Multipotentials. The earth is full. Learned Helplessness Makes You Give Up In The Face Of Adversity. Good News: It Can Be Fixed. If you've ever been unemployed or been laid out with an injury or voted for the losing candidate, you know how hopeless things can seem in a bad situation. The psychological phenomenon of learned helplessness is that, magnified: it's the tendency for you to stop looking for work after a handful of failed interviews, the way you might give up on starting an exercise routine because you've hurt your back one time too many, or the desire to stay in on voting day because past elections have taught you your vote doesn't matter. In the extreme, it's why people don't leave their abusers and why prisoners don't try to escape.
As a young graduate student, Martin Seligman assisted in a study on the Pavlovian response in dogs—that is, the way that you can teach dogs to associate a bell with food so that they start to drool just at the sound of that bell. Seligman called this tendency learned helplessness, and it was at the center of many research projects to follow.