In education, there is a theory that talks about “learned helplessness” (actually it is behaviorist psychology).
Learned helplessness occurs when an animal is repeatedly subjected to an aversive stimulus that it cannot escape. Eventually, the animal will stop trying to avoid the stimulus and behave as if it is utterly helpless to change the situation. Even when opportunities to escape are presented, this learned helplessness will prevent any action. ~ Kendra Cherry
Although this idea is presented as something that happens with animal behavior, it also happens in humans – and especially in patients. I find it in myself at times. I complain about an persistent ache or pain (interesting choice of words – complain rather than report – it is in part how I am made to feel when my aches and pains are dismissed). My doctors don’t know what to do about it, so they ignore it. Somehow, this translates in my mind to it being something that cannot be fixed – something that I need to just suffer through. After reporting the pain to many different doctors, I exhibit learned helplessness. I feel like there is nothing that can be done, so I stop trying. I stop reporting the the aches and pains. They don’t go away, I just stop telling the doctors about it – because I’ve learned that they cannot do anything about it. I’ve learned helplessness.