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psychological disorder

deviant, distressful, and dysfunctional behavior patterns.

attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder

a psychological disorder marked by the appearance by age 7 of one or more of three key symptoms, extreme inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.

medical model

the concept that diseases have physical causes that can be diagnosed, treated, and, in most cases, cured. When applied to psychological disorders, the medical model assumes that these mental illnesses can be diagnosed on the basis of their symptoms and cured through therapy, which may include treatment in a psychiatric hospital.

anxiety disorders

psychological disorders characterized by distressing, persistent anxiety or maladaptive behaviors that reduce anxiety.

generalized anxiety disorder

an anxiety disorder in which a person is continually tense, apprehensive, and in a state of autonomic nervous system arousal.

panic disorder

an anxiety disorder marked by unpredictable minutes-long episodes of intense dread in which a person experiences terror and accompanying chest pain, choking, or other frightening sensations.


an anxiety disorder marked by a persistent, irrational fear and avoidance of a specific object or situation.

obsessive-compulsive disorder

an anxiety disorder characterized by unwanted repetitive thoughts (obsessions) and/or actions (compulsions).

post-traumatic stress disorder

an anxiety disorder characterized by haunting memories, nightmares, social withdrawal, jumpy anxiety, and/or insomnia that lingers for four weeks or more after a traumatic experience.

dissociative disorders

disorders in which conscious awareness becomes separated (dissociated) from previous memories, thoughts, and feelings.

dissociative identity disorder

a rare dissociative disorder in which a person exhibits two or more distinct and alternating personalities. Also called multiple personality disorder.

mood disorders

psychological disorders characterized by emotional extremes. See major depressive disorder, mania, and bipolar disorder.

major depressive disorder

a mood disorder in which a person experiences, in the absence of drugs or a medical condition, two or more weeks of significantly depressed moods, feelings of worthlessness, and diminished interest or pleasure in most activities.

bipolar disorder

a mood disorder in which the person alternates between the hopelessness and lethargy of depression and the overexcited state of mania. (Formerly called manic-depressive disorder.)


a group of severe disorders characterized by disorganized and delusional thinking, disturbed perceptions, and inappropriate emotions and actions.


false beliefs, often of persecution or grandeur, that may accompany psychotic disorders.

personality disorders

psychological disorders characterized by inflexible and enduring behavior patterns that impair social functioning.

antisocial personality disorder

a personality disorder in which the person (usually a man) exhibits a lack of conscience for wrongdoing, even toward friends and family members. May be aggressive and ruthless or a clever con artist.


mania: a mood disorder marked by a hyperactive, wildly optimistic state.

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