Corpo-Rate Punishment – By Sandra Gluschankoff

By Guest Blogger: SANDRA GLUSCHANKOFF — Argentinian (read bio)

Corpo: Italian for body

Rate: fee, price, toll

I’ve been accused many times of being extremely analytical. I admit it; I’m guilty of evaluating and tearing up situations to pieces until they make some sense to me.

One of the many things that I do is teach Hebrew (I’m making a mental note to add it to my bio, surely I will forget by the time I’m done writing this article). A good trick for teaching a language is making your students understand the root and significance of words. In doing so, they can discover the many directions a particular word can be related to the ones they already know.

When the termcorporate” started playing games in my mind, it was no surprise to me that the meaning was defined as a toll or price that you pay with your body. Now, hold your horses! Don’t run for your Webster’s, because this definition is not there. But I wouldn’t be surprised if it will be added in a few years time.

The corporate world today in America is the new definition of the American dream. Kids graduate from a four-year college and they set their sights on entering the corporate world. They can hardly wait to be handed a position together with a personality that matches their new job description. The corporation, with all of its fabulous perks such as 401K, profit sharing, stock options, and the promise of promotions, becomes a deceiving and conniving patriarch that rules their lives. They become a number, just like in any sweatshop in China or Latin America, and are categorized by their productivity rate.

The way I see it, the corporate world is a machine that sucks any sign of living matter out of its dependents. It is the vivid materialization of what my buddy Sigmund Freud defined as Psychology of the Masses: one brain thinks, while others follow without a conscious realization of their own actions or desires.

As members of a mass we lose our individuality or personal responsibility, which translates into the personality of the mass or the responsibility of the group as a whole. Hence the condescending and detached answers we get every time we contact a company and the person on the other end comes up with generic answers such as “we apologize” and “we understand.” No personal feelings are involved, just complete and utter detachment.

The explanation of the corporation as a functional institution is pretty scary. The way it works is by taking away its members’ uniqueness or individuality. Once that is suppressed, there is less of a threat of opposition to the master plan of the organization.

The big catch that blinds us all is the certain sense of security that comes associated with belonging to a corporation. It is like holding a seat in a bus flooded with people. But what happens when that bus hits a bump in the road and everybody, rattled by the event, ends up on the floor? Well, it becomes time to play musical chairs. Run, run, for your spot! Forget about what we learned in the sandbox during our preschool years, no more playing nice and sharing. It becomes a cut-throat race. The first one to get a chair, no matter who falls in the process, wins.

And what happens with all your hard work, your loss of self, and your new identity?  Who cares? It’s your problem. You are back to being a passenger on the crowded bus, standing and holding the bar, looking for the next big bump on the road that might give you the opportunity to beg for a new place on the magnificent corporate world. Hopefully this happens sooner than later, because once you hit the big 50, you are no longer a person of interest for the corporations. This is especially true if you have been out of work for an extended period of time. At that point you are not trainable anymore and your brain has had enough time to realize what has been done to you and you might come up with some ideas that might not fit into the corporation’s agenda. Imagine your profile on a computer screen, and an anonymous index finger pressing a button that selects the tab “TERMINATE.

This subject brings some good visuals to my mind. I’m sure many of you watched the Bourne Identity movies. Poor fellow! Running desperately, not knowing who he is or where to go. There we have it: the typical case of a corporate lay off.

The real life examples are very sad.  I took the time to read some reports in regards to corporate layoffs and the effect on their victims.  Even though it has not been confirmed as the main cause for the surprising and disturbing amounts of depression, suicide, and murder cases, the link is too strong to ignore.

I came across a report describing the mental and physical health state of corporate layoffs such as: Many terminated workers suffer changes in their mental health. They may experience a high level of depression, anxiety, stress, and loss of self-esteem and identity. Physical health complaints are most prominent during the period of anticipation. Physiological changes suggest an increased likelihood of coronary disease, diabetes, peptic ulcer, gout, arthritis, and hypertension. Job-related stress and life stress are related to workers’ physical health and illness.

Okay. Now going back to my initial theory. Unfortunately, we have very recent and raw examples like the laid off Kaiser Hospital worker who killed himself, his wife and their five children, the Pfizer laid-off employee who nearly fatally stabbed his wife, or the attorney at Kilpatrick Stockton’s Supreme Court and Appellate Advocacy practice who shot himself at the DC office after being laid off.

It takes more than being let go to commit such acts. I know, no need to tell me. These people must have a serious case of “loose screws.” If that is in fact the case, I have a suggestion for corporations so they can cover their pretty behinds before the grieving families decide to sue for the loss of their loved ones. Why don’t you have everybody psychologically tested in order to define healthy survival after being seduced, used, pressured, and finally let go without a heartfelt goodbye?

I hate to say that I’m right (not really, I love to be right), but hey! I feel that I’m onto something. To be part of the corporate world today, we pay a very high price with our bodies and our lives, exactly what my definition of the word “corporate” implies. We subject ourselves to lose our individuality and we automatically sign up for a cheerleading team, athletically capable or not, where we are pushed to jump high without the guarantee of a safe fall. Ouch…

24 Responses to “Corpo-Rate Punishment – By Sandra Gluschankoff”

  1. KMM says:

    Ouch is right … although it may also be the understatement of the year …


  2. jaqui says:

    ok,Sandra I agree with you, but been a lot older than you I can tell thats what all a generaton was fighing for, lets say all old times were better, I never agreed ,in big holdings because when you beging to be a number and no one knows you by your name, when you berely have time to say a hi and by, thats what happen you are part of a corporate world, no feelings, just work.

  3. Organic Farmer says:

    Corporate world = necessary evil
    Remember that in a perfect world it is all about what we want and what we think it should be. Investors that put money in the stock market demand answers, profits and they have a lot more weight at board meetings that any of us, however large corporations fuel our economy. Indeed the buss is going to rattle here and there, but as we’ve all experienced lately; when the big powers get into trouble is difficult for the independent small business to survive. The only way to cure this phenomenon is to go back a century when localized economy was supported within communities. Then you new everybody’s name, job, family and even what schools their kids went to and you opinion “matter”. Today is globalized to a point that your job is not a local matter anymore, is simply a part of a world based machine that dictates what society is going to do next and what statistic we are going to fall under.

  4. Cinzia says:

    Great article!!! I must say I whole heartedly agree! We have let the corporate world take over our lives in the blink of an eye. Those of us that struggle to keep our identities and individuality do not belong to that “corporate race”…therefore we have to try even harder to live and work with passion for something we believe in that will support our cause.

  5. Carolina says:

    I feel like a number & I don’t like it. No matter how much they claim to value “customer relationships” or relationship selling it’s all about your productivity. What is your sales per hour? How much can you sell? Well it takes more than just selling to create a well oiled machine for your business to run smoothly, but none of those extra things are judged by a number or rated in productivity. How many returns have you done today? did you turn a return into an exchange (by your knowledge of the products you sell)? No rating number for helping a customer learn how to work a double zipper for example & go away happy and not return them. It takes time & effort to do the right thing & be a team player & not just sell, sell, sell. But it is getting to the point that all they want is a higher sph. Good Customer Service is going away.

  6. Olga says:

    Unfortunately, you are right, Sandra. I just want to add that laying off experienced workers, corporations punish themselves first of all(if we talk about the final product of whatever the corporation is providing). Very often they have to give up on quality. I have been teaching for 26 years and I know for sure that experience can not be substituted by anything. It is the major advantage of any worker in any field.

  7. laura says:

    Everything you wrote is right and painful. This is the way power and money are distributed and work in our time, although, you know…
    “nothing new under the sun”…
    Once upon a time…there were feudal lords and kings and all the absurd aristrocracy, no matter wich kind of aristrocracy you are talking about (blood, economic, politic), and now there are corporations.
    We’ve made a long way towards a better society but I agree with you, that there is a long way to be done yet.

  8. Agueda Suarez says:

    You wouldn¡¯t believe it but I¡¯ve wasted all day digging for some articles about this. You¡¯re a lifesaver, it was an excellent read and has helped me out to no end. Cheers,

  9. Sandra Lord: Co-Founder of this Blog says:

    Sandra G, it’s interesting that your article ties in with the topic of suicide that Kaz wrote about in her blog. However, I beg to disagree that the “condescending and detached answers we get every time we contact a company and the person on the other end comes up with generic answers such as ‘we apologize’ and ‘we understand'” is because of the corporate structure. I think we have lost our commitment to great customer service because we have become a rude, lazy, apathetic society whose only interest is to just do the job for which we are paid, enough to get by and very seldom do we strive to excel anymore. I have come up against some of those ‘generic’ robotic responses and each time it’s extremely annoying to experience. However, you get that bad attitude in the corporate setting as well as the small business. Even if I may not agree with this particular viewpoint, I like the breakdown of your article, however and enjoyed reading it.

  10. Krystle Wigchert says:

    Well, I am quite interested in your article after being laid off when I was no longer valuable to the company I had worked so hard for. It is dehumanizing the way you are summarily dismissed without thought or regard for your future or your mental health. I am not going to work for anyone anymore and will pursue my lifelong ambition to own my own business. Maybe that;s the kick in the pants I needed to realize my dream. Thank you for a wonderful, well thought out post and continued success with this blog. 😛

  11. Ina says:

    You write about a phenomenon, which happens around the world, as one can see in the case of a big company F…..n and the problems of the conditions of the workers in that factory in that big country with one of the highest population. The loss of individuality for humans is as they would convert into mindless and spiritless beings. But that transformation can’t work because they are not a robot. They still have their soul and spirit and they don’t loose this though it seems to be so. So they are suffering very much and the result are destroyed and powerless or insensible personalities, who fail to recognize a sense in their existence. That should not be the way or the aim how we create our societies or our communities world wide. How can I teach children at school and impart them the right knowledge and values, if they meet afterwards the opposite? Sure that they will wonder and then try to find a way for themselves, but alone they won’t be able to do that. Only in a group of like-minded they are able to succeed. We need an ‘awake’ of many people to get back the awareness for humanity.

  12. Brooks says:

    what i don’t understand is why corporations lay off experience in favor of youth and vitality. you would have to imagine that its morons running the show when that happens.

  13. Donnell Youmans says:

    We all stress ourselves out in the hustle bustle of 9 to 5 and in the end it’s for what? Corporations don’t appreciate their workers anymore. Most of us are still living paycheck to paycheck, our bodies are overtaxed and our social skills are wanting.

  14. Tamari says:

    Well done. I couldn’t have said it better.

  15. Issac M. says:

    Hey, just wanted to say thanks for the excellent read. Surprisingly I agree with it, although I am part of the establishment.

    • Sandra G says:

      Being part of the establishment are just the rules we have to play by, trust me I know, I’m part of one too. Just keep your eyes open and don’t let them suck in. Just like Mufasa told Simba (The Lion King) “Remember who you are” :)

  16. Ma says:

    thank you for an inciteful piece. ia m a victim of corpo-rate punishment you write about after giving my blood to an ungrateful corporation. the bigger companies get the more indiffernt the become about their employees unfortunately. but who knows every disappointment could be a blessing in disguise.

  17. blanche says:

    your blog is even more relevant now. the Senate leaving so many people hanging with their unemployment benefits while they take a leisurely 2 week vacation. that’s the real corporate ripoff.

  18. Matthew Exec says:

    Corporations are not here to take care of their employees personal problems. Corporations are entities and are impersonal. We cannot be responsible for the welfare of all of our employees. We are here to compete effectively and to operate at a profit. I’m sorry but you have it wrong.

    • Sandra G. says:

      I never implied that corporations should babysit their employees. But as long as persons and not robots are part of the work force it is not impersonal, Matthew, it’s very personal!

  19. Darrel Sedlachek says:

    Really awesome information on this article. I suggest this to someone interested in social science in general. It can be usefulapplications that are broad, in each aspect of life.

  20. Tarok says:

    Well, Hey I think you have a great blog going here 😀

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