Introduction

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The word ‘psychology’ is derived from the Greek psyche – mind or soul, and logos – study or discourse, literally ‘study of the mind‘. It has nothing to do with mind reading or common sense! Rather, a diverse science of the mind and study of peoples’ behaviour. The mind is a function of the brain, much as blood pressure is a function of the heart. There are three general approaches to psychology each with historical implications: Psychoanalysis, Behaviourism and Cognitive. Nowadays areas of psychology include: social, developmental, cognitive, evolutionary, comparative, biological, occupational, health, environmental, parapsychology, criminology and positive. Each of these will be discussed below.

The British Psychological Society list the following career paths:
Health – Clinical – Educational – Academia, Research & Teaching – Occupational – Counselling – Neuro – Sport & Exercise – Forensic. In depth information is available at: https://careers.bps.org.uk/
See also: https://www.bps.org.uk/

Psychology – A

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ABA – Applied Behaviour Analysis.

abiotic – Pertaining to non-living substances or environmental factors – air, water, soil, minerals along with climate and solar energy. See also: biotic.

allodynia – a type of pain (neuropathic) experienced by an organism (people / dogs etc) when touched. Activities that are not usually painful (such as combing one’s hair) can be painful. As with any condition, a provider will treat the cause rather than the symptom. There are three types of allodynia: dynamic (or mechanical) when the pain results from objects moving across the skin; static (or tactile) which results from a gentle touch or pressure; thermal which results from mild changes in temperature.

anachronism (n) – anything that is appears to be outside its proper time in history. Of the wrong time. Example sentence: ‘it can be argued that its an anachronism in a world where both partners go to work’. Gr: ana (against), chrono (time).

anachronistic (adj) – belonging to an earlier period, out of date, old fashioned.

anthology – a collection of poems or writings by different authors collected together in one book.

anxiety – an irrational feeling of worry, panic, dread, nervousness or apprehension about an actual or imaginary situation, person or event. A state of dysphoria often impairing physical and/or psychological functioning. Mild anxiety, however, is not necessarily a bad thing as this may enhance performance, for example, in an exam, a sporting event or public speaking. Anxiety lies on a continuum from normal, even desirable, to a severe disruption to daily life.

Evolutionary biology suggests that anxiety is learned and that fear is innate. This makes sense – if our ancestors were not fearful of lions on the African savanna we may not be here today! Anxiety may be internal or external. For example we may feel anxious about a meeting (external), triggering a belief that we are not capable or have the necessary ability or knowledge to participate (internal). We may feel anxious about the past, present or future or this may present more generally to include all three. Some sufferers report anxiety dreams – this may however help to achieve a state of mental homeostasis.

A precise definition is not always agreed however; clinicians may differ from sufferers in this respect. Other emotions may present, such as depression, malaise, sadness, sleeplessness, anger, shame, guilt. Physical responses may also present in the form of displacement behaviours, for example, avoidance, freezing, refusing to cooperate, hostility, talking excitedly, not talking at all, and invariably autonomous reactions, for example, palpitations, sweating, shaking, dizziness, hyper-ventilating, headache and increased blood pressure.

The English word ‘anxiety’ derives from the Greek ‘angh‘, making its way into the German language as ‘angst‘ – anguish, worry. It was in a ground-breaking paper that the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud coined the word ‘Angstneurose‘ – anxiety neurosis, as opposed to other forms of nervous illness or, indeed, other physiological illnesses. Of course Freud wrote in German and it was James Strachey who translated the paper into English. Strachey was acutely aware of the potential pitfalls of incorrectly translating the word ‘angst’, for example, fear, fright, alarm – however, the word ‘anxiety’ stuck and is now the accepted translation. See also: fear, phobia, neophilia, neophobia, dysphoria, somatic, homeostasis, neophilic, neophobic, epigenetics.

Psychology – B

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bacteria (pl.n), bacterium (sin.n) – 1. Very small organism some of which can cause disease known as a pathogen creating toxins which enter the cells and destroy them. Here they will multiply and burst the cell, then find a new cell to enter. Able to mutate every 20 minutes or so. Most are harmless, however. 2. A member of a large group of unicellular microorganisms. Widely distributed in soil, water, air and in or on the tissue of animals and plants. Once classified as part of the plant kingdom, now classified separately as prokaryotes.

They are so promiscuous that biologists cannot even positively identify many of them. Their DNA is shot through with genes borrowed from other species – even other kingdoms of life. Dose them with antibiotics, and they may just depend on a passing virus to grab a handy antibiotic resistance gene.

BCE (Before Common Era) – This and BC (Before Christ) means the same thing – previous to year 1 CE (Common Era). This is the same as year 1 AD (Ano Domini, meaning ‘in the year of the Lord’, ‘in the year of our Lord’).

bioethanol – A biofuel based on alcohol which may be combined with petrol to produce fuel for vehicles. Produced from plants such sugar, cane or maize.

biofuel – A gaseous, liquid or solid form of fuel from a natural source. A fuel derived immediately from living matter as opposed to fossil fuel (typically coal). See also: bioethanol.

biotic – Pertaining to living organisms – plants and animals including microbes. See also: abiotic

braggadocio – Boastful or arrogant behaviour. Vain, empty boasting. A braggart.

Psychology – E

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elegy (plural: elegies) – a poem of serious reflection, of mournfulness or a lament for the dead.

empirical – based on, concerned with, or verifiable by observation or experience rather than theory or pure logic.

Enlightenment, The – A philosophical and intellectual movement of 18th century Europe that emphasized the use of reason, observation and science, in contrast to the dogmatic beliefs that had previously held sway.

ethnographic – relating to the scientific description of peoples and cultures with their customs, differences and mutual differences. Ethnographic research in European border communities. 

Psychology – G

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gene (n) – A unit of heredity which is transferred from a parent (half from mother and half from father – though not the same in brothers or sisters unless they are identical) to an offspring and is held to determine some characteristics of the offspring, composed of DNA forming part of a chromosome. Basic unit of a chromosome which carries instructions in the DNA for one body characteristic.

Psychology – H

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hade – 1: An unploughed strip left between ploughed parts of a field – 2: To deviate from the vertical – 3: The angle made by a rock fault plane and the vertical.

homonym – 1. A word spelt or pronounced the same but with different meanings, for example red/read, read/reed, read/read. 2. biology, a name for a species or genus that should be unique but has been used for two or more different organisms. 3. A person with the same name as another.