Acceptance and commitment therapy
A therapeutic approach designed to foster nonjudgmental observation of one’s own mental processes.
A drug that increases or enhances a neurotransmitter’s effect.
A sort of anxiety disorder distinguished by feelings that a place is uncomfortable or may be unsafe because it is significantly open or crowded.
A reduction in the amount of speech and/or increased pausing before the initiation of speech.
Loss of interest or pleasure in activities one previously found enjoyable or rewarding.
A reduction in the drive or ability to take the steps or engage in actions necessary to obtain the potentially positive outcome.
The belief that everyone and everything had a “soul” and that mental illness was due to animistic causes, for example, evil spirits controlling an individual and his/her behavior.
A drug that blocks a neurotransmitter’s effect.
A pervasive pattern of disregard and violation of the rights of others. These behaviors may be aggressive or destructive and may involve breaking laws or rules, deceit or theft.
Antisocial personality disorder
Counterpart diagnosis to psychopathy included in the third through fifth editions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM; APA, 2000). Defined by specific symptoms of behavioral deviancy in childhood (e.g., fighting, lying, stealing, truancy) continuing into adulthood (manifested as repeated rule-breaking, impulsiveness, irresponsibility, aggressiveness, etc.).
A mood state characterized by negative affect, muscle tension, and physical arousal in which a person apprehensively anticipates future danger or misfortune.
A place of refuge or safety established to confine and care for the mentally ill; forerunners of the mental hospital or psychiatric facility.
Attributional style
The tendency by which a person infers the cause or meaning of behaviors or events.
Automatic thoughts
Thoughts that occur spontaneously; often used to describe problematic thoughts that maintain mental disorders.
A pervasive pattern of social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy, and hypersensitivity to negative evaluation.
Biological vulnerability
A specific genetic and neurobiological factor that might predispose someone to develop anxiety disorders.
Biopsychosocial model
A model in which the interaction of biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors is seen as influencing the development of the individual.
A pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects, and marked impulsivity.
Behaviors that seem to reflect a reduction in responsiveness to the external environment. This can include holding unusual postures for long periods of time, failing to respond to verbal or motor prompts from another person, or excessive and seemingly purposeless motor activity.
C​athartic method
A therapeutic procedure introduced by Breuer and developed further by Freud in the late 19th century whereby a patient gains insight and emotional relief from recalling and reliving traumatic events.
Chronic stress
Discrete or related problematic events and conditions which persist over time and result in prolonged activation of the biological and/or psychological stress response (e.g., unemployment, ongoing health difficulties, marital discord).
Cognitive bias modification
Using exercises (e.g., computer games) to change problematic thinking habits.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
A family of approaches with the goal of changing the thoughts and behaviors that influence psychopathology.
Describes a state of having more than one psychological or physical disorder at a given time.
Conditioned response
A learned reaction following classical conditioning, or the process by which an event that automatically elicits a response is repeatedly paired with another neutral stimulus (conditioned stimulus), resulting in the ability of the neutral stimulus to elicit the same response on its own.
Contingency management
A reward or punishment that systematically follows a behavior. Parents can use contingencies to modify their children’s behavior.
Cultural relativism
The idea that cultural norms and values of a society can only be understood on their own terms or in their own context.
False beliefs that are often fixed, hard to change even in the presence of conflicting information, and often culturally influenced in their content.
A pervasive and excessive need to be taken care of that leads to submissive and clinging behavior and fears of separation.
Diagnostic criteria
The specific criteria used to determine whether an individual has a specific type of psychiatric disorder. Commonly used diagnostic criteria are included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder, 5th Edition (DSM-5) and the Internal Classification of Disorders, Version 9 (ICD-9).
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
A treatment often used for borderline personality disorder that incorporates both cognitive-behavioral and mindfulness elements.
Dialectical worldview
A perspective in DBT that emphasizes the joint importance of change and acceptance.
Disorganized behavior
Behavior or dress that is outside the norm for almost all subcultures. This would include odd dress, odd makeup (e.g., lipstick outlining a mouth for 1 inch), or unusual rituals (e.g., repetitive hand gestures).
Disorganized speech
Speech that is difficult to follow, either because answers do not clearly follow questions or because one sentence does not logically follow from another.
A neurotransmitter in the brain that is thought to play an important role in regulating the function of other neurotransmitters.
Drug diversion
When a drug that is prescribed to treat a medical condition is given to another individual who seeks to use the drug illicitly.
Early adversity
Single or multiple acute or chronic stressful events, which may be biological or psychological in nature (e.g., poverty, abuse, childhood illness or injury), occurring during childhood and resulting in a biological and/or psychological stress response.
A characteristic that reflects a genetic liability for disease and a more basic component of a complex clinical presentation. Endophenotypes are less developmentally malleable than overt behavior.
A protein produced by a living organism that allows or helps a chemical reaction to occur.
Enzyme induction
Process through which a drug can enhance the production of an enzyme.
Episodic memory
The ability to learn and retrieve new information or episodes in one’s life.
The causal description of all of the factors that contribute to the development of a disorder or illness.
Measures the firing of groups of neurons in the cortex. As a person views or listens to specific types of information, neuronal activity creates small electrical currents that can be recorded from non-invasive sensors placed on the scalp. ERP provides excellent information about the timing of processing, clarifying brain activity at the millisecond pace at which it unfolds.
Exposure therapy
A form of intervention in which the patient engages with a problematic (usually feared) situation without avoidance or escape.
External cues
Stimuli in the outside world that serve as triggers for anxiety or as reminders of past traumatic events.
Fight or flight response
A biological reaction to alarming stressors that prepares the body to resist or escape a threat.
Five-Factor Model
Five broad domains or dimensions that are used to describe human personality.
Sudden, intense re-experiencing of a previous event, usually trauma-related.
Flat affect
A reduction in the display of emotions through facial expressions, gestures, and speech intonation.
Free association
In psychodynamic therapy, a process in which the patient reports all thoughts that come to mind without censorship, and these thoughts are interpreted by the therapist.
Functional capacity
The ability to engage in self-care (cook, clean, bathe), work, attend school, and/or engage in social relationships.
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)
Entails the use of powerful magnets to measure the levels of oxygen within the brain that vary with changes in neural activity. That is, as the neurons in specific brain regions “work harder” when performing a specific task, they require more oxygen. By having people listen to or view social percepts in an MRI scanner, fMRI specifies the brain regions that evidence a relative increase in blood flow. In this way, fMRI provides excellent spatial information, pinpointing with millimeter accuracy, the brain regions most critical for different social processes.
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
Excessive worry about everyday things that is at a level that is out of proportion to the specific causes of worry.
Inflated self-esteem or an exaggerated sense of self-importance and self-worth (e.g., believing one has special powers or superior abilities).
Perceptual experiences that occur even when there is no stimulus in the outside world generating the experiences. They can be auditory, visual, olfactory (smell), gustatory (taste), or somatic (touch).
A pervasive pattern of excessive emotionality and attention seeking.
Humorism (or humoralism)
A belief held by ancient Greek and Roman physicians (and until the 19th century) that an excess or deficiency in any of the four bodily fluids, or humors—blood, black bile, yellow bile, and phlegm—directly affected their health and temperament.
Excessive daytime sleepiness, including difficulty staying awake or napping, or prolonged sleep episodes.
Term used by the ancient Greeks and Egyptians to describe a disorder believed to be caused by a woman’s uterus wandering throughout the body and interfering with other organs (today referred to as conversion disorder, in which psychological problems are expressed in physical form).
Integrative ​or eclectic psychotherapy​
Also called integrative psychotherapy, this term refers to approaches combining multiple orientations (e.g., CBT with psychoanalytic elements).
Integrative or ​eclectic psychotherapy
Also called integrative psychotherapy, this term refers to approaches combining multiple orientations (e.g., CBT with psychoanalytic elements).
Internal bodily or somatic cues
Physical sensations that serve as triggers for anxiety or as reminders of past traumatic events.
Interoceptive avoidance
Avoidance of situations or activities that produce sensations of physical arousal similar to those occurring during a panic attack or intense fear response.
Magnetic resonance imaging
A set of techniques that uses strong magnets to measure either the structure of the brain (e.g., gray matter and white matter) or how the brain functions when a person performs cognitive tasks (e.g., working memory or episodic memory) or other types of tasks.
Term referring to behaviors that cause people who have them physical or emotional harm, prevent them from functioning in daily life, and/or indicate that they have lost touch with reality and/or cannot control their thoughts and behavior (also called dysfunctional).
Fabrication or exaggeration of medical symptoms to achieve secondary gain (e.g., receive medication, avoid school).
Derived from Franz Anton Mesmer in the late 18th century, an early version of hypnotism in which Mesmer claimed that hysterical symptoms could be treated through animal magnetism emanating from Mesmer’s body and permeating the universe (and later through magnets); later explained in terms of high suggestibility in individuals.
Breakdown of substances.
A process that reflects a nonjudgmental, yet attentive, mental state.
Mindfulness-based therapy
A form of psychotherapy grounded in mindfulness theory and practice, often involving meditation, yoga, body scan, and other features of mindfulness exercises.
A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy.
Processes that influence how the brain develops either in utero or as the child is growing up.
A chemical substance produced by a neuron that is used for communication between neurons.
A pervasive pattern of preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism, and mental and interpersonal control, at the expense of flexibility, openness, and efficiency.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
A disorder characterized by the desire to engage in certain behaviors excessively or compulsively in hopes of reducing anxiety. Behaviors include things such as cleaning, repeatedly opening and closing doors, hoarding, and obsessing over certain thoughts.
Oppositional defiant disorder
A childhood behavior disorder that is characterized by stubbornness, hostility, and behavioral defiance. This disorder is highly comorbid with ADHD.
Panic disorder (PD)
A condition marked by regular strong panic attacks, and which may include significant levels of worry about future attacks.
A pervasive distrust and suspiciousness of others such that their motives are interpreted as malevolent.
Parent management training
A treatment for childhood behavior problems that teaches parents how to use contingencies to more effectively manage their children’s behavior.
To define a trait or collection of traits as medically or psychologically unhealthy or abnormal.
Characteristic, routine ways of thinking, feeling, and relating to others.
Personality disorders
When personality traits result in significant distress, social impairment, and/or occupational impairment.
Person-centered therapy
A therapeutic approach focused on creating a supportive environment for self-discovery.
The action of a drug through the body, including absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion.
The use of many medications.
Positron emission tomography
A technique that uses radio-labelled ligands to measure the distribution of different neurotransmitter receptors in the brain or to measure how much of a certain type of neurotransmitter is released when a person is given a specific type of drug or does a particularly cognitive task.
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
A sense of intense fear, triggered by memories of a past traumatic event, that another traumatic event might occur. PTSD may include feelings of isolation and emotional numbing.
Processing speed
The speed with which an individual can perceive auditory or visual information and respond to it.
Psychoactive drugs
A drug that changes mood or the way someone feels.
Psychoanalytic therapy
Sigmund Freud’s therapeutic approach focusing on resolving unconscious conflicts.
Psychodynamic therapy
Treatment applying psychoanalytic principles in a briefer, more individualized format.
Developing from psychological origins.
Psychological vulnerabilities
Influences that our early experiences have on how we view the world.
Psychomotor agitation
Increased motor activity associated with restlessness, including physical actions (e.g., fidgeting, pacing, feet tapping, handwringing).
Psychomotor retardation
A slowing of physical activities in which routine activities (e.g., eating, brushing teeth) are performed in an unusually slow manner.
Illnesses or disorders that involve psychological or psychiatric symptoms.
Synonymous with psychopathic personality, the term used by Cleckley (1941/1976), and adapted from the term psychopathic introduced by German psychiatrist Julius Koch (1888) to designate mental disorders presumed to be heritable.
Psychotropic drug
A drug that changes mood or emotion, usually used when talking about drugs prescribed for various mental conditions (depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, etc.).
Reappraisal, or ​Cognitive restructuring
The process of identifying, evaluating, and changing maladaptive thoughts in psychotherapy.
Reinforced response
Following the process of operant conditioning, the strengthening of a response following either the delivery of a desired consequence (positive reinforcement) or escape from an aversive consequence.
SAD performance only
Social anxiety disorder which is limited to certain situations that the sufferer perceives as requiring some type of performance.
A mental representation or set of beliefs about something.
A pervasive pattern of detachment from social relationships and a restricted range of expression of emotions in interpersonal settings.
A pervasive pattern of social and interpersonal deficits marked by acute discomfort with, and reduced capacity for, close relationships as well as perceptual distortions and eccentricities of behavior.
Social anxiety disorder (SAD)
A condition marked by acute fear of social situations which lead to worry and diminished day to day functioning.
Social brain
The set of neuroanatomical structures that allows us to understand the actions and intentions of other people.
Social zeitgeber
Zeitgeber is German for “time giver.” Social zeitgebers are environmental cues, such as meal times and interactions with other people, that entrain biological rhythms and thus sleep-wake cycle regularity.
Socioeconomic status (SES)
A person’s economic and social position based on income, education, and occupation.
Developing from physical/bodily origins.
Specific vulnerabilities
How our experiences lead us to focus and channel our anxiety.
Suicidal ideation
Recurring thoughts about suicide, including considering or planning for suicide, or preoccupation with suicide.
Developing from origins beyond the visible observable universe.
The tiny space separating neurons.
Involving a particular group of signs and symptoms.
Thought-action fusion
The tendency to overestimate the relationship between a thought and an action, such that one mistakenly believes a “bad” thought is the equivalent of a “bad” action.
“Traitement moral” (moral treatment)
A therapeutic regimen of improved nutrition, living conditions, and rewards for productive behavior that has been attributed to Philippe Pinel during the French Revolution, when he released mentally ill patients from their restraints and treated them with compassion and dignity rather than with contempt and denigration.
The drilling of a hole in the skull, presumably as a way of treating psychological disorders.
Triarchic model
Model formulated to reconcile alternative historic conceptions of psychopathy and differing methods for assessing it. Conceives of psychopathy as encompassing three symptomatic components: boldness, involving social efficacy, emotional resiliency, and venturesomeness; meanness, entailing lack of empathy/emotional-sensitivity and exploitative behavior toward others; and disinhibition, entailing deficient behavioral restraint and lack of control over urges/emotional reactions.
Unconditional positive regard
In person-centered therapy, an attitude of warmth, empathy and acceptance adopted by the therapist in order to foster feelings of inherent worth in the patient.
Working memory
The ability to maintain information over a short period of time, such as 30 seconds or less.