Is President Obama Suffering
Job Burnout?

In recent weeks TV and talk show pundits have been talking about reports that President Obama is “depressed” and taking anti-depression medication. If so, what’s going on with him.

According to Dr. Beverly Potter, President Obama appears to have fallen victim to JOB BURNOUT, which is a kind of job depression.

Burnout is a motivational problem caused by damned-if-you-do; damned-if-you-don’t situations, where the person is expected to “win” but cannot do so. No matter how hard he tries, President Obama, for example, cannot get support for his programs. His base is attacking him and he cannot satisfy them. The result is feelings of helplessness and hopelessness—“No Can Do”—which destroys motivation.  You can think of motivation as how a person gets moving and keeps moving. In burnout, the victim gets stuck and cannot get moving. The result is demotivation, discouragement, despair, despiriting, and depression.

Many equate burnout with stress, suggesting that stress causes burnout.  This is not the case. Burnout is "stressful" and that stress must be reduced or it can cause physical damage.  But burnout is not caused by stress.  Burnout is caused by feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.  As a metaphor, you can think of "stress as the fever of burnout".  Like with pheumonia a high fever can be dangerous and must be reduce, but reducing the fever does not cure the pneumonia. Similarly, taking a beach-side vacation may reduce stress, but it does nothing for no-win situations on the job.

Burnout victims tend to withdraw and become isolated from the support of others. We all talk to ourselves about our experiences in the world. When burning out such self-talk becoming increasing negative, tinged with feelings of helplessness, which without reality checks from friends and family leads to a vicious cycle that can become nearly impossible to break.

Common burnout symptoms exhibited by President Obama

Exhaustion: Lack of energy associated with feelings of tiredness and trouble keeping up with usual activities. President Obama appears to have emotionally shut down. According to a recent Gawker article, “Obama no longer finds joy in the political back-and-forth” and “has seemed increasingly listless to associates.”

Detachment: People caught in burnout tend to become socially withdrawn—even from their family. Obama is reported to be increasingly withdrawn from the day to day demands of his job and described as "empty". to one journalist. Reports are that he arrives at his office at 9:30 am and clocks out at 4 pm.  Then after dinner with his family, he retreats to a private office for most of the evening.

Social Isolation: Burnout victims quesiton the value of friendships and activities, and even life itself. White House insiders say Obama is a "lone wolf", interacting with few on his staff—only Valerie Jarrett and David Axelrod. His relationships with others have been called "Frosty".

Impatience and Irritability:  As burnout takes hold, the victims' ability to perform diminish— they become increasing impatient and blame family and coworkers for their failures and frustrations.

Feeling Unappreciated: Burnout victims seek appreciation but double bind situations result in their not getting recognition so they become bitter, angry, and resentful—leading to further isolation.

Substance Abuse: Physical aliments such as headaches, colds, backaches plague the burnout victim. They often turn to self-medicating with alcohol, prescription meds, pot and tobacco to soothe their stress and de-stress. Many have reported that Obama has been taking anti-depressant meds and smoking about a pack a day, despite Michele's disapproval.

Job Burnout — Useful Information



Dr. Beverly Potter
beverly at docpotter dot com


Use back button to return to previous page.