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The Workaholic: Between Normality and Pathology


A workaholic is a person addicted to work and, like any addiction, it hides a personality disorder, depression, anxiety or trauma. I will first expose the psychotherapist point of view: although the people in the situation described above are uncomfortable receiving an accurate assessment of their situation by a psychologist, often they choose the feedback of a coach. At first, they hide their problems, and later on, they will deepen them, becoming one with the problems.

Let me explain what this “condition” means. The problems that can hide behind the addiction to work are:

Problems in the family of origin:

The systematic de-personalization inflicted by the family of origin: “You’re not good enough;” “You will not succeed in life;” “You don’t live up to our expectations;” “You don’t deserve all we invested in you;” “You’re too weak;” “You’re not man enough;” “You are too influential,” etc.

All the above are examples of systematic methods of de-personalization that can have two different effects:

  • Create a person who has made or will make a career, family, or anything else that is not or will not be recognized by the family of origin.
  • Create a person who has not achieved anything, and their family of origin explains this by the fact that they did not have the qualities to accomplish anything, anyway.

Personal problems arising from the family of origin or the important relationships in your life such as:

  • The relationship with the family of origin: who told you that whatever you do you will not succeed.
  • Relationships with friends who for various reasons did not believe in you or did not want you to achieve something that will make them inferior to you.

The effects of the above problems are the only ones that can be evaluated psychologically:

Workaholic1Time spent at work:

  • Running from your family: when you have family problems such as small children you need to tend to; a partner who has different needs, behind which you hide; in-laws who judge you; relatives who are expecting your help.
  • Running away from yourself: a lack of hobbies, lying to yourself by saying that the family life is everything you wanted, but you do not know how to put into the equation your desires versus your family expectations.
  • Fleeing friends: if you have a position at work, but you do not want to hire friends who you consider inferior.

Evaluation of the company’s vision:

Here we can meet those who want results from their company without understanding the company’s employees and knowing what they can do. Soon enough, they will discover that they cannot meet the commitments the company imposed on them because they don’t have the necessary training or skills.

Only when you realize what is behind your addiction can your problem be solved, and that depends on you only.

Constantin Cornea, Psychotherapist and Life Coach

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