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‘‘


Instruction does much, but encouragement does everything.


– JOHANN WOLFGANG VON GOETHE


helpless for the rest of his life. I think that may have set the interest and it was consolidated when I began my research at the University of Pennsylvania as a graduate student.


SP: How do you see the role of helplessness in our lives in general? DR. SELIGMAN: I believe that the basic facts of life are that we are helpless in the great issues like birth and death. However, there is a window of control that we can either choose to open wider or let slam shut.


SP: And you obviously found many new ways for opening that window. DR. SELIGMAN: I know the window can be opened much wider than people normally think.


SP: How would you define helplessness for the layperson?


DR. SELIGMAN: It is a response to situations where events are uncontrolled.


SP: So the opposite of helplessness would be mas- tery, or control. DR. SELIGMAN: Yes.


SP: So, according to your definition, positive events can also produce helplessness. Correct? DR. SELIGMAN: Absolutely. If positive events come to you independent of anything you do, then you get the same kind of helplessness induced by negative events. We call it “success depression.”


SP: Have you ever experienced a success depression? DR. SELIGMAN, chuckling: No. Just the reverse. My successes have come by diligent effort and hard work.


SP: Can you illustrate the internal process of help- lessness in a selling situation? DR. SELIGMAN: Let’s take some negative, uncon- trollable event like losing an important sale. You may perceive that you are helpless, you are lost, you are defeated. Then you ask what caused it. At


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