Martin Seligman coined the term “learned helplessness” to describe a condition in which someone has learned to behave as though they were helpless. I think we need a term for learned helplessness about thinking (in a particular domain). I’ll call this “learned blankness”. Folks who fall prey to learned blankness may still take actions – sometimes my students practiced the procedures again and again, hired a tutor, etc. But they do so as though carrying out rituals to an unknown god – parts of them may be trying, but their “understand X” center has given up.