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46 Cards in this Set

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Commonly used abbreviation for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, published by the American Psychiatric Association, which defines a wide variety of mental disorders and establishes criteria for diagnosing them.

mental disorder

A disturbance in a person’s emotions, drives, thought processes, or behavior that (a) involves serious and relatively prolonged distress and/or impairment in ability to function, (b) is not simply a normal response to some event or set of events in the person’s environment, and (c) is not explainable as an effect of poverty, prejudice, or other social forces that prevent the person from behaving adaptively, nor as a deliberate decision to act in a way that is contrary to the norms of society.


Degree to which a measurement system produces similar results each time it is used with a particular subject or set of subjects under a particular set of conditions p. xxx. Regarding diagnoses of disorders, the degree to which different diagnosticians, all trained in the use of the diagnostic system, reach the same conclusions when they independently diagnose the same individuals.


Common acronym for attention–deficit/hyperactivity disorder, a frequently diagnosed disorder in children, characterized by impulsiveness and difficulties in focusing attention on tasks.


Degree to which a measurement system actually measures the characteristic that it is supposed to measure. p. 578 Regarding diagnoses of mental disorders, the degree to which the disorders identified are clinically meaningful; that is, the degree to which the diagnostic labels predict real–world behaviors and treatment outcomes.

Alzheimer’s disease

A disorder found primarily in older adults, characterized by progressive deterioration in cognitive functioning and the presence of deposits in the brain referred to as amyloid plaques.

Down syndrome

A disorder that results from having an extra chromosome 21, characterized by a specific set of physical symptoms and moderate to severe intellectual disability.

precipitating causes of a mental disorder

The events that most immediately bring on a mental disorder in a person who is sufficiently predisposed for the disorder. See also perpetuating and predisposing causes of a mental disorder.

perpetuating causes of a mental disorder

Those consequences of a mental disorder–such as the way other people treat the person who has it–that help keep the disorder going once it begins. See precipitating and predisposing causes of a mental disorder.

predisposing causes of a mental disorder

Those conditions that are in place well before the onset of a mental disorder and that make the person susceptible to the disorder. They may include genetic predisposition, early childhood experiences, and the sociocultural environment in which one develops. See also perpetuating and precipitating causes of a mental disorder.

anxiety disorders

The class of mental disorders in which fear or anxiety is the most prominent symptom. It includes generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and phobias.

generalized anxiety disorder

A mental disorder characterized by prolonged, severe anxiety that is not consistently associated in the person’s mind with any particular object or event in the environment or any specific life experience.

panic disorder

A mental disorder characterized by the repeated occurrence of panic attacks at unpredictable times and with no clear relationship to environmental events. Each attack involves an intense feeling of terror, which usually lasts several minutes and is accompanied by signs of high physiological arousal.


Any mental disorder characterized by a strong, irrational fear of some particular category of object or event.

obsessive–compulsive disorder

A mental disorder characterized by a repeated, disturbing, irrational thought (the obsession) that can only be terminated (temporarily) by performing some action (the compulsion).

posttraumatic stress disorder

A mental disorder that is directly and explicitly tied to a particular traumatic incident or set of incidents (such as torture) that the affected person has experienced.

bipolar disorders

Mood disorders that are characterized by episodes of abnormally high mood (mania) and abnormally low mood (depression). See bipolar I disorder and bipolar II disorder.

depressive disorders

The class of mood disorders characterized by prolonged or frequent bouts of depression. See dysthymia, major depression.


A mental disorder characterized by feelings of depression that are less severe than those in major depression but which last for at least a 2-year period. See also major depression.

bipolar I disorder

The most severe type of bipolar disorder, characterized by at least one episode of mania and one episode of major depression. See bipolar disorder. For contrast, see bipolar II disorder.

bipolar II disorder

The type of bipolar disorder in which the manic phase is less extreme than it is in bipolar I disorder and is referred to as hypomania rather than mania. See bipolar disorder. For contrast, see bipolar I disorder.

major depression

A mental disorder characterized by severe depression that lasts essentially without remission for at least 2 weeks.


In behavioral genetics research, an index of heritability that is found by identifying a set of individuals who have a particular trait or disorder and then determining the percentage of some specific class of their relatives (such as identical twins) who have the same trait or disorder.


A serious class of mental disorders that is characterized by disrupted perceptual and thought processes, often including hallucinations and delusions.

paranoid personality disorder

A personality disorder in which people are deeply distrustful of other people and are suspicious of their motives.

borderline personality disorder

A personality disorder characterized by instability, including in emotions–swinging in and out of extreme moods and self–image–often showing dramatic changes in identity, goals, friends, and even sexual orientation.

histrionic personality disorder

A personality disorder in which people continually seek to be the center of attention, behaving as if they are always “on stage,” using theatrical gestures and mannerisms; they are often described as “emotionally charged,” displaying exaggerated moods and emotions.

antisocial personality disorder

A personality disorder in which people consistently violate or disregard the rights of others. People with this disorder are sometimes referred to as sociopaths or psychopaths.

narcissistic personality disorder

A personality disorder in which people are self–centered, seek admiration from others, tend to lack empathy, and are grandiose and confident in their own exceptional talents or characteristics.

dependent personality disorder

A personality disorder in which people show an extreme need to be cared for. They are clingy and fear separation from significant people in their lives, believing they cannot care for themselves.

avoidant personality disorder

A personality disorder in which people are excessively shy, being uncomfortable and inhibited in social situations. They feel inadequate and are extremely sensitive to being evaluated, experiencing a dread of criticism.

obsessive–compulsive personality disorder

A personality disorder in which people are preoccupied with order and control, and as a result are inflexible and resist change.

schizotypal personality disorder

A personality disorder in which people show extreme discomfort in social situations, often bizarre patterns of thinking and perceiving, and behavioral eccentricities.

schizoid personality disorder

A personality disorder in which people display little in the way of emotion, either positive or negative, and tend to avoid social relationships.

personality disorders

Stable patterns of behavior that impair a person’s sense of self, goals, and capacity for empathy and/or intimacy.

clinical psychology

The field of practice and research that is directed toward helping people who suffer from psychological problems and disorders.

electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)

A procedure for treating severe depression, in which a patient is anesthetized and given a muscle relaxant, and then an electric current is passed through the patient’s skull in such a way as to set up a seizure either in one hemisphere of the brain or in both hemispheres.

deep brain stimulation

A procedure used for treating obsessive–compulsive disorder and depression, in which a hair–thin wire electrode is implanted permanently into the brain and activated to stimulate neurons near the targeted area.


The surgical cutting or production of lesions in a portion of the brain to relieve a mental disorder.


Any formal, theory-based, systematic treatment for mental problems or disorders that uses psychological means (such as dialogue or training) rather than physiological means (such as drugs) and is conducted by a trained therapist.


Attempts by a patient to avoid bringing unconscious memories or wishes into consciousness.

cognitive therapy

An approach to psychotherapy that begins with the assumption that people disturb themselves through their own thoughts and that they can overcome their problems through changing the way they think about their experiences.

behavior therapy

Category of treatment methods that use basic principles of learning in order to weaken unwanted behavioral responses or strengthen desired behavioral responses.

cognitive–behavior therapy

The psychotherapy approach that stems from a union of cognitive and behavioral theory; it usually characterizes psychological problems as learned habits of thought and action, and its approach to treatment is to help people change those habits. See also behavior therapy, cognitive therapy.

contingency management

In behavior therapy, any systematic alteration in the relationship (contingency) between actions and rewards that is designed to alter the client’s behavior in a desired direction. See behavior therapy.

exposure treatment

Any method of treating fears–including flooding and systematic desensitization–that involves exposing the client to the feared object or situation (either in reality or imagination) so that the process of extinction or habituation of the fear response can occur.