Psychology Glossary

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The essential guide to the words used in psychology, with meanings and correct pronunciations. Click the blue words and listen to the correct audio pronunciation.


Ablösung is a German term that indicates the interruption of the psychological bond between two people who live a particular situation in a subordinate manner.

Acting out

Acting out is the term used in psychology to refer to impulsive actions which reveal previously inhibited emotions. Acting out is considered healthy and therapeutic.


Addiction is the word used to indicate a compulsive physiological and psychological need for a habit-forming substance. You can be addicted to alcohol, to sugar or to drugs.


Anxiety is a state of fear, apprehension, and uncertainty resulting from the anticipation of a realistic or fantasized threatening situation.


Asperger is a form of autism that is characterized by strong difficulties in social interaction and non-verbal communication, but it does not indicate a significant delay in cognitive development.

Binge eating 

Binge eating is the English expression that indicates a series of uncontrollable eating episodes. Although people who do not have any eating disorder may occasionally experience episodes of overeating, frequent binge eating can be a symptom of an eating disorder.


Biofeedback indicates the technique of gaining greater awareness of the behaviour, in order to be able to relax and reduce anxiety and stress.


A borderline is literally a line that establishes or marks a border. In psychology, this term is related to a condition characterized by a pattern of instability in mood and inconsistent behaviour, which is not necessarily a real neurosis.

Bowlby Attachment Theory

Bowlby Attachment Theory is a theory described by John Bowlby, which explains the dynamics of the most important relationship that an infant needs to develop with at least one primary caregiver, for social and emotional development to occur normally.


Burnout is a term used to indicate physical and emotional exhaustion, diminished interest in work, especially as a result of long-term stress in the workplace.


Cognitional, adjective of cognition, is the mental process of knowing, awareness, perception, and judgment.


Cognitive, related to cognition, is the term related to the mental processing that includes reasoning, problem-solving, and decision-making.

Coming out

Coming out this expression is used to self-disclose the sexual orientation. It is used when someone reveals voluntarily that he is gay, lesbian, or bisexual.


Compulsion is an irresistible impulse to act, to perform an action persistently and repetitively, regardless how this act can be rational or motivated. 

Coping strategies

Coping strategies is an expression used to indicate a series of conscious efforts made to solve psychological problems. Strategies that help minimize or tolerate stress or conflict.


Counselling is a psychological guidance which focuses on helping someone to solve problems related to the interactions with his environment, family or work place.


Craving is an intense psychological urge for certain food, drugs, or medication.

Cybersexual Addiction

Cybersexual Addiction is a sexual addiction which takes place through virtual Internet sexual activity. Eventually, it causes serious negative consequences to one's physical and mental well-being.


Décalage is a French word used to define the difference between the mental age and the chronological age of a child.

Déjà vu

Déjà vu is a French term that means “already seen”. In psychology, this phenomenon occurs when an individual believes that he has already seen certain events or situations.


Denial is a psychological defence mechanism: it occurs when someone denies overwhelming evidence.


Disorder, this word, in psychology, refers to a physical or mental condition that is not normal or healthy.


Empowerment is a word that literally it means assignment, authorization. In psychology indicates the expansion of the self, the promotion of one’s abilities.


Fading is a technique applied in behaviour therapy, it helps to reduce the urge to perform an action until the need for it fades away.


Feedback is the return of information about the result of a process or activity.


Flooding is a term that, in psychology, refers to a technique of exposing the patients to their painful memories, to reintegrate their repressed emotions with their current awareness.


Gestalt psychology is a school of thought born in Germany in 1890 that looks at the human mind and behaviour as a whole.


Headshrinker is a slang word used to indicate a physician who specializes in psychiatry.


Hysteria is an English term to indicate a mental disorder that reveals itself with physical symptoms, even if it doesn't have an organic cause but only a psychological one.

Information Overload

Information overload is an English expression used to indicate the negative psychological effects that information overload can cause to a person.

Inner space

Inner Space is the inner “space” in the mind which can be explored by undergoing psychotherapy.


Insight in psychology is a term which refers to the ability to suddenly understand the inner nature of things or how to solve a problem.

Internet Addiction Disorder

Internet Addiction Disorder is an English expression which indicates all those symptoms that are the result of a compulsive use of Internet, including symptoms of withdrawal that occur after stopping or dramatically reducing the surfing time.

Münchausen (syndrome)

The name Münchausen derives from Baron Münchhausen, who lived in the 18th century and loved to tell unbelievable and bizarre stories about himself. In psychiatry, the Münchausen syndrome is a psychological disorder: people who suffer from it pretend to be ill to be the centre of attention and care. Occasionally, they even cause symptoms of an illness in themselves. 


Neurosis is an English term to indicate any of various psychological disorders.


Obsessive is a person who is incessantly preoccupied with a particular activity, person, or thing.


Outing is a word that refers to the act of disclosing a person's sexual orientation or gender identity without that person's consent.


Prescription is a written order made by a doctor (in this case, a psychiatrist) for the preparation and administration of a medicine or other treatment.


A psychiatrist is a physician who specializes in psychiatry. The word is pronounced differently in British English and in American English. Listen to the correct pronunciation of both: Psychiatrist (UK) - Psychiatrist (US)


Psychiatry is the medical speciality dedicated to the study, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental disorders. The word is pronounced differently in British English and in American English. Listen to the correct pronunciation of both: Psychiatry (UK) - Psychiatry (US)


Psychoanalysis is an English word used to indicate the method of psychological therapy originated by Sigmund Freud.


A psychologist is a person trained and educated to perform psychological research, testing, and therapy.


Psychology is the science that deals with mental processes and behaviour.


Resilience is the ability to recover quickly from stress, trauma, and change.


Rorschach is the name of a psychological test created by Swiss psychiatrist Hermann Rorschach (1884-1922). It is based on the perception of inkblots.


Salience in psychology is a term that refers to the characteristic, the quality that stands out in an individual.


Self-esteem is the expression which refers to pride in oneself and self-respect.


Sensitive is the adjective used to indicate a person who is rapid to respond to slight changes or influences. Sensitive is also a person who displays real attention to others' feelings.


Syndrome is the word used to refer to a group of signs and symptoms that occur together and characterize a particular condition, whose features are still unclear.


Spectatoring is a word that indicates someone who focuses on himself, on his behaviour, from a third-person perspective.


Transference is a process by which the feelings that you had for someone become directed to someone else, usually the psychoanalyst.


18 January 2024
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