Analyzing Essay Example

Words: 978
Pages: 4


Analyzing Essay

Psychologist Martin E. P. Seligman’s article “On Learned Helplessness” talks about what happens when people go through traumatic events and how the handle the situations. Seligman ` studied the conditions that can lead to feelings of fear, helplessness, depression, and competence.
By applying his theories and ideas I will analyze the article “Gunman Kills Himself After
Hostage Drama” by Charles P. Wallace and Tim Waters.
In the article by Wallace and Waters, a twenty-six year old man named Robert Rose killed himself in a Hollywood hotel early on a Saturday morning after a night long hostage situation.
Rose was apparently depressed after he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. In the article, it
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The trauma, Rose realized, was uncontrollable and the struggle gave way to a state of “helplessness”. feeling of helplessness may have made him feel worthless.


This emotion is followed by

“depression”. Depression had been a part of his life already for many years and the thought of being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis added to his depressed state making things worst.
According to Seligman, “since being helpless arouses fear and depression, activity that avoids helplessness thereby avoids these aversive emotional states. ‘Competence’ may be a drive to avoid the fear and depression induced by helplessness” (586). “Competence” was the driving force behind Rose’s entire hostage situation and helped to extend it. As the hostage situation ended, so did Rose’s false sense of competency and he took his own life. He did his best to control the entire situation and although the situation was probably not given much forethought, his actions stemmed from an attempt to regain his lost sense of control. From the choice of hotel, to the taking of a hostage, the request of a clergyman and even his own death, Rose was simply seeking to gain control and competency. R.W. White’s theory was proposed in Seligman’s article and he argued that, “the basic drive for control had been overlooked by learning theorists and psycho-analytic thinkers alike. The need to master could be more