Discussion: Abuse, Work, and Burnout


The rapid tempo of life inherent in the inhabitants of big cities, constant stress, lack of time for personal life, the rejection of one’s desires, and the abundance of tasks at work are the leading causes of the state of emotional burnout. It is a common problem in the modern civilized world: in pursuit of success, people often become workaholics, which does not pass without a trace of their bodies. The growth of mental and emotional pressure, as well as the adverse effects of the environment, lead to an increase in the stress level, which causes burnout.

History and Modernity of Burnout

In the rhythm of the modern world, people’s lives are under constant stress, especially those who strive to succeed and achieve their goals; these people have to work hard. Thus, stress is an indispensable companion of a working person and, over time, gains momentum in its intensity. Modern man has already ceased to notice when and how their body reacts to stress because stress has become especially commonplace.

Initially, burnout was seen as arising from intense and emotionally loaded communication in the process of professional work with clients, patients, and students. The concept of burnout was introduced into science by the American psychiatrist H. J. Freudenberg in 1974 to describe a particular personality disorder in healthy people (Abbas et al., 2018). By this time, many facts had been collected, indicating that among various kinds of social workers, one can often meet people who are dry, harsh, and inadequate in communication. At the same time, several studies have shown that representatives of these professional groups are more likely than others to suffer from various psychosomatic disorders (Abbas et al., 2018). Burnout was initially considered ‘the price of empathy’ and turned into a ‘disease of the communicative professions’ (Seo et al., 2020). Currently, researchers believe that the burnout syndrome in representative of various fields, noting some specifics.

Not only can work lead to burnout, as is commonly believed; the syndrome is widespread throughout society, not just professionally. Basically, this is a consequence of the routine of everyday life, accumulated negative experiences, a feeling of underestimation, and a low standard of living in a mode of lack of pleasure. It is important that emotional burnout must be distinguished from ordinary fatigue. If one is overtired, he or she returns the resource in a couple of days of rest. It is enough to get enough sleep, spend the weekend communicating with friendly people without gadgets and solving work issues, take a walk, or do what is pleasant for a person to fill up with strength and energy (Coetzee et al., 2019). Emotional burnout will not disappear from a walk and a bath with aromatic salt (Abbas et al., 2018). Over time, it can only get worse: sleep worsens, irritability grows along with conflicts at home and work.

Even within the work environment, the human component, the influence of the environment, eventually manifests itself in the symptoms of burnout. For example, abusive behavior by colleagues or supervisors is counterproductive and reduces a person’s motivation and desire to work and enjoy what they do as well. As a result, it is associated with increased stress levels in an individual’s life, ultimately leading to burnout.

Professional Burnout

Daily work, sometimes without breaks and days off, with constant physical and psychological stress, complicated by intense emotional contacts, leads to a life in a state of constant stress, accumulation of its consequences, depletion of a person’s vital energy, and, as a result, to severe physical diseases. Therefore, workaholics who are ready to give all the best for 24 hours a day and give themselves to work without a trace, without breaks, entrances, and holidays, are the first candidates for complete psychological burnout, resulting in early death (Tabur et al., 2022). A burnout person begins to experience a feeling of self-doubt and dissatisfaction with a personal life. Not finding sufficient grounds for self-esteem and strengthening positive self-esteem, developing a positive attitude towards a future, and thus losing the meaning of life, they try to find it through self-realization in the professional field.

Environmental Influence on the Development of Burnout

Stress arises as a result of the interaction between the person and the environment when events are evaluated as harm or loss, threat, or excess of resources and the ability of the person to cope with them. In this regard, prolonged exposure to stress and inadequate coping strategies can, in turn, lead to symptoms of burnout (Khammissa, et al., 2022). As for the connection between experience at work and outside it, work cannot be isolated from other aspects of a person’s life (Khammissa, et al., 2022). The general context of a person’s life always serves as an important background that must be taken into account for understanding the process of stress and emotional experience of a person. Thus, overworking is still the leading cause of the development of burnout syndrome, but not the only one.

Response to Prolonged Stress

Nevertheless, burnout is considered a response to long-term stresses that arise in interpersonal communications. The syndrome model can be represented as a three-component structure, including emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduction of personal achievements. Initially, a person feels a strong emotional overstrain, emptiness or depletion of their emotional resources (Fesun et al., 2020). He or she cannot give oneself to work as before; one feels muffled, dull of own emotions, and emotional breakdowns are possible.

Depersonalization tends to develop a negative, soulless, cynical attitude towards stimuli. The impersonality and formality of contacts are increasing as well. Negative attitudes that are latent in nature may begin to manifest themselves in internal pent-up irritation, which eventually enters the outside in the form of outbursts of irritation or conflict situations(Fesun et al., 2020). As a result, a person can experience a decrease in the sense of competence, dissatisfaction with oneself, a decrease in the value of an activity, and negative self-perception in the professional sphere. (Fesun et al., 2020). The emergence of a sense of guilt for one’s negative manifestations or feelings, a decrease in professional and personal self-esteem, the appearance of a sense of one’s insolvency, and indifference to work.

Key Signs of Burnout

The development of burnout syndrome is preceded by a period of increased activity. When a person is completely absorbed in work, refuses needs unrelated to it, and forgets about own needs comes the first sign – exhaustion (Kerr, 2022). It is defined as a feeling of overstrain and exhaustion of emotional and physical resources, a feeling of fatigue that does not go away after a night’s sleep. After a period of rest (weekends, holidays), these manifestations decrease, but upon returning to the previous working situation, they resume.

The second sign of burnout syndrome is personal detachment. People experiencing burnout use detachment to cope with emotional stressors at work by changing their compassion for others through emotional detachment. In extreme manifestations, a person cares about almost nothing from professional activity (Kerr, 2022). Almost nothing causes an emotional response – neither positive nor negative circumstances. Interest in the client is lost; one is perceived as an inanimate object, the exact presence of which is sometimes unpleasant. The third sign of burnout syndrome is a feeling of loss of self-efficacy or a drop in self-esteem as part of the burnout (Kerr, 2022). People do not see prospects for their professional activities, job satisfaction decreases, and faith in their professional capabilities is lost.

Awareness of the Problem

Organizations that monitor their employees’ mental health can help recognize the problem to further help with its solution. Modern psychologists have developed several methods for diagnosing burnout. The observation method is important for diagnosing the state of psychological well-being of employees, and identifying individual psychological, socio-psychological, and organizational factors of burnout inherent in professional activities (Vinogradova et al., 2020). The conversation method helps to diagnose the emotional state of employees, their attitude to the subjects of their activities and colleagues, to work in general, as well as to determine individual burnout factors (Vinogradova et al., 2020). Psychodiagnostic methods aimed to identify the burnout level and diagnose individual psychological, socio-psychological, and organizational factors of burnout (Vinogradova et al., 2020). Based on the diagnostics, organizations develop a set of practical measures for preventing and correcting employee burnout. The main conditions for practical measures are those conditions that are primarily aimed at relieving production stress, increasing professional motivation, and establishing a balance between the effort expended and the result obtained.

On their own, it is difficult for people to admit to themselves the need for psychological relief and relaxation. One needs to learn to analyze a condition, listen to the body’s needs for rest, and change employment. The organization of the rest regimen is a critical moment at the beginning of recovery. The help of specialists – a neurologist and a psychologist – will allow one to find the cause of the condition and eradicate it (Coetzee et al., 2019). With severe stress, medications may be needed to stabilize the condition.

Considering and understanding that the longer a person accumulates internal stress, the more pronounced burnout is. It is almost impossible for a person to cope with the syndrome that has manifested itself in full force alone (Eftekhar Ardebili et al., 2021). The pace of change today is so fast that situations of heightened stress and rapidly changing work environments have become the norm in every industry. The main danger of burnout syndrome is that it develops gradually and is imperceptible to many. If one misses its first signs, the feeling of job satisfaction will gradually decrease, and the desire to quit everything will increase.

Invisible Line of Awareness

Today, burnout is considered a psychological illness, followed by depression. Thus, the question arises as to whether it is possible to define a clear line between a healthy state and a disease. Dysfunction is a key criterion for disease; hence demonstrating that dysfunction cannot be separated from a function is a compelling way to prove that there is no boundary between health and disease (Hofmann, 2021). It is the way of reasoning that Rogers and Walker use to conclude that dysfunction cannot serve as a definitive boundary between disease and non-disease (Hofmann, 2021). Simply put, it is difficult to draw a clear line between normal and abnormal behavior or to determine when mental symptoms should be called an illness. For example, grief and anxiety may be normal responses to a difficult life stage, but they can underlie severe depression or an anxiety disorder as well.

People’s ideas about what is and is not a disease are fundamental in the discourse about mental health and human behavior. These perceptions influence the distribution of society’s resources and the stigmatization of various groups of people (Coetzee et al., 2019). Thus, chronic dissatisfaction with one’s activity, profession, or even life in some countries is still not considered something that should be paid attention to by others in the process of resolving a problem. On the contrary, in communities where mental health is an integral part of the well-being of human activity, chronic fatigue is considered a possible causative agent of depression and other mental illnesses. Despite this, drawing a clear line between recognizing a problem and solving it is still difficult. Moreover, this process is absolutely individual for each person. However, an outside professional intervention, such as a psychologist, can primarily recognize and accept what is happening and get on the path to solving the problem.


Burnout syndrome is a complex, multifaceted construct consisting of several negative psychological experiences caused by prolonged and intense interpersonal communications, emotionally rich or cognitively complex. Thus, the syndrome is a response to long-term stresses that arise in the process of interpersonal communications, and this syndrome is most clearly manifested in representatives of professions related to the person-to-person system. It is most likely impossible to eliminate professional stress and professional burnout in modern conditions. However, it is possible to significantly reduce their devastating impact on the health of working people through professional support and introspection.


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PsychologyWriting. 2023. "Discussion: Abuse, Work, and Burnout." September 17, 2023. https://psychologywriting.com/discussion-abuse-work-and-burnout/.

1. PsychologyWriting. "Discussion: Abuse, Work, and Burnout." September 17, 2023. https://psychologywriting.com/discussion-abuse-work-and-burnout/.


PsychologyWriting. "Discussion: Abuse, Work, and Burnout." September 17, 2023. https://psychologywriting.com/discussion-abuse-work-and-burnout/.