Can work kill?
Studies conduct in countries around the world demonstrates
that people can actually work themselves to death. Factors such
as work place stress and long hours contribute to the risk of death
According to Sigmund Freud, a man’s mission in life is “to work and to love”. In this modern world, an excess of-or, at least, unprotected-love can be hazardous indeed. But what of work? Can a man literally work himself to death?
The Japanese think so; in fact, karoshi, or “death from overwork”, is a recognized diagnosis that qualifies survivors of its victims to receive employee compensation payments. A 1998 survey of 526 Japanese men, aged 30 to 69, supported the idea that long working hours can be hazardous to a man’s health. The subjects of the study included men who had been hospitalized with a heart attack as well as healthy men of similar ages and occupation. The results were striking: men from both groups who put more than 11 hours of work on an average day were 2.4 times more likely to have heart attack than were men who worked “just” seven to nine hours a day.
Men do not have to retire to protect their health. They should, however, certainly eat right, exercise often and avoid smoking to keep their hearts healthy. They should have regular medical care and be sure their blood pressure and cholesterol levels are okay. But also should seek a work environment that provides a healthy degree of autonomy and control without sacrificing social supports. At its best, work should be challenging without being stressful; it should also be balanced by a healthy amount of play.