Appendix 1: Terms in the field of Psychiatry and Neurology – Glossary of Psychiatry A

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Appendix 1: Terms in the field of Psychiatry and Neurology –

Glossary of Psychiatry



An emotional release or discharge after recalling a painful experience that has been repressed because it was not consciously tolerable. Often the release is surprising to the individual experiencing it because of it's intensity and the circumstances surrounding its onset.

A therapeutic effect sometimes occurs through partial or repeated discharge of the painful affect.


A lack of will or motivation which is often expressed as inability to make decisions or set goals. Often, the reduction in impulse to action and thought is coupled with an indifference or lack of concern about the consequences of action.


The loss of a previously possessed ability to engage in arithmetic calculation.

Acculturation difficulty

A problem stemming from an inability to appropriately adapt to a different culture or environment.

The problem is not based on any coexisting mental disorder.

Acting out

This is the process of expressing unconscious emotional conflicts or feelings via actions rather than words. The person is not consciously aware of the meaning or etiology of such acts.

Acting out may be harmful or, in controlled situations, therapeutic (e.g., children's play therapy).


The realization of one's full potential - intellectual, psychological, physical, etc.


An organism's psychological or physical dependence on a drug, characterised by tolerance and withdrawal.

A stage, psychic and sometimes physical, resulting from interaction between a living organism and a drug, characterised by behavioural and other responses that always include a compulsion to take the drug on a continuous or periodic basis in order to experience its psychic effects and sometimes to avoid the discomfort of its absence. Tolerance may or may not be present.(WHO 1969).


The inability to perform rapid alternating movements of one or more of the extremities. This task is sometimes requested by physicians of patients during physical examinations to determine if there exists neurological problems.

Adjustment disorder

A pathological psychological reaction to trauma, loss or severe stress. Usually these last less than six months, but may be prolonged if the stressor e.g. pain or scarring is enduring.


A neurotransmitter in the brain, which helps to regulate memory, and in the peripheral nervous system, where it affects the actions of skeletal and smooth muscle.


Expression of an experience of an emotion. A person's affect is their immediate emotional state which the person can recognise subjectively and which can also be recognised objectively by others. A person's mood is their predominant current affect.

This word is used to describe observable behavior that represents the expression of a subjectively experienced feeling state (emotion). Common examples of affect are sadness, fear, joy, and anger. The normal range of expressed affect varies considerably between different cultures and even within the same culture. Types of affect include: euthymic, irritable, constricted; blunted; flat; inappropriate, and labile.

Blunting of affect - an objective absence of normal emotional responses, without evidence of depression or psychomotor retardation.

Loss of affect - a purely subjective sense of an ability to feel deeply about anything or anyone.

Incongruity of affect - Emotional responses which seem grossly out of tune with the situation or subject being discussed.

Affective Disorders

Refers to disorders of mood. Examples would include Major Depressive Disorder, Dysthymia, Depressive Disorder, N.O.S., Adjustment Disorder with Depressed Mood, Bipolar Disorder...

Age-associated memory impairment (AAMI)

The mild disturbance in memory function that occurs normally with aging; benign senescent forgetfulness. Such lapses in memory are lately humorously referred to as representing "a senior moment".

Agitation (psychomotor agitation)

Excessive motor activity that accompanies and is associated with a feeling of inner tension. The activity is usually nonproductive and repetitious and consists of such behavior as pacing, fidgeting, wringing of the hands, pulling of clothes, and inability to sit still.

A state of motor restlessness with a background of anxiety, especially seen in depression. A high level of activity or excitement may be seen in mania but anxiety usually not a feature.


An inability to organise sensory information so as to recognise objects (e.g. visual agnosia) or sometimes even parts of the body, (e.g. hemisomatoagnosia).

Failure to recognize or identify objects despite intact sensory function; This may be seen in dementia of various types. An example would be the failure of someone to recognize a paper clip placed in their hand while keeping their eyes closed.

Agonist medication

A chemical entity that is not naturally occuring within the body which acts upon a receptor and is capable of producing the maximal effect that can be produced by stimulating that receptor. A partial agonist is capable only of producing less than the maximal effect even when given in a concentration sufficient to bind with all available receptors.

Agonist medication

A chemical entity that is not naturally occuring within the body which acts on a family of receptors (such as mu, delta, and kappa opiate receptors) in such a fashion that it is an agonist or partial agonist on one type of receptor while at the same time it is also an antagonist on another different receptor.


Fear of pain.


Fear of the marketplace literally; taken now to be a fear of public of public places associated with panic disorder.

Anxiety about being in places or situations in which escape might be difficut or embarrassing or in which help may not be available should a panic attack occur. The fears typically relate to venturing into the open, of leaving the familiar setting of one's home, or of being in a crowd, standing in line, or traveling in a car or train. Although agoraphobia usually occurs as a part of panic disorder, agoraphobia without a history of panic disorder has been described as also occuring without other disorders.


The loss of a pre-existing ability to express one's self through the act of writing.


An inner feeling of excessive restlessness which provokes the sufferer to fidget in their seat or pace about.

Complaints of restlessness accompanied by movements such as fidgeting of the legs, rocking from foot to foot, pacing, or inability to sit or stand. Symptoms can develop within a few weeks of starting or raising the dose of traditional neuroleptic medications or of reducing the dose of medication used to treat extrapyramidal symptoms. akathisia is a state of motor restlessness ranging from a feeling of inner disquiet to inability to sit still or lie quietly.

Akinetic mutism

A state of motor inhibition or reduced voluntary movement.
A state of apparent alertness with following eye movements but no speech or voluntary motor responses.


Loss of a previously intact ability to grasp the meaning of written or printed words and sentences.


A disturbance in affective and cognitive function that can be present in an assortment of diagnostic entities. Is common in psychosomatic disorders, addictive disorders, and posttraumatic stress disorder.

The chief manifestations are difficulty in describing or recognizing one's own emotions, a limited fantasy life, and general constriction in affective life.


The estrangement felt in a setting one views as foreign, unpredictable, or unacceptable. For example, in depersonalization phenomena, feelings of unreality or strangeness produce a sense of alienation from one's self or environment.


An impoverishment in thinking that is inferred from observing speech and language behavior. There may be brief and concrete replies to questions and restriction in the amount of spontaneous speech (poverty of speech). Sometimes the speech is adequate in amount but conveys little information because it is overconcrete, overabstract, repetitive, or stereotyped (poverty of content).


Referring to adaptation by means of altering the external environment. This can be contrasted to autoplastic, which refers to the alteration of one's own behavior and responses.


The coexistence of contradictory emotions, attitudes, ideas, or desires with respect to a particular person, object, or situation. Ordinarily, the ambivalence is not fully conscious and suggests psychopathology only when present in an extreme form.


Subnormal development of the mind, with particular reference to intellectual capacities; a type of severe mental retardation.


A disorder of language characterized by an inability to make gestures or to understand the significance of gestures.


Organic compounds containing the amino group. Amines such as epinephrine and norepinephrine are significant because they function as neurotransmitters.

Anterograde amnesia

Retrograde amnesia

Loss or impairment of memory, whether psychogenic or due to cerebral disturbance e.g. brain trauma A partial of complete loss of memory.

Loss of memory.

Types of amnesia include: anterograde Loss of memory of events that occur after the onset of the etiological condition or agent. retrograde Loss of memory of events that occurred before the onset of the etiological condition or agent.
Retrograde amnesia is a loss of memory for a period of time prior to any cause.


A culture specific syndrome from Malay involving acute indiscriminate homicidal mania .


This is a structure of the brain which is part of the basal ganglia located on the roof of the temporal horn of the lateral ventricle at the inferior end of the caudate nucleus. It is a structure in the forebrain that is an important component of the limbic system.


Any one of various complex proteins that are deposited in tissues in different disease processes. These proteins have an affinity for Congo red dye. In neuropsychiatry, of particular interest are the beta-amyloid (A4) protein, which is the major component of the characteristic senile plaques of Alzheimer's disease, and the amyloid precursor protein (APP).


In psychoanalytic terminology, dependence of the infant on the mother or mother substitute for a sense of well-being. This is considered normal behavior in childhood, but pathologic in later years.

Anal stage

The period of pregenital psychosexual development, usually from 1 to 3 years, in which the child has particular interest and concern with the process of defecation and the sensations connected with the anus. The pleasurable part of the experience is termed anal eroticism.


The developmental history of a patient and of his or her illness, especially recollections.

Anankastic personality

Synonym for obsessive-compulsive personality.


A combination of male and female characteristics in one person.


Inability to experience pleasure from activities that usually produce pleasurable feelings. Contrast with hedonism.


In Jungian psychology, a person's inner being as opposed to the character or persona presented to the world. Further, the anima may be the more feminine "soul" or inner self of a man, and the animus the more masculine soul of a woman.


Apathy, alienation, and personal distress resulting from the loss of goals previously valued. Emile Durkheim popularized this term when he listed it as a principal reason for suicide.

Anorexia nervosa

An eating disorder characterised by excess control - a morbid fear of obesity leads the sufferer to try and limit or reduce their weight by excessive dieting, exercising, vomiting, purging and use of diuretics. Sufferers are typically more than 15% below the average weight for their height/sex/age. Typically they have amenorrhoea (if female) or low libido (if male). 1-2% of female teenagers are anorexic.


The apparent unawareness of or failure to recognize one's own functional defect (e.g., hemiplegia, hemianopsia).

Antagonist medication

A chemical entity that is not naturally occuring within the body which occupies a receptor, produces no physiologic effects, and prevents endogenous and exogenous chemicals from producing an effect on that receptor.


A state consisting of psychic (dread, apprehension, fear) and somatic symptoms (palpitations, tremor, dry mouth, loose stools).is provoked by fear or apprehension and also results from a tension caused by conflicting ideas or motivations. Anxiety manifests through mental and somatic symptoms such as palpitations, dizziness, hyperventilation, and faintness.

The apprehensive anticipation of future danger or misfortune accompanied by a feeling of dysphoria or somatic symptoms of tension. The focus of anticipated danger may be internal or external.

Anxiety is often distinguished from fear in that fear is a more appropriate word to use when there exists threat or danger in the real world.

Anxiety is reflective more of a threat that is not apparent or imminent in the real world, at least not to the experienced degree.


Lack of feeling, emotion, interest, or concern.

Emotional indifference and lack of activity, often associated with a sense of futility.


Anomic or amnestic aphasia

An impairment in the understanding or transmission of ideas by language in any of its forms--reading, writing, or speaking--that is due to injury or disease of the brain centers involved in language.
Loss of the ability to name objects.


An inability to produce speech sounds that require the use of the larynx that is not due to a lesion in the central nervous system.


Perception as modified and enhanced by one's own emotions, memories, and biases.


Inability to carry out previously learned skilled motor activities despite intact comprehension and motor function; this may be seen in dementia.


This refers to neuronal or neurologic activity caused by neurotransmitters such as epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine.


A Piagetian term describing a person's ability to comprehend and integrate new experiences.


Inability to recognize familiar objects by touch that cannot be explained by a defect of elementary tactile sensation.


is a weakness or debility of some form, hence neurasthenia, a term for an illness seen by dctors around the turn of the century, a probable precursor to chronic fatigue syndrome and myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME).

Astract attitude (categorical attitude)

This is a type of thinking that includes voluntarily shifting one's mind set from a specific aspect of a situation to the general aspect; It involves keeping in mind different simultaneous aspects of a situation while grasping the essentials of the situation.

It can involve breaking a situation down into its parts and isolating them voluntarily; planning ahead ideationally; and/or thinking or performing symbolically. A characteristic of many psychiatric disorders is the person's inability to assume the abstract attitude or to shift readily from the concrete to the abstract and back again as demanded by circumstances.


Alternate term for Loosening of association. A milder form of derailment of thought, in which a person goes on jumping from one topic to another and there is little connection among the topics . This is in contrast to flight of ideas where a person jumps from one topic to another and there is a connection among the topics . See also Entgleisen


Partial or complete loss of coordination of voluntary muscular movement.


The ability to focus in a sustained manner on a particular stimulus or activity. A disturbance in attention may be manifested by easy distractibility or difficulty in finishing tasks or in concentrating on work

Auditory hallucination

A hallucination involving the perception of sound, most commonly of voices. Some clinicians and investigators would not include those experiences perceived as coming from inside the head and would instead limit the concept of true auditory hallucinations to those sounds whose source is perceived as being external.


A premonitory, subjective brief sensation (e.g., a flash of light) that warns of an impending headache or convulsion. The nature of the sensation depends on the brain area in which the attack begins. Seen in migraine and epilepsy.


A form of thinking in which the individual withdraws from the real world to a private world of his own. This monopolises his interest and attention, objectivity is lacking and there is a complete disregard of reality. It serves to gratify unfulfilled desires and takes the form of daydreams, fantasies and delusions.


Sensual self-gratification. Characteristic of, but not limited to, an early stage of emotional development. Includes satisfactions derived from genital play, masturbation, fantasy, and oral, anal, and visual sources.


Automatic and apparently undirected nonpurposeful behavior that is not consciously controlled. Seen in psychomotor epilepsy.


Referring to adaptation by changing the self.


Inability to localize and name the parts of one's own body. finger agnosia would be autotopagnosia restricted to the fingers.


An inability to initiate and persist in goal-directed activities. When severe enough to be considered pathological, avolition is pervasive and prevents the person from completing many different types of activities (e.g., work, intellectual pursuits, self-care).

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