The frustration of those who can’t find a job


Unemployment has serious psychological and social effects. Those who suffer from it often experience profound existential dissatisfaction.

Work is a means of economic survival and a vehicle for a person to develop their social, political, cultural, and personal life. Employment is also a source of health or sickness — of physical, psychological, and social well-being or illness. Consequently, work-related changes and crises are very relevant from a psychological point of view.

In many places, the world of work suffers from two significant deficiencies: on one hand, there is a limited supply of work, and on the other, the available jobs are often low-quality. A precarious job market makes societies more vulnerable, and is an important public health problem.

Unemployment: A psychosocial problem

Currently, unemployed people aged 45 or older—often the victims of downsizing, outsourcing, and other situations that take place under new management models—suffer a worrisome instability caused by serious difficulties finding a new job.

The psychological and social effects of unemployment are numerous and serious; in short, they cause malaise and dissatisfaction with one’s current life situation. Here are some of these effects in more detail:

  • Existential uncertainty and confusion, pessimism, depression, despair, and demoralization
  • Feelings of insecurity, vulnerability, and defenselessness, and of failure, inefficiency, frustration, and injustice
  • Low self-esteem
  • Disorganization of one’s daily routine
  • Lack of a defined role, of status, power, prestige, and social identity and recognition
  • Economic, social, ideological, and moral dependence
  • Limitation of social interactions due to the lack of ties with work-related social groups
  • Alienation from one’s profession, because of obsolescence and the degeneration of work competency, and because one’s career plans become unrealizable
  • Destruction of one’s personal, professional, and organizational plans
  • An incapacity to build a meaningful autobiographical work narrative; avoidance of unemployment by recourse to social refuges (early retirement, sickness, disability, being a student or a housewife …) or to unhealthy and false escapes such as alcohol, tobacco, prescription medications or other drugs
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