“Presenteeism at work penalizes women who have to work a double day”

2024-04-05 14:30:03
Marie Peze. PERSONAL COLLECTION

Marie Pezé, doctor of psychology, psychoanalyst and founder of the Suffering and Work network, which now has two hundred consultations in France, explains how women are more affected than men by burn-out. “In our country, women must adapt to excessive hours, in a work organization designed for men”, she says. She adds that there are specific risks for their health: at the cardiovascular, hormonal and gynecological levels.

Have you noticed an evolution of the professional burnout syndrome, observed for the first time in caregivers in 1974?

Burnout, in 2024, does not present itself as that described by the American psychiatrist Freudenberger in the 1970s, with moral and physical exhaustion, cynicism and detachment from the work we loved. We now know, thanks to the work of Dares [direction de l’animation de la recherche, des études et des statistiques] of 2019, that 47% of employees are suffering at work, due to “ethical conflicts”. The breeding ground for burnout today is not only the intensification of work, it is also the idea of ​​doing “dirty work”. The conditions – lack of time, resources and staff – do not allow “working well”.

So how, physically, does burnout manifest itself today?

It’s mainly the brain that says stop. The psyche wants to continue at all costs, because the employee is caught up in injunctions for excellence and speed with new technologies, but the brain stops. All patients say it: “At one point, my brain got stuck. » Or: “I passed out.” » Or: “I had a stroke. » This is the moment when the body, wiser than the psyche, prisoner of the speed demanded of it, will reach its physiological limits and collapse.

Do you think women may be more affected?

Yes, the figures of Epidemiological bulletin of March 5 from Public Health France corroborate what occupational clinicians have been saying for years: psychological suffering linked to work is twice as high among women, who are more affected by anxiety and depressive disorders. In an organization of work historically set up by men for men’s bodies, women must try to find their place “against”. In France, where you have to prove your commitment to the company through presenteeism, women are penalized by the double day, the mental load linked to family and domestic life, always invisible.

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