Examples of Learned Helplessness
1.) If a student studies a lot but consistently makes poor grades he/she will start to feel depressed and … Learned helplessness.
2.) If a mother tries to discipline her child in different ways, such as, timeout, spanking or words and the child still acts in ways she dislikes (misbehavior), she will start to feel there’s nothing she can do to help the child or herself. She may be failing as a parent.
3.) If every time one enters a romantic relationship it sours, one might believe they shouldn’t get into relationships because it wasn’t meant to be or they are a failure at relationships etc.
4.) If one gets into a traffic jam every morning or consistently hits all red lights, one might think, “Oh, I’d better stop because obviously the light is about to turn red since I am here.”
5.) If every time one bakes a cake and all the cakes turn out terrible, either burnt, missing ingredients or uneven, one might think, “No matter what I do I can’t bake cakes. I can’t cook at all … I am a failure.”
6.) If every time the phone rings and it is for someone’s roommate, one might start to feel isolated and think, “I am such a loser. No one likes me. The only people who talk to me have to talk to me because they run into me.”
7.) If someone is at a swimming pool and the lifeguard always seems to blow his/her whistle at them each time they come, they may start to think, “No matter what I do I’ll get into trouble.” Then they will not want to do anything and will not be able to enjoy themselves.
8.) If one has bad luck with electronics repeatedly (ex. computers shutting down, phones cutting conversations short, etc.) one might start to generalize and think, “Oh I can never mess with electronics because I am no good with them. They always break on me.”
9.) If a child cries repeatedly and everything the mother does doesn’t seem to soothe the child, the mother may start to feel helpless. It may seem as if she can do nothing to ease the child’s pain.
10.) While taking the driver’s test, you hit the saw horses every time you try to parallel park, one might think that they are doomed to forever failing the driver’s test and their self esteem/self confidence about driving would decrease.
11.) If one is in an abusive relationship and has tried to get out, but always seems to go right back, one might attribute the abuse to be something which they deserve and they can not to control it.
12.) If a person is of a minority and has gone into restaurants owned by white people and has received bad service consistently, that person might think because of their color they are always going to receive bad service.
13.) If a girl and a boy in the same grade school math class do the same work and raise their hands to answer the same amount of times but the boy is called on, the girl will start not to raise her hand as much, because, she will think prematurely that she will not be called on because she is a girl and may not be as apt to be right or not as important as the boy.
14.) One goes to the doctor and receives a diagnosis of a disease. They go back to the doctor and the disease has worsened. The doctor says, “Your disease has advanced. This is what it is now.” This cycle progresses for a while and eventually the patient may believe they are never going to get better and they feel helpless.
15.) If a person suddenly starts to notice that people he cares about never have time to spend with him and they make excuses about things they have to do, he might attribute the reason to be himself and not that the people are really busy. Therefore they would become lonely, depressed and helpless. Not asking their friends to do anything anymore because they think it is plain to see that the answer will be “NO”.
16.) A dog wearing an electric fence shocker box tries to move around the yard but gets a consistent painful shock if he goes 10 feet from the house. When the box is removed the dog may not try to move further away from the house because he knows he will get a shock if he does: The dog is not only conditioned to stay in the area but also is experiencing helplessness about moving further away.
17.) If a child get his/her name on the chalkboard but is never told why, the child will start to be timid and recluse because he/she won’t understand why. So, he/she will think whatever they are doing is bad and if they don’t do anything at all then they will not be punished.
18.) If a parent has been unable to pay bills because of money problems, the parent may start to feel that they are awful people or that they don’t make enough money because they are stupid or just not good enough.
19.) If a person who has a disability <can’t walk> and is in the hospital, the patient is depressed and the Physical Therapist has a very hard time getting the patient to try to move. The patient feels that no matter what they do they will not get better.
20.) If a student at Centre has no way to get home, they are homesick and very sad. They start to feel increasingly helpless when no one else around them is homesick. Their parents may not understand and the student will become miserable and helpless feeling.
21.) If a young child has always been close to their grandmother and she dies, the child may not understand what has happened. The child may become depressed and feel helpless about their emotions because they may still want to see their grandmother.
22.) I failed my first French exam. While getting ready for the next exam, I studied extra hard. However, I did even worse on the second exam.
23.) When taking her driver’s exam , Libby backed into the car behind her. When she took it again the next month, she did even worse than before.
24.) While I was studying for my Psych. Test, the ambulance sirens kept passing my window and there was no way to stop them. When I took the test, I did terrible- as I couldn’t remember what I studied.
25.) When the volleyball team lost the game 30-0, their trainer timing and performance on the next game was worse than before.
26.) When I left for college, I was the last of four children to move away. My dad worked and my mom always stayed at home. Mom’s empty nest was out of her control- as things will never be the same. These circumstances caused mom’s depression though out the first few months of my absence.
27.) Johnny breezed his way through high school taking easy classes, when he got to college, he had trouble with the course load. He viewed the work as overwhelming and could not escape constantly falling behind.
28.) When I fell off of my horse while jumping a medium level course, I felt helpless, as I feared falling off constantly. During the next show, I fell off again, only I competed on a higher level. I never showed again.
29.) When Jim’s grandfather was diagnosed with cancer, he was given no time to live and no treatment options. The man gave up on life as a result and never left his house due to deep depression.
30.) When Molly’s dad died, she could not find a way to escape the grief. She felt that happiness was unattainable and was constantly miserable.
31.) My lab, Jackson, was tied up to his chain for several days. He tried to break free by running away from the base at top speed, digging a tunnel under the fence, and barking non-stop. None of these tactics worked, so he finally sat down and wined.
32.) A child was abused by his alcoholic stepfather for several years. He could never tell his mother because of the man’s threats. He lived in constant fear with no way out of the situation. He vented his anger at school, constantly getting in trouble.
33.) Bob broke his neck in a terrible biking accident and was prone to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. No cure was ever found and nothing could bring his life before the wreck back. He was now an invalid who had no quality of life.
34.) Sally’s mother was suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease. She no longer recognized her family and constantly yelled at sally when she arrived to care for her. Since the disease is irreversible, Sally could not improve her mother’s condition and could only watch her drift away physically and mentally.
35.) A teacher gave his class puzzles that could not be solved due to missing pieces. The students worked and reworked the puzzles but could not find any possible way to complete them. Frustration resulted in the class.
36.) In high school, I cheered on the varsity cheerleading squad. Back-handsprings were an expected, but not required skill on the squad. For a year, I attempted to master the back flip, but fell on my head, sprained my wrist, and never could do the flip without a spotter. Each time I fell, the next try was harder, and I did even worse.
37.) While stranded on a deserted island, the shipwrecked crew waited for help to save them. They built fires and sent signals nut nothing they did could bring them a boat to take them home. They were too far away.
38.) A boy tried endlessly to gain the attention of the coolest group of kids at his school. No matter what he did to impress them, they laughed. Nothing got him closer to their circle of friends. He became depressed and introverted as a result.
39.) David goofed off during his college years and made terrible grades. He joined a fraternity, but never involved himself in anything but drinking. After college, he could not find a job. No companies would give him a chance with his GPA and no credentials or references. He could not go back and change his actions therefore he had to settle for a minimum wage job at his hometown’s biggest factory.
40.) A student takes two out of the five test scheduled for the semester. After studying intensely. Both tests are failed. The student learns that no matter what they do they still fail. The final grade in the class is the failing one.
41.) After receiving a cookbook, meals have been prepared all resulting in burnt disgusting masterpieces even following the recipes. Learned that one just can not cook, resulting in throwing in the towel on cooking.
42.) After several attempts at dieting w/ no weight loss, one learns they can not loose weight and results in depression and possible excessive weight gain.
43.) After dating men who have turned out to complete jerks, a woman convinces herself that all men are that way and discontinues dating. She learns that men bring pain.
44.) A woman is in an abusive relationship, beaten regularly for any thing she does. She learns there is no hope, and stays in the relationship.
45.) A little girl is reprimanded by her mother. She is sat on the couch while the mother shakes her finger saying, “listen young lady”. A couple of days later the little girl sits her doll on the couch, repeating the phrase.
46.) In prison for- no matter what happens-won’t leave
47.) Kidnapped and can’t leave
48.) Battered women
49.) In ghetto - must join gang
50.) Cases of rape
51.) Pessimists-no matter what happens - their life will be bad
52.) Optimists-no matter what happens - their life will be good
53.) Disenfranchised - they have no control over their life
54.) Mother’s no matter what they do - babies will control schedule
55.) Students - must take certain classes
56.) Non-athletes - will never be good at sports
57.) People who lose - will think they always lose
58.) Person who gets 1 “F”- will always get an “F”
59.) Person who gets 1 “A”- will always get an “A”
60.) Person who gets rejected once - will always get rejected
61.) Person gets fired - will always get fired
62.) Has one bad picture - not photogenic at all
63.) Rat who can’t get rid of shock - takes it
64.) Breaks a mirror - will have 7 years of bad luck
65.) No matter how hard you study – you never do well in organic – begin to believe that cannot do well
66.) A child is continually beaten by her parents- she stops trying to hold them off
67.) A man is continually raped in prison- he stops trying to hold them off
68.) Dog who is always kept in cage does not leave when the door is open
69.) Continually asking parents to stay out until 1:00 am (curfew), they say no, stoop asking
70.) Worked at Frito-Lay factory, bags came out too fast for me to catch them all, stopped trying, just let them hit the ground
71.) Basketball coach said white people can't jump - I try to jump and am made fun of - I don't even try to jump for rebounds.
72.) I write an awesome paper - Professor gives me a D+ - I don't bother to try in the class.
73.) Play a game of Trivial Pursuit with the smartest students at Centre - fail miserably - Never want to play the game again.
74.) Read a Shakespearean play in 7th grade - don't understand - have no desire to read it for a college class.
75.) In Flowers For Algernon, Charlie is given the Rorschach Test when he is stupid, fails completely - gets smart and when asked to take the test he remembers he can't do it and gets really mad.
76.) I'm looking up the word "Rorschach" in several dictionaries and I realize that I can't even begin to spell the word so I call you for help.
77.) Dad tried to teach me to drive in a stick shift truck when I was 18. I couldn't do it. Made no attempt to get my drivers' license until I was 18.
78.) I tried to do a flip-throw-in in a soccer game and fell down. Made a fool of myself - I won't ever try to do a flip-throw-in again.
79.) I called and asked a guy out on a date - he said no - I was so crushed that I won't ask anyone out again for a long time.
80.) It is said that many poverty stricken children are never given examples of success and learn that they will never be able to get out of slums - Learned Helplessness
81.) I've watched football games with my dad and when we had a pick up game in high school I knew how to play without anyone explaining.
82.) "Parents who use drugs have children who use drugs". Children observe their parents - The commercial.
83.) Little girls who grow up with a successful business mother learn that women can accomplish things - positive self-image.
84.) Teens who watch 90210 observe and learn the newest fashion trends and hairstyles.
85.) Baby animals learn very quickly how to survive by watching their parents.
86.) There is a big campaign to put an end to violence on television because young children watch it and pick up violent behaviors.
87.) When students arrive at college, they observe their friends and learn - where to sit in Cowan, the cool frat houses to go to, shopping Walmart, etc.
88.) Teenage girls see skinny models and learn eating disorders in order to maintain the "perfect body".
89.) Children grow up and usually affiliate themselves with the same political party as their parents.
90.) Girls tend to marry men that remind them of their fathers because they observe their parents' relationship and develop ideas about how relationships should work.
91.) Hearing loud noise, attempting to escape noise, cannot so when can escape doesn’t
92.) Girlfriend and boyfriend break up, girl experiences, I have nothing to do. Unable to function socially without boy so she stays at home and feels sad.
93.) Cat always kept inside wants outside. The cat sits in front of a glass door, when the door opens, the cat only sits in front of the door and whines.
94.) Swimmer always comes in last even with slow competition, feeling that they are incompetent.
95.) Child learning to read, peers all can read and teacher and family will not assist her. Helplessness feeling.
96.) Student taking exam and their pen runs out of ink. The student gets another pen and it is out of ink also. The teacher is out of the room and it is a no talking test. Student gives up.
97.) Child continually tries to run quicker than others but always falls a little short, feels helpless.
98.) Student typing last minute paper, computer breaks, student freaks out and gives up.
99.) Person gets stung by a bee. Whole bee’s nest attacks him. Can’t get rid of bees. Frustration and fear.
100.) Get flu virus, vomiting non-stop, everything you do to stop is useless, depress and sad feeling.
101.) Basketball coach said white people can't jump - I try to jump and am made fun of - I don't even try to jump for rebounds.
102.) I write an awesome paper - Professor gives me a D+ - I don't bother to try in the class.
103.) Play a game of Trivial Pursuit with the smartest students at Centre - fail miserably - Never want to play the game again.
104.) Read a Shakespearean play in 7th grade - don't understand - have no desire to read it for a college class.
105.) In Flowers For Algernon, Charlie is given the Rorschach Test when he is stupid, fails completely - gets smart and when asked to take the test he remembers he can't do it and gets really mad.
106.) I'm looking up the word "Rorschach" in several dictionaries and I realize that I can't even begin to spell the word so I call you for help.
107.) Dad tried to teach me to drive in a stick shift truck when I was 18. I couldn't do it. Made no attempt to get my drivers' license until I was 18.
108.) I tried to do a flip-throw-in in a soccer game and fell down. Made a fool of myself - I won't ever try to do a flip-throw-in again.
109.) I called and asked a guy out on a date - he said no - I was so crushed that I won't ask anyone out again for a long time.
110.) It is said that many poverty stricken children are never given examples of success and learn that they will never be able to get out of slums - Learned Helplessness