The Workaholics

The respectable addicts

Workaholic Breakdown: Second Turning Point

The loss of integrity

The first turning point in the Breakdown Syndrome that workaholism predictably follows is the Loss of Feeling, after which a number of serious personality and character changes start to occur that workaholics are largely unaware of themselves. Until their defense mechanisms begin to break down, denial and the desire for control and power remain strong. When chronic fatigue from pumping too much adrenalin, and the six fears, paranoia and guilt begin to affect their ability to make wise and intelligent decisions, the overused, confused and forgetful obsessive Thinking function turns to its dark side and becomes defensive, judgmental, controlling, manipulative. The workaholic second-guesses instead of listening, script-writes what other should do, and generally becomes the invasive “fixer.” The dark side of the repressed Feeling, Intuition and Sensation functions act out and sabotage what was the workaholic’s best function, Thinking.

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The loss of integrity and respect, I’ve found, results in a much more rapid decline in the negative personality and character changes that occur as a result of the many factors involved in the typical breakdown syndrome that workaholism follows.

Please do take the time to read my initial blog on The Loss of Integrity and Respect from October 26, 2011 (1), and daily answer the Integrity Questionnaire that looks at your own level of honesty; sympathy, empathy and compassion; fairness; self-control; and duty—the key traits that are necessary to attain and keep this important value strong.

Honesty is a good place to start. When you resolve to be honest, it will force you to live in reality. If you live in reality, then you will know that what you choose to do will not only affect others, it will ultimately determine what kind of person you really are, what choices you make, and how you will act towards others. Remember that denial is your worst enemy on the path to recovery!

The narcissistic traits that you’ve been developing, or already had in spades, have set you on a path where you can only see your own point of view, you have to be “right”, and must have your own way, or there are consequences. If others have a different point of view, because of your paranoia, you think that they think that you are wrong! You become defensive and further argue your opinion. You may then ignore and dismiss that person as someone who is no longer useful to your purpose. Or that person becomes your personal “enemy”, someone who must be punished—put down with outrageous accusations and insults and looked at with a sneering frown of critical disapproval. If that person is still useful, he or she becomes someone who you need to further manipulate, cajole, or appease. If these efforts fail, this person becomes someone you avoid at all costs.

If your spouse remains naively idealistic, someone who has set you up on a pedestal and still chooses to recognize that you are no longer the same charming person she or he fell in love with, who also seemed to share the same values, then that person typically becomes the enabler. Many of my spousal clients cannot believe how long it took them to face reality.

If your spouse is demanding, but also self-absorbed, self serving as well as highly ambitious, then your mutual goals will be supported—to achieve wealth and power by any means that it takes to come out on top. Together, with this different type of enabler’s spousal support or blind eye, you are prepared to lie, cheat, even steal or commit fraud. You stubbornly choose to do whatever it takes to protect the successful public persona that you worked so hard to create. Denial, as long as it works, shields you from the guilt and remorse that you would otherwise experience.

Tragically, with the loss of feeling and the other changes in your personality and character, the whole, real authentic Self no longer exists. You’ve lost the right brain’s ability to be other-directed and to relate left brain information to the reality of what is transpiring when you make selfish, self-serving choices. If you lack warmth, empathy and compassion, you will become a person without a soul.

The ideal time to begin this journey of recovery has passed. You may have already made unwise decisions that are immoral and even illegal. Hopefully, in time, you will gain enough insight, and have developed the skills necessary to make permanent changes. When you face reality, however painful, you will still experience shame and regret. Hopefully, if you have the strength and gain humility and wisdom on this present more difficult journey, you can begin to make amends.

Integrity in personal and business relationships will become a major goal as you make significant changes in your life, in how you view the world, and in how you relate and treat others.

(1) Psychology Today blog. The Workaholics. The Loss of Integrity. October 26, 2011.            

See Website: www.drbarbarakillinger.com for publications and contact information, and a link to the Psychology Today blogs under The Workaholics.

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Copyright 2012 – Dr. Barbara Killinger

Barbara Killinger, Ph.D., was an author and clinical psychologist in Toronto who specialized in workaholism.

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