WORKAHOLICS: THE PEOPLE WHO SAY, “THANK GOD IT’S MONDAY”
In today’s leisure-oriented society, people who like to work and feel lost when not doing so are said to suffer from dread disease-workaholism. The disease is described in Workaholics: Living with them, working with the, by psychologist Marilyn Machlowitz, a self-confessed workaholic. As evidence of her credentials for writing the book, Machlowitz reports that after her freshman year in college, she got three summer jobs. Her father accused her of being a “workaholic” and thus she was off on major investigation of the subject.
Machlowitz estimates that workaholics comprise no more than 5 percent of the population. She discovered a heavy concentration of them during New York City’s blackout in 1977: Hundreds of people had quest to stay home. The workaholics paced impatiently outside their office buildings, demanding entry even if a thirty-flight climb was required to reach their desks.
Among the many workaholics she uncovered were heart surgeon Denton Cooley, who isn’t happy unless he can perform operations all day, and author Isaac Asimov, who admits that he has an anxiety attack if he spend as much as three hours a day away from his typewriter.
The bias against workaholics arises from the fact that people who work to life cannot understand those who life to work and love it. Machlowitz says, “They watch in amazement and wonder about those who delight in what they do. Workaholics’ unorthodox attitude-that their work is so much fun they’d probably do it for free-causes non-workaholics to question their own situation. The later group begins to worry, “What’s wrong with my job?” or, worse, “What’s wrong with me?”
To resolve their misgivings about workaholics, non-workaholics say to themselves, “Sure, workaholics are successful at work, but aren’t they really running the rest of their lives?” Machlowitz found, however that, “…workaholics are surprisingly happy. They are doing exactly what their love-work-and they can’t get enough do it.” The dark side of workaholism is the suffering often experienced by the people who work and live with workaholics. Coworkers experience “envy and anxiety” about getting half as far as those who work twice as hard. Wives, husbands and children of workaholics must cope with and compensate for the workaholics’ failure to do things at home.
Machlowitz identified four distinct types of workaholics:
• The dedicated workaholics – single minded and one-dimensional; no interest other than work; hate vacations, sports and amusement.
• The integrated workaholics – incorporates outside activities into the job itself; consider a wide variety of activities to be part of the job.
• The diffuse workaholics – “has fingers in lots of pies”; has a short attention span-excited by a lot of things and will work intensely at them, but loses interest after a short period of time.
• The intense workaholics – pursues leisure activities with the same passion, sense of purpose and pace as work; hobbies become just “a job of a different kind”; likely to become a marathon runner, applying the same energy and exactitude toward training, clocking times and completing difficult course as one does toward a career.
Psychiatrist Lawrence Susser treats workaholics with outdoor play therapy, starting with a six- to eight-hour hike. “I bring my dog along; that usually brings out the child in them,” explains Susser. Another part of the therapy is a two-hour lunch: “Have you ever seen a workaholic take two hours for lunch?” Hahaha… how funny? Is it?