A presentation last week held by the Canadian Centre for Ethics and Corporate Policy in Toronto featured Dr. Barbara Killinger, a clinical psychologist and the author of Workaholics: the Respectable Addicts.
Killinger treated the audience (the vast majority were women) to a crash course in psychology, outlining what happens to company executives who are narcissistic and become obsessed with holding power and control. She argues that these over ambitious types can quickly follow a downward spiral in their personal lives, leading to family breakdowns. On the professional side they can lose their integrity as they seek to gain a competitive advantage. There’s a difference between a person’s integrity, Killinger says, which is “an internal state of being,” compared to morals and ethics, which are externally-imposed by the society.
Killinger’s research into the personal histories of over-ambitious workaholic types has shown that they often took on too much responsibility as children, or they were “pedestal” children of whom too much was expected.
Integrity translates from “wholeness” in the Latin, she said. In their need to continue succeeding, the workaholics lose that integrity because they pay too much attention to their “thinking” side. In so doing, they exclude the feeling/intuitive/sensation side of their natures, even though these are also a vital part of the problem solving process.
The workaholic is subject to many fears, said Killinger. These are: fear of failure, of boredom, of laziness, of self-discovery, and of persecution. In its worst stages workaholism leads to chronic fatigue, guilt, panic attacks and even paranoia.