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The unemployed syndrome and its risks


Published in

El Diario Montañés, Diario de Navarra, Ideal de Almeria and Ideal de Jaén.

Gerardo Castillo

Professor School of Education and Psychology

When long-term unemployment is not experienced firsthand, it is seen only as an economic problem. This ignores the fact that work not only satisfies our primary needs, but also has a self-fulfillment component. Through work most people forge part of their lives, express their personality, develop their abilities and fulfill themselves as individuals.

Prolonged inactivity at work affects the process of realization staff and generates both psychological and biological imbalance, leading to a possible disease known as 'unemployed syndrome'.

The psychological reaction to unemployment problems tends to vary according to the age and personality of each person. An average citizen, who depends on his work to survive, may suffer from sleep disturbances, anxiety and depression. In our case I will refer to a worker in his 40s who loses his employment because his business has been forced to downsize.

Benedict XVI in his encyclical 'Caritas in veritate' (29-6-2009) speaks of people who remain without work for a long time and, therefore, depend on public or private attendance , diminishing their freedom and creativity, and affecting their family and social relationships, with serious psychological and spiritual damage.

There are long-term unemployed people who feel guilty about their status, taking it as a failure staff. A research of the British Medical Journey states that these people have a two to three times higher risk of suicide. Experts warn that in the future this status will be more and more frequent, so we must start preparing psychologically to face prolonged inactivity. The long-term unemployed tend to follow a three-phase process. The first is that of excessive and unfounded confidence in getting a new job soon employment, so he postpones the search. He grants himself a moratorium. The second phase is the search for employment. If the efforts do not yield result , pessimism and anguish may arise. In a third phase appears the belief that work will no longer be found and that this is due to one's own incapacity and incompetence. According to the theory of 'Learned Helplessness', developed by Martin Seligman, if a person exhausts all possibilities to achieve a basic goal for his life, he will experience that, no matter what he does, his status will not change, so Withdrawal to act. In the case of the impatient unemployed, there is a risk of resignation and accommodation to this new passive way of life.

The unemployed usually keep their state of mind a secret, either out of shame or because they believe that no one can understand them. But unexpressed and unshared negative thoughts and feelings increase the initial problem.

Ideally, the process that leads to the unemployed syndrome should be interrupted in its second phase. It is a matter of not giving up in the search for employment. This perseverance is the fruit of a previous Education of the will that is forged by facing difficulties. The obstacles in the search for employment will thus be stimulating challenges. The training received and the skills developed for today's changing work will also help, such as empathy, assertiveness, initiative, decision making, work in a team, ability to assimilate new technologies, self-motivation and self-improvement.

Preventive measures are more effective than corrective ones to avoid the syndrome of the unemployed. Among the former, the following are recommended. Willingness to learn and train continuously. According to the international survey Workmonitor elaborated by the business Randstad on the labor expectations of the workers, those who present a high formative level are the ones that more bet for their labor continuity, opposite to the employees who have a low level of programs of study , who harbor more doubts on their professional future. Be flexible and adaptable to different situations and forms of work. Companies are increasingly looking for employees with a high level of adaptability. Emotional and social competencies are in high demand in today's companies. This includes the ability to interact with other people in order to share experiences.