a b c d e f g h i k l m n o p r s t u
v w z
sadism: See sexual sadism.
Scarlett O'Hara Effect: A tendency to eat lightly in an attempt
to project an image of femininity.
schema: A mental structure for organizing information about the
schizoaffective disorder: Diagnosis applied when a patient has
symptoms of both mood disorder and either schizophreniform disorder or
schizoid personality disorder: The person with a schizoid personality
is emotionally aloof, indifferent to the praise, criticism, and feelings
of others, and usually a loner with few, if any, close friends and with
schizophrenia: A group of psychotic disorders characterized by
major disturbances in thought, emotion, and behaviour; disordered thinking
in which ideas are not logically related; faulty perception and attention;
bizarre disturbances in motor activity; flat or inappropriate emotions;
and reduced tolerance for stress in interpersonal relations. The patient
withdraws from people and reality, often into a fantasy life of delusions
and hallucinations. See schizoaffective disorder, schizophreniform
disorder, and brief reactive psychosis.
schizophreniform disorder: Diagnosis given to people who have
all the symptoms of schizophrenia, except that the disorder lasts more
than two weeks but less than six months. See brief reactive psychosis.
schizophrenogenic mother: A cold, dominant, conflict-inducing
mother formerly believed to cause schizophrenia in her child.
schizotypal personality disorder: The person with a schizotypal
personality is eccentric, has oddities of thought and perception (magical
thinking, illusions, depersonalization, derealization), speaks digressively
and with overelaborations, and is usually socially isolated. Under stress
he or she may appear psychotic.
school phobia: An acute, irrational dread of attending school,
usually accompanied by somatic complaints. It is the most common phobia
science: The pursuit of systematized knowledge through reliable
seasonal affective disorder: The "winter depressions" that stem
from reduced exposure to daylight.
secondary gain: Benefits that a person unconsciously obtains from
secondary prevention: See prevention.
secondary process: The reality-based decision-making and problem-solving
activities of the ego. Compare with primary process.
secondhand smoke: Also referred to as sidestream smoke, the smoke
from the burning end of a cigarette, which contains higher concentrations
of ammonia, carbon monoxide, nicotine, and tar than does the smoke inhaled
by the smoker.
secure attachment style: An attachment orientation in which the
infant can tolerate separations from the caregiver and will interact comfortably
with a stranger.
sedative: A drug that slows bodily activities, especially those
of the central nervous system; it is used to reduce pain and tension and to induce relaxation
selective abstraction: A cognitive bias in Beck’s theory of depression
whereby a person picks out from a complex situation only certain features
and ignores aspects that could lead to a different conclusion.
selective mortality: A possible confound in longitudinal studies,
whereby the less healthy people in a sample are more likely to drop out
selective mutism: A pattern of continuously refusing to speak
in almost all social situations, including school, even though the child
understands spoken language and is able to speak.
self-actualization: Fulfilling one’s potential as an always growing
human being; believed by client-centred therapists to be the master motive.
self-efficacy: In Bandura’s theory, the person’s belief that he
or she can achieve certain goals.
self-instructional training: A cognitive-behavioural approach
that tries to help people improve their overt behaviour by changing how
they silently talk to themselves.
self-monitoring: In behavioural assessment, a procedure whereby
the individual observes and reports certain aspects of his or her own
behaviour, thoughts, or emotions.
self-psychology: Kohut’s variant of psychoanalysis, in which the
focus is on the development of the person’s self-worth from acceptance
and nurturance by key figures in childhood.
senile plaques: Small areas of tissue degeneration in the brain,
made up of granular material and filaments.
sensate focus: A term applied to exercises prescribed at the beginning
of the Masters and Johnson sex therapy program; partners are instructed
to fondle each other to give pleasure but to refrain from intercourse,
thus reducing anxiety about sexual performance.
sensitivity training group (T-group): A small group of people
who spend a period of time together both for therapy and for educational
purposes; participants are encouraged or forced to examine their interpersonal
functioning and their often overlooked feelings about themselves and others.
sensory-awareness procedures: Techniques that help clients tune
into their feelings and sensations, as in sensate-focus exercises, and
to be open to new ways of experiencing and feeling.
separation anxiety disorder: A disorder in which the child feels
intense fear and distress when away from someone on whom he or she is
very dependent; said to be a significant cause of school phobia.
serotonin: An indoleamine that is a neurotransitter of the central
nervous system. Disturbances in its tracts apparently figure in depression.
severe abuse: The traumatic experience of extreme mistreatment
by someone else (e.g., childhood sexual abuse).
severe mental retardation: A limitation in mental development
measured in IQ tests at between 20–25 and 35–40. Individuals often cannot
care for themselves, communicate only briefly, and are listless and inactive.
sex-reassignment surgery: An operation removing existing genitalia
of a transsexual and constructing a substitute for the genitals of the
sexual and gender identity disorders: In DSM-IV, disorders comprising
the paraphilias, sexual dysfunctions, and gender identity disorders.
sexual aversion disorder: Avoidance of nearly all genital contact
with other people.
sexual dysfunctions: Dysfunctions in which the appetitive or psychophysiological
changes of the normal sexual response cycle are inhibited.
sexual masochism: A marked preference for obtaining or increasing
sexual gratification through subjection to pain or humiliation.
sexual orientation disturbance: An earlier term for DSM-III’s
sexual response cycle: The general pattern of sexual physical
processes and feelings, building to an orgasm by stimulation and made
up of five phases: interest, excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution.
sexual sadism: A marked preference for obtaining or increasing
sexual gratification by inflicting pain or humiliation on another person.
sexual script: Rules people have for guiding their actions in
sexual value system: As applied by Masters and Johnson, the activities
that an individual holds to be acceptable and necessary in a sexual relationship.
shaping: In operant conditioning, reinforcing responses that are
successively closer approximations to the desired behaviour.
shell shock: A term from World War I for what is now referred
to as posttraumatic stress disorder; it was believed to be due to sudden
atmospheric changes from nearby explosions.
significant difference: See statistical significance.
single-subject experimental design: A design for an experiment
conducted with a single subject, for example, the reversal and multiple-baseline
designs in operant conditioning research.
situational determinants: The environmental conditions that precede
and follow a particular piece of behaviour, a primary focus of behavioural
skeletal (voluntary) muscle: Muscle that clothes the skeleton
of the vertebrate, is attached to bone, and is under voluntary control.
Skinner box: A laboratory apparatus in which an animal is placed
for an operant-conditioning experiment. It contains a lever or other device
that the animal must manipulate to obtain a reward or avoid punishment.
sleep apnea: Respiratory disorder in which breathing ceases repeatedly
for a period of ten seconds or more hundreds of times throughout the night.
sleeping sickness. See encephalitis lethargica.
smooth (involuntary) muscle: Thin sheets of muscle cells associated
with viscera and walls of blood vessels, performing functions not usually
under direct voluntary control.
social desirability: In completion of personality inventories,
the tendency of the responder to give what he or she considers the socially
acceptable answer, whether or not it is accurate.
social phobia: A collection of fears linked to the presence of
social problem solving: A form of cognitive behaviour therapy
that has people construe their psychological difficulties as stemming
from soluble problems in living and then teaches them how to generate
social selection theory: An attempt to explain the correlation
between social class and schizophrenia by proposing that people with schizophrenia
move downward in social status.
social worker: A mental health professional who holds a master
of social work (M.S.W.) degree.
social-skills training: Behaviour therapy procedures for teaching
socially unknowledgeable individuals how to meet others, talk to them
and maintain eye contact, give and receive criticism, offer and accept
compliments, make requests and express feelings, and otherwise improve
their relations with other people. Modeling and behaviour rehearsal are
two such procedures.
socioeconomic status: A relative position in the community as
determined by occupation, income, and level of education.
sociogenic hypothesis: Generally, an idea that seeks causes in
social conditions, for example, that being in a low social class can cause
one to become schizophrenic.
sociopath: See antisocial personality.
sociotropy: A personality style associated with vulnerability
to depression. It involves high levels of dependency and an excessive
need to please others.
sodomy: Originally, penetration of the male organ into the anus
of another male; later broadened in English law to include heterosexual
anal intercourse and by some U.S. state statutes to cover unconventional
sex in general.
soma: The totality of an organism’s physical makeup.
somatic nervous system: That part of the nervous system that controls
muscles under voluntary control.
somatic weakness: The vulnerability of a particular organ or organ
system to psychological stress and thereby to a particular psychophysiological
somatization disorder (Briquet’s syndrome): A somatoform disorder
in which the person continually seeks medical help for recurrent and multiple
physical symptoms that have no discoverable physical cause. The medical
history is complicated and dramatically presented. Compare with hypochondriasis.
somatoform disorders: Disorders in which physical symptoms suggest
a physical problem but have no known physiological cause; they are therefore
believed to be linked to psychological conflicts and needs but not voluntarily
assumed. Examples are somatization disorder (Briquet’s syndrome), conversion
disorder, pain disorder, hypochondriasis.
somatoform pain disorder: A somatoform disorder in which the person
complains of severe and prolonged pain that is not explainable by organic
pathology; it tends to be stress related or permits the patient to avoid
an aversive activity or to gain attention and sympathy.
somatogenesis: Development from bodily origins, as distinguished
from psychological origins. Compare with psychogenesis.
SORC: An acronym for the four sets of variables that are the focus
of behavioural assessment: situational determinants, organismic variables,
(overt) responses, and reinforcement contingencies.
specific phobia: An unwarranted fear and avoidance of a specific
object or circumstance, for example, fear of nonpoisonous snakes or fear
specific-reaction theory: The hypothesis that an individual develops
a given psycho-physiological disorder because of the innate tendency of
the autonomic nervous system to respond in a particular way to stress,
for example, by increasing heart rate or developing tension in the forehead.
spectator role: As applied by Masters and Johnson, a pattern of
behaviour in which the individual’s focus on and concern with sexual performance
impedes his or her natural sexual responses.
split-half reliability: See reliability.
stability–lability: A dimension of classifying the responsiveness
of the autonomic nervous system. Labile individuals are those in whom a wide range of
stimuli can elicit autonomic arousal; stable individuals are less easily
standardization: The process of constructing an assessment procedure
that has norms and meets the various psychometric criteria for reliability
state-dependent learning: The phenomenon whereby an organism shows
the effects of learning that took place in a special condition, such as
while intoxicated, better than in another condition.
state-dependent memory: The phenomenon whereby people are more
able to remember an event if they are in the same state as when it occurred.
If they are in a greatly different state when they try to remember—happy
now, and sad then, for example—memory is poorer.
statistical significance: A result that has a low probability
of having occurred by chance alone and is by convention regarded as important.
statutory rape: See forced rape.
stepped care: A treatment strategy that begins with less complex
and costly interventions followed by more complex attempts if initial
attempts are not successful.
stepping-stone theory: The belief that the use of one kind of
drug, such as marijuana, leads to the use of a more dangerous one, such
stereotyping: A fixed belief that typically involves a negative
generalization about a group or class of people. Members of the general
public often endorse a number of negative beliefs about mentally ill people,
and thus engage in stereotyping.
stigmatization: A reduction in the status of a group of people
- such as mentally ill people - due to perceived deficiencies.
stimulant: A drug that increases alertness and motor activity
and at the same time reduces fatigue, allowing an individual to remain
awake for an extended period of time. Examples are cocaine and amphetamines.
strategic processing: The use of cognitive strategies to solve
problems; said to be defective in people with mental retardation.
stress: State of an organism subjected to a stressor; it can take
the form of increased autonomic activity and in the long term can cause
the breakdown of an organ or development of a mental disorder.
stress inoculation training: The act of teaching someone how to
cope with small, manageable amounts of stress so they will be "protected"
and will respond favourably when faced with more stressful circumstances.
stress management: A range of psychological procedures that help
people control and reduce their stress or anxiety.
stressor: An event that occasions stress in an organism, for example,
loss of a loved one.
stroke: A sudden loss of consciousness and control followed by
paralysis; caused when a blood clot obstructs an artery or by hemorrhage
into the brain when an artery ruptures.
Stroop task: A measure of cognitive processing that requires respondents
to identify the colour of a word while ignoring the word's content or
meaning. It takes longer to colour-name a word if the word reflects a
theme that is cognitively accessible for a particular individual.
structural social support: A person’s network of social relationships,
for example, number of friends. Contrast with functional social support.
structured interview: An interview in which the questions are
set out in a prescribed fashion for the interviewer. Assists professionals
in making diagnostic decisions based upon standardized criteria.
stuttering: One of the communication disorders of childhood, marked
by frequent and pronounced verbal dysfluencies, such as repetitions of
subdural hematoma: Hemorrhage and swelling of the arachnoid torn
by a fractured bone of the skull.
sub-intentioned death: A form of suicide that is believed to have
been caused in some measure by the person’s unconscious intentions.
sublimation: Defence mechanism entailing the conversion of sexual
or aggressive impulses into socially valued behaviours, especially creative
substance abuse: The use of a drug to such an extent that the
person is often intoxicated throughout the day and fails in important
obligations and in attempts to abstain, but there is no physiological
dependence. See psychological dependency.
substance dependence: The abuse of a drug sometimes accompanied
by a physiological dependence on it, made evident by tolerance and withdrawal
symptoms; also called addiction.
substance-related disorders: Disorders in which drugs such as
alcohol and cocaine are abused to such an extent that behaviour becomes
maladaptive; social and occupational functioning are impaired, and control
or abstinence becomes impossible. Reliance on the drug may be either psychological,
as in substance abuse, or physiological, as in substance dependence, or
successive approximations: Responses that closer and closer resemble
the desired response in operant conditioning. See shaping.
suicide: The taking of one’s own life intentionally.
suicide prevention centres: Based on the assumption that people
are often ambivalent about taking their own lives, these centres are staffed
primarily by paraprofessionals who are trained to be empathic and to encourage
suicidal callers to consider nondestructive ways of dealing with what
is bothering them.
sulcus (fissure): A shallow furrow in the cerebral cortex separating
adjacent convolutions or gyri.
superego: In psychoanalytic theory, the part of the personality
that acts as the conscience and reflects society’s moral standards as
learned from parents and teachers.
symbolic loss: In psychoanalytic theory, the unconscious interpretation
by the ego of an event such as the rebuff of a loved one as a permanent
sympathetic nervous system: The division of the autonomic nervous
system that acts on bodily systems—for example, contracting the blood
vessels, reducing activity of the intestines, and increasing the heartbeat—to
prepare the organism for exertion, emotional stress, or extreme cold.
symptom: An observable physiological or psychological manifestation
of a disease, often occurring in a patterned group to constitute a syndrome.
synapse: A small gap between two neurons where the nerve impulse
passes from the axon of the first to the dendrites, cell body, or axon
of the second.
syndrome: A group or pattern of symptoms that tends to occur together
in a particular disease.
systematic desensitization: A major behaviour therapy procedure
that has a fearful person, while deeply relaxed, imagine a series of progressively
more fearsome situations. The two responses of relaxation and fear are
incompatible and fear is dispelled. This technique is useful for treating
psychological problems in which anxiety is the principal difficulty.
systematic rational restructuring: A variant of rational-emotive
therapy in which the client imagines a series of increasingly anxiety-provoking
situations while attempting to reduce distress by talking about them to
the self in a more realistic, defusing fashion.
systems perspective: A general viewpoint that holds that a phenomenon,
for example, a child’s conduct problem, is best understood in the broad
context in which it occurs, for example, the child’s family and school