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Workaholism and Procrastination: A Double-Edged Sword

Dual Personality

Did you meet people that are, let us say, too lazy and those that, oppositely, work as slaves? It is commonly thought that the second type of person can be characterized positively, while the first one deserves to be ashamed. Nevertheless, the scientists have proved that these two types of person are just a double-edged sword.

At first glance, excessive industriousness and putting affairs on the back burner have nothing in common, however, the psychodynamic approach makes it possible to see that these two features have a single origin.

The best illustration of the relationship between labor and procrastination is obsessive-compulsive personality disorder: due to fear of losing control over one's own impulses (especially aggression), a person tries to counteract them or cancel them with the help of annulment. This protective mechanism works like this: (+1) + (-1) = 0. "My viciousness can be eradicated only by perfection." Cancellation is the basis of perfectionism. Perfectionism is the basis of excessive self-criticism.

You can defend yourself against an indignant, self-esteeming criticism in two ways:

  1. Reflections and intellectual achievements (obsession);
  2. Actual actions and practical achievements (compulsiveness).

"All that is needed is to be perfect and not make mistakes," says the internal critic.

How Not to Be Mistaken?

  1. "If you make decision A, decision B will be forever lost. And if in reality it is correct?!" – Obsession (sit and do nothing).
  2. "Pressing out the foot-throttle to its full extent, and then we will see where it will take us." – Compulsiveness (rush headlong into something, then you will figure it out).

Freedom = Choice + Responsibility.

The inability to make a conscious choice is a lack of freedom to some extent. Workaholism is a kind of compulsiveness, procrastination – obsession. They both have no freedom.

Are Workaholism and Procrastination the Signs of an Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder?

On the example of this personality disorder, it is better to trace the relationship of these symptoms. Obsessivity and compulsiveness are perhaps the most common psychic phenomena. But their presence does not yet indicate an obsessive-compulsive personality type.

Workaholism and procrastination can also occur under:

  • Narcissistic personality disorder;
  • Masochistic and dependent personality disorders with a narcissistic nucleus;
  • Personality disorders due to organic damage to the brain.

What Is the Difference?

Procrastinating Man

The psychodynamically distinction between obsessive-compulsive psychology and narcissistic psychology is that perfectionism (underlying the phenomena such as workaholism and procrastination):

  1. in the first case, protects the person from a sense of guilt ("I am vicious, my impulses can harm or destroy the one whom I love what I value, so I need to control their impulses").
  2. in the second one – from shame ("if people see my imperfection [who I am], they will abandon or reject me, you need to be better [not myself]").

"Perfectionism" within the framework of organic damage to the brain often has isolated forms. For example, pedantry.

The distinctive feature of the organic background are:

  • Decreased ability to maintain targeted activities;
  • Emotional vacillation, irritability (do not give in to strong control of will);
  • Speech disorders (thoroughness, talkativeness);
  • Cognitive distortions (individual paranoid experiences without signs of systematization, "fixation" on a certain topic);
  • Sexual disorders.

How Can Psychotherapy Help?

In the case when workaholism or procrastination is a consequence of obsessive-compulsive psychology, then the main tasks are:

  • Do not give advice, do not rush, do not criticize;
  • Avoid the intellectualization of the feelings;
  • Help in the expression of negative emotions.

This strategy will allow the patient to see that emotions (even aggressive ones) are not destructive, and they do not need to be suppressed.

In the case of a narcissistic nature:

  • Be priceless (the person is not a capricious adult and not a small child who needs to be pitied);
  • To demonstrate acceptance of one's own weaknesses;
  • Be able to recognize mistakes and demonstrate imperfection.

Such behavior will help the narcissistic person to deny the false Self and accept him/herself as the person is.

As you can see, there is no point to paint procrastination or workaholism in the black or white colors. They are both diseases that should be treated by qualified therapists but not with pieces of advice of light-minded friends.

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