When one person purposefully engages in behavior that is intended to and does cause severe mental anguish in another, he or she is subject to the laws regarding the intentional infliction of emotional distress. There are several factors which determine the extent to which a perpetrator may be liable in such a claim:
- First, the wrongdoer’s behavior must be deemed as extreme and outrageous. If a person of average temperament would suffer emotional distress caused by the wrongdoer’s actions, then those actions can be deemed as “outrageous.” Consideration would also need to be taken for those individuals whose temperament is more sensitive or high-strung: in cases such as this, the standard for outrageousness can be lowered.
- Second, it must be done intentionally to cause emotional distress or with reckless disregard to such a consideration.
- Third, it is also helpful if the victim can show other non-emotional damages such as loss of gainful employment.
An example of intentional inflection of emotional distress would be an aide in a nursing home telling an aged resident that her family has died, when they had not, just to disturb the resident.