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PSYCHOLOGY AND PSYCHOTHERAPY GLOSSARY

The glossary/dictionary that you can find in this section of our site gathers all the technical terms that are currently used in psychology and psychotherapy. Each term presents a brief and clear description.


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Echolalia: pathological and apparently nonsensical repetition (parrot-fashion) of a word or phrase which has just been pronounced by another person (echoing).

Echopraxia: the repetition, by way of imitation, of movements of another person. The action is neither desired nor voluntary and is semi-automatically produced and uncontrollable.

Ego: in psychoanalysis, this is the region of the mind that corresponds with the personality: it is the ‘individuality’ of a person. According to psychoanalytical theory, the ego denotes the set of motivations and actions of an individual which condition his/her adaptation to reality, satisfies his/her needs and resolves the conflicts caused by intolerable (mutually incompatible) desires. One of the components of the Freudian tripartite model of the psychic apparatus, together with the Id and Super-ego.

Egocentrism: a characteristic of persons who believe that their opinions or interests are more important than those of other people. An egocentric person does not possess a ‘theory of mind’ and is incapable of experiencing empathy.

Electra Complex: in girls of pre-school age, the female variant of the Oedipus Complex supposedly occurring in male children. The term refers to a dynamic occurring during the ‘Phallic’ stage of psycho-sexual development and is characterised by a girl’s interest in her father in relation to the fact the latter possess a penis, which she lacks.

Emotocognitive psychology: emotocognitive psychology is a theoretical model developed by the psychologist Baranello, who first proposed the concept in 1997 as a ‘psychology of needs and desires’. The name of this model was subsequently changed and eventually became known as ‘emotocognitive psychology’.

Empathy: refers to the comprehension of what another person is experiencing at the emotional level. Empathy implies an attitude towards others characterised by an effort to intellectually understand another person, leaving aside personal attitudes, such as liking/disliking the person and possible moral judgements. See the article on ‘empathy’.

Empowerment: the term ‘empowerment’ derives from the verb ‘to empower’, meaning to ‘delegate or pass power to someone’. The term can be used (cfr. Piccardo) to refer to: facilitating the opening-up to new possible worlds; to pass responsibility on to someone else; increasing someone’s capacity or developing potential. The concept of empowerment can be seen as an objective to reach through forms of self-help, valorising the activity and work of an individual, and may used in the contexts of various forms of social support that recognise the value of solidarity and the importance of social interaction.

Encephalogram: a graphic representation of the electric activity in the brain. Obtained with electroencephalographic equipment.

Enmeshed (family): in systemic/family therapy theories, the term refers to a family in which the relations between its members are characterised by a high level of involvement and confusion between roles. At the same time, there is a considerable degree of closure towards the external world, generally perceived as threatening. The opposite of ‘disengaged’.

Epilepsy: a general term for a series of disorders characterised by the following symptoms: periodical motor or sensory seizures with or without convulsions, the dulling or loss of consciousness; motor, sensory or cognitive dysfunctions and the presence of an altered encephalogram.

Eros: vital drive. According to S. Freud, ‘eros’ underlies behaviour aimed at the conservation of life and the development of the individual.

Euphoria: an emotional state characterised by strong, psychic and physical excitement. The opposite of dysphoria.

Eustress: stress of a positive type, i.e., constructive environmental stimulation.

Extraversion: the tendency to turn towards the outer world and interact with others. Extraverts are people who are sociable, seek the company of others and wish to maintain their relationships. The opposite of introversion. See the article on introversion/extraversion.

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