Professional personality deformation: causes and consequences

Most of us spend the bulk of our lives at our workplace and, willy-nilly, we begin to transfer some professional habits into our personal lives. It is by these characteristics that one can determine in which field a particular person works. For example, an acquaintance who is constantly trying to solve your personal problems will most likely seem like a psychologist to you, and if you meet a person on your way who gives you instructions on what and how to do, you will probably think that this is a teacher. What are the causes of professional personality deformation? What are its types? Is there any way to avoid deformation?

What is professional personality deformation?

Personality deformation is a change in personal qualities (ways of behavior and communication, character, values, stereotypes of perception) that occurs under the influence of prolonged performance of professional duties.

The professional type of personality is formed as a result of the inextricable unity of specific activity and human consciousness. activities involve constant communication (psychologists, teachers, personnel department employees, managers, officials, etc.) suffer most from this deformation

Their extreme form of deformation is expressed in a purely functional, formal attitude towards others. An increased level of personality deformation is observed among intelligence officers, military personnel and medical workers.

Causes of professional deformation

Many years of activity in one field or another is accompanied by professional development of the individual, however, this process cannot be continuous. Sooner or later, a period of stabilization begins, when a person practically does not move anywhere. At first, such suspensions are short-term, but then they become increasingly longer, reaching 12 months or more. In the language of psychologists, this phenomenon is called periods of personality stagnation .

The onset of stagnation is possible even if the level of your professional activity is quite high, but your work is performed monotonously, using repetitive techniques. The result of prolonged stagnation is professional deformation of the individual: a person is no longer able to get out of his profession and is forced to play only this role in society.

The following factors contribute to the development of professional deformation :

  • A young specialist places too many hopes on his profession, which ultimately do not correspond to reality.
  • Focusing on the motivation for choosing a profession. This could be a desire to achieve power, a certain social status, or a desire to prove one’s importance.
  • Monotonous actions and functions that lead a person to psychological limitations: for example, if he finds himself in new working conditions, it will be quite difficult for him to adapt to them.

The above factors are only prerequisites that at one or another stage of work activity can lead to deformation. Among the main reasons for the development of professional deformation, the following should be noted:

  • constant stress;
  • professional fatigue accumulated over many years of work;
  • constant stereotypical work;
  • lack of desire to continue working in this field: some understand the mistake of choosing a profession almost immediately after starting work, while for others it takes years.
  • lack of understanding of the goals of the work being performed;
  • age-related changes: at a young age, it seemed to a person that this profession was suitable for him, however, with age, he begins to perform his work duties automatically;
  • excessive self-confidence;
  • excessive workload;
  • increased level of fatigue, nervousness;
  • inappropriate workplace discipline;
  • lack of opportunity for further professional growth, advanced training, training;
  • restriction of conditions for self-expression, when any innovative proposals and creative approach to performing work duties are rejected without discussion;
  • conflicts and tense relationships in the team;
  • devoting yourself entirely to work with a complete lack of recognition of your merits by colleagues.

The reasons for professional deformation of personality may be other. After all, every person is individual.

Types of professional personality deformation

There are several types of transfer of professional knowledge, habits and skills into everyday life. Personality changes can be divided into the following types:

  • general professional;
  • professional topological;
  • individual;
  • special.

General professional . This type of personality change is typical for workers in certain professions. For example, among police officers, personality deformations are manifested by asocial perversion syndrome, the development of which contributes to the perception of any citizen as a potential violator.

For teachers, the deformation is manifested by the edification syndrome (a constant desire to educate and teach). Managers have a permissiveness syndrome (violation of ethical and professional standards).

Professional-typological deformations are caused by the gradual imposition of certain psychological characteristics on personal qualities. For example, the ability to organize the activities of a large number of people. This type of change includes deformation of the personality of a manager or boss.

Individual deformations are inherent in workers of various professions and are often caused by too extensive and active development of professional skills and qualities, which lead to the emergence of labor fanaticism, as well as an increased sense of responsibility, even to the point of obsession.

The result of all types of professional deformation are the following mental states:

  • Decrease in labor productivity;
  • crises, conflicts, psychological tension;
  • dissatisfaction with the social environment and life in general.

The longer the work experience, the stronger the emotional burnout syndrome manifests itself , resulting in a feeling of anxiety, fatigue and moral exhaustion. Changes in the emotional sphere of the personality are observed. Psychological discomfort leads to decreased satisfaction from work and provokes the development of various diseases.

Thus, we can conclude that professional activity has a huge impact on the human psyche and contributes to the development of personal changes that destructively affect professional behavior and work activity.

Professional personality deformation refers to one of the types of occupational diseases, the appearance of which is inevitable, but for some it leads to groundless aggressiveness and inflated self-esteem, for others it leads to indifference, and for others it leads to loss of qualifications.

However, most people with such problems try to find means of professional rehabilitation.

Connection with the profession

The most susceptible to occupational deformation are those who work with people, for example: law enforcement officers, military personnel, managers, deputies, officials, social workers, teachers, doctors, salespeople, and psychologists themselves.[4] For them, professional deformation can be expressed in a formal, functional attitude towards people[5]. Both in the sphere of socionomic professions and in technical professions, professional deformations are expressed differently depending on the specific profession: for teachers - in authoritarianism and categorical judgments; among psychologists and psychotherapists - in an effort to manipulate another person, to impose a certain picture of the world, without taking into account the motives and goals of the person himself; among programmers - a tendency to look for errors in various life situations, a tendency towards algorithmization.[6]

For managers, professional deformation can manifest itself as an increase in aggressiveness, inadequacy in the perception of people and situations, leading to a decrease (or loss) in the ability to communicate effectively, self-improvement, development, up to a loss of taste for life[5].

The same thing happens in creative professions, as illustrators Sergei Tyunin and Andrei Bilzho noted that many writers categorically do not accept the genre of caricature, since they are “people of their words” [7]:

“My practice and life experience proves that writers understand caricatures worst of all, because they feel the word, they are accustomed to the word, if there is a witty signature they will understand, but visually, as a rule, they do not understand... but just physicists and mathematicians They’re used to diagrams and can laugh at some parabola.”

— Artist Sergei Tyunin on the “Culture” channel.

How to determine the approach of professional deformation?

The approach of deforming changes in the psyche associated with work activity can be determined by the following factors:

  • You are afraid of losing communication with colleagues, your profession, your job.
  • All your conversations ultimately come down to discussing work issues.
  • Your family and friends find you difficult to deal with.
  • You associate your success only with your professional activities.
  • Your social circle is limited only to your colleagues.
  • You do not allow yourself and your colleagues to show emotions and express their experiences in the workplace.
  • You are often told that a conversation with you is reminiscent of a conversation with a doctor (lawyer, investigator, teacher, etc.), since in ordinary life you begin to communicate in professional language.
  • Your interests are limited only to your professional activities.
  • You treat your acquaintances as objects of your profession.

How does professional deformation manifest itself?

Each profession leaves a certain imprint on the character and personal qualities of the working person.

Teacher . The deformation of the teacher’s personality consists of an artificial search for errors in students’ work and constant nagging. Even while at home, the teacher continues to evaluate the behavior of relatives, family members, and acquaintances, giving each of them grades (mentally or out loud). It even reaches the point of absurdity when a representative of this profession begins to evaluate the actions of complete strangers whom he meets on the street: assesses the admissibility of their behavior, expresses indignation at the lack of education.

Doctor . The deformation of a medical worker is manifested in the complete automaticity of his skills and qualities. The doctor automatically assesses a person’s health even with a simple handshake: he instantly notes the temperature, pulse, and moisture of the palm. Pays attention to the person’s appearance and tries to find a connection with any disease, while advising the interlocutor to visit the clinic and undergo an examination (for some reason you look bad, you have bags under your eyes, etc.).

Travel agency manager . For such people, the deformation is manifested in the fact that with any story about a completed trip or a planned trip, a representative of this profession becomes animated and shows purely professional interest, asking relevant questions and giving recommendations on the topic of tourism.

In a similar way, deformation manifests itself in representatives of other professions. The programmer will try to derive certain algorithms for ongoing processes (even the simplest ones). The psychologist will strive to bring the interlocutor to a frank conversation in order to delve into his psychological problems and try to solve them (even if the interlocutor does not need it).


  1. Granovskaya R. M.
    Elements of practical psychology. - 6th. - St. Petersburg: Rech, 2010. - 560 p.
  2. Lobanova, A. V., Zhigimont, S. N.
    Professionally caused destruction... Krasnodar, 2014
  3. [1]
  4. See professional deformation from prosecutors or other persons.
  5. 123
    Personnel Management. Dictionary-reference book
  6. Psychology of professionalism // Markova A.K. “Knowledge”, 1996
  7. Channel “Culture”, program “Observer” from 09.20.2012 (see from 38.40), artist Sergei Tyunin.
  8. Definition of "administrative delight" in Wiktionary.
  9. Rogov E.I.
    Personality in pedagogical activity / scientific editor A.A. Grekov. - monograph. - Rostov-on-Don: Rostov Pedagogical University, 1994. - P. 161-162. — 240 s. — ISBN 5-8480-0046-8.
  10. Druzhilov S.A.
    Professional deformations and destruction as a consequence of distortion of psychological models of profession and activity // Journal of Applied Psychology. - 2004. - No. 3. - P. 56-62.
  11. Druzhilov S.A.
    Professionally destructive activity as a manifestation of professional marginalization and deprofessionalization // Bulletin of Moscow University. Episode 14: Psychology. - 2021. - No. 2. - P. 45-63.

Consequences of professional deformation

The consequences of professional changes are different: some can be useful for the employee, while others, on the contrary, have a negative impact on the character traits and personal qualities of a person.

Benefit . In some cases, deformation can actually be useful. For example, a medical worker, being close to the scene of an accident, knows how to provide emergency assistance to the victim. The head of an enterprise (company, holding, etc.) is able to skillfully approach the organization of any family celebration. However, you should remember to distinguish between work and everyday life and show professional qualities only when necessary and for a short period of time.

Among the negative consequences of deformation are the following:

  • Managerial erosion. Under the influence of deforming changes, the leader’s activities become ineffective, and he himself turns into a tyrant.
  • A sense of administrative importance. An employee, having received even the most insignificant position, begins to imagine himself as a big boss and look down on those around him.
  • Reduced level of adaptability. A person is confident that he knows almost everything about his profession and stops searching for something new and unknown.
  • Emotional burnout. Work completely absorbs a person, destroying his protective psychological barrier. As a result, the employee burns out and does not lose the meaning of life.
  • Deterioration of relationships with other people - patterns of working relationships are transferred to everyday life.

To avoid such consequences of deformation, you must try to notice its signs in time and begin to eliminate them.

Professional personality deformation is accompanied by conflicts, a state of constant tension, crises, and psychological discomfort. Effective and timely resolution of professional difficulties that have arisen will allow each of you to further develop both professionally and personally. In addition, by preventing the manifestation of deformation, you can get rid of professional burnout in the workplace.

Prevention and coping

Prevention of professional deformation is a set of preventive measures aimed at reducing the likelihood of developing the preconditions and manifestations of professional deformation. It is necessary to master consciousness control techniques, develop the ability to switch from one type of activity to another, strengthen willpower, and most importantly, not get hung up on stereotypes, standards, templates and act according to the situation, in real time, based on immediate conditions.

Vocational rehabilitation

There are several possible rehabilitation options, including the following:

  • completing training for qualifications and personal growth;
  • increasing the level of autocompetence and socio-psychological competence;
  • completing advanced training courses and transferring to a new position;
  • diagnostics of professional personality changes and development of individual schemes for their correction;
  • studying methods and techniques for self-correction of professional changes and self-regulation of emotional and volitional qualities;
  • preventive measures for professional maladaptation of an inexperienced specialist;
  • development of alternative methods for further professional and personal growth.


One of the most common causes of professional deformation, according to experts, is the specifics of the immediate environment with which a professional specialist is forced to communicate, as well as the specifics of his activities. Another equally important reason for professional deformation is the division of labor and the increasingly narrow specialization of professionals. Daily work, over many years, to solve standard problems not only improves professional knowledge, but also forms professional habits, stereotypes, determines the style of thinking and communication styles.. In the psychological literature, three groups of factors leading to the occurrence of professional deformation are distinguished: factors, conditioned by the specifics of the activity, factors of a personal nature, factors of a socio-psychological nature

In the psychological literature, three groups of factors leading to the occurrence of professional deformation are distinguished: factors determined by the specifics of the activity, factors of a personal nature, factors of a socio-psychological nature.

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