the famous Austrian psychotherapist, a representative of the existential analysis of the Alfred Langley – about the phenomenon of burnout in our lives.

Emotional burning (burn-out) – is a symptom of our time. This state of exhaustion, which leads to paralysis of our forces, accompanied by a loss of feeling and joy about life. Nowadays cases of burnout are becoming more frequent. This applies not only to the social professions, for which the burnout syndrome has been characterized previously, but also other professions, as well as personal life. The spread of burnout contributes to our era – the time advances, consumption, the new materialism, entertainment and enjoyment of life. This is the time when we exploit ourselves and allow ourselves to exploit.

That’s what I’d like to talk about today. First I will describe burnout syndrome and say a few words about how it can be recognized. Then I try to tell you about the background on which this syndrome occurs, and then give a small overview of the work on the burnout syndrome and to show how it can be prevented.


Who does not know the symptoms of burnout? I think that every person has ever felt them. We find in his exhaustion symptoms, if experienced a lot of stress, we realized something big. For example, if we were preparing for exams, working on some project or writing a thesis has two young children. It happens that the work took a lot of stress forces, there were some crises, or, for example, during a flu epidemic, the doctors had to work very hard.

And then there are symptoms such as irritability, lack of desire, sleep disorders (when a person can not sleep, either, on the contrary, is asleep very long time), reduction in motivation, the person feels mostly uncomfortable, can manifest depressive symptoms. This is a simple version of the burning – burning at the level of the reaction, the physiological and psychological reaction to excessive stress. When the situation ends, the symptoms disappear on their own. In this case, can help free weekend, time for yourself, sleep, vacation, sport. If we are not renewable energy by resting, the body goes into power saving mode.

In fact, both the body and mind is so constituted that a large voltage is possible – because people sometimes have to work hard to achieve some big goals. For example, to rescue his family from any troubles. The problem lies elsewhere: if the call does not end, that is, if people really can not relax, constantly in a state of tension, if they constantly feel that they are subject to some requirements, they are always concerned about something, feel fear constantly alert to something, something expected, this leads to an overstrain of the nervous system in humans tense muscles, there is pain. Some people dream start to gnash their teeth – it can be a symptom of over-voltage.


If the stress becomes chronic, then burn out at the level of disorder.

In 1974, a psychiatrist from New York Freudenberger first published an article about the volunteers who worked in the social sphere in the name of the local church. In this article, he described their situation. These people have symptoms similar to depression. In their history, he showed always the same: first, these people were absolutely delighted by their activities. Then the excitement began to gradually decrease. And eventually they faded to a state of a handful of ashes. All of them were found similar symptoms: emotional exhaustion, constant fatigue. With the thought that it is necessary to go to work tomorrow, they have a sense of fatigue. They had a variety of physical complaints, they often hurt. It was one of the groups of symptoms.

Regarding their senses, they no longer have power. What happened was that he called dehumanization. Changed their attitude towards the people they help: first, it was a loving, attentive, and then it turned into a cynical, rejects negative. Also worsened relations with colleagues, their feelings of guilt, the desire to get away from it all. They worked less and made all the template, like robots. That is, these people have not been able, as before, to enter into a relationship and did not aspire to this.

This behavior has a certain logic. If my feelings are no more strength, then I have no strength to love, to listen, and other people become for me a load. It feels like I can not go to meet them, their demands to me excessive. Then start acting automatic protective reaction. From the point of view of the mind, it is very reasonable.

A third group of symptoms the author found a reduction in performance. People were dissatisfied with their work and their achievements. They experienced themselves as powerless, they did not feel that achieve some success. Total for them was too much. And they feel they are not getting the recognition they deserve.

Having this study Freudenberger discovered that burning symptoms do not correlate with the number of working hours. Yes, the more one works, the more it suffers from its emotional power. Emotional exhaustion is growing in proportion to the number of working hours, but the other two groups of symptoms – performance and dehumanization, dehumanization of relations – almost not affected. Man continues to be productive for a while. This indicates that the burnout has its own dynamics. This is more than just exhaustion. At this point we still dwell.


Freudenberger has created a scale consisting of 12 stages of burnout.

The first stage still looks very innocuous, first in patients with burn patients present obsessive desire to assert itself ( “I can do anything”), maybe even in competition with others. Then he begins to neglect their own needs. Man is no longer paying yourself free time, less involved in sports, he has less time for people to himself, he is less talking to someone. At the next stage man has no time for conflict resolution – and so he replaces them, and later even cease to perceive them. He does not see that at work, at home, with friends, there are some problems. He retreats. We see something similar to a flower that fades more and more. In the future, lost feelings about themselves. People no longer feel. They’re just machines, and can not stop. After some time, they feel empty inside, and if it continues, the more likely to become depressed. At last, the twelfth stage, the person is completely broken. He gets sick – physically and mentally, experiencing frustration, suicidal thoughts are often present.

One patient came to me with the emotional burnout. He came, sat in a chair, sighed and said: “I am glad that I am here.” He looked exhausted. It turned out that he could not even call me to arrange an appointment – his wife dialed phone number. I then asked him on the phone, as it is urgent. He said that urgent. And then I agreed with him on the first meeting on Monday. On the day of the meeting he said: “All the two-day weekend, I could not guarantee that I will not jump out of the window. My condition was so unbearable. ” It was a very successful businessman. His staff about it knew nothing – he was able to hide from them his fortune. And for a long time he hid it from his wife. At the eleventh stage, his wife noticed it. He still continued to deny the problem. And only when he could no longer live, already under pressure from the outside, he was ready to do something. That’s how far can make burnout. Of course, this is an extreme example.

The enthusiasm to the disgust

To designate more than simple words how behaves emotional burnout, you can resort to the description of the German psychologist Matthias Burusho people.

He described four steps. The first stage looks completely innocuous: it really is not yet burning. This is the stage where you need to be careful. It was then that a man is driven idealism, some ideas, some enthusiasm. But claims that he constantly makes to themselves, are excessive. It requires too much from him for weeks and months.

The second stage – the depletion of physical, emotional, physical weakness.

In the third stage usually take effect the first protective reaction. What does one do if constantly demands are excessive? He goes out of the relationship, there is dehumanization. This counter reaction as a defense in order to exhaustion is not getting stronger. Intuitively, a person feels that he needs a rest, and to a lesser extent supports social relationships. Those relationships that must be lived, because without them you can not do, burdened rejection, repulsion. That is, in principle, is the right response. But it is an area where the reaction begins to act, is not suitable for this purpose. Rather, the person needs to be relaxed with respect to those requirements that are presented to him. But this is what they can not – get away from the demands and claims.

The fourth stage – the strengthening of what is happening in the third stage, end-stage burnout. Burusho people called it “syndrome of disgust.” This concept, which means that more people in itself does not carry any joy. With regard arises disgust. For example, if I ate rotten fish, I came vomiting, and the next day I hear the smell of fish, I have an aversion. That is the feeling of safety after the poisoning.


Speaking about the reasons, in general, there are three area. This individual-psychological area, when a person has a strong desire to surrender to this stress. The second area – socio-psychological, or social – is the pressure from the outside: various fashions, some social norms, demands at work, the spirit of the time. For example, it is estimated that every year have to go on a journey – and if I can not do, then I do not meet people living at that time, their way of life. This pressure can be in latent form, and it may have the effect of burning.

More dramatic requirements – is, for example, extended working time requirements. Today, people and processes does not receive payment for it, and if he does not, he is fired. Constant processing – are costs inherent in the capitalist era, in which lives Austria, Germany and probably also Russia.

So, we have identified two groups of reasons. From the first, we can work in the psychological aspect, in the framework of consultation, and in the second case, you need to change something at the level of policy, on trade union level. But there is a third reason, which is related to the organization of systems. If the system provides an individual too little freedom, too little responsibility, if there is mobing (persecution), then the people are very stressful. And then, of course, necessary restructuring of the system. It is necessary to develop the organization in a different way, to enter coaching.

Meaning you can not buy

We confine ourselves to the group of psychological reasons. In existential analysis, we empirically found that the cause of burnout is the existential vacuum. Emotional burnout can be understood as a special form of existential vacuum. Viktor Frankl described the existential vacuum as suffering from a sense of emptiness and lack of meaning.

A study conducted in Austria, during which 271 doctor, showed the following results have been tested. It was found that those doctors who were meaningful life and not suffer from the existential vacuum, there was little burnout, even if they worked for hours. Those doctors who have detected a relatively high level of existential vacuum in his work, showed high burnout indicators, even if they work fewer hours.

From this we can conclude that the meaning can not be bought. Nothing makes earning money, if I’m on my work suffer from emptiness and lack of meaning. We can not compensate for this.

Burnout confronts us with the question: do I really worry about the meaning of that do? The meaning depends on how we feel personally value in what we do, or not. If we follow the apparent meaning: career, social recognition, love of others, then it is false or apparent meaning. It costs us a lot of strength and causes stress. And as a result we have a shortage of execution. Then we experience the devastation – even when relaxing.

At the other extreme is a way of life, where we are experiencing performance – even if you are tired. Execution, despite the fatigue, does not lead to burnout.

Summarizing, we can say the following: burnout – is a finite state occurring as a result of the ongoing creation of something without experience in the performance aspect. That is, if the fact that I do, I worry about the meaning, if I feel that what I do is good, interesting and important if I am happy, and I want it to do so, then the burnout occurs. But these feelings should not be confused with enthusiasm. Enthusiasm necessarily related to the performance – it is more hidden from the other, more modest thing.

WHAT I give myself?

Another aspect, which brings us to the topic of burnout – is motivation. Why did I do something? And as I turned to this? If I can not give my heart to what I’m doing when I’m not interested, I do it for some other reason, then we are in a sense lie. It’s like as if I was listening to someone, but the thought of something else. That is, if I do not attend.

But if I am not present at work in my life, then I can not get the same charge for this service. It’s not about the money. Yes, I am, of course, can make money, but I personally do not get the reward. If I do not attend a heart in some case, and use what I do, as a means to achieve the goals, then I abuse the situation. For example, I can start a project, because he promises me a lot of money. And I almost can not refuse, and somehow to resist. Thus, we can be tempted by some choice, which then lead us to a burnout.

If it only happens once, maybe it’s not so bad. But if it goes on for years, then I’ll just pass by their lives. What can I give you? And here, by the way, can be very important that I had a burnout syndrome. Because, probably, I can not stop myself the direction of its movement. I need that wall, from which I come across some kind of push from the inside, so I just could not continue to move, and revised its action.

Example with money, probably the most superficial. Motives can be much deeper. For example, I want to recognize. I need praise from others. If you do not meet these narcissistic needs, then I become restless. Outside it is not visible – only people who are close to this person can feel it. But I probably will not even talk about it with them. Or I did not realize that I have such needs.

Or, for example, I definitely need confidence. I have known poverty as a child, I had to continue wearing old clothes. For me it is ridiculed, and I was ashamed. Maybe even my family was starving. I would not want to never live through this. I know people who have become very rich. Many of them came to burnout. Because for them it was the primary motive – in any case, to prevent the state of poverty to become poor again. In human terms this is understandable. But this can lead to excessive requirements, which will never end.

To the people for a long time were willing to follow a seeming, false motivation, their behavior has to be a lack of something, psychologically there is a shortage, some trouble. This deficiency leads a person to self-exploitation.

values of life

This deficiency can not only be subjectively perceived need, and setting with respect to life, which, ultimately, can lead to burnout.

As I understand it your life? Based on this, I can develop its objectives, under which I live. These settings can be from their parents or the person develops them himself. For example: I want to achieve something. Or: I want to have three children. Become a psychologist, doctor or a politician. Thus man for himself outlines the goals that he wants to follow.

This is perfectly normal. Who of us has goals in life? But if the goal of becoming the content of life, if they become too large values, then they lead to rigidity, stagnation behavior. Then we put all efforts to achieve this goal. And everything that we do becomes a means to an end. And that does not carry its own value, but only represents a useful value.

“It’s good that I’m going to play the violin!” – A residence of self-worth. But if I want to be the first violin at the concert, while playing some work, I will constantly compare themselves to others. I know that I need more practice, play and play to get things done. That is my predominant focus on the target by focusing on value. Thus there is a shortage of domestic relations.

I’m doing something, but that I do not present the inner life. And then, my life loses its vital value. I’ll destroy domestic content in order to achieve objectives. And when a man thus neglects intrinsic value of things is not enough attention paid to this, there is an underestimation of the value of their own lives. That is, it turns out that I use the time of their lives on the goal that I have set. This relationship leads to the loss and to a mismatch itself. And with such a lack of attention to the inner values and the value of their own lives there is stress.

All that we are told, can be summarized as follows. That stress, which leads to burnout, due to the fact that we have too long without a sense of internal consensus are doing something without a sense of the value of things and of itself. Thus we come to the state preddepressii. This is also when we do too much of anything, and simply in order to make. For example, I cook lunch, only to have it ready as quickly as possible was. And then I’m glad when it was over, done. But if we are happy that something has passed, it is an indication that what we are doing, we had not seen the value. And if it has no value, then I can not say that I like to do it, it’s important to me.

If we do in life there are too many of these elements, then we are, in fact, rejoice that life is passing. So we like death, destruction. If I just realize something, it is not life – it is functioning. And we must not, we can not operate too much – we must ensure that in all that we do, we lived, felt life. That it was not lost on us.

Burnout – is a mental account that we put in a long alienated attitude to life. This is the life that is not really mine. Anyone who is more than half the time occupied by the things that he does reluctantly, does not give it to your heart, does not feel with joy, he will sooner or later have to expect that survive burnout. Then I’m in danger. Wherever I feel in my heart the internal agreement on the fact that I do, and I feel, where I protected from burnout.


How can you work with the syndrome of burnout and how to prevent it?

Much is solved by itself if the person understands what is involved in burnout. If you understand this about themselves or about their friends, then you can begin to solve this problem, talk to yourself or your friends about it. Should I continue to live this way?

I myself felt like two years ago. I had intended to write a book during the summer. With all the papers, I went to his dacha. He came, looked around, went for a walk, talk with neighbors. The next day I did the same thing: called friends we met. On the third day again. I thought that, generally speaking, should already start. But reluctantly I myself felt. I tried to recall what we need, what will happen to the publishing house – it was already pressure. Then I remembered the burnout syndrome. And I said to myself, I guess I need more time, and my desire to come back for sure. And I allowed myself to watch. After all, the desire to come every year. But in that year, it did not come until the end of the summer I did not even open the folder. I have not written a single line. Instead, I rested and did wonderful things. Then I began to fluctuate, as I refer to it – as bad or as good? It turns out that I could not, it was a failure. Then I said to myself that this is reasonable and well that I did so. The fact that I was a bit exhausted, because before the summer was very busy, the whole academic year was very eventful. Here, of course, I had an internal struggle. I really thought, and contemplate what is important in my life. As a result, I began to doubt that the book is written in such an important thing in my life. Much more important is to live is something to stay here to live valuable relationships – if it is possible, to experience joy, and not to postpone it permanently later. We do not know how much time we have left.

In general, work on the burnout syndrome begins with unloading. You can reduce the time pressure, to delegate something to share responsibility, set realistic goals, it is critical to consider the expectations that you have. This is a great topic for discussion. Here we do come up against a very deep existential structure. There is a question of our attitude to life, to our installations were authentic, consistent with us.

If burnout is already much more pronounced form, to get sick, physically relax, see a doctor at a lung disorder benefit from treatment in a sanatorium. Or just a good time to arrange for themselves to live in a state of discharge.

But the problem is that many people with burnout syndrome, can not afford to allow this. Or a person goes to the hospital, but he continues to bring to his excessive demands – so he can not escape from the stress. People suffer for remorse. And in a state of disease is enhanced burning. Short-term medications can help, but they do not represent a solution to the problem.

Bodily Health – is the foundation. But it is also necessary and work on their own needs, the internal deficit of something, of attitudes and expectations in relation to life. We need to think how to reduce the pressure of society, how can you protect yourself itself. Sometimes even think about how to change their place of work. In the most severe cases that I have seen in my practice, the man took 4-5 months leave from work. And after returning to work – a new style of work – otherwise after a couple of months, people burn again. Of course, if a person works hard for 30 years, then it is difficult to re-tune, but it is necessary.

To prevent burnout can be asking yourself two simple questions: 1) Why am I doing this? For what I am learning at the institute, for which I write a book? What’s the point of this? Whether it is for me the value? 2) Do I like doing what I’m doing? Do I love to do it? Do I feel that it is good? So good that I do this willingly? Brings me whether what I’m doing, joy?

Maybe not always things will be so, but the feeling of joy and satisfaction must prevail. In the end, I can ask another, more far-reaching question: Do I want to live for the sake of it? If I lay on his deathbed and look back, if I want to make it so that I lived for that?