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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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Need: referring to the condition of interdependence between living organisms and the environment. A state of ‘need’ is that in which there exists an absence or lack of some resource or material, which drives the organism to interact with its environment in order to eliminate such a condition.

Nervous breakdown: a popular expression, which in more technical terms  refers to a state of neurasthenia characterised by a variety of symptoms including abulia, apathy, limited initiative, poor concentration, dysphoric or depressed mood, moments of anxiety, and hypochondriacal tendencies.

Narcolepsy: a disorder characterised by excessive diurnal somnolence. It is believed that the disturbance itself or a predisposition to develop it may be related to genetically-determined characteristics of the individual.

Narcotic: any natural or synthetic agent, such as the opioids in particular, which alleviates pain, produces somnolence, stupor and insensitivity. See also Substance-induced disorders’.

Negation: a defence mechanism by means of which repressed life events may return to consciousness in a ‘negative’ form. A subject will thus refute their origin and reject any personal involvement with such occurrences.

Neuroleptic: psychotropic medication with a sedating effect on the nervous system, used in cases of maniacal states and, generally, for schizophrenics and psychotics. This type of medicine has a much more powerful effect than normal tranquillizers as it mitigates aggressiveness, progressively reducing both acute and chronic psychotic episodes and disorders.

Neurotic anxiety: a kind of ego anxiety engendered by drives of the Id that seek satisfaction.

Neurotransmitter: a chemical substance found in the nervous system, which allows for the transmission of impulses between neurons.

Neurasthenia: a form of neurosis essentially characterised by sensations of tiredness and weakness at the motor and psychic levels, a lack of desire to accomplish or do anything and general apathy. Unpleasant sensations are often present in various parts of the body together with hypochondriacal and psychosomatic tendencies.

Neuroses: a group of emotional disorders initially caused by stimuli capable of causing a conflict within an individual. It may occur that one finds oneself in a situation in which one both desires and yet simultaneously fears to act in a certain way: a predicament which will produce anxiety. Over time, the initial situation will disappear, but eventually one may find oneself again in a situation resembling that experienced the past. In such an event, the conflict will be repeated - as will the anxiety - but apparently now without any reason at all.

Noradrenaline: a neurotransmitter of the central nervous system. Alterations of physiological parameters relating to this substance appear to have implications for depression and maniacal states.

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