Workaholism is an addiction to work, uncontrollable need for continuous work. Workaholism is a situation where a person prefers work as an escape from worrying about his or her emotional state and concerns of private life.
Like any addiction, workaholism is an escape from reality by changing one’s mental state, which in this case is achieved by fixing on work. At the same time work does not fulfill its normal functions: workaholics do not tend to work because of economic needs, the work is not a component of his or her life; it supersedes affection, love, entertainment and other types of activity.
What distinguishes a hard-working person from a workaholic? A laborious person has a goal, and it is the result that is important in work; the professional activity is just a part of life, self-expression and the means of creation material benefits. For a workaholic it is all the way around: the result of work does not make sense, work is a way to fill time, and the focus is on the very process. Workaholic perceived family relations as an obstacle distracting from work and causing irritation and annoyance.
Thus, a person of any profession (actor, writer, manager, etc.) working eighty hours a week can be either healthy or addicted depending on the reasons one is governed by: if an actor working eighty hours a week to rehearse a play does this as this is the only opportunity to earn money for survival of a poor family, one is laborious; but if this is a way to substitute the reality or run from existing psychological problem, then one is becoming a workaholic.
The main difference of diligence from workaholism, as in the case of other behavioral addictions, is that healthy behavior patterns bring something to life, while addictions take from life.
An important feature of workaholism is an irresistible desire for continuous success and approval from others (both at work and at home). An addict is afraid of fail, lose one’s face, be accused of incompetence, laziness, be worse than others in the eyes of his or her supervisors. This explains the dominance of the psychological state of anxiety overwhelming a workaholic both at work and in the minutes a brief rest which is never full-fledged because of the constant thoughts about work.
A workaholic has a constant feeling that he/she did something not good and fully enough: this prompts a person to finish or redo one’s work. Unfinished affairs are often accumulated and grow like a snowball. An addict convinces himself and others that he/she is working for money or other abstract goal, and such protection is accepted by the society. However, a person does not actually understand that in this way he/she is wasting oneself without realizing potential opportunities.
Like any addiction, workaholism is accompanied by characteristic changes in personality, affecting, above all, emotional and volitional spheres. The development of the process is combined with an increase in emotional emptiness, the ability for empathy gets broken. Interpersonal relationships get complicated and are perceived as onerous and requiring a large expenditure of energy. On a subconscious level, a workaholic tends to avoid situations where an active participation is needed, avoids the discussion of important family issues, and typically is not involved in raising one’s own children or tends to postpone of giving birth to a child. That is why a mother with young children can barely be a workaholic by nature, as well as the work she accomplished in her daily care about them can be perceived as addiction, but rather as necessity to accomplish it. However, excessive care about children represented by obtrusive ideas can surely grow into a form of psychological pathology, but having other nature then workaholism.
Typically, corporative systems of control, constant testing of efficiency, quality, etc. contribute to the development of workaholism. Such approaches are based on distrust to a person, disrespect of one’s personality and contribute to the formation of a workaholic thinking with reduced capabilities of the true self-realization. Workaholics also affect other family members who are not receiving emotional support from them. At the same time, it should be taken into consideration that workaholism could also be a replacement and a “saving” addiction for people addicted to drugs and alcohol on the stage of rehabilitation.