Addicted to Work?


There’s nothing like a catchy name to give life to a syndrome, whether it deserves it or not. “Workaholic” is an excellent example. Without the word, it is unlikely we’d have a category for the pseudo-disease. Is there really a category of person who preferentially works to escape problems in their life? Is it an addiction? A new study doesn’t necessarily give us a clear answer, but at least it shows when and how workaholism becomes a harm rather than a good.

Older research has associated the workaholic personality with worse coping skills, perfectionism and ill health. What was lacking (and still is) was the compulsive element you find in “regular” addictions. Compulsion, when it was found, had more to do with an obsessive compulsive disorder than anything particular to the working environment. In other words, this kind of workaholic would also have characteristic behaviors while not at work – in a sense, they carried their addiction with them wherever they went. There was no reason to distinguish the work environment from any other.

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