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Common concepts in Psychological andSpiritual Maturity

Psychology Concepts - Psychological Terms - Glossary of Spiritual Terms

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Affect: emotional tone of the person or, general concept referring to feelings or emotions.

Affectivity: not a common word in English; the ability to respond subjectively to an internal or external reality. Includes the whole emotional process and, classically, involves: emotions, feelings, passions, and mood or the basic emotional state that affects the whole mental life, attitudes, behaviors and congnitive processes.

Anorexia nervosa: an eating disorder in which there is an altered perception of body image and a morbid fear of obesity. Usually leaves one to eat little and loseweight dangerously, while refusing to maintain the minimum normal body weight .

Anticipatory or expectant anxiety: fear of having an unpleasant experience seen as extremely negative and ends up producing more of what one tries to avoid. A psychological mechanism that one finds in the initial stage of some psychic symptoms that cross a vicious cycle: fear of symptom ® amplification of anxiety ® presentation of symptom. A common example is seen in the person who fears falling asleep – anxiety – is unable to fall asleep.

Anxiety: unpleasant and painful emotional state, feeling of unease and threat to one’s physical or moral integrity, insecurity, perplexity, fear in front of some real or imagined danger. Often accompanied by physiological changes similar to those caused by fear: sweating, tachycardia, shortness of breath. May occur suddenly (as in panic attacks) or gradually.

Attachment: clearly identified emotional bonding and form of behavior of a person in relation to another. Psychological theory initiated by Bowlby and Ainsworth, whereby in the first stages of life there is an innate tendency to receive sympathy and protection from a nurturing figure. The child seeks protection, love and warmth and not just nutrition. The first of these figures is the mother and, once discovered and made known, the child can explore the world having a secure base. When the attachment is not secure, problems occur. The style of early attachment relations influence the child's future relationships with himself and with others. Certain characteristics persist in adults.

Attention: autonomous psychic function to focus awareness on a particular experience, putting aside other factors that distract. It can be voluntary or reflexive, scattered (as in normal social life), concentrated or expectant (state of alert). Disorders can side with an excess or deficit of attention.

Attention deficit: disease that manifests a lack of focus on a task. This lack of focus is unwarranted, persistent, and frequent, often with an impulsive behavior. It is frequently associated with motor hyperactivity (hyperkinetic child). Begins in childhood and can persist into adulthood.

Autonomy: ability to act freely in order to be the subject of one’s own actions, with independence from external and internal factors that affect, but do not absolutely determine, voluntary choices. Leads to taking responsibility for the choices, behaviors, and opinions, guided by ideals and values.

Behaviorism: an orientation of psychological thinking and school of psychotherapy born in the early 20th century, primarily in the United States, thanks to John b. Watson. The genesis and persistence of attitudes, even abnormal ones, can be explained only with the experimental method, physiology and neurophysiology.

Bipolar: an adjective indicating a fluctuation of mood in the positive and negative sense, between mania and depression; see manic depression or bipolar disorder.

Bipolar disorder: common mental illness characterized by important changes in mood, between mania and depression.

Borderline personality disorder: characterized by instability of self-image, mood, behavior and interpersonal relationships. Patients with this disorder are predominantly women. Are impulsive and ambivalent. Alternate between depression and anger and have frequent and drastic changes in vision of themselves, the world and others.

Bulimia nervosa: eating disorder characterized by recurrent episodes of compulsive overeating, followed by efforts to compensate.

Burnout: situation of exhaustion linked to professional or work stress. Three stages can be distinguished: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization or cynicism and little personal realization or inefficiency. It is more frequent in service professions, such as doctors, nurses, teachers, pastoral agents. The causal factors are at the personal level: perfectionist and self-demanding people; and at the institutional level: unclear rules, lack of remuneration or rewards, excess of tasks. It is more frequent when one loses the sense of service, or help to others, of one's profession. See also fatigue.

Character: aspects of one’s being acquired under the influence of external factors, such as educational programs, training, successes, social interactions and socio-cultural influences.

Christian personalities: way of life of those who, in the process of becoming more human, more themselves, try each day to resemble more a model, Christ.

Clinical Psychology: applied psychology specialties with therapeutic purposes.

Cognitive therapy: form of directed psychotherapy, which considers the cognitive apparatus as the primary dysfunction of many psychological pathologies, not as a cause but as a mechanism. The aim is to help the patient find incorrect or illogical beliefs, and replace them with more reasonable beliefs.

Cognitivism (psychology): a current of thought linked to a form of psychotherapy that was born in the United States in the 1960’s as a reaction to Behaviorism. It studies the cognitive processes, which are perception, attention, memory, language, thought, imagination, etc., that were not included in the experimental study of Behaviorism.

Compulsion: repetitive behaviors caused by dominant and persistent ideas (obsessive), that the subject fails to stop, although considers them exaggerated or unrealistic. Compulsive action gets an initial decrease in anxiety that obsessive thinking causes, and this strengthens or tends to repeat itself.

Conscience (moral): inner light that illuminates or voice that guides the emotional and cognitive processes in accordance with moral principles and rules of conduct. Judgement of reason that allows one to know the moral quality – goodness or malice – of choices or concrete actions that are taking place or are about to happen. It is also an intuitive ability to discover the hidden meaning of each singular and unique situation.

Consciousness (psychological): awareness of somethingin the present moment, hic et nunc. There are three aspects to consider: first, supervision (vigilance), as a form of widespread attention to the surrounding environment; some disorders are: lethargy, stupor, coma (in which the subject is not awake with external stimuli), and confusion. Second, consciousness in the strict sense, or awareness of oneself and the environment, with all psychic phenomena, in a precise moment;one can alter the quantity or quality; examples include: acute confusional state, temporal epilepsy, dissociative amnesia, schizophrenic disorders). Third, the conscience of the Ego: the ability to distinguish Ego from not Ego and the environment that surrounds it.

Counseling: form of professional help like psychotherapy, but short-lived and with broader guidelines that include the educational field. The theoretical foundations are varied, as in psychotherapy. The counselor will talk more of "problems" than"illnesses"; there are marriage counselors, social counselors, experts in universities or companies, etc. There is sometimes a difficulty in distinguishing the tasks of counselors from those of psychotherapists.

Cyclothymia: fluctuation in the state of mood, between depressed and slightly hypomanic; can be a specific chronic disorder, where the cycles are regularly alternating in periods of a few days.

Defense mechanisms: automatic unconscious psychological processes triggered by emotional conflicts and threats from internal and external sources; protects the individual against anxiety; also known as coping strategies (confrontation); involve a certain self-deception or distortion of reality; may be adaptive or non-adaptive.

Delusion: alteration of the content of thought, that is, the formulation of erroneous ideas contrary to the evidence – objectively not verifiable – , not justified from a person's cultural background and supported by outstanding conviction and subjective certainty, leaving no room for criticism. It can be lucid in subjects with a normal state of consciousness; or confused (fever, toxic or metabolic disorders). Content varies, such as delusions of persecution (which are the most common), transformation, religion or mystical, depression, grandiosity, or jealousy.

Dementia: medical condition in which there is a decay of intellect, memory and other cognitive processes. Usually occurs in old age and has a progressive course. The most frequent, which is also degenerative, is Alzheimer's disease.

Depression: mood alteration, characterized by symptoms such as depressed mood, loss of interest and initiative, psychomotor slowing, pessimism, indecision, feelings of guilt, etc. It differs from normal sadness because it is overly intense or goes beyond what one would expect when looking at it from the outside; and because it causes a marked impairment of physical, social functions and working capacity.

Determinism: in psychology, to attribute only a physical, biological, or social causality to psychic phenomena, to the exclusion of other dimensions and causal factors, and freedom.

Double life: to act against one’s ideals or the freely chosen form of existence; this inconsistency leads to fracturing of the Ego.

Dreams: mental representations, more or less vivid, of situations, images, etc. Are a result of mental activities accomplished during sleep. Usually are symbolic and sometimes take the form of a coherent story, but are often messy and contradictory. Can be in relation to the events of the previous day, although they may not have any importance. They can give information about the psychological state of the person or of a need in that moment: for example, a person who is thirsty can dream up a glass of water. They involve the emotions and feelings of pleasure or displeasure. The latter are called nightmares and will be more common in people who are anxious.

Drug dependence: continued use of psychoactive substances, even when various problems arise; it usually makes for strong emotions, as in the case of stimulants or hallucinogens. It may be a compulsive consumption of drugs (drug abuse) involving a person's whole life in research and in the consumption of the substance with serious risks and consequences for personal health and for society. One often observes a change in brain circuits that may persist after discontinuation of use.

DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders): Manual of classification of mental illnesses in a system designed by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). Is based on observable and describable symptoms and signs, and is the most used. Many changes have been introduced since its first edition in 1952, until the fifth in 2013.

Dysthymia: chronically depressed mood (not episodic, as in major depression). Is a form of chronic depression, usually of lower intensity.

Egocentrism: a person's tendency to refer everything to himself/herself, and unable to adapt or accept the views of others. It is characteristic of children from four to six years, but decreases with development. In Adults, it is seen in immature personalities that try to put themselves and all their ego at the middle of everything.

Ego-Dystonic: adjective used to indicate an external or intrapsychic situation experienced by the subject with hardship and suffering, as an obstacle to personal development. The reverse is ego-syntonic.

Emotion: profound psychological experience or State of Ego before the perception of a situation or object; accompanied by physiological manifestations and the awareness of attraction or repulsion, with a strong push to action (comes from the Latin e movere, to move outward).

Epilepsy: a recurring neurological, not psychic, disease, characterized by episodes of brain dysfunction with sudden crises and alterations of consciousness, originated by excessive electrical discharges of neurons in the brain; there may be symptoms of motor activity, sensory organs or abnormal behavior. The causes are many.

Euphoria: mental condition in which the person experiences intense feelings of well-being, joy and happiness that make one feel to the best of their abilities. When it is exaggerated it is a symptom of mania. To feel too well, exaggerated optimism, can also be a sign of intoxication, having a fever, and other diseases such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

Examination of conscience: evaluation of one’s actions, with particular focus on the inner world and the adequacy or inadequacy of one’s ideals. In the Christian life, it may be a reflection on one’s life – or more commonly over it – to discover, in the light of grace, what things were done wrong, which have been done well or what could be done better with regard to God and to others.

Existential vacuum (or void): unrest of the persons who cannot find a meaning to their existence. It turns out in many patients with personality disorders.

Fatigue (exhaustion): is a reversible reduction of performance after an excessive strain, with different causes. Distinguishes between physical and mental well-being. Mental fatigue can have disorders of perception, attention, concentration, and alterations of social relationships. Can be a symptom of depression or other illness. Until recently, the French term was surmenage. See also Burnout.

Fault: subjectively – as a sense of guilt – is the unpleasant feeling about something that one thinks of having done in conflict with his moral conscience; can be founded or unfounded. Objectively, it is a quality or the ability of the man to be imputable for a crime, to recognize and to explain it with responsibility. This capability gives rise to two possible attitudes: remorse or shame for what has been done, which can lead, if not overcome, to despair; and repentance or sorrow for the damage caused to another, or for violating a law or a value which leads to forgiveness, reconciliation, or a clear recognition of the error with respect to not go do it again and somehow repair the damage done. The repentance of a Christian facing moral evil, sin, moves one to ask God's forgiveness through the sacrament of confession. In more serious psychic diseases fault is absent or exaggerated.

Freedom: a specifically human capacity, linked to the will to choose, of the power to say yes or no before what is presented; or the power to accept with dignity, on its own, some inevitable fate. In the human being it is always relative.

Grace of God: the fundamental concept of the Christian life. Supernatural gift of God that makes us share in the divine life. Given mainly through the Sacraments, beginning with baptism, which makes us children of God. Mysterious and effective strength without which the Christian cannot reach his realization: Holiness. Moves by respecting freedom, with the gentleness of love and reaches deeper than the person: the only barrier is our conscious will that does not allow it to enter due to sin, which closes the door. Can be known only through faith, but the benefits of God in our lives and in the lives of the Saints offer us a guarantee of its action. Always reaches those who ask with humility.

Hallucination: false perception, or without object, that does not match an external stimulus and may refer to any of the senses: olfactory, optic, acoustic. As a psychological symptom it is an important element of some psychosis.

Health: State of well-being or right of adequacy of the person itself, with others and with the environment in general, in the harmony and integration of its physical, psychological and social dimensions. More broadly, it could include the spiritual dimension.

Heart: center or deeper core of the human person; the seat of feelings, intuition, source of true knowledge of the sense that you cannot reach without wisdom of heart. Hence, the phrase “The heart has its reasons that reason cannot understand” (Blaise Pascal). In the heart there is natural law, revealed by God because not everyone can read it; the abode of God, the place of decisions, the place of truth.

Histrionic (personality disorder): people with a tendency to dramatize their emotions and feelings (hyperemotivity) and interpersonal relationships. Are impulsive, alluring and constantly seek attention.

Homeostasis: in physiology, it is the set of actions responsible for maintaining consistency in certain parameters, such as body temperature, the amount of glucose in the blood, etc. In psychology, it is a way to see the man as an organism that seek its own equilibrium, its homeostasis, without other forms of motivation; it is what happens, in different measurements, in the psychology of Gestalt (any or all) and psychoanalytic trends.

Homosexuality: an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex, whose psychological cause is not entirely clear; influences, in different ways according to cases, hereditary factors, education, and acquired defects. Homosexual acts are against the specific function assigned by nature to the sexual or reproductive organs and fail to be an expression of true love.

Hyper-intention: intentionality directed toward oneself, toward the search for satisfaction that does not consider the existence of others. Just as it would be pathological to pay close attention to physiological functions, such as heartbeat, bowel movements, etc., so it would also be pathological to excessively worry about mental activity.

Hyper-reflection: exaggeration of ability to examine the interior world. The subject, instead of going outside himself by putting in action his ability for self-transcendence, closes himself in his own ego: he only looks within himself to his plans, symptoms, projects; more trivial problems become insurmountable.

Hypnosis: a technique whereby a person is brough to a state similar to a dream, which produces an alteration of consciousness and memory, an increased sensitivity to beauty and unusual representations and reactions. One reaches this state through concentrated and prolonged fixation on a particular object, visual or verbal, with the exclusion of any other stimulus.

Hypochondria: over-concern for bodily functions and fear of contracting or having a disease. The name comes from the anatomic localization, in the hypochondrium, of the organs that are most frequently identified as the source of discomfort: liver and stomach.

Hypomania: see mania.

Hysteria: This name designates a group of pathologies that share a common mechanism of conversion, i.e. physical and psychological symptoms expressed in a striking way, but without an objective basis. One must distinguish between conversion hysteria, with motor, sensory and visceral manifestations, and dissociative hysteria, in which there are complex phenomena of amnesia, split personality, etc. There is also mass hysteria (or epidemic hysteria) where a group of people go into alarm over a problem (e.g. a suspected poisoning of air or water) and develop symptoms similar to those who appeared  to be affected first. Today, it is not used as a medical concept; rather, one speaks of somatic symptoms and other ailments, such as conversion disorder.

ICD (International Classification of Diseases): system of classifying mental illnesses conceived by the World Health Organization. It is based on observable and describable signs and symptoms. The latest version is from 1993 (ICD-10), amended in 1996, and is  similar to the DSM.

Impulsiveness: a trait whereby one acts immediately, without resistance, in the face of external stimuli or affectivity, and can lead to harmful acts against oneself or others without thinking about the consequences.

Insecurity: a personality trait of those who want to be completely sure of their choices and everything they do, with the result of delaying decisions and frequently falling prey to anxiety about the future.

Insight: term used in psychology to denote the learning process – personally or of a patient – about oneself, one’s own idiosyncrasies, the development of self-consciousness, and the perception of how one appears before others.

Insomnia: difficulty in falling asleep or maintaining sleep, or waking up early, or feeling a lack of rest after sleep.

Instincts: innate principles of animal behaviour, stereotyped and specific, that are unleashed in the face of internal or external stimuli. An exclusively physical-chemical or biological explanation has not been found. Complex determined behaviours adapted to the environment and directed toward an end. They are the motivational sources of animals.

Intelligence: the faculty that, using all available resources, allows one to recognize and solve new problems that arise. Only humans have intelligence in the proper sense because, in addition to moving toward an end with a clear motive, they can make abstractions and grasp the universal. The animal moves in a concrete situation, without separating itself from it. Can be quantified in an intelligence quotient (IQ). Some disorders are mental retardation and dementia.

Intentionality: a characteristic of some psychic phenomena of tending toward an external object. With Brentano it becomes a basic concept in psychology. It is present in perception – as a representation –, in sentiments - as acceptance of that representation - and in the memory.

Jealousy: reaction of fear or anger in facing the possibility, alleged or actual, of losing the affection of someone close. May be experienced between spouses as anxiety about a possible betrayal. Unreasonable jealousy is frequently a sign of personality disorders or delusion.

Libido: see Psychoanalysis.

Logotherapy: psychotherapeutic method founded by Frankl which studies human motivation, in particular the question about the meaning of life. Tries to include the Logos – meaning and values – in psychotherapy. As a technique, it basically uses paradoxical intention and De-reflection. It is also a wave of psychological humanist thought that bases itself on three pillars: the whole life and all circumstances have meaning, everyone has a desire for meaning, and man is free to responsibly choose his own path for living and dying.

Love: Act of the will that has as its object the good. In it’s realization, sacrifice and surrender stand out. One can say that its intentionality is infinite because it never subsides until it finds the Supreme Good.

Mania: abnormal state of mind with an excessively euphoric mood, tendency to speak quickly, psychomotor excitement, and overvaluation of oneself and one’s abilities, which leads to dispersion in many interests, unjustified optimism, and starting numerous initiatives. It is the opposite clinical sign of depression and the key symptom in bipolar disorder. One speaks of hypomania when the same symptoms are present, but to a lesser or mitigated degree; usually does not impede the normal life of the subject, but can predispose him to more serious episodes.

Mature personality: the person who finds stability, the ability to adapt, serenity and self-control in his development. One can always mature more because there are many susceptible aspects of growing throughout life. There is an intrapsychic maturity, such as knowledge and objective judgment on the personal reality and the realistic acceptance of oneself; an emotional maturity, in the attitude of balance and control over moods, the domain of reason over sensitivity, a healthy tolerance to frustration, and responsibility; and social or relational maturity, understood as the capacity to love and be with others.

Maturity: see mature personality.

Meaning of life: the meaning of each human existence with all the particular circumstances that make it unique and unrepeatable. The question about meaning is essential for the human being, and only the individual can formulate it, only he has a will for meaning, with its variants: who am I? Where do I come from? where do I go?

Megalomania: delusional ideas of grandure, like making a very important discovery or having a great talent. It is a subtype of delusional disorder.

Memory: storage place for information and the ability to reproduce a past experience. Depending on the conservation time, one distinguishes between immediate memory (less than one second), short-term memory (a few minutes), and long-term memory (can last a lifetime). Some disorders are: hypermnesia, which can be seen in very intelligent subjects, or in a transitory way, in manic states; amnesia, which can be anterograde or retrograde.

Mental health State of psychic well-being that allows the individual to act and interact with others appropriately.

Mental illness: disease which manifests itself mainly in human action and functions related to the psycho-spiritual sphere (feelings, thoughts, attitudes), whose exact cause is often not well known.

Mirror neurons: neuronal system – cells of the nervous system – probably present since birth, that allows one to instantly and intuitively grasp the intentionality of actions made by a member of the same species.

Mood: a disposition of the mind or interior attitude prevalent, persistent, without object or precise stimulation and, therefore, little conscious. Mood evaluates the quality of the states of the mind: sad, cheerful, optimistic.

Narcissist: feature or disorder of the personality characterized by grandiosity, need for admiration, and lack of empathy.

Neurosis: a subdivision used for a long time – now less used – between neuroses and psychoses, neuroses are the mental illnesses in which the relationship with reality is kept and the person is aware of the morbid nature of certain symptoms.

Nightmare: terrifying dreams that are more frequent in some periods of childhood. Occur primarily in the lightest sleep stage, called REM (rapid eye movements). Increase during times of stress or psychological trauma; see parasomnia.

Obsession: alteration in the content of thoughts where irrational and repeated ideas flood the mind; perceived by the subject as his own, but are absurd or exaggerated. The content is varied; can be associated with compulsions.

Organic disease: disorder or abnormal process that, in its initial cause or final consequence, manifests as a flaw in the body's organs, or in any physiological function of the living organism (e.g. diabetes, cancer, meningitis).

Panic attack: sudden onset of anxiety with physical symptoms: chest pain, feeling of suffocation, fear of dying, sweating, nausea, palpitations, tremors, etc. Usually lasts only a few minutes.

Panic: see panic attacks.

Paradoxical intention: logotherapy technique aimed at countering anticipatory anxiety or the fear of repetition that each symptom provokes, forming a vicious circle. It uses the human capacity for self-distancing and consists of resorting to phrases or arguments that are paradoxically equal to the subjects that are most feared. And also of good humour. It is similar to what is called symptom prescription.

Paranoia: feature or disorder of the personality in which there is a marked distrust and suspiciousness toward others and an illusion of persecution.

Parasomnias: episodic events related to certain stages of sleep, frequent in childhood and that do not match a particular psychological pathology: sleepwalking, childhood fears, nightmares, enuresis (bedwetting), somniloquy (sleep-talking) and bruxism (grinding teeth). The persistence or emergence in adulthood may suggest some psychological or neurological problem.

Passions: great affection for a person or thing that constantly pushes toward or against them. Some feelings can be turned into passion with increasing intensity: love, hate, jealousy. If it is about the good, the reaction is love (complacency). If the good is present to the subject, the joy of its possession is added to the passion; if the good is not present, there exists a desire to possess it (i.e. hope or despair). If it is about evil, the reaction is hate (avulsion). If hate is present to the subject, sadness or anger are added to the passion; if it is not present, there is aversion (audacity or fear).

Perception: psychic function that makes the individual aware of the environment. Organizes the sensations coming from stimulation of the sense organs and integrates them with the experience. There can be two types of alterations: distortions of perception, or illusions, where the received data is deformed, and false perceptions or hallucinations.

Perfectionism: a way of being in which one tries to do things perfectly at all costs. May have its roots in pride, as in doing good for self-love, or it can be a radical character trait closely linked to personality. Leads to frustration because one does not achieve expected goals, and to the paralysis of actions for fear of doing the wrong thing.

Personality disorder: constant and rigid behaviors and personality traits (not only adaptive and transient) that deviate from normal cultural expectations of the individual and cause suffering: a sick personality that suffers and causes suffering. Psychic disease that begins in adolescence or early adulthood.

Personality: concept that comes from the medieval Latin personalitas and defines a subject before others and before himself. It is a dynamic organization, the individual way of being that steadily conforms throughout life, with a sequence of experiences that come and go from the conscious to the conscious.

Phenomenology: philosophical method that strives to discover and describe phenomenon, that which is given immediately to the conscious (science of consciousness). It is basically a reflexive method that processes objects as data. Some philosophers who follow this method are Brentano, who studies intentionality and remains in the intrapsychic world; Husserl, who elaborates the phenomenological method as a philosophical description of experiences and returns to the essence of things; and Scheler, who exceeds the subjectivism of his predecessors and gives ample space to the human spirit and objective values.

Phobia: persistent and intense anxiety, unreal, that causes a person to avoid certain external stimuli or situations; for example, agoraphobia is anxiety in places or situations where a person thinks he has no means of escape.

Psychiatry: part of medicine that deals with the recognition and treatment of mental illness or mental impairment.

Psychoanalysis: theoretical current of psychology and psychotherapeutic method invented by Freud. It started as a therapeutic system and developed into a theory regarding personality and normal and pathological human conduct. Considers consciousness as a constant exchange of sexual energy known as libido. The main source of every mental phenomenon is in the subconscious, where one finds instincts, impulses, desires, memories, or images that have been repressed. This explains the genesis of mental illnesses. The method is primarily the analysis of conflicts that occurred in childhood.

Psychological testing: scientific assessment tools that try to objectively measure, with the experimental method, psychic activity, characteristics, and personality. Has very different modes.

Psychologism: reductionism in the study of human beings, which considers the psychic dimension as the only or the most important. Excludes transcendental aspects of or intentional references to the spiritual act.

Psychologist: those involved professionally in the study of psychic phenomena and the attitudes related to them.

Psychology of religion: branch of psychology which considers behaviors classified as religious. Does not investigate the truth of beliefs, but the human basis for which phenomenon of the tendency toward the sacred appear: faith and the practice of faith.

Psychology: scientific study of mechanisms and manifestations of mental processes.

Psychopathology: study of the alterations of mental functions (perception, thought, attention, consciousness, intelligence, memory, emotions, instinct). Interests itself in the subjective experience of patients and corresponding conducts.

Psychopharmacological drugs: name of specific medicines for the treatment of mental illness or mental symptoms.

Psychosis: mental disorders in which there is a deep fracture or loss of contact with reality, which prevents the person from having proper assessment of the real world. Two key symptoms include delusion and hallucinations.

Psychosomatic: term used to refer to the presence of physical symptoms or abnormalities that are mainly caused by psychological factors.

Psychotherapist: person conducting psychotherapy sessions. Can be a doctor, psychologist or other professional with a particular qualification and specification.

Psychotherapy: treatment of a disease or mental symptom using psychological means (as opposed to pharmaceutical means). There are many currents with different anthropological bases.

Religiosity: profound tendency of a person toward someone outside of himself, toward the absolute or the infinite, that gives meaning to his existence. Can lead one to discover that life is a mission and put him in relationship with the one who gives the mission, with divinity; can make one understand human limitations and seek the creator. It is the basis on which supernatural faith appears and develops.

Removing (or repression): see unconscious and psychoanalysis.

Responsibilities: essential human capacity for responding or giving an account of what one does; requires the existence of freedom. Involves recognizing and feeling as one’s own his thoughts, actions, decisions, etc. that are put into practice.

Sacrifice: capacity of freely (and out of love) offering for someone the pain or suffering of any kind,  giving meaning to another/others.

Schizophrenia: mental disorder in which, through acute stages, one has the loss of contact with reality, hallucinations (false perceptions) and delusions (misconceptions), abnormalities of thought, altering emotions, reduction in motivation and in social and occupational functioning. The specific cause remains unknown, but the basis is biological.

Scruples: from the Latin scrupulu (small sharp stone), is fear or anxiety in the face of actions done or to be done, because they are thought to be immoral or sinful, when in fact they are not. Or, persistent doubt, without logical reasons, not to be forgiven after having confessed any moral deficiency. It can be confused with an obsession with moral content.

Self-detachment: the spiritual dimension of own’s own capacity to emotionally separate from a situation, from conditioning and from oneself. May appeal to the heroism of a courageous act or to a sense of humor.

Self-esteem: Evaluation a person makes of oneself. It is formed from an early age, through self-reflection and the opinions of significant others (parents, relatives, teachers, etc.). A good self-esteem – Love – is crucial for individual development and life in society, and grows with service to others. For a Christian, it relies heavily on knowing oneself as a child of God.

Self-realization: autonomous development and growth of all physical, mental and social capacities. For some, like Maslow, it is the most important source for motivation. The Christian includes the spiritual dimension in this concept, and knows that true self-realization is only possible through good morals.

Self-transcendence: essential capacity of the spiritual dimension. It means stepping outside oneself and moving towards the meaning or values that give meaning and support to one’s existence; or also toward God and others.

Sense of humor: human capacity, related to self-detachment, that allows one to separate oneself from situations, people, and oneself in every moment, and laugh. Presupposes the ability for abstraction, to capture the unexpected meaning of an event.

Sign: abnormal phenomena that a doctor recognizes in a sick person, which can be conscious or not (e.g. high blood pressure, abnormal movements, rapid speaking). Differs from symptoms (which are experienced and referred by the patient himself), and with them allows the physician to arrive at a diagnosis, or at least suspect it.

Somatization: the presence of different symptoms from any organ, but seem to be somehow correlated with stressful psychological events. Somatization can lead to conversion syndrome, such as paralysis caused not by neurological damage, but by a mental disorder.

Spiritual direction: accompaniment, help and guidance to others on their way to a better understanding, encounter, and love of God.

Stress: nonspecific response in the face of stimuli, situations, or events that somehow test our mental or physical capacity. May be excessive and cause an organic or mental imbalance.

Substance dependence: an urgent need of a substance (alcohol, drugs) that leads to unbridled consumption. It can be psychological, with feelings of satisfaction and desires to repeat the experience obtained with the substance, and a strong discomfort if it is not obtained; or physical, with physiological adaptation to the substance that manifests itself in suspension, or withdrawal, syndrome.

Suicide: intentionally causing one’s own death. Suicide or suicide attempts are frequently a sign of mental illness.

Symptom: particular phenomenon caused by the state of a disease that a patient perceives and recounts to one’s doctor (e.g., chest pain, headaches, sadness).

Syndrome: a collection of  symptoms and  signs that typically concur at the same time in certain illnesses or constitute an illness known as such (eg. Carpal tunnel S., Down S., Restless legs S.; depression, like others, can be a symptom or syndrome).

Temperament: a set of characteristics of our way of being which have, above all, a congenital origin. Are developed from birth, many of which are inherited.

Tendencies: natural human inclinations to act a certain way that, unlike animal instincts, are followed only when the object is known. Are under the powers of the intellect and will, and thus become objectives of striving. The human being, by his spirituality, knows his end and orders to it all of his acts. In psychology, one talks about the tendency to action and enjoyment, self-preservation, tendency to selfishness, desire for power and esteem, and the tendency toward the love of goodness and creativity.

Thinking ability: the exclusively human, psychic ability to evaluate, abstract, and reflect on reality. Disorders can affect the form or content of thoughts. Thought form disorders include acceleration or flight of ideas (need to talk, as in mania); inhibition, or difficulty and slowness in the process of ideas (such as depression); circumstantiality, or the inability to distinguish details of central thoughts; perseverance, or the repetition of previously used words and ideas; concretism, the reduction or absence of the ability to make generalizations or abstractions (difficulty in interpreting proverbs); disassociated thoughts, that seem strange and incomprehensible (typical of schizophrenia); the lack of logic, which is also typical of schizophrenia; and obsessive, or anankastic, thinking with repetitive ideas. Among the disorders of thought content are obsessive ideas and delirium.

Tics: involuntary movements, rapid and short, in a given muscular area. Can be simple or complex; the simplest, like excessive winking, can appear in childhood or later, and reflect nervousness, but regress spontaneously or, with an anxiolytic, in a very short time. Other more complex and multiple tics are seen in a hereditary neurological disorder called Gilles de la Tourette Syndrome, in which there may also be vocal tics: from sighs, coughs, and shouts, to compulsive pronouncements of derogatory words or phrases. Tics increase with anxiety.

Transference (transfert): the feelings and emotions the patient feels towards his psychotherapist, and are interpreted particularly by psychoanalysis. Can be positive if the feelings are good (sympathy, gratitude, affection), or negative if the psychotherapist is hated. Countertransference is the opposite process: the feelings of the psychotherapist towards the patient.

Unconscious: set of experiences, memories, emotions, and instinctual motives that belong to the existence of the individual and are not available for immediate review by the subject nor the evocation of memory, but remain in places of the mind not well defined. For psychoanalysis, the unconscious is a key area in the human being where one finds conflicts, guilt, desires, and thoughts removed from consciousness, as a defense mechanism: here are the causes of mental illnesses. The content of that unconscious varies depending on the school.

Unipolar: adjective indicating that mood is only a modality; in the so-called unipolar depression it is generally depressed. Its opposite is bipolar disorder.

Unity of life: coherence in existence which leads one to always act in line with the ideal that one has made his own. It is a sign of maturity and a source of joy and peace. The Christian life consists in the harmony between the life of piety and the ordinary life, although the same distinction just made is superfluous: life is one and everything can become filial devotion, the love of God. The unity of life avoids dispersion.

Victimization: personality trait that leads to self-pity, complaints and protests. Those who suffer from it see everything with the attitude of martyrdom.

Vocation: from Vocatio or call. It was originally a word related to the religious life, as called by God to follow him closely in some spiritual way. Today, this concept is used in psychology, pedagogy, sociology and other disciplines to indicate the choices that a person makes on his professional, social, etc. future.

Voluntarism: as a personality trait it consists in trusting one's own will to act, above other motivational forces, including reason: one seeks to achieve goals with an exaggerated sense of duty, without serious reflection on the goodness or badness of what one is doing and with little capacity to modify decisions or actions, according to the circumstances; one is motivated more by results and activism. It is not to be confused with the force of the will, or willpower, which gives dominion over oneself by the governance of the intellect, and often moves one to ask for help and advice from others.

Wrath (anger): human emotion, often violent and immediate. Is a defensive response when the person feels scorned, damaged, undermined, betrayed. Accompanied by somatic manifestations, such as accelerated heart rate, dryness of the mouth, muscle tension, shouting, etc. Hatred is like a chronic form of anger.