Thursday Thought — Learned Helplessness, a misapplied concept
Some theorists have mistakenly applied the concept of “learned helplessness” to the situation of battered women and other chronically traumatized people. Such concepts tend to portray the victim as simply defeated or apathetic, whereas in fact a much livelier and more complex inner struggle is usually taking place. In most cases the victim has not given up. But she has learned that every action will be watched, that most actions will be thwarted, and that she will pay dearly for failure. To the extent that the perpetrator has succeeded in enforcing his demand for total submission, she will perceive any exercise of her own initiative as insubordination. Before undertaking any action, she will scan the environment, expecting retaliation.
[from Judith Herman’s Trauma and Recovery: The aftermath of violence — from domestic abuse to political terror*, pp90-1]