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factitious disorders: Disorders in which the individual’s physical or psychological symptoms appear under voluntary control and are adopted merely to assume the role of a sick person. The disorder can also involve a parent producing a disorder in a child and is then called factitious disorder by proxy or Munchausen syndrome.


false hope syndrome: A tendency for the initial positive results of attempts at weight loss to foster an overly positive tendency to pursue unrealistic weight loss goals, resulting eventually in profound disappointment.


falsifiability: The extent to which a scientific assertion is amenable to systematic probes, any one of which could negate the scientist’s expectations.


familiar: In witchcraft, a supernatural spirit often embodied in an animal and at the service of a person.


family functioning: The adjustment of the family system as a whole in terms of the family environment and performance of assigned roles to family members.


family interaction method: A procedure for studying family behaviour by observing family members’ interactions in a structured laboratory situation.


family method: A research strategy in behaviour genetics in which the frequency of a trait or of abnormal behaviour is determined in relatives who have varying percentages of shared genetic background.


family systems approach: A general approach to etiology and treatment that focuses on the complex interrelationships within families.


family therapy: A form of group therapy in which members of a family are helped to relate better to one another.


fear drive: In the Mowrer–Miller theory, an unpleasant internal state that impels avoidance. The necessity to reduce a fear drive can form the basis for new learning.


fear of performance: Being overly concerned with one’s behaviour during sexual contact with another, postulated by Masters and Johnson as a major factor in sexual dysfunction.


fear response: In the Mowrer–Miller theory, a response to a threatening or noxious situation that is covert and unobservable but that is assumed to function as a stimulus to produce measurable physiological changes in the body and observable overt behaviour.


feedforward mechanisms: Anticipatory, regulatory responses made in anticipation of a drug that enables us to anticipate drug effects before they occur.


female orgasmic disorder: A recurrent and persistent delay or absence of orgasm in a woman during sexual activity adequate in focus, intensity, and duration; in many instances the woman may experience considerable sexual excitement.


female sexual arousal disorder: Formally called frigidity, the inability of a female to reach or maintain the lubrication–swelling stage of sexual excitement or to enjoy a subjective sense of pleasure or excitement during sexual activity.


fetal alcohol syndrome: Retarded growth of the developing fetus and infant; cranial, facial, and limb anomalies; and mental retardation caused by heavy consumption of alcohol by the mother during pregnancy.


fetishism: Reliance on an inanimate object for sexual arousal.


first-rank symptoms: In schizophrenia, specific delusions and hallucinations proposed by Schneider as particularly important for its more exact diagnosis.


fixation: In psychoanalytic theory, the arrest of psychosexual development at a particular stage through too much or too little gratification at that stage.


flashback: An unpredictable recurrence of psychedelic experiences from an earlier drug trip.


flat affect: A deviation in emotional response wherein virtually no emotion is expressed whatever the stimulus, emotional expressiveness is blunted, or a lack of expression and muscle tone is noted in the face.


flight of ideas: A symptom of mania that involves a rapid shift in conversation from one subject to another with only superficial associative connections.


flooding: A behaviour therapy procedure in which a fearful person is exposed to what is frightening, in reality or in the imagination, for extended periods of time and without opportunity for escape.


follow-up study: A research procedure whereby individuals observed in an earlier investigation are contacted at a later time for further study.


forced rape: The legal term for rape, forced sexual intercourse or other sexual activity with another person. Statutory rape is sexual intercourse between an adult male and someone who is under the age of consent, as fixed by local statute.


forced-choice item: A format of a personality inventory in which the response alternatives for each item are equated for social desirability.


forensic psychiatry or psychology: The branch of psychiatry or psychology that deals with the legal questions raised by disordered behaviour.


fragile X syndrome: Malformation (or even breakage) of the X chromosome associated with moderate mental retardation. Symptoms include large, underdeveloped ears, a long, thin face, a broad nasal root, and enlarged testicles in males; many individuals show attention deficits and hyperactivity.


free association: A key psychoanalytic procedure in which the patient is encouraged to give free rein to his or her thoughts and feelings, verbalizing whatever comes into the mind without monitoring its content. The assumption is that over time, repressed material will come forth for examination by the patient and psychoanalyst.


freebase: The most potent part of cocaine, obtained by heating the drug with ether.


free-floating anxiety: Continual anxiety not attributable to any specific situation or reasonable danger. See generalized anxiety disorder.


frontal lobe: The forward or upper half of each cerebral hemisphere, in front of the central sulcus, active in reasoning and other higher mental processes.


fugue: See dissociative fugue.


functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI): Modification of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) which allows researchers to take pictures of the brain so quickly that metabolic changes can be measured, resulting in a picture of the brain at work rather than its structure alone.


functional social support: The quality of a person’s relationships, for example, a good versus a distressed marriage. Contrast with structural social support.