Perspectives on Learned Helplessness

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Perspectives on Learned Helplessness

Learned helplessness is a sign of depression. Its condition is just as it is called. Learning that you can't do something to the point that you give up. It's like learning that you can't hit a baseball because every time you try, you strike out.

Learned helplessness usually occurs over time. It's like trying to climb a steep hill. The hill is the person's life challenges. Things becomes harder and harder as the climb progresses. The person learns that he can't do this task. He still must climb because life goes on. Then another task falls by the wayside. The hill is getting steeper and rocks and boulders are getting in the way. Task after task is tried and failed. The hill is too steep. The person stops. He wants to climb back down the hill and just sit. So he does. He sits at the bottom of the hill looking up at everything he could not accomplish. He feels helpless. He gets depressed.

Why does he get depressed? He gets depressed because on the inside he feels he should be able to do these things and not being able to do them means he is defeated. He doesn't want to feel defeated. So he becomes helpless. He was not able to rise to life's challenges. He is not defeated. He is helpless. And so he gets depressed.

Constant rejection can bring on learned helplessness. If a person is repeatedly told he cannot do something, like get hired, he will eventually give up and stop looking for a job. He will feel it's not use. Nobody's going to hire him. He will become helpless, and depressed.

If a person has someone in his life who is constantly telling him negative things about himself, his self esteem will suffer, and he will begin to feel as worthless as the person says he is. He will give up trying to participate in life. He will become helpless. He will become depressed.

Once a person learns that he is helpless, he tends to believe it. It takes months of therapy and sometimes medicines to turn him back around. He has to learn that he can do. That he can make it to the top of the hill. He has to learn that he may need a little help, but his life is doable. That he can succeed. Just as he learned to be helpless, he can learn to be vital. A participator in life.

More about this author: Kathy Williams

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