Ruminative Embitterment Syndrome at Work

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“Ruminative Embitterment Syndrome at Work” (RES) was the title of a presentation given by Doctor Peter Farnbach on 18 February at Hadley’s Orient Hotel in Hobart on Thursday, 18th February 2016.

Dr Farnbach explained to an audience of over 60 attendees, that RES was a response to perceived injustice, negative mood and embitterment. Those that suffer from this condition usually have thoughts and memories long after the triggering event, they phobicly avoid places related to the event (usually the workplace) and in some cases are pathologically consumed by an intense desire for revenge.

His lecture covered the topic under the areas of:

>       Clinical picture;

>       Risk Factors;

>       Treatment;

>       Prevention.


Clinical Picture – Here he explained that there could be a cycle of behavior, which resulted in more time off work, withdrawal and anger, stress responses and multiple demands thereby worsening the depression and anxiety.

Flags or clues that gave rise to this were:

>     Minor Stress;

>     Prolonged periods off work;

>     Multiple demands;

>     Vast quantities of paperwork;

>     Very angry responses to minor issues;

>     Treaters and advocators appear to act as protectors;

>     Angry response to well-meaning attempts to assist.

>     Often diagnosed incorrectly as PTSD.


Risk Factors – This condition was often seen in the workplace or during separation /divorce situations.

The personality style of the individual was often a contributing factor i.e. Obsessional, narcissistic or those with mild Asperger’s syndrome.

A single individual or those with no partner that they could discuss problems with.

The treater is the advocate or protector.


The workplace is seen as not following their own guidelines.

Lack of promotion and poor performance review.


Treatment – The prognosis is poor, hence there is a low expectation of recovery.

Medically there is often a bad response to anti-depressants.

Psychologically, ruminations have to be addressed.  This can be difficult and requires the co-operation of the partner. Often the patient does not want to give these up.  To assist, encouragement to re-engage in other activities of daily living, and “thought stopping” behavioral approach (using the “rubber band”) theory can be used. And actually giving limited allotted time to ruminate. Always apply strict limits to behavior, but know when to “cut the losses”.


Prevention –It can be very difficult to put strategies in place to prevent this condition occurring.

A happy and healthy work environment was always the best prevention.

The presentation was concluded after one hour and a quarter and extremely positive feedback was received by a number of attendees on the day, and from evaluation proformas. Some commenting the presentation was “excellent” and others citing “I could listen to Peter for Hours”.

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