The neurotic character is more or less restricted in his work. His biological energy is essentially consumed in the warding off of perverse fantasies. The neurotic disturbance of work can always be traced back to a misuse of biological energy. For the very same reason, the work of the neurotic character, no matter how rich in potential it may be, is perfunctory and joyless. Since the neurotic character is incapable of genuine enthusiasm, he will look upon the child’s capacity for enthusiasm as “unseemly” (if, for instance, he happens to be a teacher). In a compulsive neurotic way, nonetheless, he insists on determining the work of others.
The individual afflicted with the emotional plague hates work, for he senses it as a burden. Hence, he runs away from any responsibility and especially from small jobs which require patience. He may dream of writing an important book, of painting an outstanding work of art, of running a farm, etc.; however, since he is incapable of work, he shuns the necessary step-by-step, persistent organic development inherent in every work process. This predisposes him to becoming an ideologue, mystic, or politician, i.e., to engage in activities which do not require any patience and organic development. He is just as likely to become an idle vagrant as the dictator of this or that sphere of life. He has created a picture of life made up of neurotic fantasies and, since he himself is incapable of doing things, he wants to force others to work toward the realization of this sick picture of life. The American’s negative concept of the word “boss” is a product of such a constellation. A genital character who is in control of a collective work process will spontaneously lead the way by his good example: he will work more than the others. On the other hand, the character afflicted with the emotional plague will typically want to work less than the others. The smaller his capacity for work and, consequently, the lower his self-esteem, the greater is his insistence on being a labor leader.
The Emotional Plague