Convergent evidence from studies that employ different methodologies for the recording and analysis of brain data, indicates that “Alzheimers Disease” and “schizophrenia,” as well as a range of neurodevelopmental disorders including “autism,” are associated with abnormal organization of … brain networks.
— Olaf Sporns, Networks of the Brain

Behavioral Disorders: psychiatric illness or diseases manifested by breakdowns in the adaptational process expressed primarily as abnormalities of thought, feeling, and behavior producing either distress or impairment of function. (MeSH)

Patterns of behavioral or psychological “symptoms” that cause significant personal distress, impair the ability to function in one or more important area of life, or both. (Hockenbury, 507) Characterized by behavioral and/or psychological abnormalities, often accompanied by physical symptoms. The symptoms may cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social and occupational areas of functioning. Representative examples include “anxiety” disorders,  “cognitive” disorders, “mood” disorders and “schizophrenia.” (NCIt) Disorders can be classified according to presumed cause, to symptoms, or to "pathology." (Kolb, 605) Also referred to as 'psychiatric disorders' and ‘mental disorders.’


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): a behavioral problem characterized by short attention span, restless movement, and impaired "learning" capacity. (Coon) Hypothesized that the majority of patients have a higher than normal number of “dopamine”  ‘transporter complexes,’ reducing the amount of freely available dopamine in the “synaptic cleft.” This leads to cognitive problems, including an inability to keep attention, to focus attention, and to perform organizational planning. Learning is impaired as a result, and behavior can be disruptive and may be defiant or aggressive. Highly genetic. The illness can carry on into adult life, but more commonly improves as the affected children mature. (OxfordMed) People with ADHD exhibit abnormally low functional coupling between (the) anterior cingulate cortex and (the) posterior cingulate cortex. (Sporns, 229) One of the most common mental disorders in children and adolescents, also affects an estimated 4.1 percent of adults, ages 18-44, in a given year. ADHD usually becomes evident in preschool or early elementary years. The median age of onset of ADHD is seven years, although the disorder can persist into adolescence and occasionally into adulthood. (NIMH, 2011) Editor's note - U.S. behavioral disorders prevalence taken from the Surgeon General's Report on Mental Health, 1999.

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM): the book published by the American Psychiatric Association that describes the specific symptoms and diagnostic guidelines for different psychological "disorders." (Hockenbury, 507) The standard classification of mental disorders used by mental health professionals in the United States. Contains a listing of "diagnostic" criteria for every psychiatric disorder recognized by the U.S. healthcare system. DSM is used in both clinical settings (inpatient, outpatient, partial hospital, consultation-liaison, clinic, private practice, and primary care) as well as with "community" "populations." DSM is also a necessary tool for collecting and communicating accurate public health statistics about the diagnosis of psychiatric disorders. (DSM) Essentially the “clinical psychologist’s” 'bible' -- the reference manual that allows the comparison of patient symptoms and diagnostic labels. Primarily descriptive in nature. (Bamford, 10/25/2010) Classification, definition and description of over 200 mental health disorders. Regularly updated. Emphasizes the description of symptoms and the course of a disorder rather than the “etiology” and treatment of disorders. (Cardwell, 74) Categorizes and distinguishes mental and behavioral conditions based on symptoms. However, different "syndromes" share symptoms, and the same disorder can have different causes in different people. (Lewis, 150)

Extreme Trauma: an event that produces intense feelings of horror and helplessness, such as a serous physical injury or threat of injury to yourself or to loved one. (Hockenbury, 516)

Inferiority Complex: a general sense of inadequacy, weakness, and helplessness. People with an inferiority complex are often unable to strive for mastery and self-improvement. Term coined by Alfred Adler. (Hockenbury, 409)

Learned Helplessness: an inability to control the aversive stimuli that are coming at you. (MedinaBFP, 28) Learned inability to overcome obstacles or to avoid "punishment"; learned passivity and inaction to aversive stimuli. (Coon, 513) The tendency for an "organism" to give up trying to avoid or escape from an unpleasant "stimulus" because in the past all their attempts at so doing had been frustrated. (Cardwell, 140) A phenomenon in which exposure to inescapable and uncontrollable aversive events produces passive behavior. (Hockenbury, 205)

Medical Model of Abnormal Behavior: premise that mental disorders are similar to physical disorders. (Bamford, 10/25/10)

Neurosis: an outdated term once used to refer, as a group, to “anxiety disorders,”  “somatoform disorders,”  “dissociative disorders,”  and some forms of “depression.” (Coon, 537) Disorders in which the symptoms are distressing to the individual and recognized by him or her as being unacceptable. Social relationships may be greatly affected but usually remain within acceptable limits. The disturbance is relatively enduring or recurrent without treatment. (NCIt)

Obsessions: repeated, intrusive, and uncontrollable irrational thoughts or mental images that cause extreme anxiety and distress. (Hockenbury, 518) Irrational thoughts and images that invade a person’s conscious mind and appear uncontrollable to the person experiencing them. Trying to ignore or dismiss obsessive thoughts creates even more anxiety. (Cardwell, 167)

Psychosis: a withdrawal from reality marked by "hallucinations" and "delusions," disturbed thought and emotions, and personality disorganization. (Coon, 549) Psychoses in general are characterized by a break from reality, and tend to be one of the most severe types of psychological disorders. (Bamford, 10/25/10) Adjective - 'psychotic.'

Somatoform Disorders: persistent, recurring complaints of bodily symptoms that have no physical or medical basis. (Hockenbury, 511) Physical symptoms that mimic disease or injury for which there is no identifiable physical cause. (Coon, 537) Disturbances in physiological functions that are primarily psychological in nature. (Bamford, 10/25/10)

Body Dysmorphic Disorder: exaggerated concern and preoccupation about minor or imagined defects in appearance. (Hockenbury, 511) Belief that certain parts of your body are grotesque. (Blakeslee, 53, 212)

Conversion Disorder: a bodily symptom that mimics a physical disability but is actually caused by "anxiety" or emotional distress. (Coon, 547) A condition in which you show psychological "stress" in physical ways. Usually appears suddenly after a stressful event. For example, your leg may become paralyzed after falling from a horse even though you weren't hurt. Conversion disorder signs and symptoms appear with no underlying physical cause, and you can't control them. Signs and symptoms of conversion disorder typically affect your movement or your senses, such as the ability to walk, swallow, see or hear. Conversion disorder symptoms can be severe, but most people get better within a few weeks. (Mayo) For conversion blindness, the individual is unable to see, yet there is no medical evidence that would explain the loss of visual functioning. (Bamford, 10/25/10)

Hypochondria: disorder characterized by a persistent concern with personal health, and the misperception that one is sick when one is actually healthy. (Bamford, 10/25/10) Preoccupation with imagined diseases based on the person’s misinterpretation of bodily symptoms or functions. (Hockenbury, 511) Also referred to as 'hypochondriasis,'  'health phobia,' or 'health anxiety."

Superiority Complex: people who overcompensate for their feelings of inferiority. Behaviors caused by a superiority complex might include exaggerating one’s accomplishments and importance in an effort to cover up weaknesses and deny the reality of one’s limitations. Term coined by Alfred Adler. (Hockenbury, 409)

Symptom(s): a physical or mental “phenomenon,” circumstance, or change of condition arising from and accompanying a disorder and constituting evidence of it; a characteristic sign of a particular “disease.” (Oxford) In its general usage within psychology, this is some event which is taken to indicate the existence of an underlying disorder. (Cardwell, 245)

Deviance: the patient displays behavior that conflicts with societal or cultural norms. Thus, the behavior is experienced as unusual by observers, and defies normal standards for behavior. (Bamford, 10/25/10)

Euphoria: a strong feeling of well-being, cheerfulness, and optimism, especially one based on overconfidence or overoptimism; a “mood” marked by this, as symptomatic of a mental illness or the influence of drugs. (Oxford) An exaggerated feeling of physical and emotional well-being not consonant with apparent stimuli or events; usually of psychologic origin, but also seen in organic brain disease and toxic states. (MeSH) Adjective - 'euphoric.'

Lanugo: the development of fine, blonde, downy hair that is almost fur-like in appearance. Symptom of Anorexia Nervosa. (Bamford, 10/25/10)

Maladaptive: disruptive. (Hockenbury, 512)

Maladaptive Behavior: behavior that interferes with normal functioning. Oftentimes, the maladaptive behavior interferes with appropriate social, academic, or occupational function. (Bamford, 10/25/10)

Mania: an emotional state characterized by intense, but more often than not inappropriate, elation, resulting in hyperactivity, distractibility, excessive talkativeness and disrupted (racing) thought processes. (Cardwell, 146)

Personal Distress: the patient reports feeling anxious, disturbed, conflicted, etc. (Bamford, 10/25/10)

Syndrome: a group of symptoms or “pathological” signs which consistently occur together, especially with an unknown cause. (Oxford)