On the origins of “burnout”

This article on the history of burnout notes its origin in New York City’s East Village in the 1970s. A psychologist named Herbert Freudenberger coined the term, borrowing from language that his patients used to describe the effects of drug use, while also calling out to the wave of landlord-driven arson that rocked the neighborhood in those years. In a neat bit of sleight of hand, his definition of burnout managed to exclude the people he expropriated the term from. And yet, as Bench Ansfield notes, “it’s actually quite telling that Freudenberger saw himself and his burned-out coworkers as akin to burned-out buildings. Though he didn’t acknowledge it in his own exploration of the term, those torched buildings had generated value by being destroyed.”