a b c d e f g h i k l m n o p r s t u
v w z
object choice: In the psychology of sex, the type of person or
thing selected as a focus for sexual desire or activity.
objective (realistic) anxiety: In psychoanalytic theory, the ego’s
reaction to danger in the external world; realistic fear. Contrast with
observer drift: The tendency of two raters of behaviour to begin
to agree with each other, achieving unusually high levels of reliability;
their way of coding behaviour differentiates their scores from those of
another pair of raters. This is regarded as a threat to reliable and valid
obsession: An intrusive and recurring thought that seems irrational
and uncontrollable to the person experiencing it.
obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): An anxiety disorder in which
the mind is flooded with persistent and uncontrollable thoughts or the
individual is compelled to repeat certain acts again and again, causing
significant distress and interference with everyday functioning.
obsessive-compulsive personality disorder: People with an obsessive-compulsive
personality have inordinate difficulty making decisions, are overly concerned
with details and efficiency, and relate poorly to others because they
demand that things be done their way. They are unduly conventional, serious,
formal, and stingy with their emotions.
occipital lobe: The posterior area of each cerebral hemisphere,
situated behind the parietal lobe and above the temporal lobes, responsible
for reception and analysis of visual information and for some visual memory.
Oedipus complex: In Freudian theory, the desire and conflict of
the four-year-old male child who wants to possess his mother sexually
and to eliminate the father rival. The threat of punishment from the father
causes repression of these id impulses. Girls have a similar sexual desire
for the father, which is repressed in analogous fashion and is called
the Electra complex.
operant behaviour: A response that is supposedly voluntary and
operates on the environment, modifying it so that a reward or goal is
operant conditioning: The acquisition or elimination of a response
as a function of the environmental contingencies of reward and punishment.
operationism: A school of thought in science that holds that a
given concept must be defined in terms of a single set of identifiable
and repeatable operations that can be measured.
opiates: A group of addictive sedatives that in moderate doses
relieve pain and induce sleep.
opium: One of the opiates, the dried, milky juice obtained from
the immature fruit of the opium poppy. This addictive narcotic produces
euphoria and drowsiness and reduces pain.
oppositional defiant disorder: An under-controlled disorder of
children marked by high levels of disobedience to authority but lacking
the extremes of conduct disorder.
oral stage: In psychoanalytic theory, the first psychosexual stage,
which extends into the second year; during this stage the mouth is the
principal erogenous zone.
organismic variable: A physiological or psychological factor assumed
to be operating "under the skin"; these variables are a focus
of behavioural assessment.
orgasm (climax): The involuntary, intensely pleasurable, climactic
phase in sexual arousal that lasts a number of seconds and usually involves
muscular contractions and ejaculation in the male and similar contractions
in the genitalia of the female.
orgasmic reorientation: A behaviour therapy technique for altering
classes of stimuli to which people are sexually attracted; individuals
are confronted by a conventionally arousing stimulus while experiencing
outcome research: Research on the efficacy of psychotherapy. Contrast
with process research.
outpatient commitment: A form of civil commitment whereby the
person is not institutionalized, rather is allowed to be free in the community
but under legal-medical constraints that ensure, for example, that prescribed
medication and other measures are taken to maximize the chances of the
patient being able to live outside of a mental hospital. Consistent with
the principle of least restrictive alternative.
overcontrolled (behaviour): In reference to childhood disorders,
problems that create distress for the child, such as anxiety and social