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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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Rationalisation: a defence mechanism by means of which a subject adopts logical, rational explanations to justify his/her behaviour or actions which would otherwise be unacceptable.

Reaction formation: a defence mechanism by means of which an unacceptable subconscious drive is converted into its opposite, so that it can become conscious and expressed. For example, hatred of a person may be transformed into love.

Reality principle: in psychoanalysis, a term referring to the way in which the ego delays gratification and copes with the environment in a planned and rational manner.

Reality test(ing): a process which allows a person to distinguish external from internal stimuli and information, to impede confusion between what is perceived and what is represented to us mentally and to establish whether a certain content has an objective or subjective origin.

Reflex: a non-intentional, species-specific response (not learned) of parts of the body in the presence of given stimuli.

Regression: a defence mechanism which originates from a shift of libido energy from objects typical of one stage of psychosexual development to the typical objects of a previous phase.

Reinforcement: a term introduced by behaviourists (see Cognitive behavioural Therapy) to indicate a particular learning process based on the presentation of rewards following behaviour considered correct (positive reinforcement), or on the elimination of pleasant stimuli following undesired behaviour (negative reinforcement).

Relational trauma (emotocognitive psychology): a relational trauma is the consequence of potentially traumatogenic events or situations which cannot be shared, and which involve one or more interpersonal relations. Generally, not shared with most members of one’s community or with a definable group. Examples of relational traumas might be the traumatic consequences of constant ‘micro-traumas’, intra-familiar sexual abuse, criticism, negligence, verbal violence, disturbed attachment, the incapacity to get on the same wavelength as others etc. In brief, we may define relational trauma as the traumatic consequence of traumatogenic events which have developed within the context of just one or a few significant relationships.

Repression (classical Freudian): the principle defence mechanism in Freudian theory, by means of which unpleasant or anxiety-provoking memories are placed in the Unconscious and thus forgotten.

Response: the behaviour that follows a specific stimulus.

Restless-Leg Syndrome: a syndrome characterised by a sensation of disturbance and restlessness in the legs, which a person becomes aware of when going to bed or is any case resting. See also: ‘Akatisia’.

Rorschach Test: the most widely-known and most widely-used personality projective test. The examination of the individual’s personality and psychological tendencies is based on the interpretation given to various non-structured figures that appear on a series of 10 tables. Exploiting the normal subconscious mechanism of projection in the patient, a psychologist can trace and identify the more stable personality traits of a subject, although momentary present influences and recent experiences in the mind of the person being examined may also determine the occurrence significant responses.

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