Learned Helplessness

Learned Helplessness

 

      There is a famous 2 part experiment in psychology by Martin Seligman in which he has placed a dog in a crate with an electrical grid floor that emits shocks on an intermittent schedule.  The dog never knows when the shock will occur.  Seligman added the component of a ringing bell just before a shock is administered.  The dog came to react to the sound as if shocked.  The bell was in no way helpful to the animal.

      In the second phase of the experiment, the dog was placed in a crate with a low wall bisecting it, on one side lay the shocking grid, but not on the other.  Did the dog jump to the safe side when he heard the bell?  No, he did not.  Seligman explained this behavior as Learned Helplessness.  The dog had learned in the first phase and the bell ring that the shock would follow and could not be avoided. 

      I read today that the CIA and Britain’s MI6 are going to relocate the Skripals and give them new identities, https://www.rt.com/uk/423517-skripals-cia-us-relocation/.  They will disappear, and we will never hear of them again.  Unfortunate situation in that it seemed to have no effect on international standings, other than Russia getting more sanctions imposed on it because they were “probably” involved in poisoning the pair.  This morning the U.S. accused Russia and that “animal” Syria’s Bashar al Assad or foisting a chemical attack on Syrians, women and children. 

      Do you sometimes feel like one of Seligman’s dogs, the bell ringing in your ear intermittently and, like the powerless dog you marshal your energy for the coming onslaught.  You hear the bark of other dogs that will undoubtedly suffer similar cruelty but you are not concerned, your problem doesn’t allow for it. 

Learned Helplessness.  There may be a safe place to escape the violence, but few have been trained to jump that wall.  I am sure that if Martin Seligman continued his experiments he had to have come across the dog that jumps the low wall to safety.  There is always one . . .