a b c d e f g h i k l m n o p r s t u
v w z
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.
palliative coping: The tendency to respond to emotional problems
through emotional expression and acts that are designed to soothe the
panic disorder: An anxiety disorder in which the individual has
sudden and inexplicable attacks of jarring symptoms, such as difficulty
breathing, heart palpitations, dizziness, trembling, terror, and feelings
of impending doom. In DSM-IV, said to occur with or without agoraphobia.
paradigm: A set of basic assumptions that outlines the universe
of scientific inquiry, specifying both the concepts regarded as legitimate
and the methods to be used in collecting and interpreting data.
paradoxical intervention: A therapeutic strategy that asks patients
to increase or observe the frequency or intensity of a symptom, for example,
having anxious patients make themselves more anxious or note when and
how severely they become anxious.
paranoia: The general term for delusions of persecution, of grandiosity,
or both; found in several pathological conditions, delusional disorders,
paranoid schizophrenia, and paranoid personality disorder. It can also
be produced by large doses of certain drugs, such as cocaine or alcohol.
paranoid disorder: See delusional disorder.
paranoid personality disorder: The person with this personality
expects to be mistreated by others, becomes suspicious, secretive, jealous,
and argumentative. He or she will not accept blame and appears cold and
paranoid schizophrenia: A type of schizophrenia in which the patient
has numerous systematized delusions as well as hallucinations and ideas
of reference. He or she may also be agitated, angry, argumentative, and
paraphilias: Sexual attraction to unusual objects and sexual activities
unusual in nature.
paraphrenia: A term sometimes used to refer to schizophrenia in
an older adult.
paraprofessional: In clinical psychology, an individual lacking
a doctoral degree but trained to perform certain functions usually reserved
for clinicians, for example, a college student trained and supervised
by a behavioural therapist to shape the behaviour of autistic children
through contingent reinforcers.
parasympathetic nervous system: The division of the autonomic
nervous system that is involved with maintenance; it controls many of
the internal organs and is active primarily when the organism is not aroused.
parental mental disorder: The presence of a behavioural or psychological
syndrome in one's mother or father.
paresthesia: Conversion disorder marked by a sensation of tingling
or creeping on the skin.
parietal lobe: The middle division of each cerebral hemisphere,
situated behind the central sulcus and above the lateral sulcus; the receiving
centre for sensations of the skin and of bodily positions.
Parkinsonís disease: A disease characterized by uncontrollable
and severe muscle tremors, a stiff gait, a mask-like, expressionless face,
pathological gambling: A tendency to engage in persistent and
recurring gambling behaviour that is self-defeating and detrimental to
the well-being and goal attainments of the self or family members.
pathology: The anatomical, physiological, and psychological deviations
of a disease or disorder; the study of these abnormalities.
PCP: See phencyclidine.
Pearson product moment correlation coefficient (r): A statistic,
ranging in value from -1.00 to +1.00; the most common means of denoting
a correlational relationship. The sign indicates whether the relationship
is positive or negative, and the magnitude indicates the strength of the
pedophile: Person with a marked preference for obtaining sexual
gratification through contact with youngsters defined legally as underage;
pedophilia is a paraphilia.
penile plethysmograph: A device for detecting blood flow and thus
for recording changes in size of the penis.
perseveration: The persistent repetition of words and ideas, often
found in schizophrenia.
personality disorders: A heterogeneous group of disorders, listed
separately on Axis II, regarded as longstanding, inflexible, and maladaptive
personality traits that impair social and occupational functioning.
personality inventory: A self-report questionnaire by which an
examinee indicates whether statements assessing habitual tendencies apply
to him or her.
personality structure: See trait.
pervasive developmental disorders: Severe childhood problems marked
by profound disturbances in social relations and oddities in behaviour.
Autistic disorder is one.
PET scan: Computer-generated picture of the living brain, created
by analysis of radioactive particles from isotopes injected into the bloodstream.
peyote: A hallucinogen obtained from the root of the peyote cactus;
the active ingredient is mescaline, an alkaloid.
phallic stage: In psychoanalytic theory, the third psychosexual
stage, extending from ages three to six, during which maximal gratification
is obtained from genital stimulation.
phencyclidine (PCP): Also known as angel dust, PeaCE Pill, zombie,
and by other street names, this very powerful and hazardous drug causes
profound disorientation, agitated and often violent behaviour, and even
seizures, coma, and death.
phenomenology: As applied in psychology, the philosophical view
that the phenomena of subjective experience should be studied because
behaviour is considered to be determined by how people perceive themselves
and the world, rather than by objectively described reality.
phenothiazine: The name for a group of drugs that relieve psychotic
symptoms; their molecular structure, like that of the tricyclic drugs,
consists of three fused rings. An example is chlorpromazine (Thorazine).
phenotype: The totality of observable characteristics of a person.
Compare with genotype.
phenylketonuria (PKU): A genetic disorder that, through a deficiency
in a liver enzyme, phenylalanine hydroxylase, causes severe mental retardation
unless phenylalanine can be largely restricted from the diet.
phobia: An anxiety disorder in which there is intense fear and
avoidance of specific objects and situations, recognized as irrational
by the individual.
phonological disorder: A learning disability in which some words
sound like baby talk because the person is not able to make certain speech
phototherapy: A treatment designed for people with seasonal affective
disorder. It involves exposure to intense white light.
physiology: The study of the functions and activities of living
cells, tissues, and organs and of the physical and chemical phenomena
placebo: Any inactive therapy or chemical agent, or any attribute
or component of such a therapy or chemical, that affects a personís behaviour
for reasons related to his or her expectation of change.
placebo control group: A group in an experiment which receives
contact, support, and encouragement from a therapist, but not the active
ingredient in the particular kind of therapy under study.
placebo effect: The action of a drug or psychological treatment
that is not attributable to any specific operations of the agent. For
example, a tranquilizer can reduce anxiety both because of its special
biochemical action and because the recipient expects relief. See placebo.
plaques: Small, round areas composed of remnants of lost neurons
and beta-amyloid, a waxy protein deposit; present in the brains of patients
with Alzheimerís disease.
plateau phase: According to Masters and Johnson, the second stage
in sexual arousal, during which excitement and tension have reached a
stable high level before orgasm.
play therapy: The use of play as a means of uncovering what is
troubling a child and of establishing rapport.
pleasure principle: In psychoanalytic theory, the demanding manner
by which the id operates, seeking immediate gratification of its needs.
plethysmograph: An instrument for determining and registering
variations in the amount of blood present or passing through an organ.
polydrug abuse: The misuse of more than one drug at a time, such
as drinking heavily and taking cocaine.
pons: An area in the brain stem containing nerve-fibre tracts
that connect the cerebellum with the spinal cord and with motor areas
of the cerebrum.
positive reinforcement: The strengthening of a tendency to behave
in a certain situation by presenting a desired reward following previous
responses in that situation.
positive spikes: An EEG pattern recorded from the temporal lobe
of the brain, with frequencies of 6 to 8 cycles per second and 14 to 16
cycles per second, often found in impulsive and aggressive people.
positive symptoms: In schizophrenia, behavioural excesses, such
as hallucinations and bizarre behaviour. Compare with negative symptoms.
postpartum depression: The depression experienced by some mothers
after giving birth.
posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD): An anxiety disorder in which
a particularly stressful event, such as military combat, rape, or a natural
disaster, brings in its aftermath intrusive re-experiencings of the trauma,
a numbing of responsiveness to the outside world, estrangement from others,
a tendency to be easily startled, and nightmares, recurrent dreams, and
otherwise disturbed sleep.
poverty of content: Reduced informational content in speech, one
of the negative symptoms of schizophrenia.
poverty of speech: Reduced amount of talking, one of the negative
symptoms of schizophrenia.
predictive validity: See validity.
predisposition: An inclination or diathesis to respond in a certain
way, either inborn or acquired; in abnormal psychology, a factor that
lowers the ability to withstand stress and inclines the individual toward
prefrontal lobotomy: A surgical procedure that destroys the tracts
connecting the frontal lobes to lower centres of the brain; once believed
to be an effective treatment for schizophrenia.
premature ejaculation: Inability of the male to inhibit his orgasm
long enough for mutually satisfying sexual relations.
premorbid adjustment: In research on schizophrenia, the social
and sexual adjustment of the individual before the onset or diagnosis
of the symptoms. Patients with good premorbid adjustment are those found
to have been relatively normal earlier; those with poor premorbid adjustment
had inadequate interpersonal and sexual relations.
preparedness: In classical conditioning theory, a biological predisposition
to associate particular stimuli readily with the unconditioned stimulus.
prevalence: In epidemiological studies of a disorder, the percentage
of a population that has the disorder at a given time. Compare with incidence.
prevention: Primary prevention comprises efforts in community
psychology to reduce the incidence of new cases of psychological disorder
by such means as altering stressful living conditions and genetic counselling;
secondary prevention includes efforts to detect disorders early, so that
they will not develop into full-blown, perhaps chronic, disabilities;
tertiary prevention attempts to reduce the long-term consequences of having
a disorder, equivalent in most respects to therapy.
primary empathy: A form of empathy in which the therapist understands
the content and feeling of what the client is saying and expressing from
the clientís phenomenological point of view. Compare with advanced
primary prevention: See prevention.
primary process: In psychoanalytic theory, one of the idís means
of reducing tension, by imagining what it desires.
prior capable wish: The process of getting a person to outline
his or her treatment wishes at an earlier time when he or she is of sounder
mind and is not incapacitated.
privileged communication: The communication between parties in
a confidential relationship that is protected by statute. A spouse, doctor,
lawyer, pastor, psychologist, or psychiatrist cannot be forced, except
under unusual circumstances, to disclose such information.
proband: See index case.
process research: Research on the mechanisms by which a therapy
may bring improvement. Compare with outcome research.
process-reactive dimension (of schizophrenia): A dimension used
to distinguish people with schizophrenia; patients with process schizophrenia
suffer long-term and gradual deterioration before the onset of their illness,
whereas those with reactive schizophrenia have a better premorbid history
and a more rapid onset of symptoms. See premorbid adjustment.
profound mental retardation: A limitation in mental development
measured on IQ tests at less than 20Ė25; children with this degree of
retardation require total supervision of all their activities.
progestins: Steroid progestational hormones that are the biological
precursors of androgens, the male sex hormones.
prognosis: A prediction of the likely course and outcome of an
illness. Compare with diagnosis.
projection: A defence mechanism whereby characteristics or desires
unacceptable to the ego are attributed to someone else.
projective hypothesis: The notion that highly unstructured stimuli,
as in the Rorschach, are necessary to bypass defences in order to reveal
unconscious motives and conflicts.
projective test: A psychological assessment device employing a
set of standard but vague stimuli on the assumption that unstructured
material will allow unconscious motivations and fears to be uncovered.
The Rorschach series of inkblots is an example.
pronoun reversal: A speech problem in which the child refers to
himself or herself as "he," "she," or "you"
and uses "I" or "me" in referring to others; often
found in the speech of children with autistic disorder.
provincial psychiatric hospital: A location where chronic patients
are treated. Such hospitals provide protection, but treatment is often
custodial and may involve little psychosocial treatment.
pseudo-community: An illusory world built up by a paranoid person,
dominated by false beliefs that are not properly verified and shared by
psilocybin: A psychedelic drug extracted from the mushroom Psilocybe
psyche: The soul, spirit, or mind as distinguished from the body.
In psychoanalytic theory, it is the totality of the id, ego, and superego,
including both conscious and unconscious components.
psychedelic: A drug that expands consciousness. See also hallucinogen.
psychiatrist: A physician (M.D.) who has taken specialized postdoctoral
training, called a residency, in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention
of mental disorders.
psychoactive drugs: Chemical compounds having a psychological
effect that alters mood or thought process. Valium is an example.
psychoanalysis: A term applied primarily to the therapy procedures
pioneered by Freud, entailing free association, dream analysis, and working
through the transference neurosis. More recently the term has come to
encompass the numerous variations on basic Freudian therapy.
psychoanalyst (analyst): A therapist who has taken specialized
postdoctoral training in psychoanalysis after earning an M.D. or a Ph.D. degree.
psychoanalytic (psychodynamic) paradigm: General view based on
psychodynamics: In psychoanalytic theory, the mental and emotional
forces and processes that develop in early childhood and their effects
on behaviour and mental states.
psychogenesis: Development from psychological origins, as distinguished
from somatic origins. Contrast with somatogenesis.
psychological autopsy: The analysis of an individualís suicide
through the examination of his or her letters and through interviews with
friends and relatives in the hope of discovering why the person committed
psychological deficit: The term used to indicate that performance
of a pertinent psychological process is below that expected of a normal
psychological dependency: The term sometimes applied as the reason
for substance abuse; a reliance on a drug but not a physiological addiction.
psychological factor influencing a medical condition: A diagnosis
in DSM-IV that a physical illness is caused in part or exacerbated by
psychological stress. See psychophysiological disorders.
psychological tests: Standardized procedures designed to measure
a personís performance on a particular task or to assess his or her personality.
psychologizer: An individual who emphasizes the psychological
aspects and symptoms of depression.
psychopath: See antisocial personality.
psychopathologists: Mental health professionals who conduct research
into the nature and development of mental disorders. Their academic backgrounds
can differ; some are trained as experimental psychologists, others as
psychiatrists, and still others as biochemists.
psychopathology: The field concerned with the nature and development
of mental disorders.
psychopathy: See antisocial personality.
psychophysiological disorders: Disorders with physical symptoms
that may involve actual tissue damage, usually in one organ system, and
that are produced in part by continued mobilization of the autonomic nervous
system under stress. Hives and ulcers are examples. No longer listed in
DSM-IV in a separate category, such disorders are now diagnosed on Axis
I as psychological factor influencing a medical condition; on Axis III
the specific physical condition is given.
psychophysiology: The discipline concerned with the bodily changes
that accompany psychological events.
psychosexual stages: In psychoanalytic theory, critical developmental
phases that the individual passes through, each stage characterized by
the body area providing maximal erotic gratification. The adult personality
is formed by the pattern and intensity of instinctual gratification at
psychosexual trauma: As applied by Masters and Johnson, an earlier
frightening or degrading sexual experience that is related to a present
psychosis: A severe mental disorder in which thinking and emotion
are so impaired that the individual is seriously out of contact with reality.
psychosocial stages of development: In Erik Eriksonís theory,
phases through which people pass from infancy through old age, each characterized
by a particular challenge or crisis.
psychosomatic (disorder): See psychophysiological disorders.
psychosurgery: Any surgical technique in which neural pathways
in the brain are cut in order to change behaviour. See lobotomy.
psychotherapy: A primarily verbal means of helping troubled individuals
change their thoughts, feelings, and behaviour to reduce distress and
to achieve greater life satisfaction. See insight therapy and behaviour
psychotic (delusional) depression: A profound sadness and unjustified
feelings of unworthiness, which also include delusions.
punishment: In psychological experiments, any noxious stimulus
imposed on an organism to reduce the probability that it will behave in
an undesired way.