Learned helplessness is bad for health.

In his book Flourishing, research psychologist Martin Seligman writes: “I was aware of a legion of anecdotes about people taking sick and even dying when helpless, so I began to wonder if learned helplessness somehow could reach inside the body and undermine health and vitality. I also wondered about the inverse: Could the psychological state of mastery—the opposite of helplessness—somehow reach inside and strengthen the body?” The question posed by Dr. Seligman forms the foundation upon which this blog is based.

In my work as a psychotherapist (now retired) with people living with serious chronic medical conditions, my focus was on helping them develop environmental mastery. Most medical patients believe their health is completely in the hands of their physicians. Although it is essential to get good medical care, and to get it from the best specialists you can find, if you decide to participate in this blog, you will learn about various sources of mind-training in order to increase your odds of improving your quality of life and health. I will be referencing some of the latest mind-training research from time to time in this blog, and will also be offering evidence-based practices to train the mind in ways that can improve health outcomes.

I welcome your comments to this material.

2 replies
  1. Larry Berkelhammer says:

    Marina, we need physicians to diagnose and treat us medically or surgically. Mind training and the cultivation of environmental mastery relate to self care. Medical care and self care are both essential for people living with chronic medical conditions as well as for healthy people who want to stay healthy.

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