THE MAGAZINE

The Psychology and Law of Workplace Violence: A Handbook for Mental Health Professionals and Employers.

By William Cottringer, Ph.D

The Psychology and Law of  Workplace Violence: A Handbook for Mental Health Professionals and Employers.
By Irvin Perline, Ph.D., and Jona Goldschmidt, J.D., Ph.D.; published by Charles C. Thomas, 800/258-8980 (phone), www.ccthomas.com (Web); 500 pages; $69.95.

Security professionals involved in preventing workplace violence will find The Psychology and Law of  Workplace Violence to be an excellent reference. Although the book is long, the information is useful and is presented in an easy writing style.

The well-organized book has three parts: the psychological aspects of workplace violence, the legal aspects of workplace violence, and capsule summaries of real-life incidents and lessons learned. Managers, consultants, and instructors will likely benefit most from the first four chapters. They offer rich knowledge of the psychology of workplace violence, including Perline's theory that distinguishes between object-focused and nonobject-focused violence. They also describe a continuum of internal and external risk factors, and present practical prevention strategies. For example, it may be useful to know that an employee's perception of injustices and entitlement may trigger his need to find closure for his frustration. Defusing these perceptions can lower the probability of violence.

Another worthwhile read is a section by Goldschmidt on legal considerations, which explains tricky legal concepts in layman's terms. Security managers would do well to summarize this section for supervisors. Also to be shared with supervisors should be the enlightening case histories in part three of the book.

The 500 pages covered here represent the best of what is known about workplace violence. The only absences are the recent cutting-edge work of John Byrnes in Before Conflict and earlier pioneering work by Dennis Dalton. However, the other 1,000-plus references here more than make up for those omissions.


Reviewer: William Cottringer, Ph.D., is the president of Puget Sound Security of Bellevue, Washington, as well as a security management instructor and writer. He has produced a training video on workplace violence and given numerous anger-management seminars. He is a member of ASIS International.

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