Dying Man’s Daily Journal – Learned Helplessness

Recovered post

Apr 28, 2008 12:43 PM

Dying Man’s Daily Journal – Learned helplessness

from Dying mans daily journal by Bill Howdle
With everything that seems to have been going on in my life this past while I haven’t been at the key board much, but I have been checking in occasionally to read the wonderful comments left and to do a little blog surfing.

I am sure we have all done it, visit one site, that leads to the next and then another and so on. Ultimately we are so far removed from where we started we aren’t even sure how we got there. Doing this I got many ideas for posts of my own, today’s thoughts are an example of that. Apologize to who ever gave me this idea for not giving proper acknoledgement, I book marked the site you refered to but not your own. But I thank you for the insight you have given me.

“Battered Woman’s Syndrome” is something that I just do not understand. Thankfully I have no direct experience with it. Frankly, I have always been confused as to why anyone would ever allow such to happen to them, or why they would stay and continue to endure the abuse. This whole concept is in direct contradiction with everything I believe and write about. Life is to be lived, to be enjoyed and not endured. I have questioned, why would anyone continue to accept abuse, control and being dominated for years and years? I am in fact trying to formulate my thoughts and thinking as I go. I ask for and truly welcome feedback to help me gain a better understanding of something that is all to common in our society.

Now I know each situation is different but there are huge similarities in all it seems. My reading has given me at least some idea of the thought process of SOME of the abused. I see it as being so sad.

Actually, I visited several sites on this topic, I suppose it is natural that if you check the blog roll and follow it. It will very likely lead you to similar sites. One in particular really caught my eye and I suppose gave me a little more prospective.

It spoke of “learned helplessness”. This applies to a woman that has endured so much endless abuse she has come to just accept the fact there is nothing she can do to prevent it, she is in fact helpless to prevent it, or worse yet even comes to the point she begins to accept responsibility for it. Coming to believe if she had done this or that better the abuse could have been avoided. Which is just plain wrong. With this she can come to the point where she begins to see herself as being a lesser person or of less importance or value than the abuser.

I have to admit, I became somewhat upset just reading all this stuff, and am starting to feel that way all over again writing about it. It is all just so unfair.

One site talked of how “battered woman syndrome” is more and more being recognized as a legitimate legal defense for a woman should she reach her breaking point and even kill her abuser. I don’t pretend to understand it all but now do have a least a glimpse at what it is like. With what I have read I totally agree with the allowing of it as a defense strategy in some cases.

One site contained a link, (which I book marked) I followed the link and learned a lot. More and more scientific research is being done on this and this is what one experiment showed. OK, now this is using dogs and it is a huge leap to go from a dog to a woman. Before anyone gets upset, I AM NOT comparing a woman to a dog. The very idea is ridiculous. But, I have to think that survival is one of the most basic instincts and that there would have to be at least some what of a comparable, given that basic survival instinct. I also think this would equally apply if it would be a male involved in the situation.

Dogs were placed in a cage with an electrified floor. Over a period of time they were continually given little shocks, just enough to be uncomfortable. As these electric shocks began the dogs ran around constantly seeking a place of refuge from them, but there was none. After some time they were moved to a different cage. In this cage the floor was also electrified but this time there was in fact a safe spot they could go to. Over time they did in fact discover this safe spot, they knew it was there. Surprisingly they did not seek the safety of this safe spot as the shocks continued. They just seemed to have resigned themselves to the fact they were helpless to change “their perceived reality”. They seemed to just accept the fact they were helpless to do anything and just accepted the shocks where they were.

Now, in the world according to “Bill”, how do I see this as in anyway relating to an abused woman.

It took a visit to yet another site for me to be able to connect the dots. I am asking for feedback on this as I do realize the way I am connecting the dots may be way off mark. But, that has never stopped me before.

To help me understand as I do with many things, I have to picture a scenario in my mind, trying to imagine a situation. I picture a woman that maybe grew up in a very abusive family home. Being very controlled, dominated and abused from birth. Typically, there is not a lot a child can do but endure. I can see a definite feeling of helplessness developing. Bear with me as I am sort of developing my thoughts and understanding as I go. Upon reaching young adulthood, I can see the beginnings of a total feeling of helplessness to control her own fate being contained within. Now I picture if that now this. young lady went into a very abusive relationship the feelings of helplessness would just be further nurtured and developed. Here I am talking about the type of horror story relationships we so often read about. Physical and emotional abuse, being totally controlled, dominated and physically abused. The type of relationship where it seems there is nothing she can do right, nothing sh e can do to prevent the next beating. Nothing she does is ever good enough, no matter how hard she tries. I can see the feeling of helplessness being further developed, being ingrained into her being or thought process. “It is hopeless, I am helpless to prevent it, nothing I do is ever good enough”. Over time I can see someone slowly sinking to despair and accepting here is just nothing I can do, I am helpless to prevent anything that happens to me and coming to just accept things as they happen.

Suppose the woman managed to escape the first relationship. I am not sure how far you would take the scenario, but suppose a second, a third relationship. Each maybe a little different from the last but abusive non the less. Because of the very nature of the individual or individuals she has had in her life she has in reality been helpless to prevent the abuse. As I think about it I can see how anyone male or female given that scenario would gradually come to feel helpless and hopeless. I can see the term “learned helplessness” as being valid and understandable.

Human feelings and “conditioning” are so hard to understand. I read of some women after maybe decades of abuse, being controlled and dominated become so conditioned to that feeling that they feel lost without it. Almost like there is something missing from their life, something they have never lived without and now find actually find it hard to adjust to not being abused and controlled. They will actually seek out relationships, work environments what ever that will actually in which they can feel controlled or dominated, take them back into their perceived “comfort zone”, something they have never lived with out.

I read that with others it may have reached the point, where they surrender total control of their lives into the hands of others. In effect abdicating any and all responsibility for their very own lives. Feeling helpless and hopeless.

Trained hopelessness, “what is the point is fighting any more or trying to stand up for myself, it won’t make any difference anyway, so why even try.” To have reached this point would be so sad, lets face it in this world if you are willing to take crap from everyone, there are enough people out there that will be more than willing to take advantage of the situation.

I am often intrigued  by things I just don’t understand. I don’t understand the need for anyone to be an abuser, that part just disgusts me. What I am more intrigued by is the long term affects, the “learned hopelessness” and all the related issues.

Often I have written of dying and the importance of living everyday to the fullest, life is to lived not endured. Every moment of time is precious, a wasted moment is one that we can never get back. Each of us is only allotted a specific number of moments on this earth, please don’t waste any. I realize every situation is different to a degree. But, I can say as a general statement to all. If your life is one of abuse, of being controlled, dominated or manipulated, it is time to reclaim you life. Take back responsibility of your own life, for your own decisions. Life your life, not the life someone else wants or insists you live. It may not be easy, it may take work but it will be so worth it. Your life is to be lived by you, not others, nor is it to be endured. God granted each of us free will, the right to live our own lives and not to live our lives according to the will of others.

I believe we live in such a complicated world today, everyone’s lives are so frantic, so busy that I believe there are likely many “innocent abusers”. What is my definition of an “innocent abuser”. Firstly, obviously anyone that is a physical abuser doesn’t in anyway fit into this group. Here I am thinking more of a few of the emotional abusers, ONLY SOME. I ask this, can some become so busy so wrapped up in their own lives, that they don’t actually see they maybe have become to demanding, even domineering of others in their life’s it may have started off slowly with inconsequential things, but has it somehow been allowed to escalate, unnoticed even by yourself. I ask everyone to just slow down for a minute to stop and think (not including parents raising children), are you allowing your loved ones to truly live their own lives, to chose their own path to happiness. Or are you infact depriving them of their own free will by insisting yours be carried out. Look at all areas of yo ur relationship big and small, are you being fair or taking the easy way out by demanding it be your way. Irregardless of the wants and feeling of the other.  Just think about it, have you even unknowingly become an abuser?

OK, I have given you the world according to Bill. Things as I currently see and understand them. I am asking directly for feedback to help me further my understanding. Please understand I am not being sexist here, the roles could easily be reversed.

I really struggle to understand that.


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