143 Key Terms for Psychopathology

Adaptive information processing model of PTSD
suggests that past trauma can continue to cause emotional distress if the memory of that trauma is not fully processed

Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder with a mix of symptoms in both inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive categories.

Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder with symptoms that primarily fall into the hyperactivity and Impulsivity category. People with ADHD-HI have trouble with impulse control, may display a high level of activity and energy in inappropriate situations, and have relatively fewer symptoms in the inattentive category.

Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder with symptoms that primarily fall into the inattentive category. People with ADHD-PI have trouble maintaining attention, and have relatively fewer symptoms in the hyperactivity and impulsivity category.

anxiety disorder characterized by intense fear, anxiety, and avoidance of situations in which it might be difficult to escape if one experiences symptoms of a panic attack

a condition that involves a reduced ability to identify and sense one’s own emotions and the emotions of others

alterations in arousal and reactivity
one of the four categories of PTSD symptoms; include irritability or aggression, increased risk-taking, hyper-vigilance,  jumpiness, and difficulty with concentration or sleep

amyloid-beta plaque
an extracellular accumulation of amyloid; thought to be the potential cause or by-product of Alzheimer’s disease

antisocial personality disorder
characterized by a lack of regard for others’ rights, impulsivity, deceitfulness, irresponsibility, and lack of remorse over misdeeds

anxiety disorder
characterized by excessive and persistent fear and anxiety, and by related disturbances in behaviour

applied behavioural analysis
a behavioural modification strategy that involves punishing autistic traits and behaviours that are deemed maladaptive, while rewarding behaviours that are deemed appropriate; this therapy is not accepted by the broader autistic community

attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder
a neurotype characterized by differences and difficulties in attention and emotional and behavioural regulation. This neurotype is often also associated with differences in sensory processing and executive function.
describes behaviours or feelings that deviate from the norm

augmentative and alternative communication (AAC)
techniques and technologies meant to supplement or allow for communication when expressive speech or language is difficult or impossible.  AAC includes but isn’t limited to sign languages, text-to-speech devices, and image-based systems like picture cards and communication boards.

autistic burnout
a state resulting from prolonged stress and a mismatch of expectations and abilities without enough accommodation or support. This state is associated with long term fatigue, reduced function, loss of previously acquired skills, and an increase in sensory issues.

autistic meltdown
a response similar to fight or flight that autistic people experience when they are experiencing a level of stress and overstimulation that they aren’t able to manage. Meltdowns involve bursts of uncontrolled behaviour that may serve to externalize stress and reduce the level of internal tension the autistic person is experiencing.

autistic shutdown
a response to overwhelming stress and overstimulation in which an autistic person experiences dissociation or withdrawal from the current sensory environment. Shutdowns involve reduced responsiveness, loss of function, and fatigue, and may serve to reduce tension by decreasing the amount of stimulation the individual experiences

autism spectrum disorder
a neurotype characterized by difficulty in neurotypical social interaction and communication, and by restricted or repetitive patterns of thought and behaviour. This neurotype is also generally associated with differences in sensory processing.

avoidance symptoms
one of the four categories of PTSD; occur when the individual avoids stimuli or thoughts and feelings associated with the trauma

behavioural parent training
a kind of therapy designed to teach parents of people with ADHD how to manage emotions and communicate effectively so that they can support their children in forming habits and learning skills that suit their needs and neurotype.

unique molecules produced during pathological processes that can be used to detect the presence of a disease

bipolar and related disorders
group of mood disorders in which mania is the defining feature

bipolar disorder
mood disorder characterized by mood states that vacillate between depression and mania

body dysmorphic disorder
involves excessive preoccupation with an imagined defect in physical appearance

borderline personality disorder
instability in interpersonal relationships, self-image, and mood, as well as impulsivity; key features include intolerance of being alone and fear of abandonment, unstable relationships, unpredictable behaviour and moods, and intense and inappropriate anger

catatonic behaviour
decreased reactivity to the environment; includes posturing and catatonic stupor

cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
a kind of therapy that aims to systematically identify maladaptive patterns of thought and behaviour so that they can be addressed and replaced with more effective strategies

co-occurrence of two disorders in the same individual

complex PTSD (C-PTSD)
a variant of PTSD included in the 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) but it has yet to be included in the DSM

belief that is contrary to reality and is firmly held, despite contradictory evidence

depersonalization/derealization disorder
dissociative disorder in which people feel detached from the self (depersonalization), and the world feels artificial and unreal (derealization)

depressive disorder
one of a group of mood disorders in which depression is the defining feature

determination of which disorder a set of symptoms represents

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5)
authoritative index of mental disorders and the criteria for their diagnosis; published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA)

diathesis-stress model
suggests that people with a predisposition for a disorder (a diathesis) are more likely to develop the disorder when faced with stress; model of psychopathology

disorganized thinking
disjointed and incoherent thought processes, usually detected by what a person says

disorganized/abnormal motor behaviour
highly unusual behaviours and movements (such as child-like behaviours), repeated and purposeless movements, and displaying odd facial expressions and gestures

dissociative amnesia
dissociative disorder characterized by an inability to recall important personal information, usually following an extremely stressful or traumatic experience

dissociative disorders
group of DSM-5 disorders in which the primary feature is that a person becomes dissociated, or split off, from his or her core sense of self, resulting in disturbances in identity and memory

dissociative fugue
symptom of dissociative amnesia in which a person suddenly wanders away from one’s home and experiences confusion about his or her identity

dissociative identity disorder
dissociative disorder (formerly known as multiple personality disorder) in which a person exhibits two or more distinct, well-defined personalities or identities and experiences memory gaps for the time during which another identity emerged

dopamine hypothesis
theory of schizophrenia that proposes that an overabundance of dopamine or dopamine receptors is responsible for the onset and maintenance of schizophrenia

cause or causes of a psychological disorder

executive functions
a set of cognitive skills that involve self-control, self-monitoring, planning and organization, and working memory

psychological state lasting from a few seconds to several days, during which one relives a traumatic event and behaves as though the event were occurring at that moment

flight of ideas
symptom of mania that involves an abruptly switching in conversation from one topic to another

generalized anxiety disorder
characterized by a continuous state of excessive, uncontrollable, and pointless worry and apprehension

global processing
processing the sum of parts, or the end product of a number of local details as they are combined; for example, processing the way a song sounds as a whole, rather than focusing on individual notes or instruments

grandiose delusion
characterized by beliefs that one holds special power, unique knowledge, or is extremely important

a reduction in the response of the nervous system to stimuli that is unchanging or consistently present

perceptual experience that occurs in the absence of external stimulation, such as the auditory hallucinations (hearing voices) common to schizophrenia

harmful dysfunction
model of psychological disorders resulting from the inability of an internal mechanism to perform its natural function

hoarding disorder
characterized by persistent difficulty in parting with possessions, regardless of their actual value or usefulness

hopelessness theory
cognitive theory of depression proposing that a style of thinking that perceives negative life events as having stable and global causes leads to a sense of hopelessness and then to depression

an intense state of attention towards a particular subject, during which the individual may seem to ignore all other stimuli and may lose their sense of time; generally this occurs during tasks that are enjoyable

the ability to read significantly above the expected level for one’s age

a larger than average reaction to certain sensory stimuli

a smaller than average reaction to certain sensory stimuli or a lack of reaction to certain sensory stimuli

identity first language
a way to refer to people that uses their condition or neurotype as a noun. This is meant to acknowledge that the neurotype or condition is actually a part of the person’s identity which cannot be separated from them. For example, referring to someone as an autistic person is a use of identity first language.

one’s perception of sensations that come from inside the body, including heart beat, respiration, pain, sensations involved in digestion, and nervous system activity related to emotions

intrusion symptoms
one of the four categories of PTSD symptoms; occur when the traumatic event is re-experienced through memories, nightmares, flashbacks, and emotional or physical reactivity after exposure to stimuli associated with the trauma

International Classification of Diseases (ICD)
authoritative index of mental and physical diseases, including infectious diseases, and the criteria for their diagnosis; published by the World Health Organization (WHO)

Learning and Cognitive Processing Model of PTSD
suggests that some symptoms are developed and maintained through classical conditioning

local processing
processing local details, the individual details that make up a bigger picture; for example, processing the colours that are used in a painting rather than processing the painting as a whole

locus coeruleus
area of the brainstem that contains norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter that triggers the body’s fight-or-flight response; has been implicated in panic disorder

major depressive disorder
commonly referred to as “depression” or “major depression,” characterized by sadness or loss of pleasure in usual activities, as well other symptoms

state of extreme elation and agitation

manic episode
period in which an individual experiences mania, characterized by extremely cheerful and euphoric mood, excessive talkativeness, irritability, increased activity levels, and other symptoms

a strategy that involves learning and performing neurotypical behaviours, while suppressing and resisting autistic behaviours with the intent to blend in for safety, to avoid stigma, and to succeed in a neurotypical social context

medical model of disability
a model that identifies disability as a defect rather than a difference of needs. This model positions the disabled person as a victim of their disability and places responsibility on the individual. This model aims to prevent and eliminate disability.

mindfulness techniques and training
a kind of attention training therapy or technique that aims teach participants to remain cognitively present and avoid internal distractions, like stressful thoughts or worries about the future, as well as external distractions, like ambient noise.

mood disorder
one of a group of disorders characterized by severe disturbances in mood and emotions; the categories of mood disorders listed in the DSM-5 are bipolar and related disorders and depressive disorders

negative alterations in cognitions and mood
one of the four categories of PTSD symptoms; involve pervasive negative mood, feelings of isolation, extreme negative beliefs about the self or the world, and problems with memory, often specific to trauma related memories

negative symptom
characterized by decreases and absences in certain normal behaviours, emotions, or drives, such as an expressionless face, lack of motivation to engage in activities, reduced speech, lack of social engagement, and inability to experience pleasure

neurodegenerative disease
a brain disorder characterized by the dysfunction and subsequent death of neurons

neurodevelopmental disorder
one of the disorders that are first diagnosed in childhood and involve developmental problems in academic, intellectual, social functioning

the spectrum of brain organization and function that can occur in a population of healthy humans

the kind of brain organization and function a person has, influencing the way they perceive, interpret, and respond to the world

a person who has a neurotype that functions similarly to the majority of people of the same age in their culture

a person who has a neurotype that functions differently from the majority of people of the same age in their culture

obsessive-compulsive and related disorders
group of overlapping disorders listed in the DSM-5 that involves intrusive, unpleasant thoughts and/or repetitive behaviours

obsessive-compulsive disorder
characterized by the tendency to experience intrusive and unwanted thoughts and urges (obsession) and/or the need to engage in repetitive behaviours or mental acts (compulsions) in response to the unwanted thoughts and urges

occupational therapy
a form of therapy that aims to help individuals improve function in daily life, often by identifying barriers, developing strategies to address those barriers, and identifying relevant supports. For example, someone who has lost function in their hands may need an occupational therapist to identify exercises that will help them regain function, and to help them find accommodations so that they can condition to engage in daily activities while they are recovering.

orbitofrontal cortex
area of the frontal lobe involved in learning and decision-making

panic attack
period of extreme fear or discomfort that develops abruptly; symptoms of panic attacks are both physiological and psychological

panic disorder
anxiety disorder characterized by unexpected panic attacks, along with at least one month of worry about panic attacks or self-defeating behaviour related to the attacks

paranoid delusion
characterized by beliefs that others are out to harm them

peripartum onset
subtype of depression that applies to those who experience an episode of major depression either during pregnancy or in the four weeks following childbirth

persistent depressive disorder
depressive disorder characterized by a chronically sad and melancholy mood

person-first language
a way to refer to people that uses their condition or neurotype as an adjective, with the intent to separate the person from the condition. This kind of language is meant to present the condition or neurotype as separable from the person. For example, referring to someone as a person with ADHD is a use of person first language.

personality disorder
group of DSM-5 disorders characterized by an inflexible and pervasive personality style that differs markedly from the expectations of one’s culture and causes distress and impairment; people with these disorders have a personality style that frequently brings them into conflict with others and disrupts their ability to develop and maintain social relationships

posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
experiencing a profoundly traumatic event leads to a constellation of symptoms that include intrusive and distressing memories of the event, avoidance of stimuli connected to the event, negative emotional states, feelings of detachment from others, irritability, proneness toward outbursts, hypervigilance, and a tendency to startle easily; these symptoms must occur for at least one month

prodromal symptom
in schizophrenia, one of the early minor symptoms of psychosis

psychological disorder
condition characterized by abnormal thoughts, feelings, and behaviours

study of psychological disorders, including their symptoms, causes, and treatment; manifestation of a psychological disorder

in depression, tendency to repetitively and passively dwell on one’s depressed symptoms, their meanings, and their consequences

safety behaviour
mental and behaviour acts designed to reduce anxiety in social situations by reducing the chance of negative social outcomes; common in social anxiety disorder

severe disorder characterized by major disturbances in thought, perception, emotion, and behaviour with symptoms that include hallucinations, delusions, disorganized thinking and behaviour, and negative symptoms

seasonal pattern
subtype of depression in which a person experiences the symptoms of major depressive disorder only during a particular time of year

social anxiety disorder
characterized by extreme and persistent fear or anxiety and avoidance of social situations in which one could potentially be evaluated negatively by others

social model of disability
a model that positions disability as a problem that results from barriers in society that disadvantage people who have different needs. This model aims to improve rights and accessibility for disabled people.

social skills training
a therapy designed to teach autistic people to communicate and interact in more neurotypical-like ways; this therapy is controversial in the autistic community, as it is argued to devalue autistic social skills.

somatic delusion
belief that something highly unusual is happening to one’s body or internal organs

specific phobia
anxiety disorder characterized by excessive, distressing, and persistent fear or anxiety about a specific object or situation

stimulant medication
drugs that increase the activity of certain parts of the nervous system. Certain stimulants are regularly prescribed for people with ADHD, as they can help promote activity in parts of the brain that are found to be under active, particularly the frontal lobe.

repetitive body movements/behaviours or noises, which can help to regulate one’s level of stimulation. During overstimulation, stimming can help to block out undesirable environmental stimuli. During under-stimulation, stimming can help to generate increased internal stimulation.

suicidal ideation
thoughts of death by suicide, thinking about or planning suicide, or making a suicide attempt

death caused by intentional, self-directed injurious behaviour

describes a force beyond scientific understanding

tau fibrillary tangles
intracellular, string-like proteins thought to be the cause or by-product of Alzheimer’s disease

one of the fluid-filled cavities within the brain

working memory
a component of short-term memory responsible for holding and processing units of information that are in immediate use


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Introduction to Psychology & Neuroscience (2nd Edition) Copyright © 2020 by Edited by Leanne Stevens & Jennifer Stamp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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