Title

The Reduction of Learned Helplessness and Depression Deficity Through Relaxation and Success Experiences

Author

Marc E. Sloan

Date of Award

1981

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Patricia J. Faulkender

Advisor Department

Psychology

Abstract

Purpose of the Study. The purpose of this study was first to experimentally investigate learned helplessness and depression in a clinical population and, second, to suggest two brief treatment approaches to reduce learned helplessness and depression deficits. Procedure. Seventy-two patients at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Northport, New York, were used as subjects in this study. In the pretreatment, three nondepressed groups were exposed to uncontrollable noise, experiencing learned helplessness conditioning. The six remaining groups, three clinically depressed and three nondepressed, received no pretreatment. In the treatment phase, one-third of the subjects received a treatment procedure utilizing relaxation training, one-third received a treatment procedure utilizing success experiences, and one-third received a neutral treatment. All subjects were then tested on affective, cognitive, and instrumental measures. Results. Results indicated that: (a) helplessness conditioned subjects showed deficits similar to those evidenced by depressed subjects, (b) the relaxation procedure was effective in reducing the deficits of both the helplessness conditioned subjects and the depressed subjects, (c) the success experiences were effective in reducing the deficits of both the helplessness conditioned subjects and the depressed subjects, and (d) both procedures were more effective in reducing the learned helplessness and depression deficits than was the neutral procedure. Results support the learned helplessness theory of depression, extending the literature to a clinical population.