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Friday, June 27, 2003

Learned Helplessness
"Bush is a master at inducing learned helplessness in the electorate," writes Renana Brooks, a clinical psychologist who specializes in language and power. "He uses pessimistic language that creates fear and disables people from feeling they can solve their problems." Brooks makes these observations in a recent article entitled A Nation of Victims. "Learned helplessness" is a clinical condition. It develops when people come to believe that they have no control over their environment, and that problems caused by negative events are both permanent as well as complexly related to other events. Learned helplessness destroys a personís motivation to respond to outside threats and problems.

Brooks argues that Bush seeks to generate learned helplessness in order to break down electoral resistance to his agenda. To this end, he uses several dominating linguistic techniques including "empty language," "personalization," and "negative framework."
-- From the Alliance for Democracy. Brooks' article in the Nation can be found here.