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Kendra Cherry

Learned Helplessness - Psychology Definition of the Week

By June 8, 2009

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Definition: Learned helplessness occurs when an animal is repeatedly subjected to an aversive stimulus that it cannot escape. Eventually, the animal will stop trying to avoid the stimulus and behave as if it is utterly helpless to change the situation. Even when opportunities to escape are presented, this learned helplessness will prevent any action.

While the concept is strongly tied to animal psychology and behavior, it can also apply to many situations involving human beings. When people feel that they have no control over their situation, they may also begin to behave in a helpless manner. This inaction can lead people to overlook opportunities for relief or change. Learn more about learned helplessness.

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Image courtesy Piotr Bizior


June 9, 2009 at 7:36 pm
(1) gerson rodriguez says:

How can the problem be overcome?
Wish you the best!

June 10, 2009 at 3:17 am
(2) Bambi says:

I have the same question, what is the most effective form of thereapy for this subject and how can you overcome having this problem?

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