Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Burnout Society” as Want to Read:
The Burnout Society
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Burnout Society

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  3,706 ratings  ·  404 reviews
Our competitive, service-oriented societies are taking a toll on the late-modern individual. Rather than improving life, multitasking, "user-friendly" technology, and the culture of convenience are producing disorders that range from depression to attention deficit disorder to borderline personality disorder. Byung-Chul Han interprets the spreading malaise as an inability ...more
Paperback, 60 pages
Published August 12th 2015 by Stanford Briefs (first published 2010)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.96  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,706 ratings  ·  404 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Burnout Society
Feb 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a seriously interesting book, but I'm not sure I completely agree with him. His argument is that we now live in a world where we are so self-monitoring that we have moved beyond the notion of a discipline society. That is, we no longer require external modes of discipline, but rather our desire to be high-achievers fulfils this function much more effectively than external compulsion ever could.

I'm going to tell you why I think this might be overstating the case and then I'm going to igno
Philippe Malzieu
Apr 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A tieredness society.

This is the story of a young man korean who came to study metallurgy in Germany and became philosoph (it's quite normal to be philosoph in Germany)
Interisting man.
Many of my patient are tired. So tired. His vision is particular because he had two culture. In Korea, children are complained to work a lot, competition, ...(with many problems : suicide, dispressed) But in occidental country, it is the same.
For him, our society of performance is in fact the suprem stade of the s
Paul Ataua
Feb 21, 2019 rated it liked it
A stimulating and yet not wholly satisfying read. Byuon-Chul Hal presents a short tract suggesting that society has moved on from one in which our behavior is disciplined by those around us to one in which we are freer, self-monitoring individuals who are controlled by the pressure to achieve, to be special. It seems to be this pressure to achieve leads to increases in depressions, attention deficit disorders, and a whole bunch of negatives. Right or wrong, the book is buoyed along by interestin ...more
"Burnout syndrome does not express the exhausted self so much as the exhausted, burnt-out soul."

Recently, one of the podcasts I listen to has started running adverts for an audiobook and e-reader app. The advert goes something like this: Are you too busy to read full books? But do you still want to get ahead? With our app, you can discover the key ideas of the world's best non-fiction books in only 15 minutes. We have summarised and re-written thousands of books so that you can digest them in ju
Tim Knight
Dec 24, 2017 rated it did not like it
This book is torture! Thank God it’s small. It’s either a very bad translation from German or a rotten porridge from someone trying to impress people with fancy words—and failing.
Han's argument is that we have transitioned from a disciplinary society in which we are pressured to conform by external forces, into an achievement society in which we are pressured to conform by the introjected requirement to "live your best life", and so exploit ourselves in the impossible task of seeking ever-receding, pointless and illusory life goals, set by Capital. Consumerism requires that we are never satisfied, and so we can only fail to achieve, expending our energy in a fruitless as ...more
Apr 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is undoubtedly one of the most important essays I've read in my life. You must read this.

The nice thing about authors who criticize economic exploitation is that they tend to keep their books online for free. It's like 50 pages, this link has an excerpt:
Herval Freire
Jul 06, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The author seems to have collected a series of passages from multiple sources (Nietzche and Arendt being his favorites), and tried to shoehorn their ideas into a nonsensical theory of “positivity vs negativity” that bears no semblance to society. He also comes up with the weirdest defining for burnout and depression, classifying them as caused by “excess of positivity”. Pure nonsense.
Interesting book, but I just couldn't get myself to the second half.
It discusses modern society's topics, but is written with a lot of loaded words and it doesn't really grasp me, urge me to read further.
Mariana Ferreira
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This is the best explanation I've ever found on the current mental health crisis in our society. A wonderful work of Philosophy that is both brilliant and accessible, tiny and comprehensive. I'll need to read everything Han has ever written.
Aug 20, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: theory, media, sociology
Dating itself quite a bit with its argument that modern neuroses can be explained by the disappearance of alterity, or of the Negative (prohibitions, foreignness, social limitations) -- such a position doesn't exactly hold water in light of renascent far-right movements in America and in Europe (and I assume elsewhere). And while there's quite a bit to his conception of the shift from disciplinary society to achievement society -- the former being characterized by exterior, prohibitive forces an ...more
Dec 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Not an easy read. I skimmed it about a year ago and I still don't get it, even though I read it slowly and take notes. Even though I picked this up because I think it's relevant to whatever I'm struggling with. Even though I've read a good number of literature it references (Nietzsche, Heidegger, Kafka, Bartleby... but not Agamben, yet.)

The idea is that some of the old social metaphors of sickness/ health/ immune system, that are still extremely popular today, are in fact outdated, and fail to
Nov 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A terrific, brilliant book.
Reixel Soy Yo
Jun 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I would probably say that this is one of the best books by this author, a brief analysis of how our current society affects our health and makes us feel sick.
Nov 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Almost a mandatory reading in this world we live in. It has very interesting remarks on depression.
May 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
A surprisingly interesting book.
According to the author we are living in a century where the signature affliction is given by neurological illnesses such as depression, ADHD, BPD and the burnout syndrome. We live in a time that is poor in negativity, And so, the neuronal illnesses od the 21st century folow a dialectic: not the dialectic of negativity but that of positivity. They are pathological conditions deriving from an excess of positivity.
The idea above itself intrigued me to give a chance
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2019
Review to follow
George Pitoy
Oct 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is probably purely my expectations at fault here but at first, I thought that maybe the author and I had a different definition of burnout. When we think of burnout we almost always think of workplace burnout, and maybe for some academic burnout, but it's not really related to our "society", right? I mean, sure if we define society more broadly, but my conception of burnout was mostly about individuals pushing themselves too far in work or in study. There sure are external factors like the ...more
René Bloemink
A recurring thought in this book is that in contemporary life there is no room left for reflection, for beholding something at a distance, for the mystery that surrounds everything. Being human in times of Facebook involves a constant search for new and fantastic experiences for living *the* life. This quest for instant gratification, for transparency, for always being busy, yields tired individuals. Not the demands of others, but those of ourselves, lead to common psychological illnesses, inclu ...more
Tim Casteel
Oct 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Crazy insightful. Really difficult read if you're (like me) not fluent in psychology and philosophy (Nietzsche, Freud; ego/id/ego-ideal/etc).

Han's greatest insight - we are have moved from a disciplinary society to an achievement society.

Disciplinary society= should; commandments and prohibitions; authority; under God; gratification
Achievement society= can; absolute freedom; self rule; depression

One of his most fascinating points (I don't have any reason to believe Han is a Christian): God is no
Neal Alexander
Apr 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Short pieces on contemporary cultural malaises, making extensive use of medical analogy. According to the first chapter, after the Cold War, we emerged from an ‘immunological age’ in which our main concern was protecting ourselves from others: ‘Immunological defence always takes aim at the Other or the foreign’. This seems to ignore auto-immune diseases, whose burden has increased dramatically in the same period. I know we’re not talking literally, but ‘auto-immune’ would seem to be at least as ...more
May 05, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book review is perhaps not the best place to write an entire counter-essay, and so I will try to refrain from doing just that (despite rather wanting to).

This is, without a doubt, a refreshing take on modern society. As a thought experiment, a minor array of eye-openers or as a genuine attempt to better understand the world in which we live, it's a good book to read.
The language never becomes too dense for lay(wo)men like myself to throw in the towel, yet the concepts that language is used for
Apr 01, 2017 rated it liked it
There are some refreshing new perspectives on the context of modern life; how we have shifted from a paradigm of a disciplinary society to that of an achievement society. In the disciplinary society, pressure to act or not act came from outside, in the achievement society we have internalized this pressure in the guise of freedom and are now achieving ourselves to death. The disciplinary society was marked by SHOULD, the achievement society is marked by CAN, where everything is possible. We have ...more
Mar 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
This useful argument claims that "the conflict model of psychoanalysis . . .presupposes the negativity of repression and negation," and that these very conditions no longer apply to the fatigued society of an "Achievement Subject," whose pathological factors include an "ego loosened" complicity with systemic violence, voluntary self-exploitation, and a porosity to an Other that distorted in the process, because this social law, or "super ego" is a pharmaceutical "race," "a doping society."

If th
Alberto Benetti
Mar 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
I'm no good reviewer but I'd like to spend a minute to give you a short peek on a single paragraph of this enthralling, but not easy, provocative essay.
Here it goes: "In the course of general acceleration and hyperactivity we are also losing the capacity for rage [verlernen wir auch die Wut]. Rage has a characteristic temporality incompatible with generalized acceleration and hyperactivity, which admit no breadth of time. The future shortens into a protracted present [Gegenwart]. It lacks all ne
May 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the first work I read form Byung-Chul Han; it seems to me the best philosophical diagnosis of our times that I am aware of.

Despite often referring to or quoting from rather difficult/obscure authors (Nietzsche to Baudrillard), the main points are expressed remarkably clearly. Compared to post-modernist authors, Han exercises a commendable stylistic restraint.

It is extremely relevant to understand who or what we are, delivered in sharp, witty prose. I would not call it well-argumented, t
Apr 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
An interesting book, if I could give it 3.5 I would. I cannot fully get on board with some of his claims but he does bring up enough interesting points about our current "achievement" society. However at times, he is seems to occupied trying to prove his point and seems like a grumpy man yelling/complaining. I think I will continue to think about this more and reflect on it. He does reference some interesting text that I would like to look into to. Overall, I don't think he's too far off about t ...more
Mar 10, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: philosophy
Going on this book alone if you were to say to the Author that life is like a box of chocolates they would spend the next few hours going on about how its actually more like a jar of mixed nuts slightly past their use by date with a scuffed label.

If you have read Mark Fisher or Zizek before you will be in for a familiar experience – some really interesting ideas and concepts floated but not really developed immersed in a sea of overly wordy and minute technical criticisms of other thinkers with
Jul 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Superb analysis of the rise of diseases of auto-agression, depression, burnout, ADHD and BPD. I think he's very close to the truth. His analysis of tiredness and its different modes feels phenomenologically accurate. His reading of past philosophers and the importance of the other as a necessary negative rings true. I only give it four stars because there should have been an attempt to grapple with a "now what?", unless that is book 2.
« previous 1 3 4 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: Wrong name of author 3 29 Nov 26, 2015 05:54AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Este livro não vai te deixar rico: Tudo o que ninguém te contou sobre empreendedorismo
  • O amanhã não está à venda
  • Ideias para Adiar o Fim do Mundo
  • Na batalha contra o coronavírus, faltam líderes à humanidade
  • Pandemic!: Covid-19 Shakes the World
  • Pequeno Manual Antirracista
  • Tudo o que você precisou desaprender para virar um idiota
  • Sopa de Wuhan
  • A Cruel Pedagogia do Vírus
  • Felicidade: Modos de Usar
  • Amanhã vai ser maior: O que aconteceu com o Brasil e possíveis rotas de fuga para a crise atual
  • Sobre o Autoritarismo Brasileiro
  • Bartleby the Scrivener
  • Se Deus Me Chamar Não Vou
  • La utilidad de lo inútil: Manifiesto
  • #ACCELERATE: Manifesto for an Accelerationist Politics
  • Amoras
See similar books…
Byung-Chul Han, also spelled Pyŏng-ch'ŏl Han (born 1959 in Seoul), is a German author, cultural theorist, and Professor at the Universität der Künste Berlin (UdK) in Berlin, Germany.

Byung-Chul Han studied metallurgy in Korea before he moved to Germany in the 1980s to study Philosophy, German Literature and Catholic theology in Freiburg im Breisgau and Munich. He received his doctoral degree at Fre

News & Interviews

You might know comedian Colin Jost from his work as the co-anchor of Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update, or perhaps you know him as Scarlett Joha...
47 likes · 10 comments
“The complaint of the depressive individual, “Nothing is possible,” can only occur in a society that thinks, “Nothing is impossible.” 26 likes
“The acceleration of contemporary life also plays a role in this lack of being. The society of laboring and achievement is not a free society. It generates new constraints. Ultimately, the dialectic of master and slave does not yield a society where everyone is free and capable of leisure, too. Rather, it leads to a society of work in which the master himself has become a laboring slave. In this society of compulsion, everyone carries a work camp inside. This labor camp is defined by the fact that one is simultaneously prisoner and guard, victim and perpetrator. One exploits oneself. It means that exploitation is possible even without domination.” 18 likes
More quotes…