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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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Escaping Ogygia, An Isolated Man

Escaping Ogygia, An Isolated Man

(p.71) 3 Escaping Ogygia, An Isolated Man
The Many-Minded Man

Joel P. Christensen

Cornell University Press

This chapter uses studies in social isolation, especially among prison populations, and clinical and theoretical approaches to Learned Helplessness to elucidate how the Odyssey depicts Odysseus's mental state. Like Telemachus, Odysseus appears to be in a state of Learned Helplessness, but for somewhat different reasons. Odysseus's return from the edge of the world to Ithaca is also a return from a type of defeatist mental state. Odysseus's helplessness, however, derives from different sources from his son's: not only has he suffered many actual setbacks and traumas, but he is also depicted as isolated and depressed. This depiction resonates with modern studies in social isolation and solitary confinement. However, the narrative provides Odysseus and Telemachus with rehabilitative responses through a series of actions that function therapeutically to change the way the characters view their agency.

Keywords:   social isolation, Learned Helplessness, Odyssey, Odysseus, mental state, solitary confinement, agency

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