All About Learned Helplessness and How it Can Inhibit Good Mental Health

woman with learned helplessness trying to believe in herself

What is Learned Helplessness?

Learned helplessness is a psychological concept that refers to a state of mind in which you may feel helpless and unable to change a negative situation, even when opportunities for change are presented.

It is a condition that results from repeated experiences of failure or lack of control over the environment.

The concept was first described by psychologists Martin Seligman and Steven F. Maier in the 1960s after conducting experiments on dogs.

In their experiments, they exposed dogs to in-escapable (mild) electric shocks, and later placed them in a box where they could easily escape the shocks by jumping over a small barrier.

However, the dogs that had previously experienced the in-escapable shocks showed little to no effort in escaping the new shocks, demonstrating learned helplessness.

Learned Helplessness and Locus of Control

Learned helplessness can be a persistent and debilitating condition that can lead to feelings of depression, anxiety, and a sense of hopelessness.

People who experience learned helplessness may feel that they lack control over their lives, and as a result, they may become less motivated to take action, even when opportunities for change are presented.

Furthermore, if you do have learned helplessness then you almost certainly have an ‘external’ Locus of Control, a belief that your life is controlled by factors outside of your direct control.

You can measure your Locus of Control with our test here.

However, it is important to note that learned helplessness is not a permanent condition, and it can be reversed through interventions such as cognitive behavioural therapy, counselling, and other forms of psychotherapy.

Free Initial Consultations for learned helplessness Banner

Arrange your FREE initial consultation here.

If you’d like to find out more about learned helplessness or recovering from any of your mental health problems then why not arrange a free initial consultation with us.

During this consultation we will discuss your particular issues and the different types of mental health counselling we offer without you having to commit to any counselling going forward.

The consultation lasts around 50 minutes and is a great opportunity to meet with either Paul or Joan and decide if you would like to proceed with any support.


Applied Psychology Solutions

If you’d like to learn how to overcome your mental health problems but dislike the idea of having “therapy”, then why not learn how to change the way you make sense of your experiences and the World around you with the CORE Programme.

If you believe that your problems are the result of what has happened to you and not because there is something wrong with you, then this is the solution you’ve been looking for.

Areas We Serve

We offer mental health services, therapy & counselling for people living in:

  • Wolverhampton
  • West Midlands
  • Wombourne
  • South Staffordshire
  • Telford
  • Shrewsbury
  • Shropshire

For those living further afield, we also offer Online Therapy Services using Zoom.