Talk on “Lust auf Leistung in Zeiten von Burnout?!” (Desire for performance in times of burnout?!)

25. Oct. 2018

On Wednesday, October 24, 2018, Prof. Dr. med. Edgar Voltmer gave a talk on “Lust auf Leistung in Zeiten von Burnout?!” (Desire for performance in times of burnout?!). This event was part of the event series “Eine Uni – ein Buch” (One University—One Book).

What is burnout? What is its cause? How do you feel when you are affected? Is it a fashionable illness? Can anyone be affected? Is there a vaccine against it?! According to the German Duden, burnout is not only a socio-medical term, but also a technical one. In technology, burnout means “the blowing of fuel elements in the event of overheating”. This definition illustrates what happens to people and how they feel when they are affected by burnout, which is a serious matter. The diagnosis and the loss of the ability to work are often followed by a long-term sick leave and the wish of the person affected for delimitation and withdrawal from social and active life. It is very difficult for the person affected to accept the new situation; and high costs arise for employers and society.

What can be done if one feels that he/she is getting into an overload and that the rest periods are of no help to overcome permanent exhaustion? Is it the squaring of the circle: to work harder and perform better in even shorter periods of time in order to be even more efficient, even faster, and even more effective? What do solutions and ways out look like?

The speaker addressed these problems and related questions in his talk. His specific advice for people affected: Change your living conditions, reduce your increased commitment, stop being overprotective, learn to say no; start taking things a bit slower and refrain from doing some things, create new values, learn to set your personal pace; take care of your body, try to worry as little as possible, keep your humor! During his talk, the speaker quoted from the essay “Müdigkeitsgesellschaft” (Fatigue Society) by Byung-Chul Han. Prof. Voltmer is a proven expert on this topic. He habilitated on “Psychosoziale Belastungen und Ansätze zur berufsspezifischen Prävention und Gesundheitsförderung” (Psychosocial Stress and Approaches to Job-Specific Prevention and Health Promotion), is a systemic family therapist and teaches health sciences at FAU.