Looking for the name of a phenomenon I've seen in many, including myself. When someone is bothered by a situation in their life, will openly complain about it, but won't or can't come up with an active solution to it. They appear to feel "stuck". Nothing is ever done and the complaining continues. Even when the situation gets worse, it might still not trigger any reaction other than more complaining.

I do not think it's apathy since the person is clearly distressed by the situation. It seems more like perceived helplessness leading to total passivity.

From the outside, it seems like the person just truly believes that waiting is the solution and that things will change and resolve on their own.

On the inside, it seems like it could originate from various sources, from an aversion to conflict to delusional optimism.

Also, this does not apply to major issues like "hunger in the world" but rather very local and personal problems that, from an outside point of view, seem solvable... sometimes even only solvable by the person who's complaining.


A project manager who always has issues with his projects (late, unfinished, not matching the needs of the customer) but never actively tries to change anything in the way it's done and usually blames external factors for the (partial) failure.

A person who keeps inviting two of her friends who can't stand each other, hoping that they'll get along... eventually.

Someone whose job makes them miserable, maybe even suicidal, but who won't consider switching to another job as a possibility.

What I'm looking for

If it's a known and defined phenomenon, being able to put a name on it for further research would be great.

If obvious literature exists on the topic, especially if it offers help to spot this state of mind and move past it, linking to it would be appreciated.


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