When injury is used as vengeance

There is no doubt that many injured workers are mistreated. They do not receive approval for diagnostic tests (i.e.MRI, CT etc.), treatment is intentionally delayed by the workcover insurance company, procedures are denied or cancelled, prescriptions are rebutted and financial compensation (i.e. weekly payments, reimbursements etc.) is not sent.
The injured worker, in a dependent position, grows resentful and also feels powerless…

When injury is used as vengeance

After months of enduring these frustrations, the injured worker (most often male) feels that the only alternative is “to get them like they have been getting me.” That is, they simply refuse to recover, refuse to consistently comply with prescribed or suggested treatment modalities, refuse to settle and refuse to “move on” and “let go”.

The injured worker -wrongly- feels  that this passive-aggression (at times active-aggression!)  will balance the scales and make others suffer as he feels he has.

This type of injured worker often sees the “system” simply as his workcover insurer, his employer, his case manager and his treating doctor(s).  What’s more, after a while, the “system” will include friends, family members and even websites and blogs! The injured worker can only appreciate his own plight and does not see (nor particularly care) about administrative, clerical or “opinion”-related “problems”.

Often, however, there is an acceptance that passive-aggression has become the injured worker’s sole recourse…and many people close to such an injured worker will just “put up” with the constant aggression, until it becomes unbearable! The passive aggression escalates, the injured worker is so resentful and vengeful that he (she) starts taking it out on friends and family, who in his (her) opinion are somehow “pro-workcover” because they don’t always agree 200% with his/her extreme opinions, and whilst they’re only trying to help the injured person in their recovery.

Often the most important questions or findings is “what are the injured worker’s grievances that occurred after injury” rather than the seeking of obscure reasons for continued (often excessive) complaints.

Educating the injured worker as to why delays occur is usually in-effective. Equally ineffective is trying to rationalise your opinion an actions as it will further instigate and antagonise him/her.

All that can be done , or is left, is base administrative decisions, judgements, opinions and even clinical decisions solely on objective findings.

Underlying personality disorder and pain

While pain and depression are common and expected among injured workers and can be managed with appropriate pain clinic and pain specialist consultation, there are some injured workers who suffer from an underlying,  severe character pathology (aka. personality disorders). Those represent an extreme challenge.

A study (Burton et al., 1997), found that up to 25% of the patients in a traditional multidisciplinary pain clinical have symptoms of borderline personality disorder (26% histrionic personality disorder and 22%  of narcissistic personality disorder)
Another study (Polatin et al, 1993) reports that up to 5% of the injured workers in these settings are antisocial, having a pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others. Deceit, violence and a pattern of job, marital and legal problems are also often typical of this group.  These are referred to as “Cluster B” or “dramatic” personality disorders.

Most of us dread interaction with borderline injured workers who tend to be impulsive, have unregulated emotions, and are unstable in their relationships with family, friends, lawyers, and even their medical practitioners. Histrionic people are attention seeking, markedly overly emotional and melodramatic. Narcissistic people lack empathy for those around them, have endless need for attention and admiration and see themselves as special with a strong sense of entitlement.

Psychological methods of coping – which were barely adequate prior to injury- now become grossly maladaptive in the presence of pain and the attention provided by others, including friend, family and support “blogs” / “websites”.

Compliance is spotty at best. Equally as problematic is that dramatic personality disorders are disruptive and damaging to  therapeutic settings. The antisocial has a continuous potential for violence, and the histrionic’s aggressive demand for attention can never be adequately met. The narcissist needs to remain disabled to generate attention and will fly into a rage when they are forced to comply with rules (that they insist do not apply to them). The bordeline’s create an atmosphere of chaotic moods and demand the “impossible” to attempt to achieve emotional stability.

These type personalities will not only disrupt other injured people , but they will also fatigue and deplete professional and support staff, friends, family and support groups.

The key will always be to recognise these personality disturbances as having existed for almost all of the patient’s life and not mislabel them as the result of pain itself.

Why are we writing this?

Being heavily involved with injured workers, incl. support “group”, blog, forum etc., we have come across a (very) few injured workers who have turned their anger, rage, frustration and ‘vengeance’ against us! Initially we could not understand why any injured worker would “take it out” on us, on a blog, support group and/or the blog administrators; especially not after having gone to great lengths to try and help the injured person.

It is only later, through discussions with our own psychologists and psychiatrists, that the above picture emerged. Meaning that there are injured people with underlying personality disorder.

We believe that there are some carers, friends, spouses, partners, relatives, moms, dads, GPs and even other injured workers out there that relentlessly “cop it” from such unhappy injured workers, no matter what they do or say. This can cause feelings of hurt, defeat, abuse, depression, guilt, inadequacy in those who try so hard to offer support. We therefore believe it is important to be aware that some injured workers do, with no fault of theirs, suffer from underlying problems, including personality disorders and that those ought to be identified and treated.

One such person emailed us the following (excerpts)

An injured worker posted what we believed was inappropriate “advice” and we said so; in response we received:

“By [our blog] providing false hope, chin up, keep going, advice, it just digs them further in the hole that is inescapable”

Following our decision to hide some forum posts from the preying eyes of workcover et.al (posts only viewable by those who register, registration is instant and free).

“… regardless of how much you enable people to feel better through having a support group, the end result will not be people getting fairer outcomes, rather, the game will evolve to take advantage of the fact you’re organising to play their stupid administrative games, and the people who now don’t join in the support group get even further hung out to dry… ”

Is that how the forums are gonna run, anyone who doesn’t say what you want them to say, just boot them off?  I thought it was workcover who acted like that….”

“You’ve got a nice little support group going, and they’re busy attacking me for having a problem with politics, and voicing that opinion.  Meanwhile I get stuck with no support from anyone.  Toughen up, get back to work ya lazy prick….”

Following numerous comments from injured workers that this person’s advice was inappropriate:

” I’m talking politics, and people are misinterpreting my words as personal attacks or someshit.  The socially-correct thing for me to do is dilute what I say down so I don’t say anything, but fuck that shit…”

“No need for a lynchmob, or threats of censorship”


Personality Disorders explained

Personality is merely a term used to describe the sum total of characteristics that make us each unique. We each have a personality which is our style of interacting with our world.

There are, however, “personality disorders” in which the individual has developed a pattern of maladaptive ways of interacting that results in some degree of occupational and social impairment.

People with a personality disorder do not feel that they necessarily have a problem. They do feel that there is something wrong with everyone else.

The individual may, for example, have a paranoid personality disorder. Such individuals, when injured, expect the worst and look for it continually. They hire a lawyer to protect themselves and end up not trusting the lawyer. They anticipate betrayal from family, friends and doctors.

They live in a world where they are defending themselves against others whom they perceive undermines their authority. They attribute to others the very characteristics that actually may define themselves. They believe that others are scheming against them. They feel that they will have to defend themselves, and they cannot readily relinquish control to others.

Communicating with those type of personalities can be very difficult; most say to peep conversations brief and always directed toward the point/topic. Do not respond to accusations because defending yourself will have no positive impact. Anticipate that you will not be trusted no matter what you do (and be prepared to document all of your actions).

Be certain that others are aware of this pattern of behaviour so that he/she can assure that s/he does not fall prey to the same chaotic interactions.

Be aware that you will not be successful in changing a personality disorder, but you can learn to anticipate how someone with, for example, a paranoid personality disorder does respond.

And, by the way, a personality disorder cannot be caused by injury.

Personality disorders are interesting, but since they cannot arise from injury, why would we care if an injured worker has one?

The interest is in attempting to return a patient to baseline functioning…how they were before they were injured, says the psychiatrist.

If they have a personality disorder of which you are unaware, your efforts to return them to what you consider to be “normal” will ultimately fail.

Thus, if they are pathologically dependent or pathologically avoidant by virtue of a developmental personality disorder, and you are unaware of this, you can exhaust yourself in an attempt to restore them to a level of functioning which they have never had.

Additionally, if they have even more dysfunctional personality disorders such as paranoid, or borderline, much of what you believe is arising from injury is actually the way they have (poorly) functioned for much, if not all, of their adult lives.

Think of personality as a foundation upon which our lives are built. A personality disorder can then be considered a weak foundation for the development of adequate social and occupational functioning.

Another Example

An injured worker is verbally abusive and physically threatening to several people. He appears to have no boundaries. It is highly probable is that he suffers from longstanding Intermittent “Explosive Disorder”. This could be determined by determining if he has had recurrent physical confrontations and destruction of property when provoked. Such individuals often have a history of domestic violence recurrently in their lives.

While depressed people can be irritable and overly responsive, and they may even launch into brief verbal tirades for which they feel guilt and remorse, those with intermittent explosive disorder,for example, simply do not tolerate disappointment or frustration.

“I have seen this occur when a patient is offered a settlement amount that was not what he expected” says the psychiatrist we interviewed.

Some injured people will attempt to cover their explosiveness and assaultive behaviors by stating “I was depressed” to avoid responsibility. Also, they may quickly learn that to try to claim it as due from injury may increase the perceived financial value of their claim.

Conclusion: sometimes, no matter what you try and do to help your injured friend, spouse, family member, colleague etc, nothing will work. Sometimes you may find that YOU are the one being abused, attacked and ‘mentally assaulted” for trying to help. It is NOT your fault. Don’t blame yourself, don’t feel guilty. Chances are that your injured friend suffers from a personality disorder- aggravated by his/her injury.

[Post entered by w/C Victim3 on behalf of W/C Victim]

Shortlink: http://workcovervictimsdiary.com/?p=5273



7 Responses to “When injury is used as vengeance”

  1. Thank you for a most interesting article indeed.

    I believe injured workers must early accept those activities in which they are engaging, and those which complicate their recovery…medication abuse, weight gain, sedentary lifestyle, social isolation, failure to aggressively seek options, dependency upon family and friends, blamefulness and verbal abuse of others, etc….are their own responsibility.

    If the injured worker exclusively entrusts the future to others, and spends available time blaming others of the past events, the probability of a viable future is almost nonexistent.

    The first question to the injured person must be: “Regardless of all that has happened, what are *you* now willing to do to put your life back together?

    The answer to that question will determine case outcome.


  2. Not directly related but interesting or rather very disturbing.

    I have been informed that a fellow named-Jonathan White- who was posing a seriously injured victim (and appealed for money!) was in fact a hoax.

    It is absolutely disgusting that someone would play on the emotions of caring people in an attempt to receive money.  It’s just shameful!!!

    He had such a following on Twitter, many people each and everyday supporting him through his supposed illness (he claimed he had brain cancer) severe pain and an injury, myself included. I started following him after I received a message from a “Demi Moore” asking everyone to follow and support Jonathan.

    If those caring people that gave of their hard-earned money get duped often enough by criminals such as this, perhaps they will think twice about giving in the future in fear that it is yet another hoax. I would like to say I am not surprised but truly I am. You can not go any LOWER than to pull on the heart-strings of people and tell them a tale about a young fellow suffering with injuries and whatever. Blows my mind it does…I just can’t get over how low people will go. WOW is all I can say!


    A Jonathan White March 1, 2012 at 3:26 pm
  3. Workers’ Compensation – Psychological Injuries

    The following explanation on psychological injuries is from the WorkCover NSW Web site on Eligibility or and Lodging of a Workers Compensation Claim.

    Psychological injuries are compensable if there is medical evidence that employment was a substantial contributing factor.

    A claim for psychological injury can only be made if there is medical evidence to support that, as a result of your employment, you suffered from a psychological or psychiatric disorder.

    No compensation is payable for a psychological injury if the injury was wholly or predominantly caused by reasonable action taken or proposed to be taken by or on behalf of the employer with respect to transfer, demotion, promotion, performance appraisal, discipline, retrenchment or dismissal of workers or provision of employment benefits to workers.

    You can lodge a claim with your employer’s insurer, but you will require a medical certificate stating a diagnosis of your condition (ie. specific symptoms) described in suitable medical terms and the doctor’s opinion as to wether your work was a substantial contributing factor to the onset of this condition.

    Note: The word “stress” is an insufficient diagnosis of your condition for the purposes of making a claim for workers compensation.


  4. I really admire you posting this WCV. Thank you. I realise its not easy to shine a light on some victims of injury behavior – so i applaud you for this.

    “Yep”‘s post really resonates with me.Are we speaking of the same person??? I was not the ‘partner’. just the ‘friend who tried to help’ at a very high cost to me, my life, my family and my happiness. The original post describes that person to a T. Histrionic/paranoid/borderline – and I also think bipolar.

    I poured so much time and effort into this cause, only to be treated with utter disregard – the worst part is that he doesn’t see it. He thinks I am victimizing him by trying to get away from him – everyone he drives away with his abuse and then accuses them of abandoning him.  At times he was pleasant and helpful, but those times compared to the nasty/abusive/ times are a blip on the radar.  There is a point at which its not healthy to maintain such relationships and I encourage anyone who is in such a relationship to get out. Regardless of injury or victimsation, theres a point where it becomes a threat to your OWN life to support such people.

    I personally got advice from a psychologist to “get as far away from this person as you can” – I was advised they have a Parasitic personality/lifestyle which is a feature of avoidant personality disorder. This personality disorder existed prior to the injury – the injury only exacerbated it and gave him a justifiable reason to be non-productive, co-dependent and increasingly angry and abusive at everyone.

    To some people the abuse was probably sometimes hard to spot, because it wasn’t overt name calling – but it was constant little things.. always telling me i do everything wrong. Always giving unwanted advice. Taking a superior role in the relationship – correcting how I speak, talking over me, always trying to change me and put me down in every way he could. Even a compliment would be laced with a slap in the face. If ever he was called out on this behavior he would conveniently forget due to pain, or otherwise outright deny and then attack me for suggesting it – or try to talk me in circles until I agreed with him – this is called “crazymaking”.

    At other times, he would be outright nasty and abusive -calling me a selfish bitch, calling me manipulative if I ended a conversation whee i was being abused. etc  It didnt matter WHAT I DID – he blamed me for everything wrong. When i told him i want him to stop contacting me, he said i was wrong about what i wanted – that by telling him that i actually want him to respond to me. When i told him i dont need his cooperation to end the friendship and that i wanted him to leave me alone, he wrote this:

    “That’s the problem, when there are others involved, you have to negotiate, not just do whatever the fuck you want.

    You are the one engaging in the abusive crap, not me.  I’m trying to be civil and give you the separation you want, and you’re CONTINUING to be agressive and bait me, telling me you’re doing whatever the fuck you want and telling me you don’t give a fuck if I like it or not.
    That’s just plain ASKING for me to retaliate, so perhaps retaliation is what you actually want?
    It certainly would seem to match your default programming.  Are you really sure you’re getting what you want?
    If you want to get away from me, I’m offering to leave you alone.  If you truly want to be left alone, negotiate it with me and I’ll leave you peaceably.”

    He is insisting that i need to NEGOTIATE WITH HIM for him to leave me alone. So bizarre and proof that boundaries are a major problem with him.

    He used to tell me he was so lonely, so i would talk to him online for hours on end some nights – usually because he would drop that he was suicidal before I went to bed (another manipulative tactic) – he even sent me a picture of a noose. Then he would be angry at me because he was in pain from typing and it was my fault for talking to him. Everything was always my fault – he could NOT look at himself in any way and i felt like i had become his verbal punching bag. I felt abused. Constantly.

    Suffice to say, the constant negativity and mental gymnastics of this person got me to the point I myself felt like giving up on life. Not in years have i felt so depressed and worthless. These people are dangerous to be around…the worst part is that he ACTUALLY thinks he is helping people – he ACTUALLY thinks he is an altruist.

    And it didnt end well. I have withdrawn my support now and I am being threatened. So, looks like I will need to get police and legal involvement if he does not leave me alone. I am sick and tired of giving to people who just abuse me and my energy.. but such is my life it seems. I seem to attract these nutters to my life  =( I genuinely try to be a good person, help when I can, give to others. I try to be kind, honest, caring. For some reason, these types of people love me.. and abuse me.

  5. I think the hardest bit is that these people are really sick but do not realise it, and definitely do not admit that they may have a problem, rather than those who try to help them. They are very clever and extremely manipulative and are capable of making the strongest amongst us feel guilty for no reason whatsoever but for helping them. That’s what gets me. It is not their fault either – they just don’t see or feel it and this makes them ultimately even sicker as they become more and more socially isolated and shunned. It is very hard not to feel sorry for them, but you’ve got to draw the line somewhere and look after your own sanity. For example after receiving some emails like those above, the person tells me “they don’t remember personally attacking me/us”! Very convenient – They blame it on their injury, sleeplessness, depression,pain, but don’t take responsibility!

  6. Thank you for a great and insightful article. I believe I know exactly what you are trying to explain. My partner suffered an injury some years ago, but to this day, remains extremely angry and vengeful. He often says that he wants “other to suffer for what he is suffering”, in particular the person responsible for the accident (although it was just an accident). Over the years, my partner has become extremely abusive towards me and his friends, in fact he has lost all his friends. They have all “abandoned” him as he states but he has actually bullied them away by attacking and abusing the for the help they gave him. One of his mates gave him the use of his new car as it was an automatic. My partner drove it into a small fence and then blamed his friend for “the piece of sh*t you made me drive”! No thank you, no apology but an insult!  This has been going on for many years and I could no longer take it and filed for a divorce last year. Whilst I am not saying he does not suffer (he certainly has pain from his injury), he uses his injury to seek revenge for something deeper (I am not sure what that is). He is working full time, earns almost as much as he did before the injury but remains so very angry and demanding. For example he would scream that he is not earning as much than before the injury but then he will be eating in a restaurant 3 x per day;  he will yell about his pain but I will find him in the garden doing garden work; he used to yell at me when his dinner was not “as he wanted” and never say thank you for making the effort to prepare it and serve it to him on the couch. It is very very hard, if not impossible to live with someone like that, especially since he adamantly refused to see a psychiatrist and was convinced that he was right and the whole world was wrong.

    Initially I felt guilty and thought all was my fault, until I had counseling myself.

    He would easily have written those kind of emails to you/admin too!

    The problem is that they don’t realise that they are sick and they make themselves much much worse by acting the way they do. They lose their friends, their jobs, their carers, doctors, everything, which in turn makes them even sicker.

    • Thanks for sharing your story. It’s hard, isn’t it?

      I think that when you notice an injured worker (friend, spouse, colleague etc) who stays very angry for a (too) long period, or starts to become nasty/demanding it is time to try and convince him/her to seek professional help. Injuries can aggravate any underlying problem, such as pre-existing financial, work or marital problems and not only ‘character’ problems and many injured workers will suffer from some sort of meltdown. Things will undoubtedly be a hundred times worse if they have, in addition to the injury, an underlying personality disorder and should really get treated in order to cope. Injuries on ‘healthy’ individuals are on their own already tremendously difficult to cope with.

      workcovervictim3 February 28, 2012 at 5:55 pm