From Learned Helplessness to Hope: A Case Study

From Learned Helplessness to Hope: A Case Study

On a community level

On a community level, being under threat due to bullying and cyber-bullying in school specifically regarding sexuality or gender anti-gay bullying can explain the deep despair of these kids. In 2019, LGBTQ+ teens still face serious problems in schools on a daily basis. Areas of concern include bullying and harassment, exclusion from school curricula and resources, restrictions on LGBT student groups, and other forms of discrimination and bigotry against students and staff based on sexual orientation and gender identity (Thoreson, 2016). Sometimes it is hidden in an implicit message from adults as well. In some instances, teachers may object to class discussions about gender topics or mock LGBTQ+ youth, or join the bullying. Political attacks on the civil rights of LGBTQ+ people can dramatically aggravate the atmosphere in school against the LGBTQ+ minority. In addition, because of the lack of policies that affirm this minority in school, these kids are vulnerable.

On a family level

On a family level, the lack of support from family and peers in accepting the gender/sexual identity and/or sexual orientation provides another explanation for the mental health obstacles young adults and teens face. Insecure attachment (Bowlby, 1969, 1973,1980) built up since infancy could influence patterns of relationship with a caregiver over time. It could be a hidden message that parents believe that their child’s sexual orientation is ‘a choice’. In addition, the reactions of parents to their children’s disclosure can play an important factor in understanding the stressors on the youth’s health; mourning and feelings of grief and loss of a parent regarding their child who just came out as gay, can attribute to the stressful event. Sometimes co-occurring stressors that are happening alongside the main issue at hand, such as divorce or mental illness in the family can aggravate the already stressful situation. The teen tends to regret the coming-out action, followed by depression due to feelings of shame and fears of rejection.

“And the people gay teenagers need most — their own parents — often believe that they can somehow prevent their children from growing up to be gay — or from ever coming out — by depriving them of information, resources, support, and positive role models.” (Savage & Miller, 2011)

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About the Author

Vered StolarskiDr. Vered Stolarski was born and raised in Ramat Gan, Israel. She had a career as a teacher and educator in public and private schools in Israel and the United States. She obtained her PsyD in Clinical Psychology from The Professional School of Psychology, Sacramento, California in 2019. She is a lifelong yoga practitioner and instructor and has a special interest in movement, yoga therapy, and body intelligence. She draws ideas from positive psychology and the wisdom of body-mind integration philosophies. Dr. Stolarski is bilingual in Hebrew and English.

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