Sunday, 6 March 2016

Ever heard of Ergophobia?


Know what it is yet? You are either an intellectual or have been bullied at work! I jest. Actually I jest not!. Ergophobia is the fear of work and it is no laughing matter. A significant proportion of those bullied at work suffer or develop some of the symptoms of work phobia which may fall short of Ergophobia, but are nevertheless serious and you are not alone.


I was prompted to write the article after talking to Cynthia, a professional who had been bullied by her female manager for over a year until her boss was promoted. After taking a period off for stress, Cynthia had to return to work. She developed a terror of the work environment and everything that accompanied it. She was like a rabbit caught in headlights. She became fearful of the very office she worked in. She was gripped with terror every time she saw her bully, even though she no longer worked for her. She became fearful of co-workers, her new manager, making mistakes, being late. The very thought of getting up, putting on her work clothes and going out to catch her train made her feel physically sick.

Cynthia developed panic attacks, such that she began to believe that she might have a heart attack. She suffered from hyperventilating, finding the thought of work made it difficult to breath. New or changing policies at work would bring her out in a cold sweat, quite literally.

The trauma of bullying had literally led her to fear her work. She eventually went to hospital to see if she was indeed having a heart attack. She was told that she was having panic attacks. She consulted her doctor and was diagnosed with having post traumatic stress symptom, the aftermath of bullying, panic attacks and stress. She was immediately, without hesitation signed off to recover from fatigue and stress.

It was found that Cynthia was not so Ergophobic that she needed psychiatric intervention but was suffering the effects of trauma.

She decided to take counselling and during counselling, she discovered that she was actually a very strong , able person who had withstood bullying far longer than most people could. She had gone into battle for a year facing an intimidating and aggressive serial bully. It was only when it was over that the real bodily harm she had suffered came to the fore.

Cynthia decided with the help of her family, friends, medical and legal team that the only sane option was to leave her employer.

We will in due course be writing a forthcoming post on intelligent job searching for those of you who have decided that the time has come to leave. You owe it to yourself to research your next employer to make sure they are a better fit for you, and whilst no one can predict where a bully may lie, it makes sense to narrow the opportunity for it to happen.

Definition -  or ergasiophobia is an abnormal and persistent fear of work (manual labor, non-manual labour, etc.) or finding employment. Ergophobia may also be a subset of either social phobia or performance anxiety. Sufferers of ergophobia experience undue anxiety about the workplace environment even though they realize their fear is irrational. Their fear may actually be a combination of fears, such as fear of failing at assigned tasks, speaking before groups at work (both of which are types of performance anxiety), socializing with co-workers (a type of social phobia), and other fears of emotional, psychological and/or physiological injuries. (Source WIKIPEDIA)

Further reading for a really good article on Ergophobia a

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