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The new face of workoholism

Work, for most of us, is an inseparable element of everyday life. We can like, love or hate it, but above all, it gives us a sense of financial stability, which for many people is reason enough to do it. The lucky few can enjoy the luxury of true passion in their profession that makes them feel the need to get out of bed every day. A compulsive form of such desire, however, can turn out to be a dangerous symptom, signaling serious mental problems.

Dr. Kamila Wojdyło has been studying work addiction, commonly called workaholism, for years. While conducting therapy for patients with overwork problems, she noticed that the biggest obstacle in studying this phenomenon is the lack of concepts of workaholism that would allow it to be viewed in terms of addiction. The result of her research is the “work craving”theory, which is one of the first concepts on a global scale, explaining the mechanisms behind workaholism from the perspective of addictive processes.

Dr. Wojdyło’s work is a unique innovation in its field, changing the scientific understanding of the concept of “work addiction”. It does not recognize workaholism as merely synonymous with “obsession with work,” but also includes other pathomechanisms characteristic of addiction. At the same time, it points out that this phenomenon has nothing to do with healthy work passion. Unlike other definitions, “work craving” recognizes that the element of compulsion is intrinsically linked to three other symptoms: compensation for low self-esteem, avoidance of negative emotions, and unrealistic perfectionism. 

This approach enables an adequate approach to the treatment of workaholism because it allows us to understand the process in which low self-esteem alongside perfectionism, escape from negative emotions and obsessive desire for work can result in depression and job burnout.

Dr. Wojdyło’s research has also shown how important it is to recognize workaholism early so that the mechanisms of addiction and its effects can be prevented. Because of that (based on Dr. Wojdyło’s concept) the “Work Craving Scale” was created – a scale used to measure the four components of workaholism. This tool, in practical application, turned out to be much more effective in recognizing these ailments than the methods that have been practiced so far. In addition, thanks to a new approach to the issue, Dr. Wojdyło has developed a project of psychotherapy of addiction to work along with materials that can be used in the treatment process.Despite the fact that knowledge about work addiction still remains incomplete, the concept of “work craving” allows further development of research on the pathomechanisms of workaholism, and it’s safe to say that the psychotherapeutic view of its nature will never be the same again.

Eryk Kryński

The student of international relations at the Faculty of Political Science and International Studies at the University of Warsaw. He writes articles for the Students Scientific Association of Human Rights and Humanitarian Crises. He also works with Association 61 on projects such as I have a right to know and Civil HiT.

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Eryk Kryński

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