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Learned helplessness commonly refers to a condition in which an organism (e.g., animal, person) exhibits insufficient efforts to explore the environment following a series of failed exploration attempts. The behavioral effect was first observed in experiments conducted during the 1960s and 1970s, in which animals failed to avoid an (avoidable) aversive stimulus after having experienced a series of unavoidable stimuli. This behavioral pattern was replicated in many species, including humans, and some have argued that it accounts for clinical depression and aspects of related clinical disorders such as anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, and battered woman syndrome. The term learned helplessness originated from the traditional explanation for the observed behavior, which focuses on perceived lack of control. This account suggests that treatment of related mental health ...

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