Learned helplessness is a psychological condition in which patients feel they are in an unescapable or uncontrollable situation after enduring unpleasant, adverse, or painful experiences. In communication sciences, learned helplessness may be observed in pediatric, adult, and geriatric patient populations with communication, cognitive, or swallowing disorders. The etiology of this behavior may be related to their deficits, or it may be rooted in previously unrelated negative experiences that manifest during rehabilitation, treatment, recovery, or generalization/maintenance. This entry discusses the theory of learned helplessness, how it relates to communication sciences and disorders, and relevant clinical application and impact.

The theory of learned helplessness was first developed, through animal models, by psychologist Martin Seligman in the early 1970s, and then reformulated for application to humans by Lyn Abramson, ...

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