Stop-Burnout Discussion
Burnout at the Workplace (2) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dr Christian Jonathan Haverkampf MD LLM   
Tuesday, 09 April 2013 15:49

So, what can we do against burnout? First it is important to identify key areas that are causing burnout in the inividual. Areas to consider may be:


  • Professional - work-related stress, frustration and dissatisfaction
  • Financial - personal financial problems and the economy in general
  • Emotional - mood and mood swings, psychological problems
  • Social - one's personal network, partnership and family problems
  • Health - fears and actual chonic and/or severe ilnesses

There is no ranking implied in the list. From experience


Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 April 2013 15:51
Burnout at the Workplace (1) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dr Christian Jonathan Haverkampf MD LLM   
Tuesday, 09 April 2013 15:03



Some people can work in their jobs amanzing hours, some are exhausted even if they have little work waiting for them. What is respsonsible for the difference? This article intends to leave a striking answer: meaning

Viktor Frankl, the founder of logotherapy, has explained quite convincingly that it helps to feel that one's life has meaning. He survived hell on earth, the concentration camp, and described his observations repeatedly that people who felt that their existence, their life, were less likely to get sick and die when facing extreme hardship and an environment that negated the meaning of their existence.

However, I want to look at meaning in a more detailed way. In communication theory meaning is the novel element contained in a message. If a living organism is reflecting on its own existence it is the perception of a speck of life in one's actions and communication. It may be a tall order for the modern office worker to see life reflected in what she is doing, saying on the phone or typing in on her keyboard. But seeing meaning in what one is doing is of great importance.

What is Burnout? It is not just eshaustion, but always includes frustration or some other similar emotion, such as feeling helplessly loced into a job. Burnout has this additional emotional component beyond exhuastion which makes it what it is. But this is also the factor which can lead to negative consequences, such as physical or mental ilness. The individual mentally and physically is in a constant state of arousal which cannot be drained into action. Imagine you feel should be doing something but cannot, This is, surpringly for the exhaustion that goes with it, the state of an individual experiencing burnout.

Is burnout a dignosis? No, not in the traditional sense. The most commonly used diagnostic manuals, the ICD-10 and the DSM-IV do not include an ilness or a codition called burnout. Only the ICD-10 includes an optional additional factor called 'burnout' in its chapter 'Z' whose use is often discouraged.

You often see people burning out in jobs like nursing, teaching and social work. Why is that? These are jobs where empathy and compassion seem to play a larger role than in many other jobs. Often people in these professions say that they are getting distanced from themselves, from who they are. This distancing often triggers cynicsim and leads people to become even more estranged from their work. Three factors often come together:

  • the stress through the strenuousness of the work itself
  • the secondary traumatisation of the painful narratives one hears
  • the stress from trying to balance work and personal life
This can lead to emotional disengagement, distancing from patients/students/clients and a distancing from oneself and one's emotionality, a feeling of numbness.

Interestingly, in many cases one does not see that a coleague is having a problem until it is much too late. The causes for burnout seem to be something so personal that people do not want to talk about it. Rather they see burnout as a personal failure which makes them reluctant and often unable to seek help, especially not within their work environment.


Interesting books on communication:

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Please note that no professional advice of any sort can be given in this blog. Nothing shall be construed as advice. Always consult a professional if the situation warrants it.

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(c) 2013 Christian Jonathan Haverkampf. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction or dissemination prohibited.



Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 April 2013 15:21