Our expert says:
OK, no paper, though this is such an excellent example.
People do indeed tend to live up to ( or down to ) the expectations they have for themselves, which they have often inherited from the expectations others have for them.
And you seem to be describing an excellent example of learned helplessness ( Martin Seligmann who developed the idea wrote some very accessable books about it ).
She lives in a little world which requires her to take no responsibility for herself, and carefully teaches her that she is incapable of doing so.
At 71, even brain surgery would be unlikely to change the mind and habits of your m-i-l. Really competent treatment of any disorder, including Bipolar, requires more than just drug juggling, and how I wish more shrinks would realize that. Recognizing the potential for this sort of situation, and preventing it where possible and actively intervening to treat it where possible, is an essential component of treating the disorder itself.
Kitty says thanks. She has been trying to Learn Helplessness, but feels unable to do so.
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