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What is the difference between Avolition and Laziness?

What is the difference between Avolition and Laziness?


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What is the difference between Laziness and Avolition?

They seem behaviorally similar. Is the difference cognitive perhaps?


Robin Kramer gave a good starting point in his comment.

As he said, the difference between laziness and avolition primarily come from the causes of each behavior. Laziness is common among psychologically "normal" individuals while avolition is commonly seen in patients with schizophrenia or depression. Now I will go in depth with each to better characterize them and hopefully show the differences between the two. I will talk about avolition first because it is better defined in the field of psychology.

Avolition

Definition of avolition mainly comes from research of schizophrenia symptoms. Schizophrenia symptoms can be divided as positive and negative symptoms. Negative symptoms can be divided into diminished expression and amotivation. Amotivation consists of anhedonia and avolition (Foussias & Remington, 2008). Anhedonia is diminished capacity to experience pleasant emotions. Avolition is the loss of drive and lack of curiosity. Avolition occurs in depression as well but is different for the two disorders. Avolition comes with saddening or depressed effect for people with depression, but this is not the case for people with schizophrenia.

Since activation of prefrontal cortex is generally associated with initiation of spontaneous activity (which is less in frequency in people with avolition), hypoactivation of prefrontal cortex may be the cause of avolition in patients with schizophrenia (Sebanz & Prinz, 2006). Another study shows anti-correlation between dorsal caudate activity and negative symptoms of schizophrenia including avolition (Mucci et al., 2015). This indicates that avolition may be caused by abnormalities in the motivation-related circuit. There are two networks known to be involved in motivation-related brain network: first one includes the ventral striatum, orbito-frontal cortex (OFC), insula, and medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and is involved in liking, reward anticipation, reward valuation, and representation of stimulus-reward associations. The other circuit includes the dorsal caudate and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), and is involved in representation of the expected reward and causal connection between action and reward (Liljeholm et al., 2011). Thus, there is a theory that patients with schizophrenia may exhibit avolition because they are not able to anticipate reward from their actions.

Laziness

Laziness itself is not studied extensively in psychology primarily because it has not been well-defined. At first glance, laziness seems to be a familiar concept to the usual people. However, laziness may involve many factors of human behavior that are at times but not always exhibited in people considered to be lazy. For example, one of the requirements of being lazy may be having no motivation. Without motivation, the person is less likely to show desire to take certain actions. But plenty show desire and motivation; these motivations are just not targetted to a long term goal. With these difficulties in mind, I personally believe that one of the economics definitions of laziness is most in line with what people commonly refer to as laziness: tendency for people to focus on the activities that give immediate pleasure rather than longer-term activities (Frédéric Bastiat, 1850). Bastiat called it idleness rather than laziness, but I believe they are synonymous in this context.

For the cause of laziness, I must confess this is not something I am familiar with. However, popular sources such as this one state that there can be multiple causes for laziness. One would be lack of interest in the field itself. Another would be lacking faith that the action will be worth the effort - which is similar concept to learned helplessness. One study states that anterior frontomedian cortex is involved in making these internal judgements leading to decision making (Zysset et al., 2002). However, studies such as this does not show what causes change in the activation of the anterior frontomedian cortex.

I also noticed that a popular YouTube video about laziness refers to a mouse study that selectively bred physically active mice which led to physically active mice descendents having the same characteristics. The video uses this study to state that there are genetic factors involved in laziness. Not only is it a stretch to make a connection between laziness of humans and tendency to wheel run by mice, the study itself is flawed in that the mice were bred with their parents for the first few weeks. This means that environmental factors cannot be ruled out. Here's the paper if you want to take a look.

References

Bastiat, Frédéric. Economic Harmonies. George B. de Huszar, trans. and W. Hayden Boyers, ed. 1996. Library of Economics and Liberty. Retrieved May 29, 2016 from the World Wide Web: http://www.econlib.org/library/Bastiat/basHar20.html

Foussias, G., & Remington, G. (2010). Negative Symptoms in Schizophrenia: Avolition and Occam's Razor. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 36(2), 359-369. http://doi.org/10.1093/schbul/sbn094

Leon F Seltzer (2008). Laziness: Fact or Fiction?. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evolution-the-self/200806/laziness-fact-or-fiction

Liljeholm, M., Tricomi, E., O'Doherty, J. P., & Balleine, B. W. (2011). Neural correlates of instrumental contingency learning: Differential effects of action-reward conjunction and disjunction. The Journal of Neuroscience, 31(7), 2474-2480. http://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3354-10.2011

Mucci, A., Dima, D., Soricelli, A., Volpe, U., Bucci, P., Frangou, S.,… Maj, M. (2015). Is avolition in schizophrenia associated with a deficit of dorsal caudate activity? A functional magnetic resonance imaging study during reward anticipation and feedback. Psychological Medicine, 45(8), 1765-1778. http://doi.org/10.1017/S0033291714002943

Sebanz, Natalie (Ed); Prinz, Wolfgang (Ed) Cambridge, MA, US: MIT Press Disorders of volition. (2006). vii 493 pp.

Stefan Zysset, Oswald Huber, Evelyn Ferstl, D.Yves von Cramon, The Anterior Frontomedian Cortex and Evaluative Judgment: An fMRI Study, NeuroImage, Volume 15, Issue 4, April 2002, Pages 983-991, ISSN 1053-8119, http://dx.doi.org/10.1006/nimg.2001.1008. (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1053811901910080)


Supposing that by "laziness" you just mean behaviours etc. apparently identical to avolition, then the difference is, assuming we call "avolition" a symptom of an illness, that avolition is out of the control of the sufferer, unlike laziness.

That's if we do agree that illness is out of a sufferers control, at least more so than their other behaviours. That is Fulford's 1989 attractive definition of illness:

failures of action that are beyond the abilities of a person

Naturalism in the Philosophy of Health, p72

Whether or not we call that "cognitive", as you ask in the question, may be less interesting than asking how we know that something is out of our control (presumably via introspection), and how it can be (presumably just biological if the mind is the brain).

References

Fulford, K. W. M. (1989). Moral theory and medical practice. Cambridge University Press.

Giroux, E. (2016). Naturalism in the Philosophy of Health: Issues and Implications. Switzerland: Springer International Publishing
DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-29091-1


Is It Depression or Laziness?

It shouldn’t be too hard to figure out what you’re going through. If you feel pretty upbeat, but still sit around too much, then you just need to get out and get active. If you suffer from chronic aches and pains, sleeplessness, no appetite, and lack of focus, it could be something much more serious, like depression.

The only way to know for sure is to get help. No one needs to let depression get out of control simply because they think they are just being lazy. Don’t let the stigma keep you from getting the help you deserve.

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Written by

José Ramón Alonso

José R. Alonso has a PhD in Neurobiology and is professor of Cell Biology at the University of Salamanca. He has been researcher and visiting professor at the University of Frankfurt/Main and the University of Kiel, in Germany, and the University of California, Davis and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, in the United States. He has authored more than 145 articles in peer-reviewed journals and written 20 books including university textbooks and popular science for both adults and children.


Negative symptoms in bipolar disorder and schizophrenia: A psychometric evaluation of the brief negative symptom scale across diagnostic categories

Past studies have demonstrated that the Brief Negative Symptom Scale (BNSS) has excellent psychometric properties in patients with schizophrenia. In the current study, we extended this literature by examining psychometric properties of the BNSS in outpatients diagnosed with bipolar disorder (n=46), outpatients with schizophrenia (n=50), and healthy controls (n=27). Participants completed neuropsychological testing and a clinical interview designed to assess negative, positive, disorganized, mood, and general psychiatric symptoms. Results indicated differences among the 3 groups in the severity of all BNSS items, with SZ and BD scoring higher than CN however, SZ and BD only differed on blunted affect and alogia items, not anhedonia, avolition, or asociality. BD patients with a history of psychosis did not differ from those without a history of psychosis on negative symptom severity. The BNSS had excellent internal consistency in SZ, BD, and CN groups. Good convergent and discriminant validity was apparent in SZ and BD groups, as indicated by relationships between the BNSS and other clinical rating scales. These findings support the validity of the BNSS in broadly defined serious mental illness populations.

Keywords: Alogia Anhedonia Asociality Avolition Bipolar disorder Restricted affect.


ELI5 the difference between avolition and laziness.

If I had to take a stab at it with no clinical knowledge whatsoever, I would have to guess that laziness tends to be characterized by desire - whether that desire is to do something more pleasant, or to actively avoid something unpleasant. Avolition on the other hand seems to be characterized more by the absence of desire/drive altogether.

Like, let's say cleaning up some trash as an example - I would imagine a lazy response would be something of the lines of "Ugh, that's boring/unpleasant - I want to do something else" while the response of someone with avolition would be closer to "What's the point, anyway?"

Iɽ say avolition is a matter of fact description and laziness carries moral judgement. Calling something or someone lazy doesn't help, so you'll never hear it in therapy or a medical context.

iɽ expect them to be fairly similar.

I almost failed English in high school. Would have 30%s most of the year. Only ever passed from how highly weighted the exams were. Couldn't ever bring myself to do the work.

Got called lazy a lot. Felt worthless and lazy. Beat myself up about it all the time, because English was my strongest class. Would stay up for hours, word document open or project research up, and wind up curled in a ball on the floor bawling. Because it actually hurt trying to force myself to work. I remember thinking, "why does laziness hurt? Is it really that I'm lazy?"

I know better now. Sometimes I'm lazy. Lazy and indifferent. I could do it, but choose not to. Sometimes it's avolition. I should be able to do it, but I can't.

I'm so glad I found this sub :) :(

Laziness it's when you know an action must be taken, but you don't want to spend time and effort on it. Avolition it's when you know the action won't benefit you anyhow and is therefore useless. A simple real life example: A new phone model comes out. Lazy person wants it, but doesn't get it in the end, because they don't want to work extra hours to buy it. A person suffering from avolition doesn't care about the phone one way or another. What matters in differentiating them is reasoning behind such behaviour, because the results are often identical. Also, they are not mutually exclusive.

EDIT: Nah, I've messed it up with anhedonia.

Laziness is a word to judge people. Avolition is a technical description. For example, I have no avolition to take out the trash. It means I'm not doing it. My wife says I'm lazy - she's judging me and trying to shame me into taking the trash out.

For me it is like this: I have a stable job where I work. I do my duties at home that are needed. I got to do those and nobody is doing them for me, so I do them. I eat well, can cook for myself and am physically in good shape. Beyond the basic necessities though I find it really hard to motivate to do things other people consider fun. Am I really lazy if I do my duties perfectly fine and then just slack off in my free time? Or is it maybe because I just don't care? I do certain things because if I don't do them then everything is shittier, but beyond that I don't see the point.

I had never heard this term but after reading it I feel a bit enlightened. I've always thought I was "just lazy" and been ashamed. However, now I feel a bit justified.

Others have touched on it, like /u/darkapplepolisher , but for me it really is a complete lack of drive. When I don't want to take out the trash or do the dishes, it's easy for my wife to call me lazy. However, is it lazy when I'm staring at my computer screen and I don't want to update the fields in that document that was due yesterday? It would literally take 2 minutes and virtually zero energy, but yet I cannot bring myself to do it. I don't think that's lazy. And now I'm not so sure the trash and dishes were either. Sometimes it's even things I enjoy. Like "I really want to go play games on the projector, but I don't feel like carrying my laptop downstairs so instead I'll just sit here".

I think another aspect might be consistency. I'm guessing everyone has lazy days. But when you literally never want to take out the trash or do the dishes, is that laziness or something more? I really don't know, again, this is all new to me.


Laziness or Depression: What’s the Difference?

Most psychiatrists and psychologists insist there’s no such thing as laziness. Everything is depression, they claim. Others say there’s no such thing as depression, and that it’s all laziness. What’s the truth?

Is there such a thing as being lazy? Or is it always depression, low motivation or stress?

First, we have to define “lazy”. Most people do not have a definition for lazy. When they say the word, they generally mean a refusal to take action. Laziness is generally viewed as a choice not to act.

The psychology and psychiatric industries take issue. For the most part, they maintain there’s no such thing as “laziness.” For psychiatrists, it’s all “depression”, and medication is the only answer. It’s easy for them to say so. They see a patient for 5 minutes and then send him or her on the way. It’s left to the therapist, assuming the patient even goes to one, to figure out what the bigger and deeper problems are.

My own view is that there’s such a thing as laziness. Laziness comes from erroneous thinking. One example of erroneous thinking is the false belief that things should be easier than they are. Example: Cleaning your room or house, especially if you don’t like cleaning. Most people assume it’s easy, but cleaning is hard. Example: Succeeding in your job. Most people assume it’s a given. Actually, it’s very hard. Example: Doing something noteworthy, or standing out in some way. That’s really hard. Most people who attempt will not succeed, because effort alone does not guarantee success. Standing out and excelling are really, really hard.

I have noticed a type of person who gets angry or irritated when he learns it’s harder to write a novel, open up a business, or finish school than he originally thought it would be. This isn’t depression. Depression refers to a sense of lethargy or even despair. Laziness does not involve despair. More often, it involves anger, frustration and chronic confusion.

Depression is different. Depression, like laziness, is based on faulty thinking. But the errors in thinking are different. A depressed person does not necessarily expect things to be easy. Quite the opposite is often true, in fact. A depressed person usually thinks things will be harder than they really are. A severely depressed person sees getting up and going out to run an errand as difficult. A depressed person lacks confidence. Usually, a depressed person believes he or she is less worthwhile than he or she really is. Often, a depressed person underestimates the power of reasoning and persistence. Take Thomas Edison. He did hundreds and hundreds of experiments over the years. Most of them led nowhere. Some of them led to the life-altering discovery of electricity, the once-in-a-millennium discovery. Whatever Thomas Edison was, he wasn’t depressed. Thank goodness!

People get into heated battles with themselves, or each other, about depression versus laziness. A truly depressed person says, “I don’t choose to feel this way. I really want to be able to get up and go. I wish I could. But it’s hard. It’s like my body is covered in molasses.” The lazy person is different. The lazy person is annoyed, entitled and angry. “It shouldn’t be so hard. Why is it?”

Might a lazy person lie and pretend he or she’s depressed, when it’s really laziness? Sure. It’s complicated, and lying makes things even more complicated. But none of this changes the fact that depression and laziness are two different things. And none of it means laziness is nonexistent, because laziness does exist, probably in millions of people. In fact, I’d wager a guess that more people are lazy than depressed. Also, for some, laziness is a chronic condition while for others it’s rare or occasional. A person who honestly acknowledges, “I’m lazy today” might not be lazy on most other days.

On the surface, laziness and depression can look the same. But it’s hard to be sure unless you know a person (or yourself) really, really well. Laziness refers to generally willful inactivity. A lazy person feels like getting a certain result, but doesn’t want to put the effort into it, and even believes he should not have to do so. So he chooses to do nothing, instead. A depressed person admires the effort others make, and wishes he could do so himself, but believes (falsely or not) that he’s unable to do so. False beliefs such as, “I’m not meant to be happy” or “Success is not in the cards for me” plague the depressed person. Lazy persons, on the other hand, simply don’t like all the effort involved. It’s a subtle yet profound difference.

Many professionals, especially in the field of psychiatry, would have us believe that there’s no such thing as laziness. Wrong. But laziness is different from depression. It’s best to look carefully so you can learn the difference.

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The Differences Between Procrastination and Laziness

Perhaps every office worker on the planet knows the feeling when there is a deadline in a day, a lot of work needs to be done, and yet it seems simply impossible to force yourself to work on the task. A person can watch countless videos on YouTube, browse through tons of photos of cats, spend hours chatting with colleagues or friends on social networks, or even perform other, less urgent work tasks.

The same can be said about the condition when one has no energy or will to do anything. Every person in the world has probably had (or will have) at least one day in his or her lifetime when all he or she wanted to do was lie on a couch, each potato chips right from the bag, have a beer, and watch a game on TV. Sometimes, there can even be weeks of lying down, sleeping, getting food from deliveries, and doing nothing important.

Although the two conditions described above may seem to be alike, they have different underlying reasons triggering them. The former is called procrastination, and the latter is laziness—and since people tend to confuse these terms and even to mix them up, let us try to figure out what similarities and discrepancies they have.

According to Dictionary.com, “to procrastinate” means to intentionally delay the completion of a certain task, especially if it is a matter of an increased importance and/or urgency. Laziness, in its turn, means the disinclination to work or make an effort in any other sphere. Laziness, or indolence, comes from the Latin word “indolentia,” which describes the state of mind knowing no trouble or pain. The term “procrastination,” on the other hand, derives from the Latin word “cras,” which means “tomorrow” (Psychology Today).

At the same time, the definitions above provide us with the first major distinction between procrastination and laziness: the former is not avoiding to perform one’s professional or other duties, doing work, and so on, but rather about postponing them until the last moment, substituting them with other not-so-urgent activities the latter, however, is exactly about not working, not doing anything, and avoiding to make an effort by all means. Laziness itself is not bad: in an effectively-functioning individual, it usually serves as a signal to take a break for example, if you worked hard for a period of time, and then your mind suddenly started to sabotage any attempts to work further, willing only to watch Netflix, it is alright to let yourself do so—your body needs to have a rest before it can return to its full capacity again. Such a recovery period may last for a day or a week, and letting yourself go may be refreshing. However, if such laziness is chronic and lasts for years (perhaps we all know at least one person who never did anything in his or her entire lifetime, spending all his or her time playing games and smoking marijuana), it could be a psychological symptom, and may not be related to fatigue and recovery.

In its turn, procrastination is more about postponing tasks that need to be completed rather than about avoiding them. It is important to realize that simply planning to perform a task later, or postponing in a constructive and strategic way, does not equal procrastination—what does is when you do it due to ineffective planning, or when you are not able to maintain the workloads you have to deal with. In this case, you might want to delay working for a specific time to get psychologically ready for your task. The trick here is that the longer you procrastinate, the more overwhelming this task starts to feel after a short while, a procrastinator has to pay for postponing with increased stress, guilt, and low productivity (Psychology Today). As a result, procrastination leads to having to do much larger amounts of work, having to work on days off and holidays in order to meet the deadlines, and other negative consequences.

The next important distinction between laziness and procrastination lies in the reasons standing behind these two states of mind. One of the first and foremost factors facilitating procrastination is perfectionism. It can be fairly called the scourge of the generation of millennials: the urge to function on the highest possible level, to complete every single task flawlessly, and in general the extremely high expectations people tend to have about themselves cause them to avoid tasks which, as they subconsciously fear, they cannot do perfectly. Just “good” is not enough for such people, so naturally, to avoid facing their own imperfection and limited capabilities (which is normal for living beings), they delay their work.

Procrastination is also often connected to the decision-making process. When we feel we are about to make a wrong decision, the consequences of which we cannot fully calculate, we automatically start postponing to make this decision in order to avoid these unforeseen and potentially unpleasant consequences. In its turn, laziness is more of a coping mechanism, helping the human psyche deal with issues other than work. Lazy people are not necessarily dull rather often, they are bright and intelligent, and are able to work under severe pressure. However, in order to save emotional, psychological, and other resources (which might be depleted by long periods of hard labor, or because of complicated life circumstances, and so on), lazy people use their intelligence to find loopholes, allowing them to do as little work as possible, or to not do it at all. Rather often, this is accompanied with a reluctant “I-do-not-care” attitude, as a form of an additional psychological barrier against stresses and responsibilities (Mind Motivations).

As we can see, although laziness and procrastination may seem alike, there is a thin line between them. Procrastination is a result of poor planning, the fear of decision making, and perfectionism, and manifests itself in postponing pressing matters in favor of doing something less stressful and responsible. Laziness, in its turn, is rather often a psyche’s defense mechanism against stress and fatigue—a signal our bodies send us so that we can take a break. Laziness is about avoiding responsibilities completely, and although it is normal for a person to feel lazy from time to time, when it becomes chronic, it may cause harm to one’s professional and personal life.


Avolition: The Untold Symptom of Schizophrenia

One day, as I was walking to my computer in the living room from my office, I caught myself thinking, I am hungry. Maybe I should get food. No…I am going to… lie in bed instead. I stopped mid stairway and went back up to bed.

Before I got my dogs, I would lie in bed, awake, for five hours after I would wake up. I would not move. The blinds would still be drawn at 3, 5 PM. My body would scream hunger but never would I have the motivation to actually acquire food.

Avoli t ion is something that I struggled with for various periods when I was diagnosed with depression in 2009, and later schizoaffective disorder in 2017. I had a series of unmotivated, depressive states with my depression while I struggled with a three month-long period of avolition in my mid-twenties when I was diagnosed with a schizophrenia disorder.

Healthline describes avolition as a trait marked by the withdrawal of participation in activity, while WebMD characterizes it as a trait that is distinguished by its clear lack of motivation in the individual.

Neurotypical people may experience some normal laziness or lack of motivation — but avolition is a lack of motivation to such an extreme sense that it interferes with functioning of daily life. Responsibilities are shunned to lie in bed for hours. Social life is ignored in favor of the empty spot on the couch where one may sit for hours. My desire to have food in my refrigerator and for me to have an income along with health insurance are not motivators that can overcome my avolition into energetic finesse. While those things may motivate others, it does not motivate the mentally ill. Such is the case for many symptoms mentally ill people suffer. We cannot reason our way out of our symptoms or delusions. Reason does not give us motivation to overcome our behaviors of lying in bed for hours, or having a panic attack, or from telling our voices to stop talking to us. Our experiences are sensory distortions, experiential at best.

I mistook it for laziness at first. I mistook it for lack of interest in my full time job duties. I mistook it for lack of responsibility, for the carelessness that I had for my work ethics. I began to doubt myself, and blamed myself for being ungrateful for my opportunities. Many people competed for these jobs that I had — as a neuroscience technician and legal assistant — and I was just wasting it away.

Avolition ruined my ability to work. When I used to work at a law firm, I would work at a desk. I would have to conduct research on client parties and find addresses and names, look through hundreds of legal documents in order to clear about 10 forms a day. At a previous job, I worked in a neuroscience lab, and I would similarly be working at a computer, managing an online database full of people, names, numbers. Both situations had similar hurdles.

At work, I slept. I sat and stared at the screen. I hesitated in between movements of my body, bringing my body minutes too late to one meeting, and minutes too long to another room. For a period of several months I would sit in front of my work computer and feel so unmotivated to do anything that I felt like I was to fall out of my chair if I sat there for any longer. To cope with that problem, I went to my car in the parking garage daily at lunch time to give myself time to be still and do nothing. It was fine at first, but eventually I started to do it before my lunch break, and after my lunch break, until my manager told me she noticed my absences from my desk.

I felt it as drudge. An absence of an afterlife — or life at that. Absence of thought, yet abscess of motionless running silent narrative coasting through the eyelids and the throat and the sacrum. These body pieces uttered nothing as I sat through my hours, staring at the ceiling, the computer screen, or at the thoughts in my mind.

Avolition is not laziness. While the lazy-body forgoes rigorous activity for a slumpy day on the couch, the individual can still perform at a level with significant productivity. He or she may not take the dog out for a walk one day, or even two days, but he or she can very well still take care of the dog. He or she may not want to do laundry one weekend, but rest assured, the laundry will be done within a week, for the lazy person likely has a job, friends, and responsibilities that necessitate clean clothes.

The person with avolition lets the laundry sit until he or she reuses the clothes that smell. The person with avolition might not do the laundry so severely that he or she may be fired from their job on the basis of poor hygiene. The laundry may not get done for several months. The person with avolition lets the avolition take the place of any social, responsible, and leisurely life of the individual. As the avolition presents itself, jobs and friends disappear and living creatures in the individual’s life die off or suffer.

Avolition has physical proof that can be revealed through neuroscience. A Study done by researchers at State University of New York indicated that even when presented with a reward, those with avolition still refrain from participating in such activities. The task called for participants to exert more physical effort in proportion to a greater reward. They found that schizophrenic subjects compared to the control group had significant motivational issues in regards to a breakpoint of effort-cost reward.

While avolition is observed behaviorally, little brain region connectivity has been found for individuals with avolition compared to other symptoms, such as pleasure impairment. Another study conducted by researchers at University of Campania found that symptoms of apathy were associated with motivation-related circuits in brain regions in the study done with diffusion tensor imaging.

In my several month period of avolition, my mind became so unproductive that the only activity it could muster was to observe my own behavior and take note of my own psychology. This would seem to be the easiest activity in the world, for the only thing I had to do was to take note of my activity, whatever that may be. Volition, I discovered, is the will to act. Volition was my motivation. Avolition is the lack thereof, and is something I did not want to be my friend.

Although avolition is mostly known for accompanying the schizophrenia cluster of disorders, avolition can occur in mood disorders as well. I had a friend who told me that she once had a 7 month episode where all she would do was lie in bed and stare at the ceiling for hours. This was at the height of her depression.

My avolition comes out in the form of sleep, or no sleep at all. I, too, will simply lie in a single spot on the couch or in my car, for hours. I think I am being productive. I stare at the words in my thoughts before my eyes, looking at the narrative of myself. I think I am getting somewhere with these thoughts, that they have a path, and that there is an end. I believe I am getting to that end, when in reality it is an endless cycle of rumination of an apathetic variety. While some people’s rumination resolves in a few minutes, mine have just taken me months, or years actually, where I have stared and sat and lied in the same place on my same bed and couch for hours and years until I realized that this must stop.

Avolition is like a granite rock pressing down on your body. It stops your thoughts. It stops your movements. It stops your motivations. My friend described to me that laziness goes hand in hand with procrastination. “You’d rather do something easy that doesn’t require hard work.” You have choices in laziness. You can either do the hard task, or the easy task, but the point is that you choose ultimately to do a task. WIth avolition, you do nothing. With laziness, you go for the easy self gratification. WIth avolition, you have no care for gratification. You have no care for what happens if you lie in bed for hours. Lose your job? Ok. Lose your friends? Sure why not. Avolition is daily life impairing.

These days, I am not in an avolition episode. I get up daily to work from home during this COVID-19 quarantine from 8am until the afternoon. My sleep habits are more so caused by my medications rather than a lack of motivation. I do not know what ceased this episode, but I did get a new job that I am more passionate about, with more respectful team members, and decent workmanship. Was the avolition cured by a new job? A newfound life passion for a different industry?

The cause of a symptomatic episode matters less when you are simply claiming that symptom and explaining it to others. Regardless of the cause, I was burdened with this mental state for a significant period of time. Just like PTSD can arise from any type of trauma, avolition can arise from any — or even no — reason at all.

After I came out of the episode a few months ago, I realized that like all of my symptoms, avolition has an end. Typically symptoms occur in episodes, and knowing this has helped me cope with both the positive and negative symptoms that happen with schizoaffective disorder. Learning to live with instead of against a disorder by acknowledging all of its periodic episodes helps me create the life I have to live. I now work at a completely remote job, schedule in time to have quiet time with my symptoms if I am hallucinating or drowsy from my medications, and request specific accommodations at work or in school. I know myself better now that I make room for the complete person that is me — not just the way society wants to view me.


Multiple Choice Questions

2. The term ‘abnormal psychology’ refers to which of the following?

  1. the psychological study of people who are fundamentally odd
  2. psychological research carried out using highly unconventional methods
  3. psychology relating to atypical patterns of thoughts, feelings and behaviours
  4. the more obscure areas of psychology that relate to topics such as what sheep think about

3. Which of the statements regarding the difference between structured and unstructured interviews is wrong?

  1. structured interviews guarantee consistency throughout interviewing different individuals
  2. unstructured interviews require more preparation time than structured interviews
  3. unstructured interviews are more open to interpretations compared to structured ones
  4. structured interviews can limit the client’s answers

4. What is NOT a form of clinical observation?

  1. interviewing
  2. self-monitoring
  3. assessing clients in their homes
  4. assessing clients outside of their home

5. The diagnosis of mental illness is generally carried out by which of the following?

  1. a clinical psychologist
  2. a counsellor
  3. a psychiatric nurse
  4. a psychiatrist

6. Which of the following is NOT a part of the mind, according to Freud’s psychoanalytic theory?

7. A new client comes into the office and tells you about experiencing excessive anxiety, restlessness, muscle tension and having headaches almost every day. She also tells you she has trouble sleeping and can’t concentrate at work. From the disorders described in the chapter, which one sounds the most logical?

  1. major depressive disorder
  2. social phobia
  3. schizophrenia
  4. generalized anxiety disorder

8. What is NOT a positive symptom of schizophrenia?

  1. delusions
  2. avolition
  3. disorganized thinking and speech
  4. hallucinations

9. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) often focusses on which of the following?

  1. repressed memories
  2. genetic predisposition to mental illness
  3. traumatic incidents in childhood
  4. problematic ways of thinking

10. According to Kirkbride et al. (2012), the prevalence of schizophrenia in the UK is


Laziness and goals

For thousands of years, humans did not make long-term plans. It’s a fairly recent evolutionary development.

An early man had a ripped, lean, and muscular body not because he followed a certain workout regimen in a gym but because he had to hunt and defend himself from predators and rivals.

He had to lift heavy stones, climb trees, run and chase beasts for food constantly.

Once humans could ensure their basic survival, they had time to envision the future and make long-term goals.

In short, we’re designed for instant rewards. So how can anyone expect us to wait to achieve our long-term goals? That’s too painful.

Our psychological mechanisms for instant gratification are deep-rooted and much stronger than the mechanisms for delaying gratification.

These are precisely the reasons so many people lack motivation. Being motivated to pursue long-term goals feels unnatural.

From this angle, it’s easy to understand why self-help and motivation is are booming industries today. Motivational and inspirational quotes get millions of views on YouTube. It belies the persistent lack of motivation characteristic of the human psyche.

Everyone seems in need of motivation today. Early man needed no motivation. Survival, for him, was motivation enough.