The Other Virus: Learned Helplessness

The American Conservative

Peter Van Buren

What is a culture of compliance, and ever-shifting rules, doing to us?

Why would any American allow the government to deny him a final goodbye to the person who raised him? Why would anyone allow grandma to die untouched in a hospital room without fighting back? In the post-vaccination era, why don’t people remove their masks? Learned helplessness, employed as a control tool.

Learned helplessness is well documented. It takes place when an individual believes he continuously faces a negative, uncontrollable situation and stops trying to improve his circumstances, even when he has the ability to do so. Discovering the loss of control elicits a passive reaction to a harmful situation. Psychologists call this a maladaptive response, characterized by avoidance of challenges and the collapse of problem-solving when obstacles arise. You give up trying to fight back.

An example may help: You must keep up with ever-changing mask and other hygiene theater rules, many of which make no sense (mask in the gym, but not the pool; mask when going to the restaurant toilet but not at your table; NYC hotels are closed while Vegas casinos are open; Disney California closed while Disney Florida was open) and comply.…