What is learned helplessness 1

Learned helplessness

English: Learned helplessness

1 definition

Under the name learned helplessness one understands the result that unavoidable, uncontrollable and repeated aversive stimuli trigger in an individual. Those affected are firmly convinced that they can no longer avoid unpleasant or harmful situations, although this would be possible from a purely objective point of view. The learned helplessness is considered to be an explanatory approach for the emergence or maintenance of a depression.

2 story

The term was introduced in 1967 by the American psychologist Martin E. P. Seligman and describes a behavioral disorder within animals that is characterized by symptoms similar to depression and the principle of which can also be applied to humans. Seligman first researched this phenomenon in dogs that were stimulated by electrical shocks. So he was able to prove that stress can be a cause of depression.

3 symptoms

Characteristic are reduced motivation, persistent lack of drive and a phlegmatic and sometimes apathetic behavior. Sleep disorders and a weakened immune system can also occur.

4 interpretation

In summary, the thought structure of people with learned helplessness can be described as follows:

  • You see yourself as the main problem, the external circumstances do not contribute to this (personal character).
  • The problem is seen as omnipresent and permanent and is not only present in certain situations (general character),
  • They see the problem as immutable rather than temporary (permanent in nature).