Learned helplessness: a condition in which a person, or animal, suffers from a sense of powerlessness, arising from a persistent failure to succeed.
Learned helplessness is a condition affecting much of the population, not only of the United States of America, but of the world. This statement calls for a more complete understanding of the nature of learned helplessness. Learned helplessness was discovered in 1965 by psychologist Martin Seligman, while he was studying the behavior of dogs. In the experiment, a dog would be placed in a box in which the floor was divided by a low bar in the middle. On one side, the floor capable of shocking the dog. He would dim the lights and shock the dog. The dog soon learned to jump to the other shock-free side when the light dimmed. This behavior proved consistent. In the second part of the experiment, a dog was tied with a leash so short it could not get to the other side. He would dim the light and shock the dog. Initially, the dog would struggle trying to get to the other side, but eventually would just lie there enduring the shock. Finally, even when untied and free to escape the shock, it would just like there and take the shock. The dogs in the second part of the experiment had been conditioned to believe that they were powerless to avoid the shocks. Apart from feeling sorry for the dogs used in the experiments, what can we take from this?
Learned helplessness has long been commonly associated with the battered wife condition, in which the long-suffering wife feels unable to break free of the association with the husband who beats her, with the prostitute who cannot escape the domination of her pimp. More recently, learned helplessness has been proposed as the reason people put up with mistreatment by their government or their employer. This last condition is or should be of particular interest, as it affects billions of people. It might also be key in explaining why mankind has made so little progress in thousands of years in how their society is structured, while making incredible advances in science and technology. A serious study of why and how the few have ruled the many throughout recorded history and probably all the unrecorded history as well. One might suspect that even governments can suffer from learned helplessness, which might explain the subservience of many nations to the United States, the propensity to keep making agreements with a nation which never holds up their end of an agreement.
Probably the most common excuse people give for not paying attention to politics and the worsening of living conditions is that there is nothing they can do about it. Yet, nothing could be further from the truth. Generally, the victims of governmental tyranny outnumber their oppressors by thousands to one. When the victims so greatly outnumber the victimizers, there is obviously much that they can do about their victimization. However, much of the population is suffering from learned helplessness. This tends to manifest itself in depression. The current life style has seemingly been designed to induce learned helplessness.
In our schools and universities, submission to authority and the suppression of independent thinking are the primary goals. Television and radio content are often more dependent on science (of mind control) than art or information. Economic fears are at an all-time high. Record numbers of people are unemployed. Those employed are in fear of becoming unemployed, and of losing their health insurance. Some employers often take advantage of these fears and working conditions are onerous, since the employees dare not leave. We are a materialistic society, and we see what we have as indicative of what we are. The loss or the risk of losing all that we have is depressing. To make matters worse, more and more Americans don’t have anyone in which they feel they can confide. So they have no catharsis, no sharing of the burden, and no sympathy. Most of the psychotropic drugs used in the world are consumed in the United States.
Many who are depressed don’t realize why or even that what they feel is depression. Unfortunately, the mere realization of the truth of their situation and the causes does not help the victim recover. On the contrary, it fills him with shame, and makes depression worse. If they seek help from the mental health establishment, they will only get drugs and no real help. The powers that be seem to be rubbing our face in our helplessness of late, when they openly trash our rights and flaunt their lawlessness. This is, or may be, a move calculated to make us feel even more helpless.
Is there any way out of this abysmal situation? Building morale is the reasonable psychologist’s solution. Any victory, however small helps. Encouragement from friends and acquaintances. Camaraderie. Any progress helps. Even that of a friend. Perhaps even that of a stranger. Now, after over sixty million people, many of whom surely felt helpless, have just had a victory is a perfect time to start a morale building campaign. There may never be a better time. This would be a perfect time to implement something like the 26 State Solution, laid out earlier on this blog. If you missed that, the pertinent posts are available on the main menu at the top of the page, on the right side, under 26 State Solution.