LEARNED HELPLESSNESS: a concept of the future

Michel Odent

Presented at the Fourth International Symposium on Sexual Mutilations,
University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland, August 9-11, 1996.

The prototype of a pathogenic situation has been clearly identified during this century: Being in adverse or threatening circumstances in which one can neither fight nor flee.

The hormonal imbalances during "uncontrollable adverse events" have been studied in depth. They tend to depress the basic adaptive systems, as if initiating a self-destructive process. Ritual genital mutilation will be studied in the framework of "learned helplessness."

[The complete paper is published in Sexual Mutilations: A Human Tragedy, New York: Plenum Press, 1997 (ISBN 0-306-45589-7).]

Michel Odent was born in France in 1930, and studied medicine at the University of Paris, qualifying in general surgery, obstetrics and gynecology. He headed the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the world-renowned Pithiviers Hospital from 1962 to 1986. He was commissioned by the World Health Organization to report on planned home birth in the industrialized countries from 1986 to 1990. He founded the Primal Health Research Center in London, which studies the correlations between the primal period (fetal life, perinatal period and early infancy) and health later on in life. Dr. Odent has thirty medical journal publications and written nine books that have been translated in 19 languages.

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