Psychological Disorders

Psychological Disorders

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.

Anxiety disorders

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

Bipolar disorder

A mood disorder in which the person alternates between the hopelessness and lethargy of depression and other overexcited state of mania.

Bio-psycho perspective A contemporary perspective which assumes that biological, psychological, and Sociocultural factors combine and interact to produce psychological disorders.   Delusions

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

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.


The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Fourth Edition), a widely used system for classifying psychological disorders.

Generalized anxiety disorder

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

Major depressive disorder

A mood disorder in which a person, for no apparent reason, experiences two or more weeks of depressed moods, feelings of worthlessness, and diminished interest or please in most activities.

Manic episode

A mood disorder marked by a hyperactive, wildly optimistic state.

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.   Mood disorders

Psychological disorders characterized by emotional extremes.  See major depressive disorder, manic episode, and bipolar disorder.

Neurotic disorder A psychological disorder that is usually distressing but that allows one to think rationally and function socially.  Freud saw the neurotic disorders as ways of dealing with anxiety.   Obsessive-compulsive disorder

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

Panic disorder

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

Personality disorders

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


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

Psychological disorder

A “harmful dysfunction” in which behavior is judged to be atypical, disturbing, maladaptive, and unjustifiable.

Psychotic disorder

A psychological disorder in which a person loses contact with reality, experiencing irrational ideas and distorted perceptions.


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