Learned helplessness: why your new abuser wants you to remain a permanent victim


I don’t get personal on this blog, but this one hits close to home.

Your parents hit you.  Maybe they called it “spanking.”  Your dad essentially forced you into a house-wife or else mindset.  Your mom punished you by making you wear your sister’s clothing.  You recently decided you are a feminist and against “the patriarchy” or perhaps “fundamentalism.”  Your husband wouldn’t let you do stuff.  Your wife never has sex with you.  Your boss is just fucking stupid and mean.

You are… owed something.

Don’t worry.  We have an app for that.  We also have a book club, a bunch of blogs, enabling therapists, some promotional t-shirts, a nicely sexist Tumblr, and even an awareness month.  We have a brand.


I get it.  Really, I do.  It’s so awesomely convenient to blame white heterosexual men, or Democrats, or your parents, or minorities and reverse discrimination, for why you aren’t as rich as you thought you’d be as a teen.  You have panic attacks.  You take medication because you have A Problem.

Take a pill.  “Will this heal me?”  Nope, but the point is to feel nothing, not to feel at peace.  There’s a reason a cure to cancer will never exist.

Why do painful physical therapy when a Vicodin martini works every time?  What they never tell you is that soon your alcohol or Facebook status will HAVE to work every time.  Last week’s “likes” just aren’t enough; gotta have a few more.  Addiction via brain chemistry–it’s all on Wikipedia.  It’s also a basic tenant of many long-term corporate strategy plans.

I’ll speak to web entities alone (to say nothing of pharmaceutical or alcohol companies):

Gawker Media, Salon.com, Facebook, Twitter, Huffington Post, Return of Kings, Breitbart, Free Jinger… all these things exist because of MASSIVE markets for them.  A ton of disillusioned victims narcissists who aren’t going to take it anymore.  But they also fiercely resist healing or embracing positive self improvement.  Imagine a stadium full of people jerking each other off.  It’s both disgusting yet oddly familiar, right?  FYI: one of Reddit’s most revered unique terms is “circle jerk.”

It’s disheartening.  Stuff like, say, “feminism” used to mean things like equal rights, or equal treatment under the law.  Now it’s a work–it’s a gimmick to get you to buy things, to click things, and to give marketing data away for free.  Outrage porn costs money to make, you damn well better buy it.  I mean, who seriously thinks sites like Feministing are helping women?  Or that the NFL sincerely cares about breast cancer?

“You son of a bitch, this is all victim-blaming!”  Sort of, in a weird long-term space-time continuum way.

The victim is future you.  It’s your possibilities and potential success tomorrow.  That person is the victim.  That person is being robbed; that person is truly owed something.

You are abusing your future self.


You cannot change what your husband/wife/dad/mom/boss/government did.  Ever heard the term “learned helplessness?”  It’s awesome.  I got it from Tommy Lee. (Yep, the incredibly intuitive drummer for Motley Crue.)  I’m not saying you have to become a Buddhist or whatever.  But at least “Kick-start [your] heart!” as Tommy and Vince sang.

All this dumb horseshit you’re doing, the bigoted Tumblr posts you create–it’s not going to help.  You’re medicating.  You’ve stopped believing you can recover.  Learned helplessness.

You’ll figure this out eventually.  When you are your future self, you’ll stop blaming others and focus on improving yourself.  You’ll stop the resistance to positive change.  Maybe you’ll even stop drinking.

Wait, did I say drinking?  I meant re-Tweeting things like: “Boys are stupid! Throw rocks at them!”  You aren’t being empowered by clicking on fucktard stuff.  You’re just providing marketing data to a big corporation, that is (not surprisingly) run by the rich white sex-negative men you claim to hate.  Bonus points if you used your new iPhone do it.

Let’s try something different:  instead of buying a ribbon that indicates you’re “aware” of child abuse, why don’t you adopt a kid and save his/her life?  Or at least pay for a young person to escape those circumstances.  “But will people still click ‘like’ on my status update?”  Sigh.  Exactly.

“Fuck you, I have to have my pills to even begin to deal with my past.”  Look, this isn’t about pills or drinking or Facebook likes.  This is about what you have done today to stop abusing yourself and perpetuating the actual abuse done to you in the past.  Have you taken even one step to stop your addiction to abuse?  At least stop reading outrage porn.


If you still don’t get this post’s title, no worries: My point is that the system wants you to remain a perma-victim because you fit a marvelously valuable demo that way.  You’re, you know, marketable.  #EndAbuseButRemainVictims  #TheMatrixHasYouNeo

“You sound insanely bitter in this post, dude.  You’re so angry.”  I am, because this post is about me.  I told you this one was personal.


About Timber St. James

I used to be a galley slave, but now I race chariots.
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4 Responses to Learned helplessness: why your new abuser wants you to remain a permanent victim

  1. Dragonfly says:

    This is so deep.
    I really love that term “learned helplessness.” Goodness.
    That is why I constantly feel like I’m trying to be aware of pitfalls (for myself personally) and learn from my failures so that I can avoid them in the future – but I can definitely see the propensity to perpetuate a learned helplessness situation. Its like an ever evolving process of growing and learning.

    I love it.

    “You’ll figure this out eventually. When you are your future self, you’ll stop blaming others and focus on improving yourself. You’ll stop the resistance to positive change.”

  2. Thanks for coming around here. It is indeed a process, and as they say… it gets better.

  3. Dan says:

    This is really good!!! I am going read it over a few more times over the next few days!

    • What’s funny to me is that it took an 1980s drummer to put the final puzzle piece out there in my mind. Another great 1980s quote: “Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.”

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