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For the past twenty years I have worked in various capacities in community mental health services. One exception to this was when I began my current career working as a Human Rights Officer for a large state hospital in Massachusetts. Now 65, I am 49 years removed from being a denizen in such a "hospital', which I entered one year after the Community Mental Health Act. Things have not improved since then, and are rather more oppressive. 

I spent one year in "my" state hospital, also in Massachusetts, and lasted almost four years as one who carried the keys before taking my current job. This is also advocating for Human Rights, but is  with a large community mental health provider. Every day I bear witness to the lack of human rights suffered by people who by and large are hapless, rather than dangerous. The violations are not egregious abuse and neglect, although  I occasionally see that too. Rather they happen in the daily assumptions that "we know best" and the daily practice of removing choices from people. It is this daily denial of simple choices I believe that creates what we in the field shamefully calls "learned helplessness" and fails to see its role in creating such a state. 

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Tuesday, July 9, 2013 (3 comments)     

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Why Isn't it Called "Taught Helplessness'? Thoughts on "Learned Helplessness" Noticing similarities between victims of torture and people who are characterized as "seriously and persistently mentally ill", I decided to write about it. Martin Seligman seemed a perfect place to start.