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On this page I blog about whatever is on my mind, I share my thoughts on all kinds of topics which fascinate me. Including fitness , personal development, philosophy, psychology and Neuroscience and all other weird and wonderful things.

  • Hardeep Singh

#85 - Learned Helplessness

In 1965, a scientist named Martin Seligman was experimenting on dogs just like Ivan Pavlov. Martin was shocking dogs. So, when the bell rang instead of providing the dogs with food like Pavlov, he zapped them with electricity. To keep them still, he restrained them in a harness during the experiment. After the dogs were conditioned, he put these dogs in a big box with a little fence dividing it into two halves. Martin Seligman figured if they rang the bell, the dog would hop over the fence to escape?

But the dog it didn’t move. It just sat there and braced itself. They decided to try shocking them after the bell. The dog still just sat there and took it. This is called Learned Helplessness. When they put a new dog in the box which had never been shocked before and tried to zap it – it jumped the fence.

We are very much like the dogs in the experiment. If over the course of your life, you have experienced crushing defeat, pummeling abuse and loss of control, you learn over time there is no escape. If escape is offered, you will not act. Why? 

If you feel like you aren’t in control of your destiny, you will give up and accept whatever situation you are in. Because you have Learned helplessness from your past experiences. 

“The past does not equal the future.”

Anthony Robbins

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