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Causes of pathological laziness in adults

The statement about the benefits or harms of human laziness vary from “Laziness is the root of all evil” to “Laziness created civilization.”

And yet, despite the optimism about laziness, much more often we find this state as a problem, an obstacle to being successful and active in everything. Different scientists give different answers to the question of what are the true causes of laziness. Here are just a few of them.

Neurobiological mechanisms of laziness

A study with the help of brain scans using MRI (magnetic resonance recording of brain zone activation) showed surprising differences between people who move easily from decision-making to action, and for whom it is difficult to start to do something. The fact is that a certain portion of the premotor cortex of the cerebral hemispheres is responsible for the “jump” from decision to action. In the experiment, it turned out that this area was activated differently in the “easy-going” and apathetic people. In the apathetic ones (or lazy), the excitation focus in this area was “brighter” than in active people.

This observation allows us to conclude that the reason for laziness is of a biological nature rather than a social one: in order to activate the transition from rest to activity, apathetic people need much more efforts than everyone else. Here it is the nature of laziness - the transition from decision-making to action requires lazy people to take much more effort and, in general, more energy than from all others. And any normal organism, as you know, in every way seeks to conserve its resources.

How self-preservation instinct turns into a mechanism of self-destruction

Perhaps the most common form of laziness is called “procrastination” —a steady habit of putting things off for some time.

Sometimes there are real psychophysiological prerequisites for this:

• high fatigue and rapid fatigue after a long illness;

• depletion of the body due to unbearable loads;

• lack of strength based on hormonal disorders (for example, hypothyroidism);

• long stay in a stressful situation.

Laziness in such cases is nothing but the instinct of self-preservation, and performs a very eco-friendly self-defense function for a person. However, if such an attitude towards affairs and tasks is delayed, then the physiological nature of laziness slowly but surely gives way to a psychological one. There is a habit of postponing things for later, and, most importantly, a person gets used to such a negative status as “irresponsibility”. And laziness remains even after recovery and the complete elimination of all the symptoms of somatic disorder.

Motivational deficiency or motive fighting?

When a person forces himself to do what he really does not want to do, it is the result of a struggle between two motives - “I want” and “I must.” Victory of "must" over "I want" is called volitional effort.

If there are no visible physiological reasons for apathy, then psychologists tend to view the “procrastination” personality trait as a psychological disorder of the motivational sphere.

Well, person lacks the willpower to encourage himself to do what is required exactly when it is required! If this is the result of such a structure of the brain, which was mentioned at the beginning of the article, then the motivational deficit can be alleviated only by special training. Gradually complicating tasks, helping a person with a similar disorder, you can overcome their mental illness.

But much more often it is about the fact that in the struggle of motives the motive “I want” wins only because the person was brought up in such a way, or rather not brought up. No wonder they write a lot about the education of will power, about arbitrary behavior, about volitional self-regulation. All of this is included in the mandatory tasks of education, which have been solved since childhood, from the moment when the child develops the first skills of voluntary behavior.

The most common causes of laziness in adults are:

• lack of education of labor skills;

• infantilism of volitional sphere;

• lack of self-control skills.

The desire for pleasure, the opportunity to engage only in pleasant and effortless things, sooner or later, form procrastination and, in the end, reinforce it as a stable form of behavior.

In the literature there are stories when a lazy character, under the influence of circumstances or a case, changed beyond recognition, suddenly became decisive and purposeful. You will not have to go far away for examples, just remember the epic story about Ilya Muromets.

So, changed circumstances lead to the change of behavior. As long as a person does not feel a real need or any danger, the need to begin to act contrary to his laziness does not arise.

Laziness as an echo of our personality

However, often in behavior that is perceived by others as pathological laziness, the reasons lie in the characteristics of the individual. Moreover, the range of personal qualities that provoke laziness is unusually wide and diverse.

First of all, a very big friend of laziness is perfectionism, it means, the desire to bring everything to perfection. Under the influence of such an attitude, a person has only two choices - to do something better than everyone or ... not to do it at all. As a result, understanding that he cannot cope with the task, a person refuses to perform this task, following the maximalist principle “If to love – love the queen, if to lose - lose a million”. And the result is - "The best is the enemy of the good." Perfectionist tendencies, as the reasons for laziness, are eliminated very quickly, if a person has no choice, and he is face to face with a simple dilemma "Do as you can, or you will remain hungry."

Secondly, laziness is generated by the opposite extreme - extremely low self-esteem and uncertainty like "I can never cope with this task." Such self-doubt provokes a desire to postpone matters to a later date or refuse to do them altogether. The person in this case, being faced with the choice of “make and shame yourself” or “do not do it and avoid shame and failure,” prefers the second option. Low self-esteem in this situation forms a strong motivation for avoiding failures when the goal is not to achieve results, but to get away from the negative consequences of their actions. The strategy of inaction in this case is the most effective.

Thirdly, elementary indiscipline and disorganization can be the cause of laziness. In such cases, different time management, self-management and planning techniques help. The main condition under which a person adopts all these techniques is the presence of a personally significant business and a very attractive goal.

Lazy intellect and how to save it

Intellectual laziness is perhaps the saddest and most dismal kind of laziness. Active perception here is replaced by the worldview:

• non-critical;

• passive;

• monotonous;

• lacking choice;

• unemotional.

Such an attitude to the world is based on the basic thesis "I am bored and not interested."

The laziness of the mind cannot be found in children, on the contrary, they are curious and active in mastering something new. But in adults it develops often and leads to the reluctance not only to get to the bottom of the truth, but even just to reflect on the problem. This is a very dangerous life experience, because the brain, like other organs, craves intellectual training and slowly but surely degrades in conditions of poor mental work.

Intellectual laziness quite often has a social nature - a person lives comfortably in conditions where important decisions are made for him, the TV clearly and easily explains to him what is good and what is bad, and at work he is required to perform standard tasks and the same algorithm.

The opposite of intellectual laziness is considered to be a high level of cognitive activity, which consists of:

• curiosity;

• interest;

• the desire to comprehend the essence of things and events;

• critical thinking;

• sincere curiosity about how the world is arranged.

In order not to lose this unique human ability and need to be surprised at the new facets of the world, we must constantly offer our brain more and more complex tasks.

Let it be intellectual games or special developmental exercises, discussions or critical analysis of events – it does not matter. The main thing is not to let your brain be lazy, not to give it the slightest chance to freeze in its development.

In cоnclusion, once again I want to emphasize that laziness is not a separate phenomenon, but only a symptom, showing that something is wrong with a person. Being manifested in the same way - unwillingness to act or put off cases for later, laziness can have a variety of reasons - from physiological to social.


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