Nine Kinds of Hopelessness from the book Hope in the Age of Anxiety:
1. Alienation (Attachment): Alienated individuals believe that they are somehow different. Moreover, they feel as if they have been cut loose, no longer deemed worthy of love, care, or support. In turn, the alienated tend to close themselves off, fearing further pain and rejection.
2. Forsakenness (Attachment and Survival): The word “forsaken” refers to an experience of total abandonment that leaves individuals feeling alone in their time of greatest need. Recall Job in the Old Testament, crumpled over and covered with sores, pleading with a seemingly indifferent God.
3. Uninspired (Attachment and Mastery): Feeling uninspired can be especially difficult for members of underprivileged minorities, for whom opportunities for growth and positive role models within the group may be either lacking or undervalued.
4. Powerlessness (Mastery): Individuals of every age need to believe that they can author the story of their life. When that need is thwarted, when one feels incapable of navigating one’s way toward desired goals, a feeling of powerlessness can set in.
5. Oppression (Mastery and Attachment): Oppression involves the subjugation of a person or group…. The word “oppressed” comes from Latin, to “press down,” and its synonym, “down-trodden,” suggests a sense of being “crushed under” or “flattened.”
6. Limitedness (Mastery and Survival): When the struggle for survival is combined with a sense of failed mastery, individuals feel limited. They experience themselves as deficient, lacking in the right stuff to make it in the world. This form of hopelessness is all too common among the poor as well as those struggling with severe physical handicaps or crippling learning disabilities.
7. Doom (Survival): Individuals weighed down by this form of despair presume that their life is over, that their death is imminent. The ones most vulnerable to sinking into this particular circle of hell are those diagnosed with a serious, life-threatening illness as well as those who see themselves worn out by age or infirmity. Such individuals feel doomed, trapped in a fog of irreversible decline.
8. Captivity (Survival and Attachment): Two forms of hopelessness can result from captivity. The first consists of physical or emotional captivity enforced by an individual or a group. Prisoners fall into this category as well as those help captive in a controlling, abusive relationship. We refer to this as “other-imprisonment.”…An equally insidious form of entrapment is “self-imprisonment. This occurs when individuals cannot leave a bad relationship because their sense of self will not allow it.
9. Helplessness (Survival and Mastery): Helpless individuals no longer believe that they can live safely in the world. They feel exposed and vulnerable, like a cat after being declawed or a bird grounded by a broken wing. Trauma or repeated exposure to uncontrolled stressors can produce an ingrained sense of helplessness. In the words of one trauma survivor, “I was terrified to go anywhere on my own … I felt so defenseless and afraid that I just stopped doing anything.