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3rd edition as of August 2022


Abnormal behavior – behavior that involves a combination of personal distress, psychological dysfunction, deviance from social norms, dangerousness to self and others, and costliness to society

Abnormal psychology – The scientific study of abnormal behavior, with the intent to be able to reliably predict, explain, diagnose, identify the causes of, and treat maladaptive behavior

Absolute refractory period – After the neuron fires it will not fire again no matter how much stimulation it receives

Acceptance techniques – A cognitive therapy used to reduce a client’s worry and anxiety

Action potential – When the neuron depolarizes and fires

Acute stress disorder – Though very similar to PTSD, symptoms must be present from 3 days to 1 month following exposure to one or more traumatic events

Adjustment disorder – Occurs following an identifiable stressor within the past 3 months; stressor can be a single event (loss of job) or a series of multiple stressors (marital discord that ends in a divorce); there is not a set of specific symptoms an individual must meet for diagnosis, rather, the symptoms must be significant enough that they impair social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning

Adrenal glands – Located on top of the kidneys, and which release cortisol to help the body deal with stress

Affective flattening – Reduction in emotional expression; reduced display of emotional expression

Agoraphobia – When a person experiences fear specific to leaving their home and traveling to public places

All-or-nothing principle – The neuron either hits -55mV and fires or it does not

Alogia – Poverty of speech or speech content

Amygdala – The part of the brain responsible for evaluating sensory information and quickly determining its emotional importance

Anal Stage – Lasting from 2-3 years, the libido is focused on the anus as toilet training occurs

Anhedonia – Inability to experience pleasure

Anorexia Nervosa – An eating disorder characterized by the restriction of energy intake relative to requirements, leading to a significantly low body weight in the context of age, sex, developmental trajectory, and physical health; intense fear of gaining weight or of becoming fat, or persistent behavior that interferes with weight gain, despite significantly low weight; and disturbance in the way in which one’s body weight or shape is experienced, undue influence of body weight or shape on self-evaluation, or persistent lack of recognition of the seriousness of the current low body weight

Antecedents – The environmental events or stimuli that trigger a behavior

Antisocial personality disorder – Characterized by the persistent pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others

Apathy – General lack of interest

Asociality – Lack of interest in social relationships

Asylums – Places of refuge for the mentally ill where they could receive care

Attribution theory – The idea that people are motivated to explain their own and other people’s behavior by attributing causes of that behavior to personal reasons or dispositional factors that are in the person themselves or linked to some trait they have; or situational factors that are linked to something outside the person

Automatic thoughts – The constant stream of negative thoughts, also leads to symptoms of depression as individuals begin to feel as though they are inadequate or helpless in a given situation

Autonomic nervous system – Regulates functioning of blood vessels, glands, and internal organs such as the bladder, stomach, and heart; It consists of sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems

Avoidant personality disorder – Display a pervasive pattern of social anxiety due to feelings of inadequacy and increased sensitivity to negative evaluations

Avolition – Lack of motivation of goal-directed behavior

Axon – Sends signals/information to neighboring neurons

Axon terminals – The end of the axon where the electrical impulse becomes a chemical message and is passed to an adjacent neuron



Behavior modification – The process of changing behavior

Behavioral assessment – The measurement of a target behavior

Behaviors – What the person does, says, thinks/feels

Binge-Eating Disorder (BED) – An eating disorder characterized by recurrent episodes of binge eating associated with: significant distress regarding binge eating behaviors; binge eating occurring, on average, at least once a week for 3 months; and binge eating behaviors are not associated with compensatory behaviors such as that in bulimia nervosa

Biological Model – Includes genetics, chemical imbalances in the brain, the functioning of the nervous system, etc.

Bipolar Disorder I – A mood disorder characterized by a least one manic episode and the symptoms are not explained by a personality disorder

Bipolar Disorder II – A mood disorder characterized by having at least one hypomanic episode and at least one major depressive episode, never having had a manic episode, and the symptoms are not better explained by a personality disorder; Symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in daily functioning

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) – is an obsessive disorder, the focus of the obsessions being on perceived defects or flaws in the person’s physical appearance

Borderline personality disorder – Display a pervasive pattern of instability in interpersonal relationships, self-image, affect, and instability

Bulimia Nervosa – An eating disorder characterized by recurrent episodes of binge eating, recurrent compensatory behaviors to prevent weight gain, and the over-evaluation of shape and weight; the binge eating and compensatory behaviors both occur, on average, at least once a week for 3 months and these behaviors do not occur exclusively during an episode of anorexia nervosa



Catatonic behavior – The decrease or even lack of reactivity to the environment

Central nervous system (CNS) – The control center for the nervous system which receives, processes, interprets, and stores incoming sensory information

Cerebellum – The part of the brain involved in our sense of balance and for coordinating the body’s muscles so that movement is smooth and precise; Involved in the learning of certain kinds of simple responses and acquired reflexes

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) – A progressive, degenerative condition due to repeated head trauma

Civil commitment – When individuals with a mental illness behave in erratic or potentially dangerous ways, it is responsibility of the government to place the individual in involuntary commitment in a hospital or mental health facility to protect the individual

Classification – The way in which we organize or categorize things

Classification systems -Provide mental health professionals with an agreed upon list of disorders falling in distinct categories for which there are clear descriptions and criteria for making a diagnosis

Client-centered therapy – Stated that the humanistic therapist should be warm, understanding, supportive, respectful, and accepting of his/her clients

Clinical assessment – The collecting of information and drawing conclusions through the use of observation, psychological tests, neurological tests, and interviews to determine what the client’s problem is and what symptoms he/she is presenting with

Clinical description – Includes information about the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that constitute that mental disorder

Clinical diagnosis – The process of using assessment data to determine if the pattern of symptoms the person presents with is consistent with the diagnostic criteria for a specific mental disorder set forth in an established classification system such as the DSM-5 or ICD-10

Clinical interview – A face-to-face encounter between a mental health professional and a patient in which the former observes the latter and gathers data about the person’s behavior, attitudes, current situation, personality, and life history

Cognitive coping skills training – Teaches social skills, communication, and assertiveness through direct instruction, role playing, and modeling

Cognitive restructuring – Also called rational restructuring, in which maladaptive cognitions are replaced with more adaptive ones

Comorbidity – When two or more mental disorders are occurring at the same time and in the same person

Compulsions – Repetitive behaviors or mental acts that an individual performs in response to an obsession

Concussion – Occurs when there is a significant blow to the head, followed by changes in brain functioning

Conditioning – A type of associative learning, occurs which two events are linked

Confounding variables – Variables not originally part of the research design but contribute to the results in a meaningful way

Consciousness – According to Freud, the level of personality that is the seat of our awareness

Consequences – The outcome of a behavior that either encourages it to be made again in the future or discourages its future occurrence

Contingencies – When one thing occurs due to another

Control group – The group in an experiment that does not receive the treatment or is not manipulated

Conversion Disorder – A somatic symptom and related disorders characterized by at least one voluntary motor or sensory dysfunction, lack of medical compatibility between symptom and neurological/medical condition, symptom(s) not better explained by another medical or mental disorder, and causes clinically significant distress or impairment in daily functioning

Cortisol – A hormone released as a stress response

Counterconditioning The reversal of previous learning

Courtesy stigma – When stigma affects people associated with the person with a mental disorder

Course – The particular pattern a disorder displays

Criminal commitment – When people are accused of crimes but found to be mentally unstable, they are usually sent to a mental health institution for treatment

Critical thinking – Our ability to assess claims made by others and make objective judgments that are independent of emotion and anecdote and based on hard evidence, and required to be a scientist

Cross-sectional validity – When a behavior made in one environment happens in other environments as well

Culture – The totality of socially transmitted behaviors, customs, values, technology, attitudes, beliefs, art, and other products that are particular to a group, and determines what is normal

Culture-sensitive therapies – A sociocultural therapies that include increasing the therapist’s awareness of cultural values, hardships, stressors, and/or prejudices faced by their client; the identification of suppressed anger and pain; and raising the client’s self-worth

Cyclothymic disorder – A mood disorder characterized by hypomanic symptoms and mild depressive symptoms (i.e. do not fully meet criteria for a depressive episode)



Dangerousness – When behavior represents a threat to the safety of the person or others

Degenerative – Meaning the symptoms and cognitive deficits become worse overtime

Deinstitutionalization – The release of patients from mental health facilities

Delirium – Characterized by a significant disturbance in attention or awareness and cognitive performance that is significantly altered from one’s usual behavior

Dementia – A major decline in cognition and self-help skills due to a neurocognitive disorder

Dendrites – Receives information from neighboring neurons and look like little trees

Denial – Sometimes life is so hard all we can do is deny how bad it is

Dependent personality disorder – Characterized by pervasive and excessive need to be taken care of by others

Dependent variable (DV) – In an experiment, the variable that is measured

Depersonalization – Defined as a feeling of unreality or detachment from oneself

Depolarized – When ion gated channels open allowing positively charged Sodium ions to enter; This shifts the polarity to positive on the inside and negative outside

Depressant substances – Such as alcohol, sedative-hypnotic drugs, and opioids, are known to have a depressing, or inhibiting effect on one’s central nervous system; therefore, they are often used to alleviate tension and stress

Derealization – Include feelings of unreality or detachment from the world—whether it be individuals, objects, or their surroundings

Descriptive statistics – Statistics which provide a means of summarizing or describing data, and presenting the data in a usable form

Deviance – A move away from what is normal, or the mean, and so is behavior that occurs infrequently

Displacement – When we satisfy an impulse with a different object because focusing on the primary object may get us in trouble

Dissociative disorders – A group of disorders categorized by symptoms of disruption in consciousness, memory, identify, emotion, perception, motor control, or behavior

Dissociative Amnesia Disorder – Dissociative disorder identified by the inability to recall important autobiographical information

Dissociative fugue – Considered to be the most extreme type of dissociative amnesia where not only does an individual forget personal information, but they also flee to a different location

Dissociative Identity Disorder – Dissociative disorder characterized by the presence of two or more distinct personality states which causes discontinuity of self; difficulty recalling everyday events, personal information, or traumatic events due to lapse of memory; and causes significant distress or impairment in daily functioning

Distress – When a person experiences a disabling condition that can affect social, occupational, or other domains of life and takes psychological and/or physical pain

Dopamine – Neurotransmitter which controls voluntary movements and is associated with the reward mechanism in the brain

Dream analysis – In psychoanalytic theory, is an attempt to understand a person’s inner most wishes as expressed in their dreams

Dysfunction – Includes “clinically significant disturbance in an individual’s cognition, emotion regulation, or behavior that reflects a dysfunction in the psychological, biological, or developmental processes underlying mental functioning” (APA, 2013)



Ego – According to Freud, the part of personality that attempts to mediate the desires of the id against the demands of reality, and eventually the moral limitations or guidelines of the superego

Ego-defense mechanisms – According to Freud, they protect us from the pain created by balancing both the will of the id and the superego, but are considered maladaptive if they are misused and become our primary way of dealing with stress

Enactive learning – Learning by doing

Endorphins – Neurotransmitters involved in reducing pain and making the person calm and happy

Eros – Our life instincts which are manifested through the libido and are the creative forces that sustain life

Erotomanic delusion – Occurs when an individual reports a delusion of another person being in love with them

Enzymatic degradation – When enzymes are used to destroy excess neurotransmitters in the synaptic space

Epidemiological study – A special from of correlational research in which the prevalence and incidence of a disorder in a specific population are measured

Epidemiology – The scientific study of the frequency and causes of diseases and other health-related states in specific populations such as a school, neighborhood, a city, country, and the world

Etiology – The cause of the disorder

Existential perspective – This approach stresses the need for people to continually re-create themselves and be self-aware, acknowledges that anxiety is a normal part of life, focuses on free will and self-determination, emphasizes that each person has a unique identity known only through relationships and the search for meaning, and finally, that we develop to our maximum potential

Exorcism – A procedure in which evil spirts were cast out through prayer, magic, flogging, starvation, having the person ingest horrible tasting drinks, or noise-making

Experimental group – In an experiment, the group that receives the treatment or manipulation

Extinction – When something that we do, say, think/feel has not been reinforced for some time



Factitious disorder – Commonly referred to as Munchausen syndrome, is characterized by intentional falsification of medical or psychological symptoms of oneself or another, with the overall intention of deception

Fixed Interval schedule (FI) – With a FI schedule, you will reinforce after some set amount of time

Fixed Ratio schedule (FR) – With this schedule, we reinforce some set number of responses

Flooding – Exposing the person to the maximum level of stimulus and as nothing aversive occurs, the link between CS and UCS producing the CR of fear should break, leaving the person unafraid

Forensic psychology/psychiatry – When clinical psychology is applied to legal arena in terms of assessment, treatment, and evaluation

Free association – In psychoanalytic theory, this technique involves the patient describing whatever comes to mind during the session

Frontal lobe – Part of the cerebrum that contains the motor cortex which issues orders to the muscles of the body that produce voluntary movement

Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration (FTLD) – Causes progressive declines in language or behavior due to the degeneration in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain; symptoms include significant changes in behavior and/or language

Fundamental attribution error – Occurs when we automatically assume a dispositional reason for another person’s actions and ignore situational factor



GABA – Neurotransmitter responsible for blocking the signals of excitatory neurotransmitters responsible for anxiety and panic

Gaps – Holes in the literature of a given area

Generalizability – Begin able to apply your findings for the sample to the population

Generalized amnesia – A type of dissociative amnesia in which the person has a complete loss of memory of their entire life history, including their own identity

Generalized anxiety disorder – The most common anxiety disorder characterized by a global and persistent feeling of anxiety

Genital Stage – Beginning at puberty, sexual impulses reawaken and unfulfilled desires from infancy and childhood can be satisfied during lovemaking

Glial cells – The support cells in the nervous system that serve five main functions: as a glue and hold the neuron in place, form the myelin sheath, provide nourishment for the cell, remove waste products, and protect the neuron from harmful substances

Glutamate – Neurotransmitter associated with learning and memory

Grandiose delusion – Involves the conviction of having a great talent or insight



Habituation – When we simply stop responding to repetitive and harmless stimuli in our environment

Hippocampus – Our “gateway” to memory; Allows us to form spatial memories so that we can accurately navigate through our environment and helps us to form new memories about facts and events

Histrionic personality disorder – Addresses the pervasive and excessive need for emotion and attention from others; these individuals are often uncomfortable in social settings unless they are the center of attention

Hoarding – Focused on the persistent over-accumulation of possessions

Hypertension – -Chronically elevated blood pressure

Hypomanic episode – Persistently elevated, expansive, or irritable mood; May present as persistent increased activity or energy; Symptoms last at least 4 consecutive days and present most of the day, nearly every day; Includes at least three of the following: inflated self-esteem or grandiosity, decreased need for sleep, more talkative or pressured speech, flight of ideas, distractibility, increase in goal-directed activity or psychomotor agitation, or excessive involvement in activities that have a high potential for painful consequences

Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis – Involved in the fear producing response and may be involved in the development of trauma symptoms

Hypothalamus – The part of the brain involved in drives associated with the survival of both the individual and the species; It regulates temperature by triggering sweating or shivering, and controls the complex operations of the  autonomic nervous system

Hypothesis – A specific, testable prediction

Humanism – The worldview that emphasizes human welfare and the uniqueness of the individual



Id – According to Freud, is the impulsive part of personality that expresses our sexual and aggressive instincts

Ideas of reference – The belief that unrelated events pertain to them in a particular and unusual way

Identification – This is when we find someone who has found a socially acceptable way to satisfy their unconscious wishes and desires and we model that behavior

Illness anxiety disorder – Previously known as hypochondriasis, involves the excessive preoccupation with having or acquiring a serious medical illness

Incidence – The number of new cases in a population over a specific period of time

Independent variable (IV) – In an experiment, the variable that is manipulated

Inferential statistics – Statistics which allow for the analysis of two or more sets of numerical data

Insomnia – The difficult falling or staying asleep

Intellectualization– When we avoid emotion by focusing on intellectual aspects of a situation

Intelligence tests – Used to determine the patient’s level of cognitive functioning and consists of a series of tasks asking the patient to use both verbal and nonverbal skills

Ions – Charged particles found both inside and outside the neuron

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) – A chronic, functional disorder of the gastrointestinal tract including symptoms such as abdominal pain and extreme bowel habits (diarrhea and/or constipation)



Jealous delusion – Revolves around the conviction that one’s spouse or partner is/has been unfaithful





Laboratory observation – A research method in which the scientist observes people or animals in a laboratory setting

Latency Stage – From 6-12 years of age, children lose interest in sexual behavior and boys play with boys and girls with girls

Latent content – The hidden or symbolic meaning of a dream

Law of effect (Thorndike, 1905) – The idea that if our behavior produces a favorable consequence, in the future when the same stimulus is present, we will be more likely to make the response again, expecting the same favorable consequence

Learning – Any relatively permanent change in behavior due to experience

Libido – The psychic energy that drives a person to pleasurable thoughts and behaviors

Lifetime prevalence – Indicates the proportion of a population that has had the characteristic at any time during their lives

Literature review – When we conduct a literature search through our university library or a search engine such as Google Scholar to see what questions have been investigated already and what answers have been found

Localized amnesia – The most common type of dissociative amnesia, is the inability to recall events during a specific period of time



Major Depressive Disorder – A mood disorder characterized by depressed mood most of the day or decreased interest or pleasure in all or most activities most of the day, along with insomnia or hypersomnia, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness, or difficulty concentrating  to name a few symptoms; symptoms occur during a two week period

Major neurocognitive disorder – Individuals with the disorder show significant decline in both overall cognitive functioning as well as the ability to independently meet the demands of daily living such as paying bills, taking medications, or caring for oneself

Manic episode – Persistent elevated, expansive, or irritable mood. May present as persistent increased goal-directed activity or energy;  Symptoms last at least 1 week and present most of the day, nearly every day; includes three of the following: inflated self-esteem or grandiosity, decreased need for sleep, more talkative or pressured speech, flight of ideas, distractibility, increase in goal-directed activity or psychomotor agitation, or excessive involvement in activities that have a high potential for painful consequences

Manifest content – The person’s actual retelling of the dream

Mass madness – or Group hysteria; When large numbers of people display similar symptoms and false beliefs; a term used during the Middle Ages

Medulla – The part of the brain that regulates breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure

Melatonin – A hormone released when it is dark outside to assist with the transition to sleep

Mental disorders – Characterized by psychological dysfunction which causes physical and/or psychological distress or impaired functioning and is not an expected behavior according to societal or cultural standards

Mental health epidemiology – Refers to the occurrence of mental disorders in a population

Mental hygiene movement – An idea arising in the late 18th century to the early 19th century with the fall of the moral treatment movement, it focused on the physical well-being of patients

Mental status examination – Used to organize the information collected during the clinical interview and systematically evaluates the patient through a series of questions assessing appearance and behavior to include grooming and body posture, thought processes and content to include disorganized speech or thought and false beliefs, mood and affect such that whether the person feels hopeless or elated, intellectual functioning to include speech and memory, and awareness of surroundings to include where the person is and what the day and time are

Migraine headaches – Headaches explained by a throbbing pain localized to one side of the head and often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, and vertigo

Model – A representation or imitation of an object

Modeling – Techniques used to change behavior by having subjects observe a model in a situation that usually causes them some anxiety

Moral treatment movement – An idea arising in Europe in the late 18th century and then in the United States in the early 19th century, it stressed affording the mentally ill respect, moral guidance, and humane treatment, all while considering their individual, social, and occupational needs

Myelin sheath – The white, fatty covering which: 1) provides insulation so that signals from adjacent neurons do not affect one another and, 2) increases the speed at which signals are transmitted

Multicultural psychology – The area of psychology which attempts to understand how the various groups, whether defined by race, culture, or gender, differ from one another

Multi-dimensional model – An explanation for mental illness that integrates multiple causes of psychopathology and affirms that each cause comes to affect other causes over time



Narcissistic personality disorder – Individuals display a pattern of grandiosity along with a lack of empathy for others

Naturalistic observation – A research method in which the scientist studies human or animal behavior in its natural environment which could include the home, school, or a forest

Negative Punishment (NP) – This is when something good is taken away or subtracted making a behavior less likely in the future

Negative Reinforcement (NR) – This is when something bad or aversive is taken away or subtracted due to your actions, making it that you will be more likely to make the same behavior in the future when the same stimuli presents itself

Negative symptoms – The inability or decreased ability to initiate actions, speech, expressed emotion, or to feel pleasure

Nerves – A group of axons bundled together like wires in an electrical cable

Neurological tests – Used to diagnose cognitive impairments caused by brain damage due to tumors, infections, or head injury; or changes in brain activity

Neuron – The fundamental unit of the nervous system

Neurotransmitter – When the actual code passes from one neuron to another in a chemical form

Nomenclature – A naming system

Norepinephrine – Neurotransmitter which increases the heart rate and blood pressure and regulates mood

Nucleus – The control center of the body



Observation – Observing others either naturalistically or in a controlled environment

Observational learning – When we learn by observing the world around us

Obsessions – Repetitive and persistent thoughts, urges, or images

Obsessive compulsive disorder – More commonly known as OCD, the disorder requires the presence of both obsessions and compulsions

Obsessive-Compulsive personality disorder – Defined by an individual’s preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism, and ability to control situations that they lose flexibility, openness, and efficiency in everyday life

Operant conditioning – A type of associate learning which focuses on consequences that follow a response or behavior that we make (anything we do, say, or think/feel) and whether it makes a behavior more or less likely to occur

Oral Stage – Beginning at birth and lasting to 24 months, the libido is focused on the mouth and sexual tension is relieved by sucking and swallowing at first, and then later by chewing and biting as baby teeth come in



Panic disorder – When an individual experiences recurrent panic attacks consisting of physical and cognitive symptoms

Paranoid personality disorder – Characterized by a marked distrust or suspicion of others

Parasympathetic nervous system – The part of the autonomic nervous system that calms the body after sympathetic nervous system arousal

Parietal lobe – The part of the cerebrum that contains the somatosensory cortex and receives information about pressure, pain, touch, and temperature from sense receptors in the skin, muscles, joints, internal organs, and taste buds

Peripheral nervous system – Consists of everything outside the brain and spinal cord; It handles the CNS’s input and output and divides into the somatic and autonomic nervous systems

Period prevalence – Indicates the proportion of a population that has the characteristic at any point during a given period of time, typically the past year

Persecutory delusion – Involves the individual believing that they are being conspired against, spied on, followed, poisoned or drugged, maliciously maligned, harassed, or obstructed in pursuit of their long-term goals

Persistent Depressive Disorder – A mood disorder characterized by poor appetite or overeating, insomnia or hypersomnia, low self-esteem, low energy, and feelings of hopelessness lasting most of the day, for more days than not, for at least 2 years

Personality disorders – Have four defining features which include distorted thinking patterns, problematic emotional responses, over- or under- regulated impulse control, and interpersonal difficulties

Personality inventories – Ask clients to state whether each item in a long list of statements applies to them, and could ask about feelings, behaviors, or beliefs

Personality traits – Enduring patterns of perceiving, relating to, and thinking about the environment and oneself that are exhibited in a wide range of social and personality contexts

Phallic Stage – Occurring from about age 3 to 5-6 years, the libido is focused on the genitals and children develop an attachment to the parent of the opposite sex and are jealous of the same sex parent

Pineal gland – Helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle

Pituitary gland – The “master gland” which regulates other endocrine glands; It influences blood pressure, thirst, contractions of the uterus during childbirth, milk production, sexual behavior and interest, body growth, the amount of water in the body’s cells, and other functions as well

Placebo – Or a sugar pill made to look exactly like the pill given to the experimental group

Point prevalence – Indicates the proportion of a population that has the characteristic at a specific point in time

Polarized – When the neuron has a negative charge inside and a positive charge outside

Pons – The part of the brain that acts as a bridge connecting the cerebellum and medulla and helps to transfer messages between different parts of the brain and spinal cord

Posttraumatic stress disorder –  More commonly known as PTSD, is identified by the development of physiological, psychological, and emotional symptoms following exposure to a traumatic even

Positive psychology – The position in psychology that holds a more positive conception of human potential and nature

Positive Punishment (PP) – If something bad or aversive is given or added, then the behavior is less likely to occur in the future

Positive Reinforcement (PR) – If something good is given or added, then the behavior is more likely to occur in the future

Positive symptoms – Symptoms that are an over-exaggeration of normal brain processes

Preconscious – According to Freud, the level of personality that includes all of our sensations, thoughts, memories, and feelings

Presenting problem – The issue the person displays

Prevalence – The percentage of people in a population that has a mental disorder or can be viewed as the number of cases per some number of people

Prevention – When we identify the factors that cause specific mental health issues and implement interventions to stop them from happening, or at least minimize their deleterious effects

Prognosis – The anticipated course the mental disorder will take

Projection – When we attribute threatening desires or unacceptable motives to others

Projective tests – A psychological test which consists of simple ambiguous stimuli that can elicit an unlimited number of responses

Psychoanalysis Psychoanalytic therapy used to understand the personality of a therapist’s patient and to expose repressed material

Psychological debriefing – A type of crisis intervention that requires individuals who have recently experienced a traumatic event to discuss or process their thoughts and feelings related to the traumatic event, typically within 72 hours of the event

Psychological model – includes learning, personality, stress, cognition, self-efficacy, and early life experiences and how they affect mental illness

Psychological or psychogenic perspective – States that emotional or psychological factors are the cause of mental disorders and represented a challenge to the biological perspective

Psychological tests – Used to assess the client’s personality, social skills, cognitive abilities, emotions, behavioral responses, or interests and can be administered either individually or to groups in paper or oral fashion

Psychopathology – The scientific study of psychological disorders

Psychosis – A loss of contact with reality

Public stigma – When members of a society endorse negative stereotypes of people with a mental disorder and discriminate against them

Punishment – Due to the consequence, a behavior/response is less likely to occur in the future



Random assignment – When participants have an equal chance of being placed in the control or experimental group

Rape – Forced sexual intercourse or other sexual act committed without an individual’s consent

Rationalization – When we offer well thought out reasons for why we did what we did but in reality these are not the real reason

Reaction formation – When an impulse is repressed and then expressed by its opposite

Reactivity – When the observed changes behavior due to realizing they are being observed

Receptor sites – Locations where neurotransmitters bind to

Reinforcement – Due to the consequence, a behavior/response is more likely to occur in the future

Reinforcement schedule – The rule for determining when and how often we will reinforce a desired behavior

Relative refractory period – After a short period of time, the neuron can fire again, but needs greater than normal levels of stimulation to do so

Regression – When we move from a mature behavior to one that is infantile in nature

Reliable – When our assessment is consistent

Replication – Repeating a study to confirm its results

Repolarization – When the Na channels close and Potassium channels open; K has a positive charge and so the neuron becomes negative again on the inside and positive on the outside, or polarizes

Repression – When unacceptable ideas, wishes, desires, or memories are blocked from consciousness

Research design – Our plan of action of how we will go about testing the hypothesis

Resistance – According to psychoanalytic theory, is the point during free association that the patient cannot or will not proceed any further

Respondent conditioning (also called classical or Pavlovian conditioning) – Occurs when we link a previously neutral stimulus with a stimulus that is unlearned or inborn

Respondent Discrimination – When the CR is elicited by a single CS or a narrow range of CSs

Respondent Extinction – When the CS is no longer paired with the UCS

Respondent Generalization – When a number of similar CSs or a broad range of CSs elicit the same CR

Resting potential – When the neuron is waiting to fire

Reticular formation – The part of the brain responsible for alertness and attention

Reuptake reuptake – The process of the presynaptic neuron taking up excess neurotransmitters in the synaptic space for future use

Reversal or ABAB design – A study in which the control is followed by the treatment, and then a return to control and second administration of the treatment condition; builds replication in to the design



Schema – A set of beliefs and expectations about a group of people, presumed to apply to all members of the group, and based on experience

Self-stigma – When people with mental illnesses internalize the negative stereotypes and prejudice, and in turn, discriminate against themselves

Schizoaffective disorder – Characterized by the psychotic symptoms included in criteria A of schizophrenia and a concurrent uninterrupted period of a major mood episode—either a depressive or manic episode

Schizoid personality disorder – Displays a persistent pattern of avoidance from social relationships along with a limited range of emotion among social relationships

Schizophrenia – A mental disorder that includes the presentation of at least two of the following for at least one month: delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, disorganized/abnormal behavior, or negative symptom

Schizophreniform Disorder – A mental disorder characterized by at least two of the following: delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, disorganized/abnormal behavior, and/or negative symptoms

Schizotypal personality disorder – Characterized by a range of impairment in social and interpersonal relationships due to discomfort in relationships, along with odd cognitive and/or perceptual distortions and eccentric behaviors

Scientific method – A systematic method for gathering knowledge about the world around us

Sedative-Hypnotic drugs – More commonly known as anxiolytic drugs, these drugs have a calming and relaxing effect on individuals

Selective amnesia – Is in a sense, a component of localized amnesia in that the individual can recall some, but not all, of the details during a specific time period

Self-monitoring – When the person does their own measuring and recording of the ABCs

Self-serving bias When we attribute our success to our own efforts (dispositional) and our failures to outside causes (situational)

Sensitization When our reactions are increased due to a strong stimulus

Serotonin – Neurotransmitter which controls pain, sleep cycle, and digestion; leads to a stable mood and so low levels leads to depression

Single-subject experimental design – When we have to focus on one individual in a study

Social anxiety disorderOccurs when an individual experiences anxiety related to social or performance situations, where there is the possibility that they will be evaluated negatively

Social cognition – The process of collecting and assessing information about others

Social desirability – When a participant answers questions dishonestly so that he/she is seen in a more favorable light

Social norms – The stated and unstated rules of society

Sociocultural Model – includes factors such as one’s gender, religious orientation, race, ethnicity, and culture that affect mental illness

Soma – The cell body

Somatic delusion – Involves delusions regarding bodily functions or sensations

Somatic nervous system – Allows for voluntary movement by controlling the skeletal muscles and carries sensory information to the CNS

Somatic Symptom Disorder – A somatic symptom or related disorder characterized by disproportionate and persistent thoughts of the seriousness of the symptom, high levels of anxiety about the symptom, and/or excessive time/energy spent focused on the symptom

Specific phobia – Observed when an individual experiences anxiety related to a specific object or subject

Spontaneous recovery – When the CS elicits the CR after extinction has occurred

Standardization – When we use clearly laid out rules, norms, and/or procedures in the process of assessing client’s

Statistical significance – An indication of how confident we are that our results are due to our manipulation or design and not chance

Stigma – When negative stereotyping, labeling, rejection, and loss of status occur

Stressors – Any event- either witnessed firsthand, experienced personally or experienced by a close family member- that increases physical or psychological demands on an individual

Sublimation – When we find a socially acceptable way to express a desire

Substance abuse – Occurs when an individual consumes the substance for an extended period of time, or has to ingest large amounts of the substance to get the same effect a substance provided previously

Substance Intoxication – A substance use disorder characterized by recent ingestion of substance, significant behavioral or psychological changes immediately following the ingestion of substance, physical and physiological symptoms develop after ingestion of substance, and changes in behavior not attributable to a medical condition or other psychological disorder

Substance Use Disorder – A substance use disorder diagnosed when the individual presents with at least two criteria to include: substance is consumed in larger amounts over time, desire or inability to reduce quantity of substance use, cravings for substance use, use of the substance in potentially hazardous situations, tolerance of substance use, and withdrawal, to name a few (11 total criteria)

Substance Withdrawal – A substance use disorder characterized by cessation or reduction in substance that has been previously used for a long or heavy period of time, physiological and/or psychological symptoms within a few hours after cessation/reduction, physiological and/or psychological symptoms cause significant distress or impairment in functioning, and symptoms not attributable to a medical condition or other psychological disorder

Substances – Any ingested materials that cause temporary cognitive, behavioral, and/or physiological symptoms within the individual

Superego – According to Freud, the part of personality which represents society’s expectations, moral standards, rules, and represents our conscience

Sympathetic nervous system – Involved when a person is intensely aroused; It provides the strength to fight back or to flee (fight-or-flight instinct)

Synapse – The point where the code passes from one neuron to another; Consists of three parts – the axon of the sending neuron; the space in between called the synaptic space, gap, or cleft; and the dendrite of the receiving neuron

Syndrome – Symptoms occurred regularly in clusters



Target behavior – Whatever behavior we want to change and it can be in excess or needing to be reduced, or in a deficit state and needing to be increased

Tension headaches – Often described as a dull, constant ache that is localized to one part of the head/neck; however, it can co-occur in multiple places at one time

Thalamus – The major sensory relay center for all senses but smell

Thanatos – Our death instinct which is either directed inward as in the case of suicide and masochism or outward via hatred and aggression

Thematic Apperception Test – A projective test which asks the individual to write a complete story about each of 20 cards shown to them and give details about what led up to the scene depicted, what the characters are thinking, what they are doing, and what the outcome will be

Theory – A systematic explanation of a phenomenon

Threshold of excitation – -55mV or the amount of depolarization that must occur for a neuron to fire; It rises from -70mV to -55mV

Thyroid gland – The endocrine gland which regulates the body’s rate of metabolism and so how energetic people are.

Tolerance – The need to continually increase the amount of ingested substance

Transference – In psychoanalytic theory, this technique involves patients transfering to the therapist attitudes he/she held during childhood

Trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy (TF-CBT) – An adaptation of CBT, that utilizes both CBT techniques, as well as trauma sensitive principles to address the trauma related symptoms

Treatment – Any procedure intended to modify abnormal behavior into normal behavior

Trephination – In which a stone instrument known as a trephine was used to remove part of the skull, creating an opening

Trial and error learning – Making a response repeatedly if it leads to success



Ulcers Or painful sores in the stomach lining, occur when mucus from digestive juices are reduced, thus allowing digestive acids to burn a hole into the stomach lining

Unconscious – According to Freud, the level of personality not available to us

Uni-dimensional model – A single factor explanation for mental illness



Validity – When the test measures what it says it measures

Variable Interval schedule (VI) – Reinforcing at some changing amount of time

Variable Ratio schedule (VR) – Reinforcing some varying number of responses







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