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  • The History of Burnout

    The term burnout was popularized in a medical context by Herbert Freudenberger, a German-American psychiatrist in 1974. His most significant contribution is in the understanding and treatment of stress, chronic fatigue and substance abuse. As he ran his clinic for drug addiction, he began to recognize the conditions of burnout with his volunteer staff and himself, where he then later published a paper on it and began to see a rising interest in it.

     

    He defined burnout as a "state of mental and physical exhaustion caused by one's professional life". Exhaustion resulting from work's excessive demands as well as physical symptoms such as headaches and sleeplessness, "quickness to anger" and closed thinking. He observed that the burned-out worker "looks, acts, and seems depressed".

     

    Given the demands of our rapid nature of modern society, burnout and more particularly the stress that comes from it has been growing at an alarming rate. While not categorized as a mental disorder, the underlying mechanisms are still generally unknown. A growing body of evidence suggests that burnout is etiologically, clinically, and nosologically similar to depression.

  • Recommended Further Reading

    All About Burnout and the Culture of Breaking Through Burnout

    The Truth About Burnout: How Organizations Cause Personal Stress and What to Do About It

    Christina Maslach & Michael Leiter

    Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle

    Emily Nagoski & Amelia Nagoski

    Hustle and Float: Reclaim Your Creativity and Thrive in a World Obsessed with Work

    Rahaf Harfoush

    REWORK:

    Change the Way You Work Forever

    Jason Fried & David Hansson

    The Burnout Gamble: Achieve More by Beating Burnout and Building Resilience

    Hamza Khan

    The Happiness Advantage: 7 Principles of Positive Psychology that Fuel Success and Performance at Work

    Shawn Achor

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