January 4, 2018

This blog post was featured in the Huffington Post on January 03, 2018.

Bureauphobia is not some kind of mental disease. I do not think it has to do with any dysfunction of the mind.

It is not an emotional disorder either.

It is induced by the environment we live in.

The first time I noticed this “disease” was the first time I flew to work in Russia. On the plane, they gave us a small—I mean small—piece of paper to fill out for immigration.

It was crowded with information requests but in such a small font I could hardly read what they wanted from me. And the space I was supposed to put my information in was insufficient to write anything.

I felt anxiety taking over me. What to do? Will I pass immigration?

Then I realized that I am overcome with anxiety when I have to fill out forms in countries run by dictators. There is no rule of law in those countries. What the dictator decides is law, and protecting yourself from the government machinery is almost impossible. You are doomed.

Bureauphobia is the fear of bureaucracy. The manifestations are sweating, anxiety, and paralysis: You cannot fill out the forms

The “disease” is more prevalent, as I said, in dictatorial regimes where you are truly scared of the government, and there you are guilty till proven innocent rather than the opposite. The government can crush you, so you had better do exactly as you are told.

The disease is less pronounced in democratic societies where the government is not ruling the country but at least on paper is serving the country.

But it is changing.

The bureaucracy in America is mushrooming. I am starting to get anxiety attacks when I have to fill out IRA and tax forms, and now that I am getting of age, filling out my will and all the trust documents.

I am feeling the symptoms of Bureauphobia: I look at the papers and become paralyzed. How in the world can I fill out these forms and not make a mistake? And what will be the repercussions if I make a mistake?

As government becomes more and more involved in our lives, has more and more forms for us to fill out, and has the power to punish us for filling out the forms incorrectly, the country is becoming “dictatorial” in character if not in name.

Life is getting more and more complicated and more and more anxiety generating.

Just thinking,

Ichak Kalderon Adizes

Written by
Dr. Ichak Adizes