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anachronistic (adj) – belonging to an earlier period, out of date, old fashioned.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