Understanding and Combating Helplessness

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Abstract

Helplessness is the perceived inability to influence or control an outcome, which results in the suppression of overt behavior to affect an outcome. This article examines the concept of helplessness to help nurses differentiate between the dependent, passive behaviors that are motivated by a need for attention and are within the patient's control and the dependent behaviors of learned helplessness. Interventions are discussed that are intended to assist nurses in working effectively with patients to prevent or to reverse helplessness.

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