Burnout may have gained major media attention in just the past few years but the term was actually coined back in the 1970s by psychologist Herbert Freudenberger. Freudenberger wrote an entire book around the concept and published The High Cost of High Success in 1980 with his co-author Geraldine Richelson. In the book, Freudenberger compares a burnt out person to a burnt out building; while it may look alright from the outside, the inside is hollowed and in ruins.
He calls burnout a “demon born of the society and times we live in.” At the time of his research, Americans were dealing with Vietnam protests, the Watergate scandal, and a renewed emphasis on hard work and long hours to contrast against the ‘lazy hippies’ of the 1960s. Today, workers struggle with similarly turbulent world and domestic politics. There is also pressure to work harder to avoid being seen as ‘lazy millennials.’ It’s no wonder burnout is becoming more and more prevalent.