The association between adverse working conditions and mental disorders is well established. In addition to psychopathological symptoms, this study aimed at investigating anger and personality traits in a clinical sample of subjects referring negative interpersonal experiences in workplaces.
1676 workers attending a Centre for Occupational Stress in Milan (from 2014 to 2016) were administered an assessment protocol including SCL-90 for general psychopathology, STAXI for anger intensity and expression, and MMPI-2 for personality traits. A qualitative checklist was used to collect negative experiences in workplaces.
Patients reported they were exposed to “threats to the task or the professional career” more than to “attacks to the person”. Over 80% scored above the cutoff in all the subscales of the SCL-90, with highest scores in Depression, Obsessive–Compulsive Disorder, Anxiety, Somatization and Paranoia. 60% scored above the 90th percentile in the AX/in subscale, showing intense anger feelings that they mostly suppress. Abnormal elevations at the MMPI scales of Hypochondria, Depression, Hysteria, and Paranoia were found in over 50% of the sample. Women reported higher psychological difficulties and internalized anger than men. Anger towards objects and people, instead, was more common in males. No differences were observed by work sector or employment status.
In addition to severe psychological difficulties, individuals reporting negative interpersonal experiences in workplaces have high levels of internalized anger and a distinctive profile of personality traits. While a deeper investigation is needed, anger expression should be considered in future treatment programs.