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On learned helplessness

Abstract

“Learned helplessness” and its Pavlovian analog, learned irrelevance, are phenomena thought integral to understanding depression, PTSD, psychosomatic vulnerability, and a variety of diseases and immune disorders. The origin and development of research on learned helplessness is briefly overviewed with attention to the reasons for the controversy that surrounds the study of learned helplessness and derived physiological, psychological, and behavioral phenomena. The need to remedy past focus on American research and English language journals in this area is noted. The heuristic value as well as the wide ranging empirical value of the research domain is lauded. The meretricious emerging social and legal barriers to this research are noted to be unrealistic and unfortunate.

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Correspondence to J. Bruce Overmier.

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Overmier, J.B. On learned helplessness. Integrative Physiological & Behavioral Science 37, 4–8 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02688801

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Keywords

  • Gastric Ulceration
  • Pavlovian Conditioning
  • Aversive Event
  • Learned Helplessness
  • Inescapable Shock