Christiaan Lam – over de dagelijkse avonturen van een mobiele manager
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Fashionable sickness

redcross.gifIf you look closely at the history of many illnesses, they can be tagged as being ‘fashionable’. What does that mean, fashionable? Well, they come and go over a span of several years. A few famous ones of the last years: whiplash, RSI, ME, burnout and others. Interestingly, most of these are becoming more rare in diagnoses, being replaced by OPS, MPS, SBS, MCS and whatnot.

Most of these ailments have several things in common: they have direct relation to daily rigors and pains. It always has an external cause: accident, pregnancy, poison, something that ‘just cannot be helped’. There are no anatomical anomalies.

Equally, the victims also have some similarities. They are people who can only just cope in normal life and they fight for recognition of their sickness. They are under pressure from several sides, personal, social, workrelated. They are unhappy with the current situation and their energyconsuming and precarious equilibrium makes them vulnerable.

It is mainly the (Freudian) ‘secondary profit of sickness’ that helps to turn emotional unhappyness into very real pain and complaints. The hidden benefits of extra attention and care are the underlying motifs.

A few do’s and don’t therefore for you, as manager:
DO
show involvement by, for example, having an anti RSI policy
complaints are to be taken seriously
let go of employees whom have a bad fit with company culture

DO NOT
treat patiens as ‘simulant’, you will be the focus of their battle for recognition
put extra pressure on people ‘on the edge’

So no matter the ‘fashionability’ of a sickness, for a patient it is very real. And the most effective treatment: psychoanalytical therapy. Yes, really.

Original article in managementteam magazine 18, november 2007

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