Florida, last Friday. A guy walks in into the company he has been fired from, starts shooting around, kills one and shoots six. He was unemployed and had $90,000 debt. Info in Telegraph

Paris, last month. Yet another France Telecom employee killed himself. He jumped off a bridge and left a note complaining about the bad atmosphere at work after he has been transferred to Customer Services department. This makes 29 suicides among France Telecom employees in past year and half. Not to forget is a bunch of attempted suicides which were prevented on time.

France Telecom decided to employ 200 psychiatrists and invest €1 billion in preventing Burnout. Can it happen that this will make the people feel sicker than they are? And result in everybody thinking they have a personal problem – while the money keeps pouring from one pocket (FT) to the other (some private firm who employed the psychiatrists). Instead of securing jobs, cutting stress (how about starting with working hours?) and starting to treat employees like human beings?

Info in Financial Times

We have never been this well off – and this desperate. Why?

Burnout/Work/Fuck-it-all Books

I’ve come across some great books lately which I can warmly recommend. They are all evolving around my last topic burnout/letting go/work-life…. Corrine Maier “Bonjour pareses” („Die Entdeckung der Faulheit“, „Bonjour Laziness“, „Dobar dan ljenosti“)

Maier writes about work in large companies and gives an ironic, cynical analysis of the companies and life in them. She calls for a boycott from inside – through letting go. I just love French intellectuals.

John C. Parkin “Fuck it” (“Jebe mi se”, not translated into German yet)

This is a self-help book. I am not a fan of self-help books, but I like Parkins’ try to translate eastern philosophy of achieving balance through letting go or detachment into western language. It is a fun and relaxing read, which will give you some inspiration. If you can borrow it, do, you don’t have to own thins book.

Lisbeth Jerlich “Burnout: Ausdruck der Entfremdung” (exists only in German)

Relatively easy to read although a science book. First time I found literature analysing social causes of burnout. Normally it is all about personal or work-related causes. We are learning: burnout happens to the highly motivated people with big expectations. Of course, we shouldn’t say this loud because nobody would invest energy into their work  anymore. Great book.

Georges Perec „L'art et la manière d'aborder son chef deservice pour lui demander une augmentation“ („Über die Kunst seinen Chef anzusprechen und ihn um eine Gehaltserhöhung zu bitten“)

I haven’t read it yet but I believe it is a must.

Have fun reading!

Killer telecoms

Two weeks ago, a 32 years old woman has jumped from the window of her France Telecom office. Only two days later, her colleague has tried to kill himself in a meeting. Twenty-three employees of France Telecom have killed themselves since the beginning of 2008. Many of them left suicide notes blaming the work conditions. 42,4% of early pensioned people in Austria are pensioned due to work-related psychological problems such as burnout. Now Austrian pension fond is considering opening special support and rehabilitation centres to heal burnouts and help people go back to work instead of entering early pension.

It is interesting to notice that the percentage of blue-collar workers going to early pension due to work-related psychological problems is at 29,6% much lower then with white-collar workers, where it makes 42,4%.

This is a very interesting issue which could help preventing burnout. I am discussing this topic in my new book. It is because the blue-collar workers are detached from their work and expect reachable things: to work for certain hours a day and get a certain payment? While white-collar workers expect much more from their job – they expect their job to give them fulfilment, affirmation, and a feeling of success. Too much identification with a job? Is it because of the ungrateful middle positions where the results (and therefore success) are not easy to measure and where one does not have the authority but does have the responsibility?

Or are we just spoiled?

Stars burning out

Since I started writing my second book which deals with burnout,  I came across an amazing number of burnout cases in my circles, but also - look at this! - many stars burning out. Here are two special ladies talking about their experiences: Lady Sov (the girl is a blast!) and J.Lo. "I would storm out of things. I would refuse. I would pull sickies. I’d just lock myself in a hotel at the end of the day, not want to go out, not want to see anyone. Just sit there and cry. It was horrible. Just bad. I was falling apart. I really was, I had suicidal thoughts. I was somewhere else.

….

I saw counsellors and therapists. I had my energies balanced out. I had people tapping on my face. I’m serious, I went through everything! But I don’t think that’s what I needed, I just needed to stop for a while and I did and it worked out for me because I’ve done this album now.

….

I always felt that I’ve got this weird spiritual energy around me that means I’ll be okay, like having a guide. Everything’s always happened for a reason, things always worked out in the end."

Lady Sovereign on her website www.ladysovereign.com

"There was a time when I was very overworked and I was doing music and movies and so many things. I was suffering from a lack of sleep. And I did have a kind of nervous breakdown. I froze up on a set.  Well, not on a set, but in my trailer. I was like - I don't want to move. I don't want to talk. I don't want to do anything. It was on that movie Enough," she says, referring to the film in which she played a battered wife who finally fights back. "Yeah. I did. I had a nervous breakdown."

"There were no signs leading up to it. You really don't know what's happening at first. I was going, what's going on? It was about five in the afternoon in my trailer and I just sat there. I remember telling my assistant at the time - Arlene - to go get the director Michael Apted and I asked if I could go home because I was feeling so sick and weird. I kept saying, 'I'm not weak. I'm not weak.' It's funny what tricks your mind plays on you. I just didn't want people to think I was falling apart. But when I look back on it now it's so odd to me that those are the words I chose to say: I AM NOT WEAK. Michael let me off and when he left I just sat there and started crying and felt frozen. I didn't want to move. My bodyguard who had been with me for many years picked me up and put me in the car and they took me to a doctor ... Right away they want to give you pills. But I have never liked the idea of pills and kept saying no to that and just kept asking what was wrong with me. 'I'll tell you what's wrong,' the doctor said. 'You're sleep deprived.  You're overworked. Go home and go to bed.' He told me to go back to work on Monday after a weekend of sleeping because if I waited longer that I would only get more panicked about working. So that's what I did. I've still never been to a shrink. I'm not a shrinky person."

Jeniffer Lopez in the Daily Beast interview in Oct. 2008