What is learned helplessness?

Learned Helplessness! What Is That?

A psychological phenomenon known as “learned helplessness” occurs when someone starts to feel as though they have no power to influence or alter a situation, even though they do. This notion may result in emotions of helplessness and a dearth of will to act or make an effort to make things better.

Martin Seligman and Steven Maier initially proposed the idea of learned helplessness in the 1960s. In a series of studies, they subjected dogs to unavoidable electric shocks. The dogs rapidly realized that even when given the chance to do so, they could not avoid the shocks. Later, when given the opportunity to stop receiving shocks by pulling a lever, these dogs did not try to do so. They had grown helpless after realizing that their deeds had little bearing on how things would turn out.

Humans are capable of developing learned helplessness. For instance, someone who has repeatedly failed in a certain field could start to think they are not able to succeed even when given another chance. This notion may result in a lack of effort and a diminished sense of personal control. The emergence of learned helplessness can result from a variety of circumstances. These include the incapacity to make predictions, a lack of positive encouragement, and a loss of responsibility over one’s environment.

A person’s mental health and well-being may suffer as a result of learned helplessness. It may result in low motivation, anxiety, and depression. Additionally, it may have a negative effect on a person’s performance.

Though it can be overcome, learned helplessness isn’t a permanent state. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, which aids people in recognizing and altering unfavorable thought patterns and actions, is one efficient method for accomplishing this. Setting realistic goals, looking for social support, and enhancing a sense of control using self-care and self-management practices are further options.

In general, learned helplessness is a psychological phenomenon that can significantly affect a person’s success and well-being. To have a happy and fruitful life, it is crucial to be aware of the symptoms of defeatism and take action to combat it.

How Is Learned Helpness Related To Psychology?

The psychologists- Martin Seligman and Steven Maier first proposed the psychological idea of learned helplessness in the 1960s. It is a situation where someone starts to feel powerless to influence or alter a circumstance even though they truly have the power to do so. This notion may result in emotions of helplessness and a dearth of will to act or make an effort to make things better.

Psychology has widely researched the idea of learned helplessness, notably in the disciplines of behavioral psychology and cognitive psychology. It is believed to be connected to a variety of psychological ideas, such as emotion, motivation, and cognition.

The motivational effects of learned helplessness include a reduction in effort and goal-directed behavior. It can also have an impact on a person’s cognition since they may start to perceive themselves and their skills negatively and may hold false views about their capacity for self-control. Last but not least, learned helplessness can affect one’s emotions as well because it can cause a sense of despair and a decline in general well-being.

How Is Learned Helplessness Related To Positive Psychology?

The idea of learned helplessness has various connections to positive psychology. An emphasis of positive psychology is on the traits, skills, and feelings that help people succeed and lead fulfilling lives. Positive psychology involves the study of what makes things most worth living.

The effect of learned helplessness on a person’s well-being is one manner in which it is connected to positive psychology. Learned helplessness can result in unfavorable feelings like hopelessness and a lack of drive, which can harm a person’s general well-being. Positive psychology, on the other hand, places a strong emphasis on the role that positive feelings and experiences play in improving well-being and encouraging healthy and satisfying lives.

The idea of personal control is another way that learned helplessness is connected to positive psychology. According to positive psychology, having a sense of control over one’s life is crucial since it can increase happiness and self-confidence. In contrast, acquired helplessness refers to the idea that a person is powerless over a circumstance, which can result in a sense of helplessness and a lack of motivation.

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What Are The Different Theories Of Learned Helplessness?

The emergence of learned helplessness has been the subject of a number of different hypotheses. These consist of:

  • The cognitive theory of learned helplessness contends that unfavorable thought patterns and beliefs about one’s capacity for situational control are to blame for learned helplessness. It suggests that people may lose motivation and become less likely to take action if they feel they have no control over a situation.
  • The behavioral hypothesis of learned helplessness contends that repeated experience with inescapable or uncontrollable circumstances is the cause of learned helplessness. It suggests that people may lose motivation and become less inclined to take action in the future if they are unable to change or escape a situation.
  • The learned helplessness hypothesis proposes that learned helplessness may have evolved as a coping mechanism for people in challenging or dangerous circumstances. It suggests that in some situations, believing that one has no control over a situation may be advantageous since it may deter people from taking unnecessary risks or acting futilely.

To conclude, a variety of ideas have been put out to explain how learned helplessness develops. It is likely that a mix of cognitive, behavioral, and evolutionary variables play a role in the emergence of this illness.

What is the Bio-Psycho-Social Model Of Learned Helplessness?

According to the bio-psycho-social concept of learned helplessness, a combination of biological, psychological, and social factors may have an impact on this condition.

  • Biological Factors: Genetics and brain chemistry are two biological elements that may contribute to the emergence of learned helplessness. For instance, studies have shown that people with particular genetic variants may be more likely to experience melancholy and anxiety, both of which have been connected to learned helplessness.
  • Psychological factors: Negative thought patterns and perceptions about one’s capacity for self-control may also play a role in the emergence of learned helplessness.
  • Social considerations: Learned helplessness may also be influenced by social factors, such as an absence of support or a toxic social environment.

What Are The Symptoms Of Learned Helplessness?

There are a number of signs that learned helplessness may be present. These consist of:

  • Lack of effort or motivation: Someone who has learned helplessness could show a lack of initiative or motivation to try to influence a situation.
  • Negative thoughts: Someone who has learned helplessness may harbor doubts about their capacity for success or self-control.
  • Avoidance: Someone who has learned helplessness may try to avoid circumstances that they find tough or demanding because they think their efforts would be in vain.
  • Melancholy: A person who has learned helplessness may display depressive symptoms including a lack of energy, difficulties concentrating, and feelings of hopelessness.
  • Lack of Control: An individual with acquired helplessness may feel anxious and concerned about their capacity to exert control over a circumstance.
  • Lack of satisfaction: It may be challenging for someone who has learned helplessness to enjoy or be satisfied with their regular activities.

How Does Learned Helplessness Affect An Individual’s Life?

There are a number of signs that learned helplessness may be present. These consist of:

  • Insufficient effort or motivation
  • Negative thoughts and Avoidance
  • Reduced sense of control
  • Reduced well-being
  • Negative effects on relationships

What Are The Causes Of Learned Helplessness?

People of various ages, genders, and socioeconomic backgrounds may be affected by learned helplessness. However, some people can be more prone than others to experiencing acquired helplessness. The following are some elements that could make someone more susceptible to learning helplessness:

  • Lack of control: Learned helplessness may be more likely to develop in those who have little control over their surroundings or circumstances.
  • Inability to foresee results: People are more likely to experience learned helplessness if they are unable to foresee the results of their activities.
  • Lack of positive reinforcement: Learned helplessness may be more likely to develop in someone who does not receive positive encouragement for their efforts.
  • Negative past experiences: Learned helplessness may be more likely to develop in people who have repeatedly encountered failures or unfavorable results in a particular field.
  • Environmental influences: A number of environmental influences, such as a lack of support or a hostile social environment, may aid in the growth of learned helplessness.

How Is Learned Helplessness Linked With Mental Health Conditions?

Learned helplessness has been connected to a range of mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression.

Depression: It has been discovered that learned helplessness is a highly important predictor of depression. It might result in unpleasant feelings of helplessness and a lack of motivation, which are typical signs of depression.

Anxiety: Learned helplessness may also play a role in the emergence of anxiety. It may cause anxiety by causing feelings of worry and apprehension about the future. Additionally, the conviction that one has no control over a circumstance can result in feelings of vulnerability and helplessness, both of which can heighten anxiety.

In general, learned helplessness can have a serious negative effect on a person’s mental health. Recognizing the symptoms of acquired helplessness is crucial.

An Example Of Learned Helplessness

College student Maria has had difficulty with math her entire scholastic life. Despite her best efforts and requests for assistance from her professors, she has continuously received subpar math grades. As a result, she has given up trying since she has come to feel that she is incapable of performing well in math.

She doesn’t put much effort in even when given the chance to try again, such as when she enrolls in a new math course, because she thinks it won’t make a difference. She has come to realize that her efforts are futile, and she is now powerless over the issue.

Maria’s lack of effort and passion in arithmetic has resulted in subpar results and little academic advancement. Additionally, she has started to have doubts about her aptitude for math, which has had an impact on her general well-being.

This is an illustration of how one’s life and well-being can be impacted by learned helplessness. To overcome it and enhance general well-being, it is critical to recognize the symptoms of learned helplessness and to get expert assistance.

How Can Therapy Help In Overcoming Learned Helplessness?

Therapy is a powerful tool for overcoming ingrained hopelessness. Therapy of all kinds, including the following, can be beneficial in this process.

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT is a form of therapy that aids in identifying and modifying unfavorable thought and behavior patterns. Introducing them to new ways of thinking and doing that foster a sense of control and empowerment, which can be useful in assisting people in overcoming learned helplessness.

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  • Problem-solving therapy: Problem-solving therapy aids people in locating and resolving issues that are causing them grief or trouble in their daily lives. By giving people new abilities and approaches to tackling problems, it can assist in overcoming learned helplessness.
  • Acceptance and commitment therapy: It is a sort of treatment that assists patients in accepting their ideas and feelings and moving forward with key personal goals. It can be useful in teaching people with learned helplessness to accept their circumstances and take action to improve them.

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Overall, counseling can help people overcome learned helplessness by giving them the skills and techniques they need to take charge of their lives and make changes for the better. It’s crucial to locate a therapist with experience treating patients who have acquired helplessness and who can offer a nurturing and supportive atmosphere for patients to work through this condition.

Self-help Strategies For Overcoming Learned Helplessness

There are a variety of self-help techniques that can help people recover from learned helplessness. These consist of:

  • Setting realistic expectations: Setting realistic expectations might provide someone with learned helplessness a sense of success and power. It’s crucial to set small, manageable goals at first and then gradually move up to bigger ones as confidence and enthusiasm rise.
  • Positive self-talk: Using positive self-talk might assist someone who has learned helplessness in re-framing unfavorable attitudes and beliefs about their capacity for self-control. One can try to think, for instance, “I can do this, I just need to take it one step at a time,” as opposed to “I can’t do this.”
  • Seeking social support: One way to get over learned helplessness is to ask for aid from friends, family, or a support group. Having a network of individuals who are supportive of you can inspire and motivate you to act and try to alter a situation.
  • Using relaxation techniques: People with learned helplessness might feel less stressed and anxious and have better control over their emotions by using strategies like deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and mindfulness.
  • Physical activity: Regular physical activity might give someone with learned helplessness the energy and motivation they need. Additionally, it can give one a feeling of empowerment and control over their body and health.

Self-help techniques can be a useful method to combat learned helplessness. Finding the tactics that work best for you is crucial, as is remaining steadfast in the face of difficulties. A mental health expert should be consulted if necessary. Keep in mind that development is frequently gained in modest steps.

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