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4. Knowing they are working too hard, beginning to have physical
symptoms of overwork, but being unable to do anything about it.
5. Being consumed by work, which leaves them isolated from others.
6. An increase in social isolation, sarcasm with others, and a tendency
to blame the work for their increasing sense of isolation.
7. Withdrawal, beginning to use substances to cope, and a tendency to
do the job by the topic.
8. Obvious behavioral changes noted by others.
9. Behavior at work becoming mechanical and robotic.
10. Inner emptiness and exaggerated activities involving food, substances,
and sex.
11. Depression.
12. Physical and emotional collapse.
Lorenz (2009, p. 1) provides the following signs of burnout:
￿ Crankiness, irritability, and an inability to get along with co-workers
you used to get along with just fine;
￿ Coming to work late, wanting to leave early, dreading coming to work
at all, watching the clock, and counting the minutes until you leave;
￿ A sense of apathy and a lack of motivation; no longer wanting to be
￿ No longer interested in interacting socially with co-workers;
￿ Feeling exhausted much of the time, having headaches, feeling tension
in all of your muscles, and having trouble sleeping.
A Personal Reflection on Worker Burnout: A Judge Confronts
the Limitations of Her Job
Linda Morgan is a superior court judge in a state in the northeast. She told
us that as caseloads have increased and judicial discretion has been taken
away from judges because of strict sentencing guidelines handed down by
legislatures, many judges are experiencing burnout and retiring early. In
her own experience an example she cited was a young man charged with
possession of illegal drugs. Should she impose prison time or probation on
the son who is taking care of his elderly mother (who sits weepy eyed in
the back of the courtroom)? He claims he is going to school to become a
nurse. She doubts that he will make it since he was caught with enough
marijuana to show that, although he is not a dealer, he is very likely a
heavy user. Heavy drug use, she suspects with considerable past experience
with drug users, will not bode well for academic work.
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