Loss of control in work addiction: integrating a clinical and critical perspective

Quinones, Cristina (2019). Loss of control in work addiction: integrating a clinical and critical perspective. In: International Critical Health Psychology Conference, 14-17 Jul 2019, Bratislava, Slovakia.

URL: https://ischp.net/past-conferences/


Substance and behavioural addictions are often perceived as self-gratifying, or as signs of weakness. Workaholism, however, has a very different status. Thus, working extremely hard and long hours is somehow consistent with cultural expectations of adulthood. Further, Hollywood makes workaholism ‘sexy’ by featuring young and good-looking actors as successful and ambitious workaholics. Notwithstanding, drawing on the standardized health critique (Kugelmann, 2003), I argue that the ‘addiction’ label reminds workaholics to continue self-monitoring their behaviour, and adjust it accordingly, so it remains within the socially acceptable levels of health deviance. Also, reflecting upon my own work addiction research, I argue that though well-intended, the rigorous adherence to the toolboxes mainstream psychologist use (e.g., vulnerability-stressor models, measurement instruments, sophisticated statistics), may unwantedly sabotage our mission to help people cope more adaptively. Whilst doing this, mainstream psychologists are not actively challenging the conflicting messages that fuel these addictions, such as encouraging and penalising unrestrained consumption, or in this case, shaming and admiring excessive work. Instead, the evidence that emerges from these studies, validates the standardized health discourse, removing individuals’ agency to define their own healthiness and in turn, becoming more dependent of the standardized health powers.

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