Jeremy Clarkson 'punch': High-profile stars are used to being hero-worshipped – and that can make them flip, says psychologist

The presenter has been suspended pending an investigation by the BBC

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The Independent Online

Jeremy Clarkson has been suspended by the BBC following the now-infamous "fracas" with a Top Gear producer, which allegedly ended with Clarkson "punching" his colleague. But how does workplace antagonism spiral out of control in the first place?

Dr Sandi Mann, senior psychology lecturer at The University of Central Lancashire and author of Manage Your Anger (Hodder & Stoughton), says that stress-induced aggression is a more common problem among celebrities or people in high-powered jobs.

"These are people who are used to things going right," she explains. "The higher up you are, the more likely you are to be hero-worshipped or treated as important, so the more likely you are to have higher expectations of things being ‘as they should be’."

While it varies on a case-by-case basis, Mann argues that when people pay more attention to you, you may become less patient, which can sometimes spill over into aggression.


"When people stop you trying to achieve things, it makes you angry," she explains. "If you’re in the public eye and a lot of people agree with what you say, you can get carried away with things being done 'right', whereas if you’re lower down you just don’t have those expectations.

"Everyone will feel upset, though, if they’re not treated the way they expect, and stress can lead to a massive explosion of anger." But it's not just celebrities who are prone to argue at work. "High stress levels are increasingly common, but they shouldn’t end in fisticuffs," she says. "We are getting more angry as a society, because we have more to make us angry – such as higher expectations and a low tolerance for when things go wrong."

Mann's advice for handling stress includes taking full days away from social media and answering emails, and recognising your anger triggers. Perhaps advice that's just as relevant for TV presenters as for the rest of us.