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The Work Ethic

Charles D. Aring, MD
Arch Intern Med. 1974;134(1):161-162. doi:10.1001/archinte.1974.00320190163029.
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Work has been as good an indicator of human function as any, with steadfastness a mark of stability. Freud considered the ability to love and to work crucial for mental health. Generally, concepts about work developed under the lash of scarcity. In the United States, there was the added goad of the Puritan ethic; the difficulty of work, and much of it, being good for the soul, to say nothing of solvency. But attitudes change and today many a youngster is alienated from the sort of activity that occupied his parents and grandparents.

Leisure has become more a freedom from the demands of work rather than time to follow serious interests without the pressure of necessity. The increasing affluence is associated with unfilled jobs having to do mainly with service. The security afforded by social services is often preferred to earning a living in positions that confer little or no


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