Millions of long-term unemployed see few signs of hope


Harold G. Kaufman, who heads the graduate program in organizational behavior at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University, has studied the emotional toll of long-term unemployment. He said long bouts of joblessness can cause a person's mental state to deteriorate, leading to lower self-esteem, motivation and a feeling that they've lost control.

"That's critical because that leads to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness," Kaufman said.

In that situation, some people develop stress-related illnesses, while others become destructive toward themselves and others, which can lead to family problems. Others deal with the stress by disengaging socially and avoiding friends and family.

"They build a cocoon to buffer themselves from being rejected by the working world and others who may see them as not succeeding in life," Kaufman said.

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