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The Many-Minded ManThe "Odyssey," Psychology, and the Therapy of Epic$
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Joel P. Christensen

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781501752346

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501752346.001.0001

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Treating Telemachus, Education, and Learned Helplessness

Treating Telemachus, Education, and Learned Helplessness

(p.47) 2 Treating Telemachus, Education, and Learned Helplessness
The Many-Minded Man

Joel P. Christensen

Cornell University Press

This chapter offers a few different ways of understanding Telemachus's mental and emotional states and the transformation he undergoes as he moves from Ithaca through Pylos to Sparta. It compares this marginalized state to the modern theory of Learned Helplessness and argues that the Odyssey depicts Telemachus as proceeding through a system of action to treat it. While father and son exhibit similar symptoms, their etiologies differ. The chapter starts by looking at Telemachus's depiction at the beginning of the epic, where he starts out like his father, Odysseus, in a state of inaction, and by considering what it is that ails him. The epic frames him as suffering from a deficient community, which has deprived him of a proper learning environment from the perspective of ancient Greek culture and modern cognitive psychology. The limited nature of his learning experiences has marginalized him by stunting his development as both a learner and a doer. This explanation, in addition, has the benefit of helping to motivate Athena's steps in mentoring him (as something of a teacher) and his traveling to hear and use stories.

Keywords:   Telemachus, mental state, emotional state, Learned Helplessness, Odyssey, Odysseus, cognitive psychology, learning experiences

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