For philosopher Byung-Chul Han, burnout is depression and exhaustion - it is a sickness that plagues a society bent on excessive positivity and achievement to the point of self-destruction.
Burnout keeps on spreading. With the emergence of the internet, people start speaking about "digital burnout." Social media burns you out. Gig work burns you out. It is no longer a temporary problem - it's a modern problem.
MORE IDEAS FROM Burnout: Modern Affliction or Human Condition?
Herbert J. Freudenberger, the psychologist who defined burnout, became involved in the 'free clinic' movement in the late 1960s. It was a community-based clinic that served alienated populations in the US, including hippies and drug abusers.
Volunteer staff helped with drug abuse treatment and detoxification. The people talked about being "burnt out" by drug addiction. Freudenberger worked his second job at the clinic until midnight until he finally found himself in a state of exhaustion. In his self-diagnosis, he borrowed the metaphor drug users invented to describe their suffering.
To suffer from burnout is to be used up, like a spent battery that can't be recharged. Defining symptoms are exhaustion, cynicism, and loss of productivity.
The World Health Organization recognized burnout as an occupational phenomenon in 2019 but it is not listed as a medical condition. Multiple studies suggest burnout symptoms are identical to depression.
The diagnosis suffers from two confusions:
The term 'burnout' got its name in 1973 and by the 1980s, everyone was burned out. One Swiss psychotherapist stated that Moses, mentioned in the Old Testament, was burned out. Research suggests that three out of five workers feel burned out globally, but a recent book claims all Millenials suffer from burnout.
The press picked up on burnout and filled pages of newspapers and magazines with new categories of burned-out workers, from lists of symptoms to quizzes. Everyone suffered.
The sceptics fired back. "The new IN thing is 'burnout,'" a Time columnist wrote. "If you don't come down with it, you're a bum." Even Freudenberger was tired of burnout. Still, in 1985, he published a new book on Women's Burnout. The press loved quoting him, writing that "you can't have it all."
Herbert J. Freudenberger, having experienced the state of burnout himself, wrote an essay on "staff burnout". He extended the idea to staff of all sorts, including attorneys, child-care workers, medical professionals and parents. He found burnouts everywhere and popularised the idea in interviews and self-help books.
Now, burnout wasn't what happened to you when you had nothing - it was what happened to you when you wanted it all. It made the term a yuppy problem, a badge of success.
Burnout can be broken down into three parts:
Burnout can be defined as a combination of exhaustion, cynicism, and inefficiency. People who feel burned out may experience a lack of emotional energy to attend to their work, withdraw from colleagues and customers, and may feel incompetent as a result.
But not everyone experiences burnout in the same way. A better framework can help to understand the many subtypes of burnout.
There are many symptoms to this cause but we must understand first what creative burnout is. It is the state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion around creative working.
More than many of us experience creative burnout from time to time. However, we must keep in mind that having a creative burnout does not mean we are lazy or that we do not care about our work. Be kind to yourself.
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