Burnout / Mid-Life Crisis

My first doctoral program had “an emphasis in women's issues,” so-called. I have since come to believe that there are no truly “women’s issues,” or very few. There are simply issues that affect human beings. Some issues may impact one gender more than the other; but even PMS, for example, affects (potentially) all the males with whom a woman with PMS comes in contact.

Similarly, although there are frequent references to the "superwoman" syndrome, males may also be at risk for getting caught up in trying to do everything flawlessly or attempting to be all things to all people. Consequently I speak of the SuperPerson Syndrome. Being caught in this syndrome is often a set up for burnout and/or mid-life crisis.


Refer to Function of the BrainAdapting, for additional information.

Refer to Addiction and the Brain for additional information.

It’s irresponsible to try to be everything to everybody (something the proverbial superperson always tries to do). Except for very young children, you can’t be everything to even one other person, nor should you, since that would rob that person of having responsibility for her or his own life. (Shaevitz, Marjorie Hansen. The Confident Woman. pp 64-68. NY: Harmony Books, 1999.)

Homeostasis or balance is critical in remaining healthy. Humans are complex organisms who require a delate balance between the physial, psychological, social, and spiritual aspects of our humanity. Tehcnology does not serve us well in maintaining this type of balance. ( Greenfield, David N., PhD. Virtual Addiction. pp 166-168. CA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc, 1999.)

Refer to Function of the Brain, Brain Bent, for additional information.

Burnout (e.g., fatigue, irritability, insomnia, inability to concentrate, temporary trouble doing one’s job) is a characteristic of individuals in weak or stressed families. (Hafen, Brent Q., et al. Mind/Body Health. pp 342-346. MA:Simon & Schuster, 1996.)

Job burnout is a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion caused by long-term exposure to demanding work situations. Burnout is the cumulative result of stress. Job burnout can result in: fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, depression, unhealthy weight changes, substance abuse, a negative impact on your personal life. (Mayo Clinic Staff)

Burnout is different from stress (although it may be the result of unrelenting stress). Burnout is about not enough (e.g., feeling empty, devoid of motivation, and beyond caring). People experiencing burnout often don’t see any hope of positive change in their situations. Another difference between stress and burnout: while you’re usually aware of being under a lot of stress, you don’t always notice burnout when it happens. (Smith, Melinda, MA, et al)

Chronic fatigue in women is nothing new but has just been described in different ways: Hypoglycemia in the 1980s (that affected mostly women), Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in the 1990s, and the Hurried Woman Syndrome that will carry us into the next decade. (Bost, Brent W., MD, FACOG. Hurried Woman Syndrome. pp 30-32.NY:Vantage Press, 2001.)

Competency and Preference are not the same. (Benziger, Katherine, PhD. Thriving in Mind: The Art and Science of Using Your Whole Brain. pp 250-263. IL:KBA, 2009.)

Refer to Brain Lead and Lateralization for additional information.

Many women cope well with running three jobs at once at least for a few years. Most have to make some compromises and decide to do less than a magnificent job in every area. The ones who don’t compromise have some kind of crash. (Conway, Jim and Sally. Women In Midlife Crisis. pp 72-73. IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1971.)

Burnout is a classic case of emotional exhaustion from chronic stress, reduced sense of personal accomplishment, and the classic case of depersonalization. (https://www.ciop.pl/CIOPPortalWAR/file/71765/2014072991938%26zolnierczyk-zreda_18(3).pdf) Accessed 4-16.)

In “Work Time Control and Mental Health of Workers Working Long Hours: The Role of Gender and Age,” Dorota Żołnierczyk-Zreda studied the relationship between work time control and mental health in workers working long hours. There were significant gender differences in low-flexibility working conditions in the youngest and the oldest groups. The youngest female workers and the oldest male workers had a higher level of depression than participants from the other gender groups working in low-flexibility conditions. (Accessed 7-16. https://www.ciop.pl/CIOPPortalWAR/file/71765/2014072991938%26zolnierczyk-zreda_18(3).pdf)

Refer to Brain Lead and Lateralization for additional information.

Betty Friedan has expressed concern that the “feminine mystique” has in some quarters given way to an equally rigid “feminist mystique” which simply replaces the old dissatisfactions with a new set of problems for women. Many women have been left with a feeling of failure because they could not be superwomen. (Wilson, Glenn. The Great Sex Divide. pp 68-70. England: Peter Owen Publishers, 1989.)

Women are still suffering from the Superwoman Syndrome. They think that getting control of their frantic, overwhelming lives is impossible. Because of years of female socialization, some women don’t think they have the right to do what they want. (Shaevitz, Marjorie Hansen. The Confident Woman. pp 172-173. NY: Harmony Books, 1999.)

Studies show that more than two-thirds of women experience a mid-life crisis. They often feels worthless and unnecessary as a person (as compared to roles as a chauffeur, secretary, housekeeper, mother, wife, hostess, etc.). (Conway, Jim and Sally. Women In Midlife Crisis. pp 20-24. IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1971.)

Most homosexual orientation develops during gestation. Patterns tend to be firmly in place by age 5. Discusses lack of success of change therapies (e.g., push bisexuals to confine behaviors to opposite sex only, or enforce celibacy, or push the individuals to attempt suicide). (Pease, Barbara and Allan. Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps. pp 171-186. NY:Broadway Books, 1998.)

The trauma of growing up gay in a world that is run primarily by straight men is deeply wounding in a unique and profound way. Straight men have other issues and struggles that are no less wounding, but they are quite different from those of a gay man. ( Downs, Alan, PhD. The Velvet Rage. Overcoming the Pain of Growing up Gay in a Straight Man’s World. pp 5-6. NY:Da Capo Press, 2005. 2006.)

Refer to Sexual Orientation and the Brain for additional information>.

The Hurried Woman (estimated at more than 60 million American females) usually has complaints in one or more of three major areas: Fatigue or “down” mood; Weight gain; and Low sex drive. A common thread that links problems together for vast majority of patients is stress. (Bost, Brent W., MD, FACOG. Hurried Woman Syndrome. p xii. NY:Vantage Press, 2001. NY: Warner Books, 1984.)

The Hurried Woman (estimated at more than 60 million American females) usually has complaints in one or more of three major areas: Fatigue or “down” mood; Weight gain; and Low sex drive. A common thread that links problems together for vast majority of patients is stress. (Bost, Brent W., MD, FACOG. Hurried Woman Syndrome. p xii. NY: Vantage Press, 2001.)

Stress seems to play a pivotal role in several very important illnesses. Studies indicate that almost 50% of migraine sufferers, 70% of patients with fibromyalgia, and about 50% of patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome also suffer from some degree of depression (e.g., often the pre-depression that haunts the Hurried Woman). (Bost, Brent W., MD, FACOG. Hurried Woman Syndrome. p 32. NY: Vantage Press, 2001.)

Suggests strategies that can help with recovery from the Hurried Woman Syndrome including: vitamins, exercise, get ride of “clutter,” consider counseling, limit caffeine and sugar, and discuss hormones and medications with your physician. (Bost, Brent W., MD, FACOG. Hurried Woman Syndrome. pp 20-30. NY: Vantage Press, 2001.)

According to Dr. Orzack, a licensed clinical psychologist, founder and coordinator of McLean Hospital’s Computer Addiction Service and a member of the Harvard Medical school faculty, psychological and physical symptoms associated with addiction to computer/video games/internet use may include the following:

Psychological Symptoms

  • Having a sense of well-being or euphoria while at the computer
  • Inability to stop the activity
  • Craving more and more time at the computer
  • Neglect of family and friends
  • Feeling empty, depressed, irritable when not at the computer
  • Lying to employers and family about activities
  • Problems with school or job

Physical Symptoms

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Dry eyes
  • Migraine headaches
  • Backaches
  • Eating irregularities, such as skipping meals
  • Failure to attend to personal hygiene
  • Sleep disturbances, change in sleep pattern

(Orzack, Maressa Hecht, PhD)

Refer to Video Games - Internet and the Brain for additional information.

A mid-life crisis is not so much a matter of a man’s chronological age as it is his state of mind.… Our culture causes a great deal of stress on the man in mid-life… A culture that emphasizes youth puts a great deal of emotional pressure on people who are non-youth. (Conway, Jim. Men in Midlife Crisis. pp 27, 45, 52. IL:David C. Cook Publishing, 1978, 1980.)

Seventy to eighty percent of males age 35-55 experience a moderate to severe mid-life crisis. (Conway, Jim and Sally. Women In Midlife Crisis. pp 126. IL:Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1971.)

Mid-life is dated not so much by age as by life experiences. Blue-collar workers tend to think of mid-life as 35-55, whereas professional people tend to see it as 40-65. Women think of mid-life in relationship to their family life cycle, linked to when their children enter puberty with their accompanying strong surges for independence. Unmarried women define mid-life in terms of the family that they might have had. (Conway, Jim and Sally. Women In Midlife Crisis. pp 26-28. IL:Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1971.)

Both men and women experience midlife crisis. It is usually defined as a time of questioning: Have I done what I should have done? What have I missed? Did I make the right decisions? What should I do with the rest of my life? (Stump, Jane Barr, PhD. What’s the Difference? pp 130-131. NY: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1985.)

A man will be advanced in his work and be given greater and greater responsibility until he literally becomes incompetent. Most businesses then release the man rather than move him back to the level of his competence. (Conway, Jim. Men in Midlife Crisis. pp 56-57. IL:David C. Cook Publishing, 1978, 1980.)

Much of the energy influencing your decision to put off doing certain tasks comes from your natural dominance and your own internal desire to do the things that uplift and energize you, even if you have not known that they did this because: they use your preference, or they match your natural extraversion or introversion, or they do both. (Thriving in Mind. Benziger, I. Katherine, PhD. p 133. TX: KBA Publishing, 2000.)

Women often think and act in many of the negative ways they do because of the messages they, and generations of women before them, have received from their own family upbringing and the culture itself… follow the dictates of the Female Code of Conduct. (Shaevitz, Marjorie Hansen. The Confident Woman. pp 32-34. NY: Harmony Books, 1999.)

Studies: there appears to be an interaction between stress and drug abuse/addiction. Stress may play a role in the start of drug use and/or in relapse (e.g., the reawakening of a learned behavior). (Zickler, Patrick. Addictive Drugs and Stress. p 1, 6-7. MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIDA NOTES, Vol. 18, No. 5, Dec 2003.)

Refer to Stress and the Brain for additional information.

Women always have been involved in much more than housework and child care. A woman’s work should be related first to who she is as a person and then to the norms of society. (Conway, Jim and Sally. Women In Midlife Crisis. pp 73-74. IL:Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1971.)

A person's strong preferences often represent work activities that "turn them on." Their non-preferences almost always represent work activities that "turn them off." When people are turned off they drop out of the game. They become selectively blind and deaf to the discussions and activities that take place in their areas of avoidance. When a large percentage of a person's work falls into a quadrant of avoidance, the likelihood of job success is enormously reduced. (Herrmann, Ned. The Whole Brain Business Book. pp 40-46. NY:McGraw-Hill, 1996.)

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