What Do I Mean by Burnout?

According to the Central Bureau of Statistics of the Netherlands in November 2015, “One in seven employees suffers from burnout syndrome”, That’s one million Dutch people …


When I looked into the topic burnout, two things struck me: firstly, that it is a general trend that is usually treated with individual solutions (with a sabbatical, with new hobbies or lavender oil); secondly, that it is considered a mental disorder: it is the strained psyche that causes palpitations and indefinable pain. The stress that leads to burnout can have a wide variety of causes: a heavy workload, relationship problems, money worries and much more. The physical consequences of burnout seem to be less important in the diagnosis and general descriptions than the psychological ones, and there is certainly no mention of physical causes. But this is exactly what I was missing in the common list, namely the body’s role. In the months that I sat in an armchair by the window with more or less useless limbs and a brain the size of a walnut, pondering how it could possibly have come this far, it occurred to me that perhaps my body was more than a mere scoreboard indicating what had gone wrong in my head.


From: Bregje Hofstede, The Rediscovery of the Body. Stuttgart 2020.

Graphic: Sofia Lismont

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