Παρασκευή, 24 Μαΐου 2013

Learned Helplessness, Learned Depression


So there's this study done by Carol Dweck, that talks about the learned helplessness theory. In very simple words, it talks about how children learn to think they are helpless. It's not as grim as it sounds, it is merely referring to the nature Vs. nurture problem but mainly focused on the learning side of life. It talks about residing in one's talents instead of hard work. So for instance an athlete that is really talented in a sport, as a child learned that he or she is talented on the specific sport, but let's say not as good as math, and there's nothing to be done about that. This is the learned helplessness, the "nothing to be done" part. One has strong points and weak points, the strong points are talent so no hard work needed there, while the weak points are unchangeable. There is evidence that supports this theory, and since the publication of the study, it is widely accepted as a possibility.

So here's my bit on this. If children can learn and carry to adolescence and adulthood this learned helplessness, that defines a big portion of their mindset and their identity, what of learned depression? I'll elaborate; I found myself thinking I was happy, and life was good for me. I'm in a good Uni, studying what I like, I've got loving friends back home and here, I've got money to spend, time to waste and as this academic year is coming to an end, I've got no regrets. I'm afraid to share that feeling though, because other people are not as lucky as I am, they don't have money to spend, their lives have not taken them to a path they enjoy, they have personal, financial and any other kind of problems. The whole world is at war, the middle-east is rising and falling ten times each day, there are beheadings in the middle of London, tornados in the US, there's recession everywhere and altogether, the world is not a happy place. 

So how dare I, in the midst of all this, how dare I to be happy, and claim that I'm leading a good life? It is insensitive, arrogant and karma will get me and bite me in the ass. I should be depressed, I should be sad, lonely and hopeless. Yet I am not. Shame on me! This is how I feel, that my happiness is a sin. I am not a religious person, but I did grow up in a country that is vastly defined by our religion and the role it played -along with the church- in the shaping of our homeland and our people. So no matter how hard I try, there's always going to be a part of me that flashbacks to my childhood, thinking for a moment if I am a sinner. Of course my logic and reason comes in and I don't think about it twice, but it's always there. I've been brought up with mistaken beliefs about happiness and joy, they are sins, not in themselves, but one man can't be as happy as I currently am without having done something wrong.

So this is what I mean from learned helplessness to learned depression. It seems that I am not allowed to be happy. On the authority of the world. Whether the carrier of the message of depression is religion, the 6 o'clock news, the person next door that's not doing that well, my own self, it doesn't matter who the messenger is, the message is always the same; You can't be happy, not in this world, here we are depressed.

I will not let the world drag me down, in a pool of self-loathing and depression, for now I am happy and I'm going to savour this feeling, I am going to milk the fuck out of it. Just so I am clear, I am not going to go to a homeless shelter and mock people 'cause I have a home and they don't, there's savouring and enjoying and then there's being a right prick. I'm not going to be a dick about it, but my personal feeling, my emotion is that of happiness and joy, and I'd like to share that with people so I'm going to do just that.

So fuck you world. I am happy. Yes amidst all this blood, gore and fear, amidst all this insecurity about the future, I dare to say I am happy.

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