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Canadian Mental Health Association: A national organization that provides information about mental illness and acts as an advocate for mentally ill people.


Cannabis sativa: See marijuana.


cardiovascular disorder: A medical problem involving the heart and the blood circulation system, such as hypertension or coronary heart disease.


case study: The collection of historical or biographical information on a single individual, often including experiences in therapy.


castration: The surgical removal of the testes.


castration anxiety: The fear of having the genitals removed or injured.


catastrophization: A cognitive tendency that involves magnifying or amplifying the impact of a problem, symptom, or stressful situation by interpreting it is a major catastrophe.


catatonic immobility: A fixity of posture, sometimes grotesque, maintained for long periods, with accompanying muscular rigidity, trancelike state of consciousness, and waxy flexibility.


catatonic schizophrenia: A subtype of schizophrenia whose primary symptoms alternate between stuporous immobility and excited agitation.


catecholamines: Monoamine compounds, each having a catechol portion. Catecholamines known to be neurotransmitters of the central nervous system are norepinephrine and dopamine; another, epinephrine, is principally a hormone.


categorical classification: An approach to assessment in which the basic decision is whether a person is or is not a member of a discrete grouping. Contrast with dimensional classification.


cathartic method: A therapeutic procedure introduced by Breuer and developed further by Freud in the late nineteenth century whereby a patient recalls and relives an earlier emotional catastrophe and re-experiences the tension and unhappiness, the goal being to relieve emotional suffering.


central nervous system: The part of the nervous system that in vertebrates consists of the brain and spinal cord, to which all sensory impulses are transmitted and from which motor impulses pass out; it also supervises and coordinates the activities of the entire nervous system.


cerebellum: An area of the hindbrain concerned with balance, posture, and motor coordination.


cerebral atherosclerosis: A chronic disease impairing intellectual and emotional life, caused by a reduction in the brain’s blood supply through a buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries.


cerebral contusion: A bruising of neural tissue marked by swelling and hemorrhage and resulting in coma; it may permanently impair intellectual functioning.


cerebral cortex: The thin outer covering of each of the cerebral hemispheres; it is highly convoluted and composed of nerve cell bodies which constitute the gray matter of the brain.


cerebral hemisphere: Either of the two halves that make up the cerebrum.


cerebral hemorrhage: Bleeding onto brain tissue from a ruptured blood vessel.


cerebral thrombosis: The formation of a blood clot in a cerebral artery that blocks circulation in that area of brain tissue and causes paralysis, loss of sensory functions, and possibly death.


cerebrovascular disease: An illness that disrupts blood supply to the brain, such as a stroke.


cerebrum: The two-lobed structure extending from the brain stem and constituting the anterior (frontal) part of the brain. The largest and most recently developed portion of the brain, it coordinates sensory and motor activities and is the seat of higher cognitive processes.


character disorder: The old term for personality disorder.


child sexual abuse: Sexual abuse of children that involves direct physical contact, such as pedophilia or incest.


childhood disintegrative disorder: A lifelong developmental disorder characterized by significant loss of social, play, language, and motor skills after the second year of life. Abnormalities in social interaction and communication are similar to autism.


chlorpromazine: One of the phenothiazines, the generic term for one of the most widely prescribed anti-psychotic drugs, sold under the name Thorazine.


cholinergic system: All the nerve cells for which acetylcholine is the transmitter substance, in contrast to the adrenergic system.


choreiform: Pertaining to the involuntary, spasmodic, jerking movements of the limbs and head found in Huntington’s chorea and other brain disorders.


chromosomes: The threadlike bodies within the nucleus of the cell, composed primarily of DNA and bearing the genetic information of the organism.


chronic: Of lengthy duration or recurring frequently, often with progressing seriousness.


chronic brain syndrome: See dementia.


chronic pain: Persistent and debilitating pain that continues to be present long after the anticipated time for healing has passed.

chronic schizophrenic: A psychotic patient who deteriorated over a long period of time and has been hospitalized for more than two years.


civil commitment: A procedure whereby a person can be legally certified as mentally ill and hospitalized, even against his or her will.


classical conditioning: A basic form of learning, sometimes referred to as Pavlovian conditioning, in which a neutral stimulus is repeatedly paired with another stimulus (called the unconditioned stimulus, UCS) that naturally elicits a certain desired response (called the unconditioned response, UCR). After repeated trials the neutral stimulus becomes a conditioned stimulus (CS) and evokes the same or a similar response, now called the conditioned response (CR).


classificatory variables: The characteristics that people bring with them to scientific investigations, such as sex, age, and mental status; studied by correlational research and mixed designs.


client-centred therapy: A humanistic-existential insight therapy, developed by Carl Rogers, which emphasizes the importance of the therapist’s understanding the client’s subjective experiences and assisting the client to gain more awareness of current motivations for behaviour; the goal is not only to reduce anxieties but also to foster actualization of the client’s potential.


clinical interview: General term for conversation between a clinician and a patient that is aimed at determining diagnosis, history, causes for problems, and possible treatment options.


clinical psychologist: An individual who has earned a Ph.D. degree in psychology or a Psy.D. and whose training has included an internship in a mental hospital or clinic.


clinical psychology: The special area of psychology concerned with the study of psychopathology, its diagnosis, causes, prevention, and treatment.


clinician: A health professional authorized to provide services to people suffering from one or more pathologies.

clitoris: The small, heavily innervated structure located above the vaginal opening; the primary site of female responsiveness to sexual stimulation.


clonidine: An anti-hypertensive drug that shows some promise in helping people wean themselves from substance dependence.


cocaine: A pain-reducing, stimulating, and addictive alkaloid obtained from coca leaves, which increases mental powers, produces euphoria, heightens sexual desire, and in large doses causes paranoia and hallucinations.


cognition: The process of knowing; the thinking, judging, reasoning, and planning activities of the human mind; behaviour is now often explained as depending on these processes.


cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT): Behaviour therapy which incorporates theory and research on cognitive processes such as thoughts, perceptions, judgments, self-statements, and tacit assumptions. A blend of both the cognitive and behavioural paradigms.

cognitive paradigm: General view that people can best be understood by studying how they perceive and structure their experiences.


cognitive restructuring: Any behaviour therapy procedure that attempts to alter the manner in which a client thinks about life so that he or she changes overt behaviour and emotions.


cognitive therapy (CT): A cognitive restructuring therapy associated with the psychiatrist Aaron T. Beck, concerned with changing negative schemata and certain cognitive biases or distortions that influence a person to construe life in a depressing or otherwise maladaptive way.


cohort effects: The consequences of having been born in a given year and having grown up during a particular time period with its own unique pressures, problems, challenges, and opportunities. To be distinguished from age effects.


coitus: Sexual intercourse.


collective unconscious: Jung’s concept that every human being has within, the wisdom, ideas, and strivings of those who have come before.


communication disorders: Learning disabilities in a child who fails to develop to the degree expected by his or her intellectual level in a specific language skill area. Includes expressive language disorder, phonological disorder, and stuttering.


community mental health: The delivery of services to needy, under-served groups through centres that offer outpatient therapy, short-term inpatient care, day hospitalization, twenty-four-hour emergency services, and consultation and education to other community agencies, such as the police.


community psychology: An approach to therapy that emphasizes prevention and the seeking out of potential difficulties rather than waiting for troubled individuals to initiate consultation. The location for professional activities tends to be in the person’s natural surroundings rather than in the therapist’s office. See prevention.

community treatment orders (CTOs): A legal tool that specifies the terms of treatment that must be adhered to in order for a mentally ill person to be released and live in the community.


comorbidity: The co-occurrence of two disorders, as when a person is both depressed and alcoholic.


competency to stand trial: A legal decision as to whether a person can participate meaningfully in his or her own defence.


compulsion: The irresistible impulse to repeat an irrational act over and over again.


concordance: As applied in behaviour genetics, the similarity in psychiatric diagnosis or in other traits within a pair of twins.


concurrent validity: See validity.


concussion: A jarring injury to the brain produced by a blow to the head that usually involves a momentary loss of consciousness followed by transient disorientation and memory loss.


conditioned response (CR): See classical conditioning.

conditioned stimulus (CS): See classical conditioning.


conditioning theory of tolerance: A theory that involves the notion that tolerance and extinction are learned responses and environmental cues become associated with addictive substances through Pavlovian conditioning.


conduct disorder: Patterns of extreme disobedience in youngsters, including theft, vandalism, lying, and early drug use; may be precursor of antisocial personality disorder.


confabulation: Filling in gaps in memory caused by brain dysfunction with made-up and often improbable stories that the person accepts as true.


confidentiality: A principle observed by lawyers, doctors, pastors, psychologists, and psychiatrists that dictates that the goings-on in a professional and private relationship are not divulged to anyone else. See privileged communication.


conflict: A state of being torn between competing forces.


confounds: Variables whose effects are so intermixed that they cannot be measured separately, making the design of an experiment internally invalid and its results impossible to interpret.


congenital: Existing at or before birth but not acquired through heredity.


congruency hypothesis: This hypothesis is derived from research on personality, stress, and depression. The congruency hypothesis involves the prediction that people are likely to be depressed if they have a personality vulnerability that is matched by congruent life events (i.e., perfectionists who experience a failure to achieve).


conjoint therapy: Couples or family therapy where partners are seen together and children are seen with their parents and possibly with an extended family.


construct: An entity inferred by a scientist to explain observed phenomena. See also mediator.


construct validity: The extent to which scores or ratings on an assessment instrument relate to other variables or behaviours according to some theory or hypothesis.


constructivist-narrative approach: An approach that focuses on the cognitive meaning that people attach to life events by assessing the stories they have constructed to account for their personal situation.


content validity: See validity.


contingency: A close relationship, especially of a causal nature, between two events, one of which regularly follows the other.


control group: Those in an experiment for whom the independent variable is not manipulated, thus forming a baseline against which the effects of the manipulation of the experimental group can be evaluated.


controlled drinking: A pattern of alcohol consumption that is moderate and avoids the extremes of total abstinence and of inebriation.


conversion disorder: A somatoform disorder in which sensory or muscular functions are impaired, usually suggesting neurological disease, even though the bodily organs themselves are sound; anaesthesias and paralyses of limbs are examples.


convulsive therapy: See electroconvulsive therapy.


coronary heart disease (CHD): Angina pectoris, chest pains caused by insufficient supply of blood and thus oxygen to the heart; and myocardial infarction, or heart attack, in which the blood and oxygen supply is reduced so much that heart muscles are damaged.


corpus callosum: The large band of nerve fibres connecting the two cerebral hemispheres.


correlation: The tendency for two variables, such as height and weight, to co-vary.


correlation coefficient: A statistic that measures the degree to which two variables are related.


correlational method: The research strategy used to establish whether two or more variables are related. Relationships may be positive—as values for one variable increase, those for the other do also—or negative—as values for one variable increase, those for the other decrease.


cortisol: A hormone secreted by the adrenal cortices.


co-twin: In behaviour genetics research using the twin method, the member of the pair who is tested later to determine whether he or she has the same diagnosis or trait discovered earlier in the birth partner.


counselling psychologist: A doctoral level mental health professional whose training is similar to that of a clinical psychologist, though usually with less emphasis on research and serious psychopathology.


counterconditioning: Relearning achieved by eliciting a new response in the presence of a particular stimulus.


countertransference: Feelings that the psychoanalyst unconsciously directs to the patient, stemming from his or her own emotional vulnerabilities and unresolved conflicts.


couples (marital) therapy: Any professional intervention that treats relationship problems of a couple.


covert sensitization: A form of aversion therapy in which the person is told to imagine undesirably attractive situations and activities while unpleasant feelings are being induced by imagery.


criminal commitment: A procedure whereby a person is confined in a mental institution either for determination of competency to stand trial or after acquittal by reason of insanity.


criterion validity: See validity.


critical period: A stage of early development in which an organism is susceptible to certain influences and during which important irreversible patterns of behaviour are acquired.


cross-dependent: Acting on the same receptors, as methadone does with heroin. See heroin substitutes.


cross-sectional studies: Studies in which different age groups are compared at the same time. Compare with longitudinal studies.

CT scan: Refers to computerized axial tomography, a method of diagnosis in which X- rays are taken from different angles and then analyzed by computer to produce a representation of the part of the body in cross section; often used on the brain.


cultural bias: The degree to which assessment devices, such as intelligence tests, have content that is not representative and meaningful for individuals from various cultural backgrounds.


cultural diversity: The differences that exist in an area or region due to the heterogeneity and varying backgrounds of the members of that region.


cultural-familial retardation: A mild backwardness in mental development with no indication of brain pathology but evidence of similar limitation in at least one of the parents or siblings.

cunnilingus: The oral stimulation of female genitalia.


Cushing’s syndrome: An endocrine disorder usually affecting young women, produced by oversecretion of cortisone and marked by mood swings, irritability, agitation, and physical disfigurement.


cyclical psychodynamics: The reciprocal relations between current behaviour and repressed conflicts, such that they mutually reinforce each other.


cyclothymic disorder: Chronic swings between elation and depression not severe enough to warrant the diagnosis of bipolar disorder.