacks or harassment . . . effects on health or career . . . destruction of family and distress to family and friends . . . ; the guilty not being brought to account . . .; and isolation, loneliness, and loss of friends...

And on Page 669:

"Whistleblowers, however, may not always realise that they are dissenting as the stated principles of organisations usually outlaw malpractice. It is often shattering for them to find deviance supported while they are savagely victimised.

It is disappointing that statutory authorities so often fail to help, seeming, like most workmates, to side with employers as part of the authority system. Obedience to authority and group conformity seem to be central to this. In the agentic state described by Milgram most people seem willing to do almost anything to others, disregarding personal morality, as long as some authority figure seems to be ultimately responsible.

Forcing whistleblowers to see psychiatrists in order to discredit them, usually as having a personality disorder that could account for their irrational obsession with malpractice, is reminiscent of Soviet misuse of psychiatry. IF THE FIRST PSYCHIATRIST'S REPORT IS UNHELPFUL THE SUBJECT CAN BE FORCED TO SEE ANOTHER UNTIL THE DESIRED RESULT IS ACHIEVED. This practice is clearly unethical: coercion invalides consent. (The personalities of the subjects in this study were not unusual, but nearly half were of the sensing, thinking, perceiving type (about 12% of the population), which is considered to be particularly suited to quality control or accountancy.)