© 2017

Burnout, Fatigue, Exhaustion

An Interdisciplinary Perspective on a Modern Affliction

  • Sighard Neckel
  • Anna Katharina Schaffner
  • Greta Wagner
  • Analyses the social forces that shape the ways that we talk about and understand health and well-being

  • Demonstrates that distress is often culturally and socially shaped

  • Traces conceptions of fatigue and depression across time


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-ix
  2. Sighard Neckel, Anna Katharina Schaffner, Greta Wagner
    Pages 1-23
  3. Cultural-Historical Perspectives

  4. Exhaustion Syndromes

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 75-75
    2. Johanna M. Doerr, Urs M. Nater
      Pages 77-104
    3. Wilmar B. Schaufeli
      Pages 105-127
    4. Linda V. Heinemann, Torsten Heinemann
      Pages 129-150
  5. Exhaustion and Self-Realisation

  6. Exhaustion Discourses

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 215-215
    2. Michael Greaney
      Pages 237-256
  7. Exhaustion and the Social

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 257-257
    2. Sighard Neckel, Greta Wagner
      Pages 283-303
    3. Sighard Neckel, Anna Katharina Schaffner, Greta Wagner
      Pages 305-310

About this book


This interdisciplinary book explores the connections and tensions between sociological, psychological, and biological theories of exhaustion. It examines how the prevalence of exhaustion – both as an individual experience and as a broader socio-cultural phenomenon – is manifest in the epidemic rise of burnout, depression, and chronic fatigue. It provides innovative analyses of the complex interplay between the processes involved in the production of mental health diagnoses, socio-cultural transformations, and subjective illness experiences. Using many of the existing ideologically charged exhaustion theories as case studies, the authors investigate how individual discomfort and wider social dynamics are interrelated. Covering a vast breadth of topics, this book will appeal to scholars of psychology, sociology, medicine, psychiatry, literature, and history.


Chronic Fatigue Syndrome M.E. Neoliberalism Sociology Biology Literature History Mental health Depression Burnout Fatigue Anthropology Self Medication

Editors and affiliations

  • Sighard Neckel
    • 1
  • Anna Katharina Schaffner
    • 2
  • Greta Wagner
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute of SociologyUniversity of HamburgHamburgGermany
  2. 2.School of European Culture and LanguagesUniversity of KentCanterburyUnited Kingdom
  3. 3.Institute of SociologyGoethe University FrankfurtFrankfurtGermany

About the editors

Sighard Neckel is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Hamburg, Germany. He has published almost 180 articles and several academic volumes which cover a wide range of sociological topics in the fields of cultural sociology, social inequality, economic sociology, sociology of emotions, and social theory. 

Anna Katharina Schaffner is Reader in Comparative Literature and Medical Humanities at the University of Kent, UK. She has published on the histories of exhaustion, sexology and psychoanalysis, Dada, the film director David Lynch, and various modern writers.

Greta Wagner is Research Associate at the Institute of Sociology at Goethe-University Frankfurt am Main, Germany. She has published on strategies of self-optimisation, especially the self-medication with cognitive enhancing drugs, and on burnout.

Bibliographic information

Industry Sectors
Health & Hospitals
Public Health


“This book discusses different theories of exhaustion, from different disciplines such as biology, sociology, and psychology, and demonstrates its impact on medical and mental health. … This is an interesting book that examines exhaustion from a number of perspectives, presenting cross‐cultural studies and possible solutions. It will appeal to a wide audience in psychology, psychiatry, and sociology.” (Gary B. Kaniuk, Doody's Book Reviews, September, 2017)