Addiction To Work
Addiction To Work
Marc Kern (Addiction Expert, Director of Addiction Alternatives) gives expert video advice on: Do you have to enjoy your work to become a work addict?; What are the drawbacks to work addiction?; What are the symptoms of work addiction? and more...
What is work addiction?
Work addiction is where the individual spends most of their time, most of their focus is on work. Work is the place they get good feelings, work is the place they get rewarded, work is the place they get excited and optimistic about life, work is the place they feel sort of buffered against the loneliness or estrangement that they might feel at home or in other domains. Work addiction is just one manifestation of a variety of behavioral addicitons where, where work, which is a normal, healthy process we all engage in, is the place where the rewards come, the good feelings come from, and it's actually engaged in to a degree where other domains of their life go unattended to and neglected.
Is there a specific personality type that becomes a work addict?
There are certain personalities that do seem to have a stronger leaning to work addictions, but that all can come as a function of the family environment that they grew up in. Was work highly praised in your family? Was dad, who was maybe a workaholic himself, lauded by the family for doing such a good job? Is there a particular endorsement that work is a good place to put a lot of time and energy? That's the sort of individual that would probably become more likely to become a work addict versus someone who comes from maybe an artistic family, who where creativity is emphasized and some other cause.
Do you have to enjoy your work to become a work addict?
I don't really think you really have to enjoy your work in the classic sense of waking up in the morning and being excited and looking forward to the day. In fact, many work addicts are quite exhausted by the work. You only become a work addict if it becomes the central place where good feelings are arrived at and a place where you can defer more unpleasant thoughts and feelings from arising inside.
What are the drawbacks to work addiction?
On the surface working shouldn't be bad and for the most part it isn't bad. And in our modern society we do need to work as we have for thousand, millions, of years. But it becomes bad when the other important domains of life go neglected. If you're working instead of being at your son's ballgame or your daughter's performance of your wife's party - if you're moving all your time and emphasis over to that singular domain; yes it can be very bad, and become very unstable. What happens, for example, if you put sort of all your eggs in the one basket, or calling it work, or all your marble in one place, and for some reason you can't work? What if your company goes out of business? What if you get laid off? What if you just... what if you break your leg? If you can't access your domain that gives you these good feelings and it isn't available to you for some reason, and you start falling apart because there's no other ways that you have to feel good about yourself and cope with life? Well then, it becomes a bad thing. You become a workaholic - a work addict.
How does work become the chosen behavioral addiction?
I do believe that there is more to work addiction than just the amount of time that you are spending at the particular activity we're calling work. There is an intentionality, there is a hope in individual conscious and being aware; unconscious, not being aware, but there is that sanctuary of some sort. That this is a place of high importance to the exclusion of other domains. There is an intentionality that this is the only place I can get rewarded and get good feedback, where other domains it is not available. So yes with intentionality as well as a time involvement, but I've seen people with Workaholic sort of Characteristics that it's not quite so clear to them what it is that is going on. Why they go back to work -- they give these very long, elaborate stories of justification for continuation of work load; we need the money or there is this big project on my desk and to the outside observer or maybe even to the addict themselves it appears like this is being motivated by real life circumstances and they are not in touch with their intentionality in the behavior.
Are there more male or female workaholics?
A workaholic doesn't have to go to a job to be called a workaholic. It could be a cleanaholic, it could be a mother who is constantly involved with the children and their homework, and things like that. And it could be due to the same motivations as someone who goes to the office and gets a paycheck for those activities.