In order to fully understand the meaning of the term counterproductive, we are going to proceed, first, to discover its etymological origin. In this case we can state that it is a word that derives from Latin and that it is the result of the sum of several components of said language:
-The prefix “against-“, which can be translated as “against”.
-The particle “pro”, which is used to indicate “forward” or “in favor”.
-The verb “ducere”, which is synonymous with “guide”.
-The suffix “-nte”, which comes to indicate “agent”.
According to digopaul, counterproductive is an adjective that is used to qualify that which generates a consequence opposite to that intended. When someone performs an action with the aim of producing a certain effect, and obtains the opposite of what he wanted, it is said that the action was counterproductive.
For example: “The military offensive abroad was counterproductive: national security did not improve at all”, “He believed that trying to hide bad news is always counterproductive because the truth, sooner or later, comes out”, “The barriers to imports are counterproductive”.
Suppose a printing company, intending to print more pages in less time, purchases a new machine. However, due to the complexity of its operations, the workers lose many hours until they manage to print a work. So at the end of the day, the new machine prints fewer pages than before. It can be said that the company’s decision, ultimately, was counterproductive.
Another example of this notion can be found in certain measures that a government can take. The president of a country in crisis, to minimize the protests that have already generated several acts of violence, declares a state of siege. Contrary to what the president supposed, people do not choose to stay in his house but, enraged by the presidential decision, manifest themselves more vehemently. That is why the declaration of the state of siege was counterproductive: not only did it not fulfill its purpose, it also aggravated the negative situation that was already underway.
Another example to understand the term counterproductive is the following. There are many parents who, when their children refuse to take a type of food, what they do is pressure them and force them to eat it. Experts in nutrition, pediatrics and psychology consider that this action by adults is counterproductive. Why? Because with it, the only thing they achieve is that minors reject the product in question more because they will associate it with negative moments.
Within the literary field we find works that carry in their titles the term that now concerns us. This would be the case of the novel “Counterproductive”, written by Duván Vargas Sánchez. It comes to tell the story of an illustrious doctor with great professional success, but who finds himself “trapped” not only by a hidden homosexuality but also by an illness that he tries to hide and even by certain ghosts from the past.