By Jeff Pizzino, APR, Corporate Communications −
Sometimes bad things happen, and there’s no way change it. But oftentimes, there are avenues of escape for bad situations. The solution may not be easy to find or take, but there is almost always a way to resolve the problem. Yet, so many people find it impossibly difficult to take the way out.
In abusive spousal relationships, very often the victim does not make any attempt to leave the situation. This is usually due to the psychology of abuse, where the abuser convinces the abusee of their codependence, meaning that if either of them were to leave, things would be worse.
Learned helplessness amongst victims leads to victims accepting their fate, leaving the abuser to remain in control.
Martin Seligman’s Learned Helplessness
American psychologist Martin Seligman writes about learned helplessness, explaining it using an experiment with a dog. The animal is subjected to a negative stimulus in the form of electrical shocks. Naturally, the dog attempts to escape the pain of the shocks. After this negative association is established, the dog is then barricaded so that when the shocks are administered, there is no way to escape. Eventually the dog learns to just lie down and take it, because there’s no way out. Finally, experimenters remove the barricades and provide a way to escape, only to find that the dog continues to lie down and accept the mistreatment, having adopted the condition of learned helplessness.
Corruption, Helplessness, and America
As a country, we have developed the same sense of learned helplessness. We have all kinds of problems that could be stopped, including criminal activity, fraud, corruption in the government, sex trafficking and governmental intervention.
Most citizens react apathetically about fighting such problems. We know this is a learned behavior, because if this same level of apathy had existed in the foundational time of our country, we would not have had the capacity to become a nation in the first place.
When there were problems with the British government in yesteryears, our ancestors fought their motherland to make things right. The result was the birth of a new nation, an independent country in which the people would have the right to control their lives and fight off corruption when it occurred.
Somehow, we’ve allowed ourselves to become complacent against problems even though there are avenues we could take to fight them. Not doing us any favors, learned helplessness only perpetuates the problems we face today as a nation.
Corruption and fraud can be fought, if we could but muster the courage and desire to find the way out.