“In a culture where work can be a religion, burnout is its crisis of faith”. The New York Magazine has an in-depth article on the psychology of burn-out.
Burnout is not its own category in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It’s not something that can be treated pharmacologically; it is not considered the same thing as depression or a midlife crisis, though sometimes they coincide. The term was first coined by a psychotherapist named Herbert Freudenberger, who himself probably took it from Graham Greene’s novel A Burnt-Out Case. (“I haven’t enough feeling left for human beings,” the book’s numb protagonist, Querry, wrote in his journal, “to do anything for them out of pity.”) While working at a free clinic for drug addicts in Haight-Ashbury, Freudenberger noticed that the volunteers, when discouraged, would often push harder and harder at their jobs, only to feel as if they were achieving less and less. The result, in 1974, was the book Burnout: The High Cost of High Achievement. Others soon followed. A subspecialty of psychology was born.
Isn’t Freudenberger just the best name for a psychotherapist?
Link to article ‘Can‚Äôt Get No Satisfaction’.