M Sutapa Lakshmanan 9/12/2010

How many times have you heard, thought, or said:
 “Why won’t they just try harder?”  “I can’t achieve my goal”  “She just doesn’t want to be helped!”  “Why should someone keep helping me when I don’t

try to help myself?”

This leads to:

Learned Helplessness
 There Is No Justice  “I’ll get a bad deal no matter what I do.”  No Dream  “Why work at it; it’s not going to get any better.”

Learned Helplessness
 Condition resulting from the perception that we do

not have control over the environment
 People in the state of learned helplessness view

problems as
 Personal: Internalization of problem(blaming self)  Pervasive: Affecting all aspects of life

 Permanent: The problem is not going to go away

 Martin Seligman’s experiments with dogs

Explanatory Style
 Way of explaining to ourselves our relative lack of

control over the environment
 Optimistic:  More likely to have better immune system ,live longer, report less stress and depression, compared to pessimistic  Pessimistic

 Association between learned helplessness and

 Symptom: Inability to control outcomes  Ultimate pessimism: Create explanations about

negative situations into personal and pervasive terms

Attribution Model
 We attribute our lack of control or failure to some

 Pessimists: Internal, stable and global causes  Optimists: External, unstable and specific causes

Development of Learned Helplessness in Childhood
 Early interaction with environment will determine

later feelings of control over environment  Abuse
 Can associate old events with new situations

 Attribution of failure made to self rather than the

circumstances  Personal helplessness  Universal helplessness

Learned helplessness leads to hopelessness

Helplessness can be Unlearned

 We can help ourselves and others unlearn helplessness

by gaining control in lives.
 By cultivating

Positive Psychology
 Deals with happiness, excellence and optimal human

 Concerned with strength as well as weakness  Concerned with building the best things in life as in

repairing the worst
 Concerned with making the lives of normal people

more fulfilling and nurturing high talent

Migrating from Pessimism to Optimism
 ABCDE Model  A: Adverse event or situation  B: Beliefs about that event(Hear)  C: Consequences of those beliefs(Feel)  D: Disputation and distraction  E: Energization

Six Variables associated with Happy Personality
 Repressive – defensiveness
 Trust  Internal Locus of control  Resilience  Emotional stability and positive affect  Self-esteem

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