Overwork and Workaholism, Part 2: Work and Soul
This post continues the themes of overwork and workaholism . It further explores some of the soul and feeling dimensions of overwork and workaholism through musical expression.
When You Know You Can’t Slow Down
One of the outstanding aspects of overwork and of workaholism, is a compulsive, potentially all-absorbing character. It can take more and more of a person’s thoughts, and has a way of demanding more and more of a person’s waking hours and energies, as a person tries to meet ever-increasing inner and outer demands. It can create a kind of tunnel vision in a person’s life that excludes all possible alternatives. In this respect, it truly is like addiction.
Although it is 40 years old, there is probably no piece of music that captures this sense of uncontrolled driven-ness as well as Jethro Tull’s Locomotive Breath , with its image of a workaholic man’s life as an out-of-control locomotive hurtling down the track — “no way to slow down…“:
Another dimension of overwork and workaholism is what it does to a person’s sense of relationship and connection, especially to significant others. That is, it has the capacity to profoundly disconnect. I relate to the following music on a very personal level, as it keenly reminds me of the workaholism of my own father. It’s also an insightful comment on the way that workaholism can get passed down through the generations — “The Cat’s in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin:
On the feeling level, both of these pieces of music convey something very powerful about the emotional and relationship cost of overwork and workaholism. The overidentification with the work role is a very dangerous fusion with the false self. Or, as Jungians would say, it is selling out your true self for the sake of persona, in the hope that love and positive self regard can be found in this way. This locomotive starts rolling slowly, and just gradually picks up speed, until we are hurtling along on something demonic that we have no idea how to stop. If you’re the engineer on this ride, it’s time to get help to make it better.
In your experience, when does work contribute to self-realization, and when does it take away? I’d welcome your comments.
Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst | Oakville, Burlington and Mississauga Ontario
PHOTO: © Yuri Arcurs | Dreamstime.com
© 2011 Brian Collinson
2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)