Selfhood and Consciousness: A Non-Philosopher's Guide to Epistemology, Noemics, and Semiotics (and Other Important Things Besides) [Entries Beginning with "A/B"]


Copyright Notice: This material was written and published in Wales by Derek J. Smith (Chartered Engineer). It forms part of a multifile e-learning resource, and subject only to acknowledging Derek J. Smith's rights under international copyright law to be identified as author may be freely downloaded and printed off in single complete copies solely for the purposes of private study and/or review. Commercial exploitation rights are reserved. The remote hyperlinks have been selected for the academic appropriacy of their contents; they were free of offensive and litigious content when selected, and will be periodically checked to have remained so. Copyright © 2006-2018, Derek J. Smith.



First instalment [v1.0] published 13:00 GMT 28th February 2006; this version [4.0 - copyright] published 09:00 BST 2nd July 2018





G.3 - The Glossary Proper (Entries A to B)



A-BNRB: See Ackerman-Banks Neuropsychological Rehabilitation Battery.



Abreaction: This is the psychoanalytic term for the "emotional release or discharge" which follows revisiting and thereby successfully resolving a powerful traumatic memory, due either to the "partial discharge" or "desensitisation" of the source material, or to the "increased insight" (American Psychiatric Association, 1980) which may result from the experience. We continue with this topic in the entry for catharsis and abreaction.



Abstract-Concrete Dimension, the: [See firstly concept and image.] To describe something as "abstract" or "concrete" is to invoke a rough-and-ready nominal scale for the classification of grammatical substantives, predicated upon the fact that some substantives are more literally "substantive" (i.e. more directly tangible or more readily imageable) than others. Thus an everyday object such as <a pen> can be seen in the mind's eye or felt between the mind's fingers as relatively "concrete" images, whilst the notion of <honour>, being neither directly tangible nor imageable, requires a more "abstract" mental representation. [See now symbol and symbol versus image, carefully noting the problems of basic definition raised by C.W. Morris.]



Abstract Idea: [See firstly perception, abstraction, idea, and Locke, John.] An abstract idea is "something in the mind between the thing that exists and the name that is given to it" (Locke, 1690, p308). Used in this way, Locke's abstract idea makes much the same theoretical assertion as do the modern notions of concept(ion) or sememe, that is to say, it is presented as the nodal unit of meaning in a semantic network. Not everyone was impressed with Locke's analysis, however. Berkeley, for example, was every bit as interested in the role played by the imagination in "representing" to his consciousness the ideas of things previously perceived, yet whenever he studied imagination as it went on in his own mind he found specific images, but never abstract ideals thereof (Berkeley, 1710). He concluded that Locke's "doctrine of abstraction" was rather "remote from common sense" (p98). Later Associationist philosophers continued the debate, seeking (but never quite finding) the decisive argument and the most elegant definitions and explanatory schemes. Hume, for example, sided with Berkeley but wisely pointed out the different role of the image and the use to which that image might be put. "The image in the mind," he argued, "is only that of a particular object, tho' the application of it in our reasoning be the same, as if it were universal" (Hume, 1739a, p20). Hume called this the "application of ideas beyond their nature" (ibid.). Galton (1883) [as part of his study into imagery, individual differences in] argued that the "character" of our abstract ideas would depend on each person's individual history - which he called their "nurture" (p132). However, Galton found the term "abstract idea" unhelpful and misleading, and suggested "cumulative idea" or "generic image" (p132) would be more appropriate. William James also revisited the topic in his Principles, generally defending Locke against Berkeley. The topic was then largely forgotten about during the Behaviorist era, being rediscovered by the philosopher Gilbert Ryle, who applied it to referentially abstract terms like "the Equator" or "the average taxpayer" (Ryle, 1949, p289), and by the University of Oregon's Michael Posner. Posner discussed the abstract idea concept in his early papers on the differing depths of analysis in perceptual processing (see, for example, Posner, Boyes, Eichelman, and Taylor, 1967, and Posner and Keele, 1967, 1968). Given the lack of consensus as to the value of the term, we recommend avoiding it altogether in favour of (a) percept (if concerned with the unit of perceptual activation), (b) sememe or object concept (if concerned with the unit of meaning as something nodally stored), or (c) thought, idea, or proposition (if concerned with the unit of thought as something transmitted or processed). We also find value in Baars' (1997) observation that images earn much of their utility from their ability to act as "handles for abstractions" (p81). Interestingly enough, by his insistence that understanding be separated from naming, Locke was anticipating by nigh on 300 years the separation of semantic and lexical resources which has now become standard practice in modern psycholinguistic processing models such as those by Morton (1981), Ellis (1982), Ellis and Young (1988), and Kay, Lesser, and Coltheart (1992).



Abstraction: Abstraction is one of the two fundamental abilities at the heart of cognition (the other being association). Specifically, it is the ability to draw the common essentials out of a series of at least two in-some-way-related neural activations, iteratively if and when possible, thus creating a higher-order activation or activations. We should not automatically regard this process as requiring conscious awareness, thus leaving open the possibility that our neurons are involved in a lot more abstracting than becoming aware. Alternatively, abstraction is "an ability to generalize from previous experience" (Posner and Keele, 1968, p353). [Example: When being taught how to read, one will hear the sound /a/ associated with the printed characters "A", "a", "A", and "a". Learning to recognize the individual allographs is the primary perceptual task, whilst coming to categorize them all as instances of the abstract "letter A" is the secondary, but ultimately more useful, task.] Abstraction is important because it helps us make sense of a very confusing world, enabling us to spot possibly life-saving higher-order truths in amongst a confusion of lower-order instances [this is nicely illustrated by the quotation from Locke in the entry for conceptual hierarchy]. As to what allows the necessary judgment of commonality to take place, we like Horace Barlow's observation that "[neurons] give prominence to what is informationally important" (Barlow, 1972, p380). This one basic neural property then makes its effects felt in a number of different ways according to whereabouts in the overall cognitive system the neurons in question happen to be situated. We may see abstraction at work when our sensory systems detect common factors such as pitch and volume (sound) or colour and shape (vision), and use these commonalities to set up "prototypes" (Rosch, 1973). It is also the process responsible for the detection of the common attributes which identify members of a category (e.g., "predator" or "triangularity"), making it the core process in the formation of concepts, and it is abstraction again which is responsible for the organization of individual concepts into conceptual hierarchies. [See now abstract idea, abstraction, phylogenetic limits of, and consciousness, "higher-order" theories of.]



Abstraction, Empirical: This is one of the two fundamental types of abstraction identified by Piaget (e.g., Piaget, 1977) (the other being abstraction, reflective). It is abstraction simpliciter, that is to say, of the sort that extracts specific attributes from perceived objects (Mays, 1998).



Abstraction, Phylogenetic Limits of: [See firstly abstraction and consciousness, O'Keefe's theory.] Philosophers have long speculated as to the higher cognitive functions (if any) possessed by nonhuman species. Plato, for example, regarded aquatic animals as "the most entirely senseless and ignorant of all" (Timaeus, ¶49), while Descartes concluded that "brutes" had "no reason at all" (Descartes, Discourse, p108), merely a repertoire of "natural movements" which acted in them "just like a clock" (ibid.). Locke (1690) then flatly asserted that one of the principal differences between humans and the more intelligent nonhuman species was that "brutes abstract not" (p105). For his part, Hume saw no fundamental difference between the reasoning powers of a dog, say, and those of humans, but pointed to major weaknesses in their ability to "perceive any real connection" between objects (Hume, 1739a, p178); as a result, "they can never by any arguments form a general conclusion" (ibid.). The subject exploded in popularity in the second half of the 19th century, following the publication of Charles Darwin's "Origin of Species" (Darwin, 1859), and sparked a confrontational debate between the naturalists George Romanes and Conwy Lloyd Morgan. Romanes published Animal Intelligence (some 500 pages of anecdote, correspondence, and quotation) in 1886. This reviewed the intelligence of a wide variety of species from protozoa to apes; but was often blissfully anthropomorphic [at one point he included an (admittedly second-hand) account of a pet boa-constrictor which moped when separated from its owners but which "sprang upon them with delight" on their return (Romanes, 1886, p261; emphasis added)]. Lloyd Morgan (1894) countered with a strong attack on this sort of anthropomorphism, giving us Lloyd Morgan's canon as a handy rule-of-thumb on how to avoid it, and Henri Bergson produced an excellent first-cut analysis of the cognitive series (Bergson, 1907/1911). More recently, comparative psychologists have applied both Piagetian theory (e.g., Antinucci, 1989) and ethological theory (e.g., Crook, 1987) to the classification of animal intelligence levels, and evolutionary psychologists are trying to piece together from what is left of their artefacts the cognitive abilities of our extinct hominid ancestors (e.g., Mithen, 1996; Deacon, 1997; Smith and Stringer, 1997; Mithen, 2005).



Abstraction, Reflective: This is one of the two fundamental types of abstraction identified by Piaget (e.g., Piaget, 1977) (the other being abstraction, empirical). It is an Anglicisation of the French abstraction réfléchissante, and may be profiled as follows .....


"Logico-mathematical concepts are [.....] derived through reflective abstraction from the actions one performs upon objects, specifically from such general coordinations as combining, ordering, and putting into one-one correspondence [(Piaget, 1977)]. Piaget goes on to point out that these coordinations are then reflected on to a higher intellectual level, where they are constructed into new, more comprehensive systems. As he puts it 'reflective abstraction consists in translating a succession of material actions into a system of interiorised operations'. He claims that since, for example, the higher level propositional operations are derivative from our more concrete classificatory ones, they are in effect 'operations upon operations'. An essential element in the notion of 'reflective abstraction' is that of reflection. Reflection literally means 'to bend back'. It can be used in the physical sense as when an image is reflected (or projected) on to a surface, for example, the retina, or in the psychological sense of introspecting or thinking about our activities. In Piaget's notion of 'reflective abstraction', both senses of the word are involved." (Mays, 1998, p43).



Abuse-Related Brain Damage: This is Teicher et al's (2000, 2002, 2003, etc.) notion that permanent damage can be done to a number of abuse survivors' cortical and diencephalic structures consequent upon the abuse they were subjected to (although the precise causal line remains, as yet, far from clear). The fundamental theoretical assertions are (a) that the brain "is designed to be sculpted into its final configuration by the effects of early experience" (Teicher et al, 2002, p397), (b) that early stress and maltreatment "produces a cascade of neurobiological events that have the potential to cause enduring changes in brain development" (Teicher et al, 2003, p33), and (c) that these changes are then capable of impacting upon the victim's mental health in a wide variety of ways, both direct and indirect. Four discrete focuses of change have been identified, as follows .....


(1) Neocortical Changes: Teicher et al (2002) noted "attenuated development" of the left cerebral hemisphere in subjects with a history of "severe early stress and maltreatment".


(2) Callosal Changes: Schiffer, Teicher, and Papanicolau (1995) found "prominent group differences" in cerebral laterality between subjects with a history of childhood trauma and matched controls. Specifically, the trauma group showed a marked shift in cerebral dominance from the left hemisphere to the right whenever a memory recall task called for unpleasant rather than neutral material. The control subjects showed neither asymmetry nor shift.


(3) Temporal Lobe Changes: Teicher et al (2003) report "attenuated development" of the hippocampus and amygdala of abuse survivors. Teicher et al (2002, 2003) point to the tendency of early stressors to produce abnormal amygdala or hippocampal development. They describe a process they call "kindling", in which repeated intermittent stimulation of neurons in the amygdala "produces greater and greater alteration in the excitability of those neurons" (2003, p34). These long-term alterations can result in spontaneous discharge and are likely to have "a major impact on behavioural control" (ibid.). They describe this outcome as "limbic irritability", and have devised the Limbic System Checklist as a means of standardising its assessment for both research and clinical screening purposes. It is thought-provoking to note that hippocampal structures have long been regarded as having a role in memory processing, whilst the amygdala seems to be involved specifically in the processing of emotionally charged memories.


(4) Cerebellar Changes: Teicher et al (2002) report "reduced functional activity" of the cerebellar vermis.


 Teicher et al (2006) also emphasise that the trauma can be entirely verbal, and still wreak its havoc, thus .....


"Maternal verbal abuse during childhood has been associated with a markedly higher risk for development of borderline, narcissistic, obsessive-compulsive, and paranoid personality disorders [even] after control for temperament, physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, parental psychopathology, and co-occurring psychiatric disorders. Verbal abuse may also have more lasting consequences than other forms of abuse and, in combination with physical abuse and neglect, produce the most dire outcome" (Teicher et al, 2006, p993).


In fact, Teicher et al (2002) have elevated the "cascade" metaphor (above) to the status of a formal explanatory model - the "cascade model". The stress simply pours in at the top of the causal chain, and then topples, event by event, all the way down to permanent structural deformity and/or dysfunction at the bottom. Thus .....


"The first step in the cascade is the enduring effects of stress on the molecular components of the stress-response system. There are three major pillars to this system. One pillar involves the hippocampus and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, and is intimately involved in the feedback regulation of cortisol. [.....] The second pillar involves the amygdala, locus coeruleus, adrenal gland, and sympathetic nervous system. This is the noradrenergic and adrenaline response to stress, which is crucial for enhancing and directing blood flow, increasing awareness, and mobilising a fight-or-flight response. A third and less explored stress response system involves the vasopressin-oxytocin peptide prohormone family. [.....] In short, early stress programs and primes the mammalian brain to be more fearful and to have an enhanced noradrenergic, corticosteroid, and vasopressin response to stress. The second stage of the cascade model centres of the effects of increased activation of the stress hormone systems on the developing brain. In particular, corticosteroids have dramatic and profound effects on the developmental process" (Teicher et al, 2002, pp400-401).


And as if the foregoing pathologies were not enough, the suspicion has recently been raised that the effects of different types of abuse are more than simply summative (Teicher et al, 2006). In other words, if one type of abuse (physical, say) produces "x amount" of abuse-related brain damage, then two types of abuse (physical and neglectful, say) will produce more than twice as much.



Academic Locus of Control Scale (ALC): [See firstly locus of control.] This is Trice's (1985) 28-item true-false instrument for measuring levels of belief "in personal control over academic outcomes" (p1043). Here are some typical questions .....


Q1. Course grades reflect the amount of effort put in [agree = internal].

Q4. Some people will never write well no matter how hard they try [agree = external].

Q7. There are some subjects I could never do well in [agree = external].

Q24. I keep changing my mind about my career goals [agree = internal].


The ALC has been widely used in research into academic performance (e.g., predicting and avoiding "drop-out").



Access Consciousness: This is one of two types of consciousness identified by Block (1995, 1997) (the other being phenomenal consciousness). For examples and discussion, see consciousness, Block's theory of.



Accommodation: This everyday term comes from accommodate, "to fit one thing or person to another" (O.E.D.). It does not appear to have been widely used within mental philosophy prior to being given its modern technical meaning by Piaget (e.g., 1926/1973), who used the term in the context of childhood intellectual development [for more on which, see the entry for adaptation, assimilation, and accommodation].



Ach, Narziss Kaspar:  [German Wurzburg School cognitive theorist (1871-1946).] [Click for external biography] Ach is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for his contribution to the understanding of volition.



Achten: [German = "consider, regard, [etc.]" (C.G.D.); "heed" (Husserl, Ideas, p110).] This everyday German term for the act of paying attention to something was specifically applied to the philosophical problem of apprehension by Husserl, who used it (along with its near-synonym bemerken) to describe the way in which "apprehending an object coincides with mindfully heeding it (achten), and noting its nature (bemerken)" (Ideas, p110). [See also achtsamkeit.]



 Achievement Motive (n-Ach/nAch): [See firstly personality, motivation and.] This story begins in the late 1940s when a team of researchers led by David C. McClelland became impressed by how well Murray's Thematic Apperception Test could uncover major but unconsciously mediated personality variables, and decided to apply that technique specifically to the topic of motivation to succeed. They therefore devised a set of procedures for scoring "thematic stories" of their own, and used it to monitor between-groups differences in a four-condition test of "ego-involvement" (McClelland, Clark, Roby, and Atkinson, 1949). In a "relaxed" condition subjects were led to believe that there was no great pressure on them to perform at peak on an experimental task (solving anagrams, and the like), in a "failure" condition they were led instead to believe that the tests were measuring their intelligence and would be going on record under their name, in a "neutral condition" they were led to be "task-oriented rather than ego-oriented" (p251), and in a "success-failure" condition their perception was toggled from succeeding easily to struggling by being told false performance norms. Results were summarised as follows .....


"On the assumption that the relaxed and failure conditions represented a low and high degree of induced need for achievement [..... t]he following changes occurred at least at the .05 level of significance: a decrease in unrelated and task achievement imagery, an increase in general achievement imagery, achievement-related deprivation themas, stated needs, successful instrumental acts, anticipatory goal responses, nurturant or hostile press, and positive affective states. In nearly every case the success-failure condition showed the same percentages as the failure condition [.....]. A single n Achievement score was computed for each individual [and this] increased significantly in accordance with the presumed increase in induced need from relaxed, to neutral, to the failure conditions. [.....] The data are further interpreted as pointing to the dynamics of the test situation as an important determiner of TAT content, as supporting a theory of motivation based on anticipatory goal responses, and as providing a method for investigating such important theoretical concepts as 'cognitive maps' and 'anticipatory goal responses' which is more sensitive than that based on the usual inferences from performance responses" (McClelland et al, 1949, pp262-263).


McClelland and Friedman (1952) explored the cultural derivation of this form of individual difference. They analysed a sample of American Indian folk tales, carefully balanced for length and unity of plot, and noted an "infrequency of evidence of 'general long-term achievement involvement'" (p364).  What they termed "achievement imagery" occurred frequently enough in these narratives, but "career or occupational concern" did not. Typical achievement imagery included the overcoming of obstacles, the mastering of negative emotions, and the bettering of rivals and enemies. McClelland and Friedman then predicted that the level of emphasis on independence during a culture's particular child-rearing practices would be correlated to measures of n-Ach derived from that culture's folk tales. They collected these data from eight American Indian cultures, and reported a .91 correlation between n-Ach and "age and severity" of independence training.


TEST YOURSELF NOW: Write down the names of your all-time favourite movies and novels. Then write down your favourite achievement images - perhaps the things you might first spend your money on if you ever won a lottery, and would feel most satisfied at finally having done. Do you like the fastest cars, for example, or the prettiest/handsomest partners? Or do you, too, like getting the better of rivals? Now see whether your most prized achievements are present - albeit even in symbolic form - in your favourite fiction, because if McClelland and Friedman are correct they should be. Now look deep within yourself and try to work out what has made you like this.


McClelland's team's work inspired much follow-up research. For example, Rosen and D'Andrade (1959) focused on the notion implicit in McClelland's theory that "training in independent mastery" is a prerequisite of a high n-Ach score. They therefore tested the possibility that cultures in which competition and standards of excellence were stressed would demonstrate higher cultural levels of n-Ach. They recruited 40 families containing a father, a mother, and a son aged between nine and eleven years, such that they had ten families in each of four groups of a two-by-two design. The grouping dimensions were social class (II/III versus IV/V) and a prior high-low measure of the son's achievement motivation taken using a Thematic Apperception Test. They found as follows .....


"To begin with, the observers' subjective impressions are that the parents of high n Achievement boys tend to be more competitive, show more involvement, and seem to take more pleasure in the problem-solving experiments. They appear to be more interested in and concerned with their son's performance; they tend to give him more things to manipulate rather than fewer; on the average they put out more affective acts. [.....] They set up standards of excellence for the boy even when none is given, or if a standard is given will expect him to do 'better than average'. [.....] It seems clear that achievement training contributes more to the development of n Achievement than does independence training" (Rosen and D'Andrade, 1959, p413).


Similarly, Swift (1966) provided an early review of the relationship between social class and achievement motivation. He explains how one's social class can profitably be regarded as part of one's learning environment, in that it defines a student's "culturally learned conceptions of the teacher, himself, and school" (p146), but confesses that the precise causal line remains "subtle". Here are some of the factors he identified .....


"Many studies have shown a positive association between the level of educational and occupational aspirations on the one hand and various measures of social status on the other. Usually it is assumed that this association is a 'real' one which results from the influence of the particular constellations of occupational, educational, and action values which are implicit in the culture of the middle class. However, the equally clear relationship between school ability and middle-class status is not usually accepted at face value. At least part of this association is thought to be due to an intervening variable called 'intelligence'" (Swift, 1966, p146).


By the mid-1970s Fineman was able to identify 22 separate measures of n-Ach, namely six alternative projective tests, five subscales of larger personality inventories, and 11 dedicated questionnaires (Fineman, 1977). Unfortunately, the projective tests and the questionnaire techniques tended NOT to correlate all that well, raising the spectre that different underlying constructs were being tapped into. He warns .....


"In the realm of questionnaire measures of nAch there appears to have been an all-too-ready eagerness to develop new devices without sufficient thought about (a) the richness of the nAch construct, (b) other measures in the field, (c) response biases, and (d) face validity. A simplistic 'tidy' measure may initially satisfy the psychometrician but it can often strike the respondent as naive, inappropriate, and alienating. The problem for the test constructor is to balance the structured nature of the questionnaire with the more ambiguous 'real' world of the respondent. [.....] A measure for managers may have differently phrased items than one for students ....." (Fineman, 1977, pp18-19).


 Here are some slightly simplified questions from the "Quick Measure" n-Ach scale, as devised by Smith (1973) .....


Q7. Failure is no sin [agree = high n-Ach]

Q8. Incentives do more harm than good [agree = high n-Ach]

Q12. It's never best to set one's own challenges [agree = low n-Ach]

Q16. You can try too hard sometimes [agree = low n-Ach]


TEST YOURSELF NOW: Students wishing to specialise in this area should try generating half a dozen additional test items of their own, and then checking against the full original to see how close they were.



Achtsamkeit: [German (abstract noun derivative of achten) = "attention, care, carefulness, mindfulness, heedfulness (of)" (C.G.D.).] This everyday German term for the state or attribute of effectively paying attention to something was specifically applied to mental philosophy by Husserl, who used it to indicate a "mode of heeding" on the part of the perceptual system (Ideas, p111).



Ackerman-Banks Neuropsychological Rehabilitation Battery (A-BNRB): [See firstly executive function and dysexecutive syndrome.] Multi-scale neuropsychological battery devised by Ackerman and Banks (1992) [see website].



Act-Content Debate: [See firstly form, object, perception, reality, and thing.] The distinction between what the mind does, and what it does it with or on or to, goes back all the way to Alcmaeon's conception of aesthesis as a mental act carried out on sensory activation of an aestheterion. Nevertheless, the issue was not raised as a pivotal academic debate until championed by Franz Brentano, and that only as recently as the 1870s. Brentano's analysis of perception deliberately separated den Akt des Vorstellens [= "the act of presentation"] from its Inhalt [= "contents"]. Brentano's ideas were then adopted by his student Alexius Meinong, who added a third element to the equation, namely the Gegenstand [= "object"]. The Brentano-Meinong position was then further modified by Edmund Husserl, to the effect that the objects presented for perception often exceeded the capacity of the system to cope, and needed to be built up from a number of overlapping perspectives. For the fuller individual interpretations, see consciousness, Brentano's theory of, consciousness, Meinong's theory of, and consciousness, Husserl's theory of.



Acting Out: This is one of the defense mechanisms postulated by psychoanalytic theory, and recognised by the DSM-IV as belonging to the "immature" defense level. It presents as an overt behavioural response to a stressor, rather than a cognitive, emotional, or affective one. Such behaviours might include impulsive or openly aggressive behaviours (although conduct disorders are not regarded as acting out in precisely this sense), and the relief they bring about seems to come from getting situational tensions over and done with. The mechanism is assessed as "immature" because it lacks the element of considered control which derives from actually getting our cognitive and emotional selves to recognise each other's existence [on which point, compare defenses, mature]. [See also alexithymia, which appears to be correlated.]



Action Potential: [See firstly resting potential.] Having grasped the principles of the neural resting potential, the next question is what would happen should the metabolic pumps in the neural cell membrane stop working momentarily? The answer is that it would drastically disturb the equilibrium which produced that resting potential in the first place. Indeed, it would create a completely different equilibrium state, and particles would move across the membrane until that new equilibrium was reached; and, because those particles are charged, this would constitute a flow of current across the membrane. This is precisely what happens in the phenomenon known as the action potential or neural "spike discharge". When the sodium pumps in the neural cell membrane get switched off by some influence, and for approximately 1 msec. thereafter, sodium ions rush into the cell down their concentration gradient, reversing the internal polarisation of the cell from -70mV to +40mV. This in turn interferes with the resting potential of adjacent areas of membrane and may thus cause propagation of the action potential. Such non-decremental propagation is generally regarded as underlying all long-distance neural conduction. In fact, there are two distinct stages to an action potential, namely depolarisation and repolarisation. Depolarisation refers to the period of sodium ion inrush, and repolarisation to the re-establishment of the resting potential once voltage-dependent gating restarts the sodium pumps. Repolarisation takes a further 1 msec., and momentarily gives an internal cell charge of -75mV, marginally below the normal resting potential (-70mV). This momentary overcompensation is termed hyperpolarisation, and given another few msec. the membrane "settles down" and the cell returns to its resting state.



Action Potential Threshold: [See firstly action potential.] The minimum stimulus needed to produce an action potential is known as the "threshold" stimulus (or simply the "threshold"). It is the potential at which voltage-dependant gating turns off the sodium pumps in the neural cell membrane.



Action Schema: The Norman-Shallice Model of Supervisory Attentional Function regards the basic unit of action as the action schema, a "sensori-motor knowledge structure" (Norman, 1981, p3) "that can control a specific overlearned action or skill such as [.....] doing long division, making breakfast, or finding one's way home from work" (Shallice, 1982, p199). Shallice sees such schemas as being activated in various ways by different aspects of cognition, but especially by other schemas already in progress, and by new perceptual events.



Activities of Daily Living Test (ADL): [See firstly executive function and dysexecutive syndrome.] ADL is a relatively unstructured screening test for possible problems with the forward planning component of human executive function, and, as such, is commonly included as a frontal battery test. ADL testing was developed as an adjunct to the Norman-Shallice Model of Supervisory Attentional Function, and requires the subject to identify and sequence the individual steps in carrying out a typical everyday behaviour such as making a cup of tea or buying a newspaper. Chevignard et al (2000/2003 online) analyse ADL behaviour in terms of Script Theory, and argue that it is insufficient to assess the planning component in isolation. Instead, another basic frontal skill needs to be assessed at the same time, namely the subsequent "monitoring and guiding the execution of the plan". Fortin, Godbout, and Braun (2003/2004 online) give details of menu preparation, grocery shopping, and meal preparation applications of ADL tests, if interested.



AD: See atypical depression.



Adaptation: This everyday term comes from adapt, "to fit (a person or thing to another to or for a purpose)" (O.E.D.). It does not appear to have been widely used within mental philosophy prior to being given its modern technical meaning by Piaget (e.g., 1926/1973), who used the term in the context of childhood intellectual development [for more on which, see the entry for adaptation, assimilation, and accommodation]. The term may also be seen in the broadly Darwinian sense of "adapt or die" in discussions of the survival value of animal behaviour [for more on which, see the entry for cognitive series].



Adaptation, Assimilation, and Accommodation: [See firstly these three entries separately.] In Piaget's theory of cognitive development, it is inevitable that every time the developing child's reasoning processes take a step upwards towards full adult sophistication they start to generate knowledge of a qualitatively different sort. New types/levels of understanding emerge, which are fundamentally incompatible with the old types of knowledge stored away. This creates a state of disequilibrium and confusion which prompts those reasoning processes to re-adapt. This, in turn, involves two component processes, namely "assimilation" and "accommodation". Assimilation in general is the process of reconciling the old understandings with the new (and often still hesitant and imperfect) ways of presenting them, and can, in fact, be seen as having four sub-types [see the separate entries for generalising assimilation, mutual assimilation, recognitory assimilation, and reproductive assimilation]. Assimilation thus helps to avoid knowledge and cognition getting out of step; it helps with "the elimination of contradictions"(Inhelder and Piaget, 1955/1958, p20). Accommodation, on the other hand, is what needs then to be done should assimilation not be able to cope with the extent of the particular contradiction. In this case, new schemas need to be set up to account for the discrepancy and restore the sought-after equilibrium. Miller (1983) summarises this relationship this way .....


"Assimilation and accommodation are closely intertwined in every cognitive activity from birth to death. Attempts to assimilate reality necessarily involve slight changes in the cognitive structures as they adjust to the new elements. Assimilation and accommodation are so related, in fact, that Piaget sometimes defines adaptation as an equilibrium between [them, in which] neither assimilation nor accommodation dominates" (p72).



Addictive Behaviour: Addictions in the everyday sense of the word are valid clinical signs, but the underlying disorders are not dealt with as such under DSM-IV - see instead pathological gambling, hypersexuality, and substance-related disorders. Garrett (2006 online) suggests that addictive disorders may be associated with a particular psychodynamic defense style, specifically, reliance on denial, paranoid projection, avoidance, isolation of affect, rationalisation, and intellectualisation. Two of these (denial and paranoid projection) are so-called "psychotic defenses", that is to say, they challenge the normal processes of reality testing. As a result, such individuals "dwell increasingly in a world and reality of their own".



Adjustment: This is the state of psychological competence and well-orderedness which is established and maintained in the mentally healthy by a delicate balance of ego defenses and coping skills, but which is so notably absent in the adjustment disorders. It is characterised by a spontaneous and unforced ability to interact effectively with other people and deal with the natural hazards of life, from the biggest (e.g., redundancy, injury, bereavement, etc.) to the smallest. [For more on the differences between adjustment and coping, see under defense style.]



Adjustment Disorders: This is the DSM-IV header category for six specific disorder groups, including adjustment disorder with depressed mood, adjustment disorder with anxiety, and adjustment disorder with disturbance of conduct. The DSM-IV reports adjustment disorders to be "apparently common" (p681), with prevalences of between 2% and 8% in community samples, up to 30% in mental health outpatients, and up to 50% in groups exposed to specific stressors (e.g., cardiac disease patients).



Adjustment Disorder with Anxiety: This is one of the six DSM-IV disorder groups under the category header of adjustment disorders. It is characterised by "symptoms such as nervousness, worry, or jitteriness, or, in children, fears of separation from major attachment figures" (DSM-IV-TR, 2000, p680).



Adjustment Disorder with Depressed Mood: This is one of the six DSM-IV disorder groups under the category header of adjustment disorders. It is characterised by "depressed mood, tearfulness, or feelings of hopelessness" (DSM-IV-TR, 2000, p679).



Adjustment Disorder with Disturbance of Conduct: This is one of the six DSM-IV disorder groups under the category header of adjustment disorders. It is characterised by "violation of the rights of others or of major age-appropriate societal norms and rules" (DSM-IV-TR, 2000, p680).



ADL: See Activities of Daily Living Test.



Adler, Alfred: [Austrian Post-Freudian psychoanalytic theorist (1870-1937).] [Click for external biography] Adler is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for his "individual psychology", and for the linked notions of inferiority complex and superiority complex.



Adolescence: Adolescence is "the period of physical and psychological development from the onset of puberty to maturity" (The Free Dictionary). It is thus a major stage within, and a major explanatory problem for, all theories of human development [see, for example, Freudian theory and object relations theory]. By the same token, it is also one of the stages into which clinicians need to delve when seeking the causal antecedents of adult mental health problems [see, for example, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorders, eating disorders, personality disorders, etc.]. Not that this is always going to be easy, as Jacobson (1964) notes .....


"Patients who suffer from protracted adolescent problems may still, at the age of thirty or so, show the adolescent fluidity in their moods and in the current symptom formation, with clinical manifestations changing from neurotic to delinquent, perverse, or borderline psychotic" (Jacobson, op. cit., p159).



Adolescent Dual Unity: Same thing as dual unity, q.v. (see, for example, Lucente, 1988).



Adolescent Identity: See ego identity.



Adrenal Cortex: See Wikipedia on this. 



Adrenergic Transmitter: The adrenergic transmitters are a class of neurotransmitters, including adrenaline, noradrenaline, and dopamine. Unlike cholinergic transmitters, they are not broken down during the recovery phase of synaptic transmission. Instead, they are metabolised back into the pre-synaptic membrane for re-use.



Adult Attachment Interview: [See firstly attachment interview.] This is a psychometric measure of adult attachment, first constructed by Main and Goldwyn (1989). [For examples of its use, see attachment personality disorders and.]



Adult Expression Scale (AES): This is a psychometric measure of assertiveness, first constructed by Gay, Hollingsworth, and Galassi (1975).



Advisories: [See firstly speech acts, the Bach and Harnish taxonomy.] An "advisory" is one of the "directive" speech acts identified in the Bach and Harnish (1979) taxonomy. It serves, as its name suggests, to put into words the mind's belief that it would be a good idea for the hearer to behave in the referred to way. "In warning, for example, [the speaker] presumes the presence of some likely source of danger or trouble for [the hearer]" (p49).


RESEARCH ISSUE: In the context of this glossary, it would be interesting to look for odd patterns of advisory speech act in the language habits of the survivors of incest. We say this because of this client group's recognised predisposition as adults to mood swings and irritability, inflicted upon those around them without warning. It is at least a theoretical possibility, in other words, that a cognitive deficit for this particular class of speech acts would by definition impair the person in question's ability to help themselves by minimising the extent to which they alienate those around them.®



AES: See Adult Expression Scale.



Aesthesis / Aesthesis: [Greek and English = "sensation, perception, etc."]. See the G.2 pump-priming definitions.



Aesthesis Koine: [Greek = "common sense" (Peters, 1967, p15).] See the G.2 pump-priming definitions.



Aestheta: [Greek = "things sensed, perceived, etc."; "the sensibles" (Peters, 1967).] See the G.2 pump-priming definitions.



Aestheterion: [Greek = "organ or apparatus of sense".] See the G.2 pump-priming definitions.



Aesthetic: As used by Kant, an aesthetic is a theory of aesthesis. For the adjectival usages of this term, see the G.2 pump-priming definitions, and for more on Kant's famous "transcendental aesthetic", see consciousness, Kant's theory of.



Affect: As used within cognitive science, this term derives from the never-quite-everyday English noun, affect, the linguistic root of affection (and semantically quite remote from the everyday verb, to affect).


PRONUNCIATION NOTE: The noun form is generally stressed "AFF-ect", whilst the verb form is stressed "aff-ECT".


It thus refers to a "mental state, mood, feeling, desire, intention [.....] as contrasted with external manifestation or action" (O.E.D.). Where the affect happens actually to be affection, then it is clearly a positive emotion, that is to say, a "feeling towards or in favour of" (O.E.D.). Within philosophy and psychology, however, the word has come to be applied more broadly to all emotions, positive and negative, providing only that they are emotions as felt. Hence the DSM-IV definition .....


"Affect - a pattern of observable behaviours that is the expression of a subjectively experienced feeling state (emotion)" (DSM-IV-TR, 2000, p819, emphasis added).


Classically, affect is the middle third of Plato's tripartite soul, the tenth of Aristotle's categories, and one of Hamilton's triad of fundamental mental arenas (the others being cognition and conation). Affect is also - insofar as it presumes the facility for phenomenal consciousness - the mechanism which allows the ego to suffer and thus the focus of the entire system of ego defenses. Indeed, it is little exaggeration to claim that Freudian theory is affect theory! [See now affect, flattened, anger, anticipation, and schizoaffective disorder.]



Affect, Flattened: [See firstly affect.] This is the term traditionally applied to the relatively low levels of consciously accessible emotionality often seen in the expressive behaviours of persons with depression (although to be clinically significant this lack of emotional engagement with the world has to be more dysfunctional than simple displays of "reserve" or "stiff upper lip"). Where the affect in question is that normally associated with a positive emotion - a pleasurable one - the condition may be formally described as anhedonia [literally, an inability to feel pleasure], and is a major sign of depressive episodes of all sorts and dysthymic disorder in particular. There is no equivalent single-word descriptor for a flattening of the affects normally associated with negative emotions - painful or aggressive ones - although the opposite effect - hyperaffectivity - may be seen in the irritability associated with hypomania and various of the personality disorders. [Compare alexithymia.]



Affect Mirroring: This is Blum's (2004) term for the reciprocity of emotional experience between an infant and its caregiver. Here is how he explains what to look for .....


"During symbiosis, affect mirroring was regarded as of critical importance, and an attuned parent would display empathic responses through eye contact, facial and vocal expression, touch, holding, movement, etc. The attuned mother or caregiver established and maintained an appropriate affectomotor dialogue with the infant" (p538).


Note the use of the term "attuned" in the Blum extract, because Goleman makes much of the construct of "attunement" in his recent theory of social intelligence (Goleman, 2006).



Affect, Strangulated: See Freudian theory.



Affectomotor Dialogue: See affect mirroring.



Affiliation: This is one of the defense mechanisms postulated by psychoanalytic theory, and recognised by the DSM-IV as belonging to the "high adaptive" defense level. It involves "turning to others for help or support", but without in any way blaming them (DSM-IV-TR, 2000, p811).



Affordance: [See firstly perception and perception, direct.] The notion of affordances derives from Gibson's (1966) emphasis on the senses as "perceptual systems". Gibson saw affordances as potential uses of a percept, as parallel effects, almost, to the act of pattern recognition per se, and wielding at least comparable adaptive value. For example, the presence of a floor is "directly perceived", and immediately "affords" the behavior of <walking on> (Neisser, 1976). Affordances thus "invite" a particular mode of behavior, and the suspicion is then that the perception-action loop can continue in a particular direction quite happily without placing any great load on higher consciousness. The original mention seems to have been in a section discussing insightful problem solving, where the issue was how the critical alternative use of an item was suddenly seen. In the case where a stick is used to rake in an out-of-reach goal object, he commented as follows .....


"The hypothesis of the 'invitation qualities' of objects, their valences, or what they afford, was central to Gestalt theory, especially as developed by Lewin (1936), but the phenomenal field in which they appeared had an uncertain status, neither wholly internal nor wholly external. If these valences are taken to be invariants of stimulus information, the uncertainty disappears. The stick's invitation to be used as a rake does not emerge in the perception of a primate until he has differentiated the physical properties of a stick, but they exist independently of his perceiving them" (Gibson, 1966, p274; emphasis added).



Afterglow: See consciousness, Humphrey's theory of.



Agency: [See firstly agent.] The entry level definition of agency is that it is "the faculty of an agent, or of acting" (O.E.D.). Viewed more philosophically, it becomes "the ability to alter at will one's perceptual inputs" either (a) by overt movement, or (b) by shift of attention (Russell, 1996, p3). Russell goes on to point out that because it emerges as a faculty thanks to our early childhood sensori-motor, cognitive, and interpersonal experience, agency is a key element within Piagetian theory. As he explains it, it is only "through exercising agency, through their actions on the world becoming progressively more spontaneous, differentiated, and integrated" that infants achieve "self-world dualism" (p70), and become "able to impose a self-chosen order on [the resulting] experiences" (p89). As to agency's phylogenetic pedigree, Dennett (1996) sees agency of a restricted form in even the simplest of organisms: it is just that their agency "is not fully fledged agency like ours" (p27). Indeed, all that is needed to claim that an organism possesses agency is for it to display "enough complexity to perform actions instead of just lying there having effects" (ibid.). Russell, on the other hand, prefers what he calls the "anti-piagetian" view that "self-world dualism could emerge in a system incapable of action-monitoring and reversible activity" (p92). As a thought experiment, he asks us to consider a hypothetical entity called "The Receiver", which "has no mechanisms for monitoring its movements" (ibid.) and thus gets all its experience of movement from being "moved around on a trolley" (p93). His point is that there is nothing in the resulting passive kinaesthesis which will "specify" The Receiver "as a subject of experience" (ibid.). Specifically, it will never learn to appreciate that what is being experienced at a given moment in time depends on decisions it itself has made [much the same idea is reflected in Hegel's comment that "an individual cannot know what he is till he has made himself real by action" (Hegel, Phenomenology; Baillie translation, p422)]. For Blachowicz's (1997) notion of an inner Platonic dialogue capable of modulating the expression of our agency, see the entry for inner speech, and for more on the phylogeny of volition in general, see motor imagery.



Agent: In everyday usage, an agent is "one who (or that which) acts or exerts power" (O.E.D.). The term is also used (a) within linguistics as "the means whereby a particular action came about [and, in English,] usually the grammatical subject" (Crystal, 2003, p16), and (b) within mental philosophy to indicate an entity endowed with agency.



Aggression: In everyday English, aggression is "an unprovoked attack [.....;] the practice of setting upon any one; the making of an attack or assault" (O.E.D.). The psychological sciences retain the same basic definition, but tend then to divide their focus according to whether they are developmental psychologists (in which case they home in on how aggressive tendencies emerge in some children but not others), comparative psychologists (who gather data from the entire animal kingdom), neuropsychologists (who look at the neural mechanisms involved), social psychologists (who concentrate on group dynamics and human relationships in general), and clinicians, social workers, and the criminal justice system (who have to pick up the pieces). One of the earliest clues to the brain's role in aggression comes from Goltz's (1892) observations of the behaviour of a decorticate dog. Aggressive behaviours - barking, growling, and biting - were the only emotional expression in this animal, which had lost all its cerebral cortex and parts of the basal ganglia and dorsal diencephalon. Cannon and Britton (1925, cited in Bard, 1934) termed this sort of aggression "sham rage", and this and other early studies are reviewed in Bard (1934). The general pattern over many studies is that the rage persists until the damage descends as far as the lower posterior portion of the thalamus. The thalamus is thus seen as initiating the emotion, but as being inhibited in the normal animal by the "pacifying" influence of the cerebrum [which is the essence, incidentally, of what Cannon (1927) termed the "thalamic theory of emotion"]. Andy and Stephan (1974) list the brain structures implicated in aggressive behaviour as the amygdala, the hippocampus, the septum, the hypothalamus, the midbrain, and the thalamus, but warn that the relative contribution of each of these structures is complex. They therefore recommend separate consideration of the brain mechanisms for mobilising and directing an attack (brainstem and limbic structures), and those for monitoring and withholding it (neocortical structures). Where you go next depends upon your particular line of enquiry. If interested in aggression theory per se, then see next aggression, difficulties conceptualising and defining, whilst if interested in specific research areas, check out aggression, domestic violence and, battered child syndrome, and aggression, personality disorders and. Note also that aggression is commonly seen as an impulse control issue in attention deficit and disruptive behaviour disorders and autistic spectrum disorders.



Aggression, Difficulties Conceptualising and Defining: [See firstly aggression.] One of the problems in conceptualising and defining aggression is that each of the separate schools of psychology approaches the topic from its own standpoint. Thus cognitivists look at the conceptual pre-conditions of aggression (xenophobic attitudes and beliefs, say), behaviourists look at the learning and social learning issues, psychoanalysts look at the part played by aggression in psychosexual development [see aggression, psychodynamic theory and], biopsychologists look at the chemistry and neuroanatomy of aggressive behaviour, comparative ethologists try to make sense of its microinstinctual repertoire, neuroethologists look for its central pattern generators, and so on. As a result, we find it difficult to agree on even the basic issues, like whether aggression requires a prior state of anger or hatred [possibly not, but it sure helps]. Here are some examples to form your own opinions about .....


- is aggression the same as "hostility"?

- is a hostile stare or a frosty silence less aggressive than an outright blow?

- are teachers being aggressive when justly punishing children in their care?

- are judges being aggressive when justly executing a murderer? Or a traitor?

- is a doctor/partner being aggressive aiding a terminally ill person to die?

- is physical injury/death inflicted in genuine self-defense aggression?

- is a dog being aggressive when it snaps at you for treading on its toe?


For their parts, Aronson (1976) emphasises the intention to cause pain or do harm, Buss (1971) talks about "hostile aggression", and Van der Dennen (1980) criticises some authorities (notably Anthony Storr) for defining aggression so broadly that it becomes synonymous with "assertiveness".


ASIDE: The aggression-assertiveness distinction is in fact rather an old problem, being seen in Plato's rather changeable stance on what it was exactly was the nature of the assertive third of his soul, tripartite.


Buss's central point (and, indeed, the title of his paper) was that aggression "pays" in our society. He identifies eight categories of aggression in humans, but argues that what they have in common is targeted noxiousness against the individual(s) on the receiving end. "All aggression is punishment", he says (Buss, 1971, p9) (although not all punishment is aggression). On balance, therefore, and for a general purpose position on the subject, we could do worse than adopt Glassman's (2004) attempt at an eclectic approach .....


"It seems that defining aggression is very much tied up with our assumptions about its origins [..... and t]he very fact that it has taken more than a page simply to try to define aggression - and then, only with partial success - gives an indication of how complicated it is to explore this topic with some semblance of objectivity" (Glassman, 2004, pp337-338).


[See now all entries beginning aggression ....., but particularly aggression, personality disorders and.]



Aggression, Domestic Violence and:


"They tasted alright to me, Earl" (Dixie Chicks; "Goodbye, Earl") [see full lyric]


"Tell grandma you fell off the swing" (Pat Benatar; "Hell is for Children") [see full lyric]


Statistically speaking, by far the commonest domestic violence (DV) scenarios are perpetrated by abusive males against either their partner or (step-)children. Here are some official Home Office statistics relating to the former [for equivalent data relating to child physical abuse, start with the entry for battered child syndrome and follow the onward links] .....


"The biennial British Crime Survey (BCS) asks a representative sample of 16,500 adults in England and Wales directly about their experiences of crime - whether or not it was reported to the police. The BCS has found that in 43% of all violent crime experienced by women is domestic (1996 BCS); the number of domestic assaults [rose] by 79% between 1981 and 1991 [..... with] only a quarter of all domestic violence incidents [being] reported to the police. [.....] Women were twice as likely as men to have been injured by a partner in the last year. At greatest risk of physical assault were the under 25s and those in financial difficulties. Half the victims had told someone about their most recent assault, most often a friend, neighbour, or relative. The police were the next most likely to hear of incidents. The estimate for the total number of incidents in 1995 was 6.6 million" (Home Office, 2006 online; §3.3-3.7).


Or to put it more succinctly, a rape, beating, or stabbing takes place somewhere in England and Wales every 20 seconds, and 81% of the victims are females attacked by males (ITN, 15th March 2001). Wiehe (1998) does his best to make constructive sense of the many variables involved. Following Raven and Rubin (1983), he notes two major factors in the triggering event alone, namely the "form and degree" of the "instigation", and the "character and intentions" of the "instigator". The next cluster of factors relates to the individual on the receiving end, and takes into account personal prior history, personality, "biological characteristics", and physical condition. This cluster is then modulated, in turn, by environmental factors such as crowding, temperature, and noise, and by social and situational factors acting to facilitate or inhibit the overt expression of aggressive behaviour. More ominously, DV also augurs badly for the woman's ability properly to discharge the role of parent, because their children are exposed to both the inherited and the learned elements of the "at risk" equation - if they are children of DV parents, then they will carry whatever DV "genes" might be involved, and they will have been to daily "classes" on violence in action.


ASIDE: We make no judgment at this juncture as to the relative contribution of the nature and the nurture elements. We also point out that what might be being acquired may predispose the child in question either to abuse or be abused later in life. There is a convenient summary of the effects of DV on its adult and child victims on the website of the Kwantlen Counselling Service.


We go into greater detail on the intergenerational aspects of DV in the entries for toxic parenting ....., but it is nevertheless worthwhile while we are on the subject here to review George and Main's (1979) study into the behaviour of physically abused children in a pre-school play group environment. This study noted four relatively clear correlates of abuse, as follows ..... 


(1) Harassment: Abused children are more likely to assault both peers and caregivers, thus .....


"The particular form of aggressive behaviour marking the abused toddlers was the harassment of caregivers [.....]. Harassment generally appears out of context, and appears to have as its primary aim achieving the discomfiture of the victim. Spitting suddenly upon a caregiver, threatening an approaching child with a shovel, and suddenly slapping a nearby toddler after having been scolded by a caregiver were considered examples of harassment. Seven out of ten of the battered infants in this study harassed their caregivers [..... but] only two of the ten control children" (Main and Goldwyn, 1984, p206)


(2) Avoidance: Abused children are "markedly more avoidant" than matched control children in response to the friendly overtures of both peers and caregivers.


(3) Approach-Avoidance: The term "approach-avoidance" indicates a peculiar category of behaviour in which the child displays both approach and avoidance either simultaneously (physically approaching while looking away, say) or in rapid succession (physically approaching and then veering away, say). Ten of the abused children, but none of the controls, displayed this sort of behaviour in response to friendly peer overtures, thus rendering themselves "self-isolating". 


(4) Responsivity to Distress in Others: Abused children responded poorly to the distress of an age-mate in their vicinity, showing little or no concern or secondary sadness, and often producing some strikingly bizarre behaviours, thus ..... 


"Rather than responding to the distress of age-mates with distress, however, the abused toddlers reacted with disturbing behaviour patterns. Eight of the nine abused toddlers but only one of the nine control toddlers responded with fear, anger, physical abuse, or a puzzling diffuse anger to the crying of other children (Fisher's exact test, p = .002). The abused toddlers, in fact, responded with fear, with anger, or with aggression to the distress of age-mates in 55% of the incidents which they witnessed [.....]. Three of the abused toddlers responded to the distress of an age-mate by physically abusing (slapping, hitting, or kicking) the distressed child. Main and George describe an incident involving a two-year-old abused boy, Martin, who slapped a crying child on the arm. He then turned away from her to look at the ground and while looking at the ground began vocalising, 'Cut it out! Cut it out! with increasing agitation, each time speaking more loudly and more quickly. He patted the child on the back, but when this disturbed her he retreated from her, hissing and baring his teeth [see discussion below]. He again began patting her on the back, but this time his patting turned into beating. He continued beating the little girl despite her screams [see discussion below]" (Main and Goldwyn, 1984, p207; emphasis added).


At the time of writing [November 2006], and presuming he is still alive, Martin would be in his early '40s. We can find no further reference to him in the academic literature, and his real name would have been withheld in the original report. Science therefore remains ignorant as to the outcome of what might have been a valuable longitudinal natural experiment, namely whether the boy in question turned out to be a missionary, a mass murderer, or - like most of us - somewhere in between these two extremes. Martin's case also illustrates how close humans still are to the animal within them .....


ASIDE: The baring of teeth is a classic mammalian threat display [image (one of those provided by the excellent web resource maintained by Rebecca Postanowicz)], and beating on despite your victim's screams is a classic non-response to a submission behaviour [for more on this line of argument, see the entry for aggression, ethological theory and].


We should therefore not be too surprised to note an evolutionary angle to at least one substream of family violence, namely the relatively common use of infanticide by stepfathers, in the service of the "selfish gene". Having noted, for example, that stepfathers seemed in one study to be around 70 [seventy] times more likely to commit infanticide than natural fathers, Daly and Wilson (1994) trawled the officially available statistics [for Canada, 1974-1990] and identified 178 child killings by fathers and 67 by stepfathers. The preferred method of killing was physical beating in both categories, but was actually twice as likely (82% as opposed to 42%) in stepfathers. Adjusted for the relative incidence of stepfather families, this makes stepfathers 120 times more likely than natural fathers to commit infanticide by beating. Further analysis of the statistics revealed that while 63 (35%) of the natural fathers subsequently committed suicide [presumably as part of a planned "death pact" event], only 1 of the 67 stepfathers did likewise. Daly and Wilson then trawled cognate statistics for England and Wales [1977-1990], and identified 247 child-killings by fathers and 131 by stepfathers. Of the total 378 killings, 212 (57%) were by physical assault, and the stepfather-father split was again roughly 2:1 at 79%-48%. [For more on the "selfish gene" hypothesis of family violence, see infanticide. See also Munchausen syndrome by proxy, and compare toxic caring.]



Aggression, Ethological Theory and: [See firstly aggression and ethology.] The Comparative Ethologists have traditionally taken a very distinctive approach to aggression. They begin by setting it aside from simple predation - killing to eat - seeing it more as a complex mechanism for determining and maintaining a hierarchical social order than as an individually motivated exercise in inflicting pain on a hated other or others. Many birds and mammals base their social orders upon a dominance hierarchy, with special mating and feeding rights going with one's position in the hierarchy. In such animal societies, aggression is accordingly one of the main mechanisms of promoting the aggressor's genes at the expense of the victim's. We may cite, for example, the dominance hierachies of "pack" carnivores such as wolves, "troop" animals such as baboons, and "extended family" pongids such as chimpanzees and gorilla, whilst, for our own part, humans inherit much of their "alpha male" mentality from their hominoid ape ancestry. On a related note, a series of pioneering studies by Amir (1971), Selkin (1978), Myers, Templer, and Brown (1984), West (1984), and Bart and O'Brien (1985) looked at the body language of female rape victims, and specifically at physical indicators of their assertiveness and confidence. What these research teams were concerned about was the possibility that relatively low levels of physically-expressed confidence might in some way single out such individuals for assault, and what data there were on this sort of "victim precipitation" were generally consistent with this explanatory scenario. The data are also consistent with first hand reports from the perpetrators of violent crime. For example, Grayson and Stein (1981) studied how prisoners convicted of violent assault went about selecting suitable victims. They monitored a number of dimensions of posture and movement in videotaped everyday activity, and found, of these, that the nature of a person's gait could predict whether that person would be seen as an easy target. Lack of synchronisation or coordination of the various body parts was an especially good predictor of attackability. Similarly, Richards, Rollerson, and Phillips (1991) report that rapists are able to detect subtle indicators of submissiveness and target their approaches accordingly. [See now aggression, domestic violence and. Also compare Sutton et al's (1999) findings re the poor social cognition of bullying victims. Also attachment, ethological theory and. Also infanticide. For a longer introduction to the science of "human ethology", including much on human aggression, see Sections 3.2 and 3.3 of the companion resource "Communication and the Naked Ape".]



Aggression, Frustration and: [See firstly aggression.] The notion that our emotional state can be affected if events unfold so as to prevent us achieving some previously mentalised objective is not new. It is seen, for example, in such fictional offerings as Gulliver's Travels [see the delightfully subtitled essay by Sexton (2006 online)], and it is suspected in such factual incidents as the abortive 1916 Easter Uprising in Ireland [see Schafer, Robison, and Aldrich (2006) on what might really have been motivating the freedom fighters James Connolly and Patrick Pearse]. The topic also goes a long way back in academic psychology. In reviewing the emotions for his 1879 textbook "Mental and Moral Science", for example, Alexander Bain attributed aggressiveness to the "irascible emotion", as follows .....


"The Irascible Emotion, or Anger, arising in pain, is marked by pleasure derived from the infliction of pain. [.....] The objects of the feeling are persons, the authors of pain, or injury. Inanimate objects may produce pain in us [.....] but without clothing them in personality, we cannot feel proper anger towards these. [.....] The physical manifestations of Anger [.....] are (1) general excitement; (2) an outburst of activity; (3) deranged organic functions; (4) a characteristic expression and attitude of body; and (5) in the completed act of revenge, a burst of exultation. [.....] On the mental side, Anger contains an impulse knowingly to inflict suffering upon another sentient being, and a positive gratification in the fact of suffering inflicted" (Bain, 1879, pp260-261).


Bain comes close to the aggression-frustration relationship in his use of the term "arising in pain", but does not at that juncture emphasise the frustration side of the equation. Later, however, he makes the following comment on the organisation of volition - willed behaviour - in the mind .....


"In Desire, there is the presence of some motive, a pleasure or a pain, and a state of conflict, in itself painful. The motive may be some present pleasure, which urges to action for us its continuance or increase. It may be some pleasure conceived in idea, with a prompting to attain it in the reality [.....]. It may be a present pain moving us to obtain mitigation or relief; or a pending but future pain, ideally conceived, with a spur to prevent its becoming actual. So far as the motive itself is concerned, we may be under either pleasure or pain. But in so far as there is inability to obey the dictates of the motive, there is a pain of the nature of conflict" (Bain, 1879, pp366-367; emphasis added).


For his part, William James recognised that a desire to acquire could, if blocked, generate envy (1890, pII.422). However, James actually said remarkably little about aggression in his Principles, giving it - like Bain - only occasional and tangential mention in the chapters on instinct and emotion: "Our ferocity is blind," he wrote, "and can only be explained from below" (1890, pII.414). Yet in the chapter on "Will" he recognises that frustration has a part to play as well, although he chose the word "hinder", thus .....


"[W]e are chagrined and displeased when any activity, however instigated, is hindered whilst in process of actual discharge. [..... p557] We feel an impulse, no matter whence derived; we proceed to act; if hindered, we feel displeasure; and if successful, relief. Action in the line of present impulse is always for the time being the pleasant course" (James, 1890, Principles of Psychology, ppII.556-557; underlining and bold emphasis added).


The Freudians also recognised a causal link between (to borrow James' terms) "displeasure" and the "hindering" of "present impulse", although, for reasons set out in the entry for aggression, psychodynamic theory and, Freud's early preoccupation with the sex drive left it to Adler (1908) to factor these dynamics into his Aggressionstrieb. Even so, the explicit association of the terms "frustration" and "aggression" did not take place until the American psychologists John Dollard and Neal Miller hot-housed the subject at Yale University in the 1930s. Their core conclusion was that aggression was the naturally pre-programmed response to the thwarting of more or less any goal-driven piece of behaviour, be it the will-driven behaviour of humans, the habit- or instinct-driven behaviour of vertebrates in general, or the reflex-driven behaviour of every successful life form which has ever existed on the planet. The topic was formally reviewed in Dollard et al (1939), and became known throughout psychology as the "frustration-aggression hypothesis". More recently, Shinar (1998) has suggested a relationship between the frustration of traffic congestion and aggressiveness on the roads.



Aggression, Hearing Voices and: [See firstly cognitive deficit.] Thanks to the occasional high profile murder [see, for example, case, Christopher Clunis], most of us are at least superficially aware that when schizophrenics "hear voices" they are neither "themselves", nor therefore in control of what they do. What is less widely realised is that the "voices" phenomenon is one of cognitive science's most fascinating sources of research data. Hoffman (2003) introduces the phenomenon as follows .....


"You are in a crowd when you hear your name. You turn, looking for the speaker. No one meets your gaze. It dawns on you that the voice you heard must have sprung from your own mind. This foray into the uncanny is as close as most people come to experiencing auditory hallucinations or 'hearing voices', a condition that affects 70% of patients with schizophrenia and 15% of patients with mood disorders such as mania or depression. For these individuals, instead of hearing just one's name, voices produce a stream of speech, often vulgar or derogatory, [or] a running commentary on one's most private thoughts. The compelling aura of reality about these experiences often produces distress and disrupts thought and behaviour. The sound of the voice is sometimes that of a family member or someone from one's past, or is like that of no known person but has distinct and immediately recognisable features (say, a deep growling voice). Often certain actual external sounds, such as fans or running water, become transformed into perceived speech. [.....] In the worst cases, voices command the listener to undertake destructive acts such as suicide or assault" (Hoffman, 2003/2006 online; emphasis added).


 ASIDE: The science of psycholinguistics makes intensive theoretical and clinical use of large modular flow diagrams charting the mind's language processing modules and tracing the flow of information between them. These diagrams have been derived from an accumulation of clinical data going all the way back to Broca (1861) [full history]. A typical diagram includes 12-20 distinct modules and deals with both spoken and written language processing. One of the facets of mental organisation thus revealed is that of "inner speech". We have already introduced this topic elsewhere [see the entry for inner speech and its onward links], but we raise it again here due to its possible relevance to the phenomenon of hearing voices. To see what might be involved, check out the Ellis and Young (1988) diagram, noting how processing route #11 takes information from process #9 (that of silent speech formulation) and recycles it INTERNALLY to process #1 (that of auditory analysis) [as opposed to taking route #12, which is the one used when we speak out loud and listen to what we are saying]. It follows that process #1 needs to know whether what it is receiving has arrived via route #11 or not, because if it has not, then what is being heard will necessarily be attributed to an external source. Generically, this is an example of a "feedback loop", because it enables the mind's speech production modules [processes #4 and #8] to "listen in" on their own output to check its accuracy and appropriacy. BREAKING RESEARCH: The point about inner speech in its normal sense is that it is clearly recognised as your own, thanks to the feedback process described above. It is "me" talking and the observations made are essentially "mine". The fact that schizophrenic symptoms include voices in the "not me/not mine" sense allows it to be interpreted "as the result of a defect in the mechanism that controls and limits the contents of consciousness", resulting in "excessive self-awareness" (Frith, 1979). Frith's team at the Institute of Psychiatry, London, have promoted this highly promising line of investigation ever since, and report in one of their recent papers that hallucinators are "particularly prone" to misattributing to others a deliberately distorted play-back of their own voices (Johns et al, 2001/2006 online).


A British Psychological Society study group summarised the issue as follows [a long passage, heavily abridged] .....


"This report presents psychological perspectives on serious mental illness. [.....] These problems include hearing voices (hallucinations), holding unusual beliefs (delusions), and experiencing strong fluctuations in mood. Each individual's experiences are unique. [.....] About one person in a hundred is likely to receive a diagnosis of schizophrenia in their lifetime, and similarly about one person in a hundred is likely to receive a diagnosis of bipolar disorder (manic depression). [.....] Psychiatric diagnoses are labels that describe certain types of behaviour. They do not indicate anything about the nature or causes of the experiences. [.....] Ten to 15 per cent of the populations have heard voices or experienced hallucinations at some point in their life. [.....] In some cultures, hearing voices and seeing visions is seen as a spiritual gift rather than as a symptom of mental illness. [.....] Many people who have psychotic experiences have experienced abuse or trauma at some point in their lives. [.....] Hearing voices often appears to be the result of difficulty in distinguishing one's own, normal, inner speech from the words of other people. [.....] The most common form of psychological therapy for psychotic experiences is cognitive behaviour therapy - CBT. This is a tried and tested intervention that examines patterns of thinking associated with a range of emotional and behavioural problems" (Kinderman and Cooke, 2000, pp4-6; emphasis added).


On the humanistic side of psychodynamic theory, R.D. Laing's approach to aggressiveness in psychotics was to treat the disorder by "understanding" it, by which he meant coming to know "how the patient is experiencing himself and the world, including oneself" (Laing, 1960, p34). The hearing of voices is part of this fundamental experience, and will often indicate how the psychotic self has been pathologically fragmented. Laing, too, offers a number of intriguing case histories, but tends - curiously - to avoid the gorier details of the hearing of voices inciting violence. Case, Rose is his clearest mention of the phenomenon, if interested. [For more on the legal status of voice hearers as "fit to plead", see case, Lashuan Harris (US law) and case, Balderstone (UK law). For an introduction to the problem of detecting deliberate falsification of symptoms by non-hearer criminals in an attempt to avoid justice, click here.]



Aggression, Humanistic Theory and: [See firstly perspectives, humanistic.] The humanistic perspective on aggression can be seen in the following .....


"[The] basic nature of the human being, when functioning freely, is constructive and trustworthy. [..... As a person] he becomes more fully himself, he will become more realistically socialised. We do not need to ask who will control his aggressive impulses; for as he becomes more open to all of his impulses, his need to be liked by others and his tendency to give affection will be as strong as his impulses to strike out or to seize for himself. He will be aggressive in situations in which aggression is realistically appropriate, but there will be nor runaway need for aggression. [.....] I have little sympathy with the rather prevalent concept that man is basically irrational, and that his impulses, if not controlled, will lead to destruction of others and self" (Rogers, 1961, p194; emphasis added).


George Kelly was less interested in the dynamics of the broken mind, but more in its construction and design. His personal construct theory (Kelly, 1955) arose out of the beliefs (a) that individuals naturally organise the "psychological space" provided by their minds by dimensionalising the available mental content along a number of axial dimensions, or "constructs", and (b) that the dimensions selected were personal to the individual concerned. The resulting construct system then shapes individuals' future interactions with the world by providing them with a ready-made basis for appraising events, objects, people, etc. [compare the notion of schema], and may be categorised as "humanistic" because it makes no value judgments on what the dimensions ought to be [the therapist's role is merely to demonstrate to a patient any shortcomings in the existing construct system, and to facilitate the patient's own search for improvements]. The relevance to aggression thus emerges in persons whose constructs are in some way biased towards hostile or related dimensions. Rollo May was a clinical psychologist by profession and an Existentialist by inclination. He saw the highest plane of human existence as a state of "authenticity" as a person, that is to say, as the creativity and self-actualisation of the self, empowered by a wide and effectively integrated range of mature defenses and coping skills available to the self. May worked this basic orientation into his psychotherapeutic practice by adopting the motto "depression is the inability to construct a future", and his position on aggression was closely related to acquiring that missing ability. Aggression, for May, was all about "power", which in one respect he saw as "a fundamental aspect of the life process" (1972, p20) and not as necessarily a bad thing. It was "powerlessness" - "helplessness or weakness" (p21) - which, by eroding the integrity or complexity of our selves, prejudiced our happiness and mental health. What happened next was that powerlessness, born of insufficient personal resources, simply finds expression as violence. [Or to put it another way, not enough "good" power causes an explosion of "bad" power.] Here is this argument in May's own words .....


"For violence has its breeding ground in impotence and apathy. [.....] As we make people powerless, we promote their violence rather than its control. Deeds of violence in our society are performed largely by those trying to establish their self-esteem, to defend their self-image, and to demonstrate that they, too, are significant. [.....] Violence arises not out of superfluity of power but out of powerlessness" (May, 1972, p23).


[For another existentialist position, see the coverage of R.D. Laing in the entry for aggression, hearing voices and.]



Aggression, Institutionalisation of:


"It is a great thing to have an enemy, for it is only then that we discover our neighbour" (Anthony Storr).


"What I want to destroy in my enemy is what I cannot stomach in myself" (Anthony Storr).


To "institutionalise" a behaviour is to make it a cultural norm when it need not have been. It is to take something instinctive or psychosexually fundamental, and to give it expression - and perhaps even cathartic discharge - in a socially acceptable (or even compulsory) ritual or ceremonial of some sort. When the instinct in question is the one which Freud referred to as the Todestrieb [as described in the entry for aggression, psychodynamic theory and], the institutions in question are those which channel aggression and hostility, such as can be seen in the unforgiving asceticism of the Spartan civilisation [check it out] or in the ritual votive sacrifices of so many ancient cultures [check one out]. Nowhere are our aggressive instincts more enthusiastically celebrated than in the institutions of warfare itself. Consider this, from Hose and McDougall (1912), concerning what they had observed while studying the head-hunting tribes of Borneo .....


"But though a Kayan village is seldom attacked, and though the Kayans do not wantonly engage in bloodshed, yet they will always stoutly assert their rights, and will not allow any injury done to any member of the tribe to go unavenged. The avenging of injuries and the necessity of possessing heads for use in the funeral rites are for them the principal grounds of warfare; and these are generally combined, the avenging of injuries being generally postponed, sometimes for many years, until the need for new heads arises" (Hose and McDougall, 1912/2006 online, pp82-83; emphasis added). 


ASIDE: See also Jones (1971) for a description of the ritualised confrontation ceremonies of Australian aborigines. The present author was born a few weeks before the Eniwetok Atoll nuclear tests (April-May 1948), went to university in the years of the pro-Hanoi protest movement of the late 1960s, lived through the ideological confrontations of East and West during the 1970s and 1980s, and now regards the history of humankind as the history of such confrontations, big or small.


As to why humans should behave like this, perhaps the most common - although inherently unprovable - explanation is that our minds have been pushed way beyond that for which they were originally designed. We evolved big brains in order to solve small-scale local problems in the service of our emotions and instincts; we did not grow them to sit in dispassionate judgment on abstract ethical niceties. We therefore remain emotionally uncomplicated beings in a world made excessively complex by our intellect, and - critically - our minds often merely act as post-hoc rationalisers of what our bodies tell us to do [see, for example, case, Butrimonys].


We have war, in other words, because we have minds which lack the wit to avoid it.


Let us look at some of the factors at work here. How, for example, does our high-mammalian instinctual inheritance express itself as the socio-cultural phenomenon of warfare? After all, it is one thing for an upper palaeolithic community to send out a hunting party to fetch back the next meal, and quite another for a similar community thirty millennia later to crew up a B-2 [image/specification] to release its brimstone on the heads of others, whose "guilt" is simply that they do not like you. This is the sort of observation which led William James to propose an instinct for "pugnacity; anger; resentment", which he introduced as follows .....


"In many respects man is the most ruthlessly ferocious of beasts. As with all gregarious animals, 'two souls', as Faust says, 'dwell within his breast', the one of sociability and helpfulness, the other of jealousy and antagonism to his mates. Though in a general way he cannot live without them, yet, as regards certain individuals, it often falls out that he cannot live with them either. Constrained to be a member of a tribe, he still has a right to decide [.....] of which other members the tribe shall consist. Killing off a few obnoxious ones may often better the chances of those that remain. And killing off a neighbouring tribe from whom no good thing comes, but only competition, may materially better the lot of the whole tribe. [.....] The hunting and the fighting instinct combine in many manifestations. They both support the emotion of anger [..... and are important because i]f evolution and the survival of the fittest be true at all, the destruction of prey and of human rivals must have been among the most important of man's primitive functions, the fighting and the chasing instincts must have become ingrained" (James, Principles of Psychology, 1890, ppII.409-411; emphasis added).


James' views resurfaced in the 1960s as academics tried to make sense of the inter-tribal slanging matches of the Cold War. One particularly influential inter-disciplinary conference took place at the Natural History Museum, London, in October 1963, with the transcripts being collated in Carthy and Ebling (1964). Presenters included Konrad Lorenz on behalf of the comparative ethologists, Anthony Storr for the psychiatrists, K.R.L. Hall for the comparative psychologists, and John W. Burton from the Centre for the Analysis of Conflict at University College, London. Discussants included Sir Julian Huxley (evolutionary biologist), P.L. Broadhurst (comparative psychologist), and K.P. Oakley (palaeontologist). Here is a selection of the views expressed .....


"[T]he extreme nature of human destructiveness and cruelty is one of the principal characteristics which marks off man, behaviourally, from other animals" (Freeman, 1964, p111).


"It is also probable that the feeling of belonging to a group, which appears to be indispensable to human happiness, does require some measure of antagonism to other groups" (Andreski, 1964, p130; emphasis added).


"Faced with a common enemy, whether this be flood or fire or human opponent, we become brothers in a way which never obtains in ordinary life. It is a great thing to have an enemy, for it is only then that we discover our neighbour [.....] The comradeship of war, the fact that, under conditions of stress, our capacity for identification with our fellows is increased, has been one reason for the continued popularity of war" (Storr, 1964, p138; emphasis added).


Desmond Morris then brought the problem to the attention of the population at large in his best-sellers "The Naked Ape" (Morris, 1967) and "The Human Zoo" (Morris, 1969). Note the interaction of the innate and the institutionalised in the following extracts .....


"If we are to understand the nature of our aggressive urges, we must see them against the background of our animal origins. [.....] Animals fight amongst themselves for one of two very good reasons: either to establish their dominance in a social hierarchy, or to establish their territorial rights over a particular piece of ground. Some species are purely hierarchical, with no fixed territories. Some are purely territorial, with no hierarchy problems. Some have hierarchies on their territories and have to contend with both forms of aggression. We belong to the last group" (Morris, The Naked Ape, 1967, p128). 


"[Aside from facial expression, m]ost cultures have also added a variety of threatening or insulting gestures employing the rest of the body. Aggressive intention movements ('hopping mad') have been elaborated into violent war dances, of many different and highly stylised kinds. The function here has become communal arousal and synchronisation of strong aggressive feelings, rather than direct visual display to the enemy" (ibid., p142).


"By our standards [humankind's earliest] cities were small, with populations ranging from 7,000 to no more than 20,000. Nevertheless, our simple tribesman had already come a long way. He had become a citizen, a super-tribesman, and the key difference was that in a super-tribe he no longer knew personally every member of his community. It was this change, the shift from the personal to the impersonal society, that was going to cause the human animal its greatest agonies in the millennia ahead. As a species we were not biologically equipped to cope with a mass of strangers masquerading as members of our tribe" (Morris, The Human Zoo, 1969, p20; emphasis added).


Institutionalised warfare has always been a large part of history, and archaeologists have traced physical evidence of fortifications back at least to Jericho, some 10,000 years ago [HistoryWorld have a fascinating introduction to the subject online - check it out]. However, Burton's point at the 1963 London conference was that we still have a lot to learn .....


"'Aggression' is a term most commonly used by those who are satisfied with the status quo, and who resist any attempt to upset the existing order. [..... Unfortunately, t]he machinery for peaceful change is not something which had received adequate attention. [.....] What is required of the social scientist is more study of change; the perception of change, the different effects upon interested parties of change introduced by objective agents, such as the weather, as compared with subjective agents, such as states or monopolies; the means of making passive adjustments to change, so that the adjustment will not lead to further aggressive responses by others; international machinery to ensure that perception of change is not distorted into the perception of a deliberate act of aggression. [.....] Research is needed into misunderstanding and failure of communication, and into a wide variety of matters not conventionally within the established discipline of international relations" (Burton, 1964, pp149-150; emphasis added).


Burton was right to be worried, because recent data continue to suggest that human beings - with very few exceptions - are natural killers, provided only that the necessary cultural institutions are in place. This is certainly the thrust of Goldhagen's (1996) study of how easy it was for Nazism to turn ordinary people into "Hitler's Willing Executioners". The machinery of the Holocaust, in other words, lies primarily in the minds of those to whom the atrocities at Birkenau and a thousand similar "Wounded Knees" came to be accepted as "the done thing", thus .....


"For people to kill another large group of people, the ethical and emotional constraints that normally inhibit them from adopting such a radical measure must be lifted. Something profound must happen to people before they will become willing perpetrators of enormous mass slaughter. The more that the range and character of the [atrocities] become known, the less the notion appears tenable that [the perpetrators] were not tuned in to the Hitlerian view of the world" (Goldhagen, 1996, p414).


Goldhagen calls the process whereby the genocidal views of a society's opinion-formers become the views of that society at large "the cognitive explanation" of genocidal behaviour, and he sees the key institutionalising factor as being "the camp" in Nazi society, thus [a long passage, heavily abridged] .....


"The camp was not merely the paradigmatic institution for the Germans' violent domination, exploitation, and slaughter of those whom they designated as enemies [.....  but] was above all else a revolutionary institution, one that Germans actively put to ends that they understood to be radically transformative. The revolution was one of sensibility and practice. As a world of unrestrained impulses and cruelty, the camp system allowed for the expression of the new Nazi moral dispensation [..... and] denied in practice the Christian and Enlightenment belief in the moral equity of human beings. [.....] The camp world was revolutionary because it was the main instrument for the Germans' fundamental reshaping of the social and human landscape of Europe. [..... It] was a defining feature of German society during its Nazi period, and the camp was the society's emblematic institution. It was the institution that most prominently set Germany apart from the European countries, that to a large extent gave it its distinctive murderous character. [.....] The camp system was the greatest growth institution during this period of German history" (Goldhagen, 1996, p456-459; emphasis added).


We shall give the last thought under this heading to the psychoanalyst Anthony Storr. Noting firstly that we are as a species dangerously vulnerable to the psychodynamic mechanism of projection, he sees the only hope as lying in our achieving a more positive use of the mechanism of identification, thus ..... 


"For what I want to destroy in my enemy is what I cannot stomach in myself, and to kill him is to commit suicide. It is only when we can fully realise this truth that we can learn to value our enemy, and learn to fight him without destroying him" (Storr, 1964, p144; emphasis added).


[To see how pushy individuals and pressure groups can capitalise on the above predispositions and weaknesses in order to promote their own interests and line their own pockets, see now aggression, priests and politicians and.]



Aggression, Personality Disorders and: [See firstly personality disorders.] The DSM-IV notes aggressive behaviours as diagnostically relevant in both antisocial personality disorder and borderline personality disorder. As far as the latter is concerned, the DSM-IV notes that individuals with this disorder "frequently express inappropriate intense anger" (2000, p707), which Kernberg (2006 online) describes as hatred and links to the dynamics of the patient's parenting history, thus .....


"Under extreme circumstances, typically seen in schizophrenic panic and rage attacks, but also with transference regression in borderline patients, the patient's fear of his or her own hatred and of the hatred projected onto the therapist is such that reality itself becomes intolerable [..... and blocking] out the awareness of reality is the most primitive and dominant coping mechanism. Efforts to destroy the awareness of reality may lead to psychotic confusional states, or, in nonpsychotic patients, to a malignant transformation of the therapist-patient dyad in which all honest communication is suppressed and what I have called psychopathic transferences prevail: the patient is deceptive, expects the therapist to be deceptive, all communication takes on a pseudo quality, and violent affect storms are expressed in dissociated forms" (Kernberg, op. cit., p3 of the e-version).


Nor is it always the therapist-figure on the receiving end, for the pathology can also be reflected back onto the patient h/self, thus .....


"Another manifestation of primitive hatred that the patient cannot tolerate in conscious awareness is the transformation of hatred into somatisation in the form of primitive self-mutilation: these are patients who chronically mutilate themselves - pick at their skin or mucosas - and present other patterns of primitive sadomasochistic behaviour. Characterologically anchored suicidal tendencies in borderline patients are another expression of self-directed hatred" (Kernberg, op. cit., p4 of the e-version). [Some readers may care at this juncture to divert to the topic of self harm.]


In short, aggression plays a major role in the aetiology of personality disorders, and therapists must expect it to play as great a role - possibly compressed in time - in its remediation. Therapists must also be ready for the strength of the emotion to bring about collapse of the patient-therapist relationship and consequent - not to say downright dramatic - withdrawal of the patient from therapy.



Aggression, Priests and Politicians and:


"Let us, like Him, hold up one shoe and let the other be upon our foot" ("Life of Brian", 1979).


[See firstly aggression, institutionalisation of.] The psychologist Leonard S. Zegans once remarked that the problem we humans have with aggression was "the promiscuous ease with which our mechanism for recruiting fighting behaviour can be triggered" (Zegans, 1971, p363), and under the present heading we shall be looking at how that mechanism is routinely exploited by individual states(wo)men, and/or the political parties or similar interest groups (frequently religious) which more or less openly fund and promote them, in order to further not the common good but that of the particular influential minority concerned. We may illustrate what is at stake by suggesting for the sake of argument that the US-British invasion of Iraq in 2003 began life as a Pentagon camarilla to defend America's strategic oil interests in the Middle East [we actually doubt that oil was anything more than a tertiary consideration]. The Pentagon [a.k.a. "Fort Pinocchio" - check it out] then substantially misled the White House, who were then less than totally open with Downing Street, who - scenting a Churchillian glory - bought the story hook, line, and sinker. Duly committed, the White House and Downing Street have been misleading through their teeth ever since in the struggle to keep their respective publics within the programme. Check out the following links in your own time .....


Some lies?

Some more lies?

And some more?

How the lie factories work

So what is the science here? Well Zegans was certainly in no doubt as to where we needed to look .....


"Warfare in the interests of group cohesion is often seen in species that reveal complex social organisation with differentiated fighting classes (i.e., man and ants). Such a social organisation demands strong internal cohesion, good recognition of group members, and quick arousal of hostility towards strangers" (Zegans, 1971, p357).


But it is unfair on ants to class them with humankind on this, because they have brains too small to host the emotions of hatred and greed, and fight only by reflex. They harbour no grudges, and sting when (and only when) their programming dictates that they should  do so. For H. sapiens, on the other hand, war is ultimately an instrument of "plunder" for a powerful few, who learned long ago how to play upon the human fondness for uncritical symbolic belief in order to justify all sorts of sacrifice by the rest of us. As a result ..... 


"The human thus appears unique among primates in that man will die for symbols and slaughter for abstractions while often ignoring the biological survival needs of his own people" (Zegans, 1971, p359).


The process is probably as old as civilisation itself. For example, many early Bronze Age civilisations seem to have been headed by priest-kings [examples], and some of humankind's oldest historical records relate unashamedly to deeds on the battlefield .....


The legend of Gilgamesh, two thirds God, one third human 


The first recorded war, 2525 BCE, Sumeria


The wars of Sargon the Great


First Megiddo


Upon inspection, it seems reasonable to presume that there would have been two levels of opportunity for the priesthood to have been involved in any given military campaign. The first of these would have been in an advisory capacity to the kings and generals, and the second - more junior role - would have been as a moral-booster to the troops themselves. The Bible, for example, contains many instances of prophets advising on the direction and form of a coming struggle [example], whilst chaplains or padres (terminology varies) simply do their best to "prepare soldiers to kill and to die without losing their souls" (Dreher, 2003/2006 online) [the definitive work on this topic seems to be Bergen (2004)]. We may also presume that the task of persuading the occasional reluctant hero to take up his spear and go forward to meet the enemy was made easier when personal aggression became elevated to the status of a moral absolute .....


"The principles of a Just War originated with classical Greek and Roman philosophers like Plato and Cicero and were added to by Christian theologians like Augustine and Thomas Aquinas. There are two parts to Just War theory, both with Latin names: Jus ad bellum: the conditions under which the use of military force is justified. Jus in bello: how to conduct a war in an ethical manner. A war is only a Just War if it is both justified, and carried out in the right way. Some wars fought for noble causes have been rendered unjust because of the way in which they were fought" (BBC, 2006).


Sadly, there is no hard and fast measure of the justness of a just war or the nobleness of a noble cause. Consider the deadly topicality of the current confrontation between cross and crescent, and you will find that your allegiance all depends which of the competing "usses" you were born into. Indeed, this particular "us-and-them" story begins when the Roman Emperor Constantine, under threat from the Barbarian migrations from Northern Europe, took the precautionary step of adopting Christianity in the belief that marching under the banner of the cross would increase his chances of victory in battle [story; the good luck charm itself]. It worked (in an n-of-one fashion, at least), for Constantine won his very next battle, and so greatly were Christianity's credentials enhanced as a result, that the Church survived at Constantinople even after Rome finally fell to the barbarians in 476 CE. This meant, in turn, that there was a ready-made control infrastructure in place when Charlemagne re-politicised religion in 800 CE as the "Holy Roman Empire". Between these two dates, however, an alternative religion-cum-empire - Islam - had sprung up and had found it easy to expand into the vacuum left by the legions, conquering Moorish Spain, North Africa, and the Arab caliphates. The stage was therefore set for what we might class as the first attempt at a world war based primarily on differences of ideology. These priestly wars - known collectively in the West as "the Crusades" - began in response to a March 1095 appeal from the Byzantines for help against the advancing Turks. The pope at the time, Urban II, convened the Council of Clermont to discuss a punitive expedition to Jerusalem. By way of justification of both the cost and the personal risk, he found it useful to elevate Augustine's notion of the just war to that of the bellum sacrum, or holy war [Lari (2006 online) explains the similar nature and role of Jehad in Islam]. The First Crusade duly set off in August 1096, led by Peter the Hermit of Amiens, coincidentally "a charismatic monk and powerful orator" [Wikipedia], and on 15th July 1099 the infidels [= "faithless; those not in your personal truth"] has succeeded in liberating Jerusalem from the heathen [= "faithless; those not in your personal truth"]. We need only to look to the modern Middle East to see daily evidence of the power of religion to motivate both men and women to the ultimate sacrifice. However, having already dealt with the vicissitudes of belief systems elsewhere, it remains for us here to mention only the comparative ethology thereof. Desmond Morris, for example, sees an awful lot of dominance and submission behaviour in religion .....


"[Religion] is not an easy subject to deal with, but as zoologists we must do our best to observe what actually happens rather than listen to what is supposed to be happening. If we do this, we are forced to the conclusion that, in a behavioural sense, religious activities consist of the coming together of large groups of people to perform repeated and prolonged submissive displays to appease a dominant individual. The dominant individual concerned takes many forms in different cultures, but always has the common factor of immense power. Sometimes it takes the shape of an animal from another species, or an idealised version of it. Sometimes it is pictured more as a wise and elderly member of our own species. Sometimes it becomes more abstract and is referred to as simply 'the state', or in other such terms. The submissive responses to it may consist of closing the eyes, lowering the head, clasping the hands together in a begging gesture, kneeling, kissing the ground, or even extreme prostration, with the frequent accompaniment of wailing or chanting vocalisations. If these submissive actions are successful, the dominant individual is appeased. Because its powers are so great, the appeasement ceremonies have to be performed at regular and frequent intervals, to prevent its anger from rising again. The dominant individual is usually, but not always, referred to as a god" (Morris, The Naked Ape, 1967, pp156-157).


Laver (1964) points out that civilisations typically adopt distinctive styles of dress as indicators of power and status [he describes this practice as "social aggression" (p101)], and protect their use accordingly. Morris (1969) makes a similar point by analysing costume from the point of view of Lorenz's "super-normal" stimuli.  Then there is "scapegoating", the "hostile social-psychological discrediting routine by which people move blame and responsibility away from themselves and towards a target person or group [and] by which angry feelings [may] be projected, via inappropriate accusation, towards others" (The Scapegoat Society, 2006 online). Consider ..... 


"The prototype of displacement of aggression is of course the selection of a 'scapegoat'. This may be another unoffending individual, an institution, a system of ideas or beliefs, or an inanimate object. In episodes of rage, disturbed children, psychopathic and psychotic adults, engage in apparently meaningless destruction, commit arson, or attack people on brief acquaintance and with minimal provocation" (Hill, 1964, p97). [To see what happens next, see the entries for atrocity and holocaust.]


We shall close the present entry by quoting Eddie Hancock, whose soldier son Jamie Hancock had just been killed by an Iraqi sniper, and who points the finger of blame very precisely ..... "My son's allegiance was to the Queen," he said at the height of a father's grief "not that traitor and liar in No 10" (The Daily Mail, 10th November 2006). Such has been the belated lament, of course, of bereaved parents, wives, and girlfriends ever since warfare was invented, and we must all decide for ourselves whether Jamie should have gone, whether Eddie should have allowed him to go (by allowing him to have joined up in the first place), whether the Queen should have stopped it [she should have], and whether the rest of us - corporately, for we corporately put him there - ought to rise up and hiss that traitor and liar out of No 10 [eventually we did].



Aggression, Psychodynamic Theory and: [See firstly aggression and Freudian theory separately.] In his early writings on psychoanalysis, Freud focused - many believed too exclusively - on the libido, the neurophysiologically grounded energetic drive towards constructive (and therefore ensured-to-be-pleasurable) consummation. He saw the libido as both energising and directing. It energised at the neurochemical level, and it directed by providing an appropriate reinforcing mechanism - something which told the body that the sensations attributable to a particular current goal object felt "good", and which therefore acted to promote continued or closer approach behaviour toward said object.


ASIDE: If we translate this analysis into the deliberately dispassionate language of engineering, we find that we are describing nothing more complicated than a control system in which a homeostat has been wired up so as to approach an energy source to which it has been designed to be specifically sensitive. If that approach behaviour then results in an act of coitus, nurturance, or nutritative consumption, then the associated survival value will be to the benefit of the species in general. 


Where Freud was theoretically ambitious, however, was in the parsimony of the system he was proposing. The libido was not only the overt drive for pleasurable consumption, but served also as the covert motivation for darker-side impulses such as destructiveness and hostility [for details of how this is accomplished, work your way through the entries for cathexis and defense mechanisms, and their onward links]. In early Freudian theory, therefore, the explanation for aggression lay in the ability of libido bound to one object to express itself in hostility towards another. Consider .....


 "The most common and the most significant of all the perversions - the desire to inflict pain upon the sexual object, and its reverse - received from Krafft-Ebing the names of 'sadism' and 'masochism' for its active and passive forms respectively. [.....] As regards [sadism], the roots are easy to detect in the normal. The sexuality of most male human beings contains an element of aggressiveness - a desire to subjugate [..... and] sadism would correspond to an aggressive component of the sexual instinct which has become independent and exaggerated and, by displacement, has usurped the leading position. [.....] The history of human civilisation shows beyond any doubt that there is an intimate connection between cruelty and the sexual instinct" (Freud, Three Essays on Sexuality, 1905/1953, pp157-159; emphasis added). 


Nevertheless, not all of Freud's associates agreed that the libido was the only primary motivator. Alfred Adler, for example, preferred a two-drive system. He set his own ideas out in a 1908 paper on what he described as an Aggressionstrieb [German = "aggression drive"] (Adler, 1908). In this analysis, Adler regarded aggression as a major drive in its own right, one which kicked in automatically whenever other drives and motivations were in some way thwarted, and which was based, ultimately, on the organism's need to control and exploit its environment to maximum advantage. Jung, on the other hand, whilst recognising that libido was quite adept at "transformation" from sexual to "other dynamisms" (1928, p45) such as cultural ceremonial and magical symbolism, kept libido as broadly primary, thus .....


"Sexuality is not merely instinctiveness, but an indisputable creative power that is not only the fundamental cause of our individual lives, but also an increasingly serious factor in our psychic life. [.....] We might call sexuality the spokesman of the instincts" (Jung, 1928, p65; emphasis added).


ASIDE: In fact, this is a long-standing philosophical issue. The philosopher James Mill had been arguing 40 years earlier that pleasant experiences created "one and the same state of consciousness" as did unpleasant ones (Mill, 1869/1982, p327), but that this did not necessarily require separate drives at lower levels of the nervous system. Going back even further in time, Adler's "need to control and exploit" one's environment is essentially Platonic [readers not familiar with Plato's notion of soul, tripartite should consult that entry before proceeding]; it is no more than the sort of enthusiastic engagement with life and its opportunities which we see figuratively in polar explorers and mountaineers or literally in courtship.


Even as late as 1917, Freud was basing the entire process of psychoanalysis on a one-drive analytic, albeit the drive seems to involve a number of lesser instincts, thus [a long passage, heavily abridged] .....


"I will now set out before you what is most definitely known about the sexual life of children. Let me at the same time, for convenience sake, introduce the concept of 'libido'. On the exact analogy of 'hunger', we use 'libido' as the name of the force (in this case that of the sexual instinct [.....]) by which the instinct manifests itself. [.....] In an infant, the first impulses of sexuality make their appearance attached to other vital functions. His main interest is, as you know, directed to the intake of nourishment; when children fall asleep after [feeding], they show an expression of blissful satisfaction which will be repeated later in life after the experience of a sexual orgasm. [.....] It is our belief that [infants] first experience this pleasure in connection with taking nourishment, but that they soon learn to separate it from that accompanying condition. [.....] We are therefore not surprised to learn from psychoanalysis how much psychical importance the act retains all through life. Sucking at the mother's breast is the starting-point of the whole of sexual life, the unmatched prototype of every later sexual satisfaction [.....] making the mother's breast the first object of the sexual instinct. [.....] In forming this opinion of sensual sucking we have already become acquainted with two decisive characteristics of infantile sexuality. It makes its appearance attached to the satisfaction of the major organic needs, and it behaves auto-erotically - that is, it seeks and finds its objects in the infant's own body. What has been shown most clearly in connection with the intake of nourishment is repeated in part with the excretions. We conclude that infants have feelings of pleasure in the process of evacuating urine and faeces and that they soon contrive to arrange those actions in such a way as to bring them the greatest possible yield of pleasure through the corresponding excitations of the erotogenic zones of the mucous membrane. It is here for the first time [.....] that they encounter the external world as an inhibiting power, hostile to their desire for pleasure, and have a glimpse of later conflicts both external and internal. An infant must not produce his excreta at whatever moment he chooses, but when other people decide that he shall. In order to induce him to forgo these sources of pleasure, he is told that everything that has to do with those functions is improper and must be kept secret. This is where he is first obliged to exchange pleasure for social respectability. From the outset [.....] he feels no disgust at his faeces [.....] and makes use of them as his first 'gift', to distinguish people whom he values especially highly. Even after education has succeeded in its aim of making these inclinations alien to him, he carries on his high valuation of faeces in his estimate of 'gifts' and 'money'. [.....] I know you have been wanting for a long time to interrupt me and exclaim: 'Enough of these atrocities! You tell us that defecating is a source of sexual satisfaction, and already explored in infancy. That faeces is a valuable substance and that the anus is a kind of genital! We don't believe all that [.....]'. [..... But allow me] to proceed with my brief account of infantile sexuality. What I have already reported of two systems of organs [nutritional and excretory] might be confirmed in reference to the others. A child's sexual life is indeed made up entirely of the activities of a number of component instincts which seek, independently of one another, to obtain pleasure, in part from the subject's own body and in part already from an external object. Among these organs the genitals come into prominence very soon" (Freud, Introductory Lectures, 1917/1962, pp355-359; emphases added).


Nevertheless, the body of contrary opinion gradually led Freud to change his mind, and by the time he wrote "Beyond the Pleasure Principle" (Freud, 1920/1955) [and, indeed, the very reason he gave the book that particular title] he had not just recognised a destructive instinct, but had started to work it into his overall explanatory system, regarding it, in the final analysis, as a form of "programmed cell death" (Zurak and Klain, 2006 online). Here is his basic argument [a long passage, heavily abridged] ..... 


"The manifestations of a compulsion to repeat [.....] exhibit to a high degree an instinctual character [Triebhaft] and, when they act in opposition to the pleasure principle, give the appearance of some 'daemonic' force at work. [.....] But how is the predicate of 'being instinctual' related to the compulsion to repeat? [..... Is it] that an instinct is an urge inherent in organic life to restore an earlier state of things which the living entity has been obliged to abandon under the pressure of external disturbing forces; that is, it is [.....] the expression of the inertia inherent in organic life. This view of instincts strikes us as strange because we have become used to see in them a factor impelling towards change and development, whereas we are now asked to recognise in them the precise contrary - an expression of the conservative nature of living substance. [.....] Let us suppose, then, that all the organic instincts are conservative, are acquired historically and tend towards the restoration of an earlier state of things. It follows that [..... t]he elementary living entity would from its very beginning have had no wish to change; if conditions remained the same, it would do no more than constantly repeat the same course of life. [.....] Every modification which is thus imposed upon the course of the organism's life is accepted by the conservative organic instincts and stored up for further repetition. Those instincts are therefore bound to give a deceptive appearance of being forces tending toward change and progress, whilst in fact they are merely seeking to reach an ancient goal by paths alike old and new. Moreover it is possible to specify this final goal of all organic striving. It would be in contradiction to the conservative nature of the instincts if the goal of life were a state of things which had never yet been attained. On the contrary, it must be an old state of things, an initial state from which the living entity has at one time or other departed and to which it is striving to return [.....]. If we [accept] that everything living dies for internal reasons - becomes inorganic once again - then we shall be compelled to say that 'the aim of all life is death' [.....]. The attributes of life were at some time evoked in inanimate matter by the action of a force of whose nature we can form no conception. [.....] The tension which then arose in what had hitherto been an inanimate substance endeavoured to cancel itself out. In this way the first instinct came into being: the instinct to return to the inanimate state. [.....] The hypothesis of self-preservative instincts, such as we attribute to all living beings stands in marked opposition to the idea that instinctual life as a whole serves to bring about death. Seen in this light, the theoretical importance of the instincts of self-preservation, of self-assertion, and of mastery, greatly diminishes. They are component instincts whose function it is to assure that the organism shall follow its own path to death [.....]. We have no longer to reckon with the organism's puzzling determination [.....] to maintain its own existence in the face of every obstacle. What we are left with is the fact that the organism wishes to die only in its own fashion" (Freud, Beyond the Pleasure Principle, 1920/1955, pp35-39; emphasis added).


In German, Freud called his death instinct the Todestrieb [= "death drive"], and named it Thanatos, after mythology's God of Death. This double-naming makes a sometimes subtle distinction between an instinct as a physiological system and its higher purpose, a distinction Freud repeated a few pages later when explaining how the simple low-level mechanisms of the libido could, by acting together, operate on a higher plane as "the Eros of the poets and philosophers" (ibid., p50). The relationship between the two competing drive systems remains complex, however, especially when the libidinal and the aggressive combine to shape the confrontational behaviour of ethnic groups. Here is how Freud sees this working .....


"The evidence of psycho-analysis shows that almost every intimate emotional relation between two people [.....] contains a sediment of feelings of aversion and hostility, which only escapes perception as a result of repression. [.....] The same thing happens when men come together in larger units. [.....] Closely related races keep one another at arm's length; the South German cannot endure the North German, the Englishman casts every kind of aspersion upon the Scot, the Spaniard despises the Portuguese. We are no longer astonished that greater differences should lead to an almost insuperable repugnance, such as the Gallic people feel for the German, the Aryan for the Semite, and the white races for the coloured. [.....] In the undisguised antipathies and aversions which people feel towards strangers with whom they have to do we may recognise the expression of self-love - of narcissism. This self-love works for the preservation of the individual and behaves as though [any] divergence from his own particular lines of development [involves] a criticism of them and a demand for their alteration. We do not know why such sensitiveness should have been directed to just these details of differentiation [.....]. But when a group is formed the whole of this intolerance vanishes, temporarily or permanently, within the group. So long as a group formation persists or so far as it extends, individuals in the group behave as though they were uniform, tolerate the peculiarities of its other members, equate themselves with them, and have no feeling of aversion towards them. Such a limitation of narcissism can, according to our theoretical views, only be produced by one factor, a libidinal tie with other people" (Freud, Group Psychology, 1921/1955, pp101-102).


Aggressiveness also helps shape individual infantile psychosexual conflicts. Consider .....


"An abundant source of a child's hostility to its mother is provided by its multifarious sexual wishes, which alter according to the phase of the libido and which cannot for the most part be satisfied. The strongest of these frustrations occur at the phallic period, if the mother forbids pleasurable activity with the genitals - often with severe threats and every sign of displeasure - activity to which, after all, she herself had introduced the child. One would think these were reasons enough to account for a girl's turning away from her mother. One would judge, if so, that the estrangement follows inevitably from the nature of children's sexuality, from the immoderate character of their demand for love and the impossibility of fulfilling their sexual wishes. It might be thought indeed that this first love-relation of the child's is doomed [for] the very reason that it is the first, for these first object-cathexes are regularly ambivalent to a high degree. A powerful tendency to aggressiveness is always present beside a powerful love, and the more passionately a child loves its object the more sensitive does it become to disappointments and frustrations from that object; and in the end the love must succumb to the accumulated hostility" (Freud, New Introductory Lectures, 1933/1964, p157; emphasis added).


Following an influential 1946 paper by Melanie Klein, the explanatory role of an aggressive drive became more widely accepted [see Kleinian School and the onward links]. We give the final observation under this heading to Rollo May, who, taking an Adlerian position on aggression, summarises the human condition this way .....


"The constructive forms of aggression include cutting through barriers to initiate a relationship; confronting another without intent to hurt but with intent to penetrate into his consciousness; warding off powers that threaten one's integrity; actualising one's own self and one's own ideas in hostile environments; overcoming the barriers to healing. Love-making and fighting are very similar neurophysiologically in human beings. [.....] The negative side of aggression [.....] consists essentially of contact with another with intent to injure or give pain. [.....] The truth is that practically everything we do is a mixture of positive and negative forms of aggression" (May, 1972, pp151-152). 



Aggression, Social Learning Theory and: The classic study under this heading is that of Bandura, Ross, and Ross (1961 [full text online (courtesy of York University, Toronto)], which demonstrated how readily young children copy aggressive behaviours observed in older, same-sex, social "models". Historically speaking, this piece of scientific research coincided with a general societal move during the 1960s towards what quickly became famous as "the permissive society", that is to say, a society in which the authoritarianism of the Victorian age was replaced by a more easy-going approach to sexual mores, a growing intolerance of human rights abuses, and a more enlightened approach to criminality and antisocial behaviour. This was the era which saw the last official hangings in Britain (1964 in England, 1963 in Scotland, and 1958 in Wales) and the emergence of the "flower power" movement, and came complete with a growing suspicion that violent behaviour in the previously non-violent could be acquired by imitation and bad example. This latter concern led to both the "smacking debate" and the "media violence" debate. The reformers in the smacking debate pointed out that smacking was physical abuse under another name, trying to achieve a veneer of respectability by claiming a role in good discipline, and the reformers in the media violence debate lamented the glorification and financial exploitation of violence as well as the potential for "copy-catting". In one attempt to quantify the risk of copy-cat aggression, Dunand, Berkowitz, and Leyens (1984) controlled how much encouragement subjects were given by a non-naive co-participant [that is to say, a confederate of the experimenter], whose task it was to engineer either a "passive" or "active" quality to the design conditions. In the "passive audience" condition, the confederate sat with each participant but did not react to the material being screened (a six-minute boxing scene from the 1954 movie The Champion). In the "active audience" condition, however, the confederate actively volunteered encouraging comments such as "get up", "come on", and "good hit", and generally acted non-verbally in a highly engaged ringside manner. Dunand et al's data indicated that the active audience condition brought about increased aggressive behaviour on the part of the subject, but they saw this as a compounding of several different processes, thus .....


"Most of the theorists in this area are generally agreed that the violence depicted on the screen can lower the viewers' inhibitions against aggression [citations]. This could come about either through showing the observers that aggression can have beneficial consequences or by indicating that aggression is permissible on occasion. In addition, as Berkowitz (1974) has emphasised, the portrayed aggression might also stimulate aggression-facilitating ideas and expressive motor reactions in the audience, much as erotic films [do for] sexual behaviour [citation]" (Dunand, Berkowitz, and Leyens, 1984, p74).


Wood, Wong, and Chachere (1991) conducted a 23-report meta-analysis, and suggested that many studies fail to expose subjects to the manipulated experience for long enough to develop the full response. This was a serious design weakness, in their opinion, given their strong suspicion that the facilitation effect might be cumulative, thus .....


"Exposure to media violence may have a small to moderate impact on a single behaviour, but cumulated across multiple exposures and multiple social interactions the impact may be substantial. The research used in our review typically exposed participants to only one or a few episodes of media violence. The cumulative impact across a lifetime of media exposure might plausibly be greater. This is particularly a concern if media effects assume some nonlinear pattern that would be inadequately captured by the one-shot exposure studies [reviewed]. Aggregation across aggressive acts may reveal substantial media impact" (Wood, Wong, and Chachere, 1991, p378; emphasis added).


For her part, Newson (1994) was motivated by case, James Bulger, in which two ostensibly normal older children (both aged ten years) abducted a two-year-old from a shopping mall, took him to a deserted place, and murdered him. This was an event which shocked Britain to its middle-class core (those nearer to the streets are harder to surprise), due to the child-on-child aspect of the case. Here is how she closes in on the critical concerns .....


"So here is a crime that we could all wish had been perpetrated by 'evil freaks'; but already the most cursory reading of news since then suggests that it is not a 'one-off'. Shortly after this trial, children of similar age in Paris were reported to have set upon a tramp, encouraged by another tramp, kicked him, and thrown him down a well. In England an adolescent girl was tortured by her 'friends' over days, using direct quotations from a horror video (Child's Play 3) as part of her torment, and eventually set on fire and thus killed" (Newson, 1994, pp272-273).


Newson concluded that such factors as physical abuse, emotional neglect, and family breakdown all have some part to play in creating a murderous innocent, but stresses that many children thus traumatised do NOT display copy-cat aggression. Given also that Bulger's killers seemed to come from "happy and nurturant homes" (p273), she sees access to video violence as the critical factor. What we are dealing with, therefore, is a social phenomenon which more or less defies science to analyse it successfully, or track down its causes objectively. Griffiths (1997) was certainly unimpressed with the coordination and quality of the accumulated research effort going back 40 years. There were some serious confounds in observational studies of the effects of video games on aggressive behaviour. For example, even the highest empirically derived correlation coefficients may be the result of "backward causation", that is to say, the preferential exposure to aggressive material by individuals already possessing aggressive states or traits. In Griffiths' opinion, there were also too many experimental studies which were constrained to measure only fantasy aggression, which, if interpreted theoretically as catharsis, might actually reduce any tendency towards substantive aggression rather than increase it. The peddlers of the material peddle on, meanwhile, relatively unabashed, as this concluding snippet indicates .....


"A new Sony PlayStation game, which shows a young girl being kidnapped and tortured, led to Franco Frattini, the [European Union] Justice Commissioner, calling yesterday for urgent action to limit the availability of 'obscene' material to young people. He has summoned a meeting of the EU Home Affairs ministers next month because of his revulsion after watching Rule of Rose. The game is to be released in Britain on November 24, [and] puts the player in the shoes of a teenage girl who is repeatedly beaten and humiliated as she tries to break out of an orphanage. She is bound, gagged, doused with liquids, buried alive, and thrown into the 'filth room'. [.....] Mr Frattini suggested that voluntary ratings were no longer enough to stop obscene games falling into younger hands" (The Times, 17th November 2006).



Aggression, True Forgiveness and: Of practical as well as academic importance is the question whether long-held politico-religious hatreds can ever be satisfactorily resolved. For our own part, we are not overly optimistic on this issue, for there are simply too many priests and pressure groups involved and too little understanding on the part of the general population of how they have been controlled. Nevertheless, there are occasional successes, as this heart-warming story from the Irish problem indicates .....


"Jackie McMullan, who joined the IRA at the age of 13, was given a life sentence for an attack on a military billet. Behind bars he became a republican legend, surviving 48 days of the hunger strike that killed 10 of his colleagues. He served 16 years in prison. Alan McBride is a Belfast protestant whose life was devastated when an IRA bomb killed his wife, Sharon, at a Shankill Road fish shop in 1973. [.....] But together, Mr McMullan and Mr McBride are engaged in an extraordinary venture where ordinary people - extraordinary people - rather than politicians are taking the lead. Their aim? Reconciliation. Their means? Talk, and specifically talk about the past, with the aim of creating a better future" (The Independent, 29th November 2006).



Agoraphobia: This is one of the thirteen DSM-IV disorder groups under the category header of anxiety disorders. It is characterised by "anxiety about being in places or situations from which escape might be difficult" (DSM-IV-TR, 2000, p432).



Ainsworth, Mary D.S.: [American-Canadian developmental psychologist (1913-1999).] [Click for external biography] Ainsworth is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for her work on attachment.



Akt: [German = "1. life model, nude (model); 2. act, action, deed; 3. act (of a play)" (C.G.D.).] See now act versus content debate.



Albert Ellis Foundation: [Click to see corporate mission statement] This is the charitable foundation established in 2006 to promote the work of psychotherapist Albert Ellis and his REBT method.



Albertus Magnus: [German clergyman-scholar-alchemist (1193?-1280).] [Click for external biography] Albertus is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for his work on the android named Android [for more on which see the entry for Materialism and underlying mechanism].



ALC: See academic locus of control.



Alcmeon: [<Αλκμαιον>] [Greek philosopher (floruit ca. 480BCE).] [See firstly transduction in the G.2 pump-priming definitions.] This from the S.E.P. .....


"Alcmaeon of Croton was an early Greek medical writer and philosopher-scientist. His exact date, his relationship to other early Greek philosopher-scientists, and whether he was primarily a medical writer/physician or a typical Presocratic cosmologist, are all matters of controversy. He is likely to have written his book sometime between 500 and 450 BC. The surviving fragments and testimonia focus primarily on issues of psychology and epistemology and reveal Alcmaeon to be a thinker of considerable originality. He was the first to identify the brain as the seat of understanding and to distinguish understanding from perception. Alcmaeon thought that the sensory organs were connected to the brain by channels (poroi) and may have discovered the poroi connecting the eyes to the brain (i.e. the optic nerve) by excising the eyeball of an animal, although it is doubtful that he used dissection as a standard method. He was the first to develop an argument for the immortality of the soul" [see the full biography].


Original copies of Alcmaeon's works have not survived the ages, and are known only by references made to them in Aristotle's Metaphysics and Theophrastus' On the Senses.



Aletheia: [<αληθεiα> Greek = "disclosure, unconcealment", hence "truth".] See onsciousness, Heidegger's theory of.



Alexithymia: [From the Greek a- = "(generic) lost, absent" + lexis = "word" + thymos = "emotional intensity".] "Alexithymia is a disorder characterized by cognitive-emotional deficits including: problems identifying, describing, and working with one's own feelings, often marked by a lack of understanding of the feelings of others; confusion of physical sensations often associated with emotions with those emotions; few dreams or fantasies due to restricted imagination; and concrete, realistic, logical thinking, often to the exclusion of emotional responses to problems." (Wikipedia). The term was first constructed by Sifneos (1972) to describe a curious clinical pattern in which patients were relatively impaired at articulating, and perhaps therefore at experiencing and/or coping with, emotions. As Muller (2000/2006 online) puts it, the patient simply "has no story to tell"! [Compare affect, flattened.] Parker, Taylor, and Bagby (1998) have addressed the theoretically fundamental question whether alexithymia results from a deficit in the cognitive processing of emotions (the original justification for the term, remember) or a defensive coping style. They administered the TAS and the DSQ to a sample of 287 non-clinical adults and then factor analysed the data obtained. Results indicated that TAS correlated strongly with an immature defense style.


BREAKING RESEARCH: More recently, Wearden, Cook, and Vaughan-Jones (2003) and Picardi, Toni, and Caroppo (2005) have linked alexithymia to insecure adult attachment, blaming it on the quality of "primary caregiving" during development, and Mazzeo and Espelage (2002) have suggested that alexithymia serves the "mediating role" in a three-stage causal line between early experience and eating disorders later in life.



Alien Abduction:


"Don't be afraid, Orfeo, we are friends" ("Neptune").


[See firstly hysteria, epidemic.] Stories of alien abduction are one of the several major types of "epidemic hysteria" named in Showalter (1997). Taken literally, the notion of an "alien abduction" asserts (a) the existence on or near Earth of intelligent life forms from other planets, (b) a "close encounter" of the third kind [i.e., seeing an alien "in person"], and (c) an incident of involuntary human abduction by said life forms [i.e., a close encounter of the fourth kind]. Whether or not you accept reports of alien abductions as factually true then depends largely on whether or not you believe in other metaphysical phenomena, such as Valhalla (or any of the other paradise myths), Hades (or any of the other hell myths), astromancy [= astrological fortune-telling], cheiromancy [= palmistry], teleradiesthesia [=dowsing], and, a fortiori, flying saucers. In the remainder of this entry we will be referring to those who take alien abductions at face value as "believers" and to those who do not as "sceptics". But firstly some important scene-setting, because historically speaking there seem to be three identifiable eras in human belief in the extraterrestriality of life.


Period #1: To start with we have notions such as God in the heavens, stars in the east, "the Happy Hunting Ground", and so on. These notions have been around (mutatis mutandis) without break from the beginning of recorded time, are seen in many of the planet's extant belief systems, and reflect systems of "truths" which you are asked to accept WITHOUT OBJECTIVE EVIDENCE.


TEST YOURSELF NOW: Which of the following unproven truths do YOU believe in?


everlasting life for the righteous; the tooth fairy; everlasting damnation for the sinful; Heaven as a place; literal out-of-body experiences; the spirit world; telepathy 


Period #2: Then we have the birth of the science fiction genre, corresponding approximately with the Industrial Revolution. The driving force here seems to have been the demand for popular periodicals, which - like their modern equivalents - liked to mix news and current affairs with one-off and serialised fiction. Having been introduced to the idea of space flight by Cyrano de Bergerac's "Voyage to the Moon" (1657), and to the idea of alien life forms by Swift's "Gulliver's Travels" (1726), it was an easy step for these works to drift off in the direction of the fantastic [see at this juncture the entry for Munchausen, Baron Hieronymus, who in later life earned his living by "spicing up" reality in precisely this way]. When it comes specifically to "invasion literature" [see Wikipedia on this], we have G.T. Chesney's "The Battle of Dorking" (1871) [image] and, more famously, H.G. Wells' "War of the Worlds" (1898) [image]. The early years of the 20th century brought us science fiction silent movies such as "A Trip to the Moon" (1902), the 1920s brought us the prolific "Doc" Smith [more about him], and the arrival of the "talkies" brought us "Flash Gordon" (1938). The point about Period #2 is that this material WAS NOT TAKEN LITERALLY - it was read/viewed as fiction, and had only such reality as the process of "willing suspension of disbelief" allows of all drama.


TEST YOURSELF NOW: Think of a movie/play you have enjoyed seeing, and then ask yourself why you liked it so much. Is it because the quality of the staging made you feel there in some real-but-unreal sense? Was it that you were able to share the actors' experiences and emotions?


Period #3: Remembering that Kraepelin once defined paranoid ideation as allowing one's judgments to resist "correction by experience", we come now to the modern age, where entire systems of truths are accepted, DESPITE OBJECTIVE EVIDENCE TO THE CONTRARY [we take the Flat Earth Society - see the history - as class-defining in this respect]. One pivotal event seems to have been Orson Welles' 1938 radio dramatisation of "The War of the Worlds", which was so convincingly radiostaged that it sent large sections of America to their cellars [fuller story]. This human gullibility at the hands of the broadcast media was then ruthlessly exploited by the military, who soon discovered that top-secret weapons research could be cloaked in deliberately leaked cover stories. Under this heading we have the Roswell Incident [read the story; see the alien] and the mysterious "Area 51" [read the story]. More recently, the genre has been just as cynically exploited by the entertainment industry in such TV series as "The X-Files" (Fox TV, 1993-2002) and "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer" (Mutant Enemy Productions, 1997-2003).


TEST YOURSELF NOW: Do you personally believe in .....


UFOs and spacemen; werewolves and vampires; angels and demons; man-made monsters


It follows that we are exposed as modern humans to three simultaneous streams of non-objective reporting - firstly that emanating from our religious, political, and cultural institutions, secondly that which we understand as fictional, but which often tangentially reinforces our general presumptions of right and wrong .....


ASIDE: History tends to be written up from a position of power and influence, and history books - fictional as well as factual - therefore tend to toe various "party lines", rendering themselves ethno-preferential and biased in the process [see, for example, Porterfield and Keoke's thought-provoking website on how to recognise "subtle racism" in the literature concerning the American Indians - click here to be transferred]. For the lessons of history to acquire enough scientific status to be taken seriously, therefore, we need to see a lot more "warts and all" truth-telling and deliberately decentered interpretation.


..... and thirdly that which seeks to profit in some fairly direct way from our gullibility. All in all, few of our fellow citizens can be relied upon to know the truth of a given issue, and, of those who do, most will have some vested interest in, or legal or honour code commitment to, keeping that truth to themselves.  It is to its credit, therefore, that scientific psychology addresses cases of "alien abduction" by ignoring the aliens, and by presuming from the outset that each reported "abduction" is either (a) a conscious invention (for reward or otherwise), or else (b) lies somewhere on a continuum between innocent cognitive malfunction at one extreme and out-and-out mental disorder at the other? Indeed, no less a figure than (an ageing) Carl Jung attempted to find a psychodynamic explanation for the UFO phenomenon (Jung, 1959), opening with the following caustic observation .....


"In 1954 I gave an interview to the Swiss weekly, Die Weltwoche, in which I expressed myself in a sceptical way, though I spoke with due respect of the serious opinion of a relatively large number of air specialists who believe in the reality of [UFOs]. In 1958 this interview was suddenly discovered by the world press and the 'news' spread like wildfire [.....] but - alas - in distorted form. I issued a statement to the United Press and gave a true version of my opinion, but this time the wire went dead [.....]. The moral of this story is rather interesting [..... namely] that news affirming the existence of Ufos is welcome, but that scepticism seems to be undesirable. [.....] This remarkable fact in itself surely merits the psychologist's interest. Why should it be more desirable for saucers to exist than not?" (Jung, 1959, ix-x; emphasis added).


TEST YOURSELF NOW: Do you believe in UFOs? If yes, why? What weakness in your personality does that belief give voice to? If no, same question.


Having been interested in the psychodynamic symbolism of belief systems all his life, Jung regarded the UFO phenomenon as "a golden opportunity to see how a legend is formed" (p14), and proceeded to analyse a number of dreams for their imagery and artworks for their iconography. The main point which emerged from this analysis was that there was an intriguing commonality between UFO-related symbolism and that used historically in the great dynastic religions, in the classical myths, and in alchemy. Here is one indicative remark out of many, concerning the painting "The Fire Sower" (Jakoby) .....


"In this picture the Ufo is replaced by the traditional eye of God, gazing from heaven. These symbolic ideas are archetypal images that are not derived from recent Ufo sightings but always existed. There are historical reports of the same kind from earlier decades and centuries. Thirty years ago, before Flying Saucers were heard of, I myself came across very similar dream-visions [..... including] the rising of a sun-like object which in the course of the visions developed into a mandala [check this term out]"  (Jung, 1959, pp107-108).


Jung then reviewed in some detail the story of a "contactee" named Orfeo M. Angelucci .....


for the supporting detail, see case, Orfeo M. Angelucci


and suggested a mandala-role for all glowing saucer and disc images. As to the deeper motivation, he concludes as follows .....


"From the dream examples and the pictures it is evident that the unconscious, in order to portray its contents, makes use of certain fantasy elements which can be compared with the Ufo phenomenon. [.....] The dreams as well as the paintings, when subjected to careful scrutiny, yield a meaningful content which could be described as an epiphany [i.e., a divine appearance]. [..... Indeed] a central archetype constantly appears, which I have called the archetype of the self. [.....] The masculine-feminine antithesis appears in the long and round objects: cigar-form and circle. These may be sexual symbols" (Jung, 1959, pp137-138; emphasis added). 


So what matters most to the human psyche is sun and sex - the two greatest worship symbols ever. More recently, but very much in the same vein, Showalter (1997) has devoted an entire chapter to the topic of alien abduction, seeing it as an instance of a "hystory" - a word she coined by combining the words "hysteria" and "history". She, too, notes the psychosexual angle ..... 


 "Most abductees are female; most aliens are male. [.....] Abduction scenarios closely resemble women's pornography. [.....] 'He's making me feel things,' one young woman reported. 'He's making me feel things in my body that I don't feel. He's making me feel feelings, sexual feelings ..... I wouldn't feel them. He's making me feel them.' These desires for touch, gazing, penetration have to come from very very far away, even outer space" (Showalter, 1997, p195).


Showalter, however, is primarily a professor of English, and her chapter on alien abduction offers not a single peer-reviewed journal paper as evidence [this is a caution not a criticism, because as a critical analyst one of Showalter's points is how far the genre can go with so little to go on]. More convincing, therefore, are the more modern neurophysiological artefact and cognitive deficit explanations. Take "sleep paralysis", for example [see Wikipedia on this]. This term refers to a not-at-all-abnormal loss of voluntary muscle control in the twilight states of consciousness which precede [= "hypnogogic"] or follow [= "hypnopompic"] full sleep.


TEST YOURSELF NOW: The symptoms of sleep paralysis are that your voluntary muscle control system has dropped off to sleep before your consciousness has, thus separating your body from your will. Your body is now just a dead weight, and can sometimes feel as if something, or someone, is trying to suffocate you or take you off on passive adventures.


The sleep paralysis phenomenon seems to be a natural part of falling asleep, but, being physiologically mediated, is naturally subject to individual differences in time of onset and duration, meaning that it can develop to fascinating and/or clinically troublesome levels in some of us. The curious effects of sleep paralysis can be seen, for example, in the personal experiences of Jean-Christophe Terrillon and Kristof's (1999/2007 online) paper, "Alien Abduction? Science Calls it Sleep Paralysis". The Kristof paper concerned the work of Kazuhiko Fukuda at Fukushima University, Japan [homepage]. Fukuda's research into sleep paralysis indicates that the condition, once thought extremely rare, can in fact afflict a substantial minority of us. Research has also been conducted at the University of Waterloo, Canada, by J. Allan Cheyne [homepage], using the Waterloo Sleep Experiences Scale. Cheyne, Newby-Clark, and Rueffer (1999) report, for example, that "almost 30%" of one sample of university students had had "at least one" experience of sleep paralysis.


TEST YOURSELF NOW: Have you ever personally seen a space alien? Did it look like this? see the alien


A related hallucination has been studied by the US Air Force Academy's Frederick V. Malmstrom. After a thorough review of what is known about human visual perception, Malmstrom makes a good case that the received alien face [see the alien] reflects the operation of an underlying, and not-at-all-abnormal, perceptual "prototype", a roughly stylised facial "template" distilled from the many actual faces seen peering into our cot in our first few weeks of life, and serving in later life to pre-organise visual input in readiness for the more complicated processes of pattern recognition.


ASIDE: In the context our own sketch-map of the stages of cognition (Smith, 1993/2002 online), prototypes would be a rudimentary form of "perceptual knowledge", operating at the late stages of "cognition (1)" (Figure 2, lower left).


To test his hypothesis, Malmstrom reverse engineered an image of a woman's face so as to match what a newborn's eyes might be expected to pick up. Here is the gist of his argument .....


"The descriptions of alien faces historically reported by UFO abductees are almost boringly uniform. Long before 'close encounters' became a catchword in the ufologist's vocabulary, self-proclaimed UFO abductees described their abductors as bulbous-headed humanoids equipped with oversized, wraparound eyes, vertical double-slit nostrils, and [.....] little or no evidence of a mouth. [..... there follows a brief review of human facial perception .....] Obviously, one of the first and most frequent things a baby sees and commits to memory is its mother's face. In Figure 6 of this article I have transformed the young female face of Figure 5 into the kind of face that may be presumed to be seen by the newborn. The transformed face is shown at the intimately close distance that we might expect an infant to see. The reader is invited to compare the 'neonatally' perceived face to a 'typical' alien face [.....]. I believe this demonstrates that there is an innate template face that approximates the typically reported face of an UFO alien" (Malmstrom, 2003/2007 online). [Click the online citation to see the two figures in question, and click here to see the more informal Washington Post article on the same piece of research, under the provocative title "Your Mama Looks Like E.T.". Note the clear and refreshing application of Occam's razor in this study.]


TEST YOURSELF NOW: Try looking at your reflection through a small sheet of polythene film, standing as close to the mirror as a mother does to a baby. Now read the description of alien face in the quotation below!



Allison Manifesto, the: See multiple personality disorder and dissociative identity disorder contrasted.



Allocaust: This term (of our own devising) deliberately conflates the rather obscure English allo- prefix [itself from the Greek allos = "other, different"] with the word "Holocaust", and is used generically in this Glossary to refer to the genocides and pogroms of history other than that which was perpetrated by the Nazis upon the Jews. We do this lest these other affronts to civilisation be forgotten or otherwise denied proper memento. [For an example of the utility of the term, see the entry for survivor syndrome. The term "alsocaust" lacks a formal prefix, but is perhaps just as useful in practice.]



Alsocaust: See allocaust.



Alter Personalities: See multiple personality disorder.



Altered States of Consciousness (ASC): See consciousness, altered states of.



Altruism: This is one of the defense mechanisms postulated by psychoanalytic theory, and recognised by the DSM-IV as belonging to the "high adaptive" defense level. Altruistic individuals deal with their own stressors "by dedication to meeting the needs of others" (DSM-IV-TR, 2000, p811).



Amygdala: See Section 2.1 in the e-resource "The Limbic System, Motivation, and Drive".



Anaclitic: [From the Greek ana- = "(generic) up, upon" + klinein = "to lean".] As used in erudite English, the word "anaclitic" means, literally or figuratively, "leaning on" or "reclining". It was then imported into cognitive science both as a synonym for dependence in interpersonal relationships, and as a descriptor of overdependent personalities.



Analytic Judgment: See judgement, analytic.



Anaxagoras: [<Αναξαγορας>] [Greek Pre-Socratic philosopher (floruit ca. 450 BCE).] [Click for external biography] [See firstly noemics, noesis, etc. in the G.2 pump-priming definitions.] Anaxagoras was born around 500 BCE in Clazomenae in what is today Turkey. His relevance as a mental philosopher comes from his essentially atomist view of the natural world as being constructed from "a plurality of independent elements which he called 'seeds'", and which he saw as "the ultimate elements of combination" and as "indivisible, imperishable primordia of infinite number".



Ancient Mariner, the: This is the eponymous main character in Samuel Taylor Coleridge's epic poem "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" (Coleridge, 1797) [full text (courtesy of the University of Virginia)]. It is relevant in the present context as a fine example of the sort of compulsions which go with survivor syndrome. [Compare Aneurin and David Jones.]



Aneurin: [Welsh bard (floruit ca. 600).] [Click for external biography] Aneurin was the author of "Y Gododdin" [anglicised as "the Wotadini" (the name of the Celtic tribe concerned)], a first-hand account [it being the task of the Celtic court bards to witness and render as poetry the heroic deeds of their kings] of the defeat of a small Welsh army by the Saxons at a place called Cattraeth, from which few survived. Aneurin is relevant in the present context as a fine example of the sort of compulsions which go with survivor syndrome. [Compare Ancient Mariner and David Jones.]



Anger: [See firstly affect.] In everyday language, "anger" is "an emotional state that may range in intensity from mild irritation to intense fury and rage" (Webster's Medical). In psychology, the same basic definition is maintained, but with added overtones of an imbalance, temporary or permanent, between an innate vertebrate predisposition to violent emotionality and the more reality-driven intellectual processes by which that emotionality needs normally to be modulated. Anger is an important clinical sign in the differential diagnosis of mental health problems under the DSM-IV and ICD-10 classificatory systems, being seen as temper tantrums in autistic spectrum disorders, as aggression in oppositional defiant disorder, and as anger outbursts (diagnostic criterion #2) in posttraumatic stress disorder. In addition, feelings of anger can be particularly "intense" in borderline personality disorder (DSM-IV-TR, 2000). It is hardly surprising, therefore, that there is considerable cathartic benefit to be had during psychotherapy if the patient's anger can be redirected onto the therapist as the result of transference. [See now hatred.]



Anhedonia: [From the Greek a- = "(generic) lost, absent" + hedone = "pleasure".] [See firstly differential diagnosis, psychiatric.] Anhedonia is a state of apparent disinterest in and lack of responsiveness towards pleasurable events and situations. It is thus an important sign in the differential diagnosis of psychiatric disorders, being present in the depressive phase of all the depressive disorders and some of the psychoses That said, anhedonia presents as much of a challenge to philosophers of mind as it does to mental health clinicians. This is because the interaction of the intellectual and emotional aspects of our selves has never been properly understood [see, for example, soul, tripartite]. We submit, indeed, that it is at the point of functional interaction between the intellectual and emotional selves (wherever that turns out to be) that many of the mysteries of phenomenal experience will turn out to be situated.



Animal Magnetism: See Mesmerism.



Animated Models of Cognition: The gestalt law of common fate describes one of the basic features of the biological visual system, namely that the visual form of many external objects only becomes phenomenally apparent after it starts to move relative to its background. Much the same effect may be seen at work in the sort of diagrams which have characterised engineering treatises since the days of Ctesibius, Philon of Byzantium, and Heron of Alexandria. Put simply, the movement which so characterises a three-dimensional moving mechanism is difficult to draw in two-dimensional textbook form, and doubly so if the intended audience is unfamiliar with the conventions used. The problem is even worse when considering mechanisms where the movement is invisible to the naked eye. Electrical and hydraulic systems are good examples of this category of mechanism. With an electrical circuit, for example, you can see the wires and the components linked by the wires, but you have to be specially trained to interpret the all-important inner flow of electrons. Likewise with plumbing systems, where you can see the pipes but need special equipment to see what is going on inside them.


ASIDE: We mention this because conventional explanatory diagrams of the mind are themselves just such dataflow diagrams, and suffer precisely the aforementioned problems. For our own part, we suspect that the mysteries of the mind will eventually turn out to be less complex than a typical automobile fuel injection/automatic choke system [check one out], but to solve those mysteries we have to devise a better set of rules for diagramming things mental. [For advice on the construction of cognitive flow diagrams to the best of today's conventions, see our e-tutorial on "How to Draw Cognitive Diagrams".]


The idea of animating a proposed explanation of the mind is not entirely new, being seen in skeletal form in the Leibniz mill and Condillac's statue thought experiments (both from the first half of the 18th century). However, with the advent in the mid-1990s of low-cost animation and presentation software, it became possible to introduce animations into even the simplest on-screen document [viz. the common fate demonstration above], although attempts to animate formal cognitive models remain quite rare, despite their potential appeal as teaching aids. We ourselves animated Baddeley and Hitch's Working Memory Model of Memory in 1999 for teaching purposes, and we see the same approach in the following snippet from Newton (2001) .....


"I will describe an artificial slow-motion or frame-by-frame version of what I have in mind (the process would in fact be a dynamic one, not neatly divisible into distinct stages). Imagine ....." (Newton, 2001, p56).



Animism: [See firstly anthropomorphism.] Animism is "the attribution of a living soul to inanimate objects and natural phenomena" (O.E.D.). The term was popularised by the anthropologist E.B. Tyler following detailed study of primitive religions (Tyler, 1863), but has been frequently revisited thanks to humankind's liking for anthropomorphic explanation. Piaget (1926/1973) devotes an entire chapter to the developmental aspects of animism, seeing it as an entirely "spontaneous" (p236) property of immature cognition. Young children "simply talk about things in the terms used for human beings, thus endowing them with will, desire, and conscious activity" (p239). In fact, he identified two distinct developmental periods, as follows .....


"..... we noted two periods in the spontaneous animism of children. The first, lasting until the ages of four to five, is characterised by an animism which is both integral and implicit; anything may be endowed with both purpose and conscious activity [..... but] this animism sets no problem to the child. It is taken for granted. After the ages of four to six, however, questions are asked on the subject, showing that this implicit animism is about to disappear" (p242).


Dennett (1996) places the likely emergence of the phenomenon quite late in human phylogenetic development, specifically "with the evolution in our species of language and the varieties of reflectiveness that language permits" (p44) [see, on this, the entry on "Popperian" creatures]. Once we had acquired reflectiveness, Dennett argues, "we began to ask ourselves not only whether the tiger wanted to eat us [.....] but why the rivers wanted to reach the seas, and what the clouds wanted from us in return for the rain we asked of them" (Dennett, 1996, p44).



Anion: A negatively charged ion.



Anna O: See case, Anna O.



Annahme: [German = "acceptance", "assumption"; plural = Annahmen; from the infinitive verb annehmen.] This is the word chosen by Meinong to describe a form of cognition intermediate between a representation and a judgment. It was subsequently rendered into English as "assumption", q.v.



Annehmen: [German = basically "to accept", hence, amongst other derivations, "assume (character, appearance, attitude, form)" (C.G.D.)] Annehmen is the infinitive verb root of the abstract noun Annahme, q.v.



Anorexia Nervosa: This is one of the two DSM-IV disorder groups under the category header of eating disorders. The essential features of the condition are "that the individual refuses to maintain a minimally normal body weight, is intensely afraid of gaining weight, and exhibits a significant disturbance in the perception of the shape or size of his or her body" (DSM-IV-TR, 2000, p583). [See next body image and dieting.]



ANS: See autonomic nervous system.



Anschauen: [German = "look at, view, regard, contemplate" (C.G.D.).] Anschauen is the infinitive verb root of the abstract noun Anschauung, q.v.



Anschauung: [German = "visual perception [] way of looking at or seeing, idea, conception" (C.G.D.); plural = Anschauungen.] This is the word chosen by both Kant and Hegel to express the most immediate and uncluttered [our term] form of perception, namely "intuition". [See now consciousness, Hegel's theory of and consciousness, Kant's theory of.]



An-sich-sein: [Artificial German = "Being-in-itself".] [See firstly present-at-hand vs ready-at hand.] This is Heidegger's (1927, p106) term for the quality of entities "present-at-hand", but not "lit up" (p114). Heidegger introduces the term in his consideration of "the worldhood of the world" (III.15), and seems to be referring to the fact that the world is "always 'there'" (p114), as something "previously discovered" (ibid.), but that it is necessarily not always engaged with "thematically" (ibid.), remaining then "inconspicuous" and "unobtrusive".


RESEARCH ISSUE: Non-philosophers should carefully note Heidegger's notion of An-sich-sein, because it is another of those areas where cognitive science sorely needs to know more about the underlying neurochemistry. The problem is ultimately that of the relative nature and status of our long-term memory and short-term memory resources. This issue is discussed in detail in the companion Memory Glossary (see especially the opening paragraphs); simply read "always there" or "previously discovered" for LTM, and "lit up" for STM, and then consider all the in-between states described by Heidegger



Anterior Cingulate Gyrus: See this entry in the companion Neuropsychology Glossary, then see herein under functional connectivity and dissociation.



Anthropomorphism: Anthropomorphism (literally, man-form-ism) is an assertion of human characteristics in inanimate objects or subhuman species. Thus if you talk deeply and meaningfully to your canary or swear at your car when it fails to start, then you are elevating those objects to humanlike status, as indeed you are if you conceive of animals as feeling human emotions such as love, regret, compassion, etc. The psychological roots of anthropomorphism lie ultimately in the mind's apparent inability to produce accurate mental models of the world and the things/players within it, that is to say, in its inability to discriminate between high animate, low animate, and inanimate externals. [See now animism.]



Anticipation: [See firstly affect.] This is one of the defense mechanisms postulated by psychoanalytic theory, and recognised by the DSM-IV as belonging to the "high adaptive" defense level. It involves experiencing emotional reactions in advance of their happening, so that additional thought can be given to how best to handle them when they happen for real. The DSQ measures an individual's reliance on this particular defense by asking, for example, whether respondents feel they are better able to cope if they know in advance when they are going to be sad. The mechanism by which imagery and imagination can generate phenomenal affect in the absence of an external stimulus is not known.



Anti-Cathexis: [See firstly cathexis.] This is Freud's notion of resources being made available to the preconscious in order to oppose unwelcome material intruding upwards from the unconscious. It is thus both the motivating force for, and the physiological mechanism of, vertically (as opposed to horizontally) directed defence mechanisms such as repression.



Antidromic Conduction: The propagation of a neural impulse in the "backwards" direction, that is to say, from a point of stimulation on the axon back towards the cell body. The opposite of orthodromic conduction.



Antisocial Personality Disorder: [See firstly personality disorders (especially the Jarrett, 2006, quotation).] This is one of the eleven DSM-IV disorder groups under the category header of personality disorders. It is characterised primarily by "a pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others that begins in childhood or early adolescence and continues into adulthood" (DSM-IV-TR, 2000, p701). Other indicators are deceit and manipulation. [See also aggression, personality disorders and.]



Anxiety: In everyday English, "anxiety" is "a state of uneasiness and apprehension, as about future uncertainties" (Free Online Dictionary). Within psychology, it is "the apprehensive anticipation of future danger or misfortune accompanied by a feeling of dysphoria or somatic symptoms of tension" (DSM-IV-TR, 2000, p820). There is, however, no universally accepted psychology of anxiety. This is because each of the separate schools of psychology approaches the topic from its own standpoint. Thus cognitivists look at the information processing of anxiety and lose the richness of the affective experience, behaviourists look at the learning and reinforcement issues and again lose the affect, psychoanalysts look at the part played by anxiety in psychosexual development, and so on, but lose most of the experimental objectivity, and so on. Freud's mid-career position on anxiety was summarised in Lecture #25 of "Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis" (Freud, 1917/1962), and he begins by neatly ducking the question of definition. He does need to introduce anxiety, he argues, because we have all experienced it personally. He also chooses to ignore the physiology of anxiety in favour of its psychological aspects. Here he notes a number of inconsistencies and contradictions, evidenced by the range of terms in use in the arena. Anxiety is not the same thing as fear or fright, for example. Instead, "a person protects himself from fright by anxiety" (p443). The issue, in short, is whether to regard anxiety as a valid theoretical construct, or as the sum total of a cluster of objectively recordable physiological measures. [This entry continues under the heading anxiety disorders (for the clinically recognised psychopathologies) and anxiety types (for the theoretical cognitive science).]



Anxiety, Castration: See Freudian theory.



Anxiety Disorders: This is the DSM-IV header category for 12 specific disorder groups in which anxiety is the predominant sign, plus a "not otherwise specified". The individual disorders include panic attack, agoraphobia, specific phobia, social phobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and generalised anxiety disorder. One respected source, the Anxiety Disorders Association of America [website], points out that anxiety disorders are "the most common mental illness in the US, with 40 million (18.1%) of the adult [population] affected" (ADAA, 2006 online).



Anxiety, Manifest: This is Taylor's (1951) notion of anxiety as objectively displayed in an individual's behaviour (rather than as subjectively experienced).


METHODOLOGICAL ASIDE: Taylor's point was that the clinical process of assessment takes time and can only be carried out by an experienced clinician. Use of a pen-and-paper instrument, on the other hand, can process many participants simultaneously and can be administered and scored by associate researchers.


Taylor's idea came to her during experiments with the classical conditioning of the eyeblink reflex. What she wanted to do was demonstrate the effects of anxiety on that particular physiological process, but there were no sufficiently rigorous measures of anxiety available from the literature, and so she devised one of her own, known as the Manifest Anxiety Scale (MAS) (but often referred to in the literature as the "Taylor Manifest Anxiety Scale"). It contained 50 true-false probe questions, including "I am easily embarrassed", "I blush as often as others", and "I am a very nervous person". Taylor (1953) reports that the mean score on the 50-item version was 14.56 defined trues. A 28-item version was subsequently found to be as effective as the longer version (ibid.).



Anxiety of Conscience: See anxiety types.



Apathetic Withdrawal: This is one of the defense mechanisms postulated by psychoanalytic theory, and recognised by the DSM-IV as belonging to the "action" defense level. It involves dealing with emotional conflict by giving up the struggle and hoping that the stressor will just go away (which, before we get too supercilious, is exactly how many vertebrate species react, apparently successfully, when physically injured).



Apathy-Futility Syndrome: This is Polansky's (1981) term for a symptom complex characteristic of "chronically neglectful mothers" (p37), one which has quite dramatic implications for consequent social services or mental health management in that the victimhood of said mothers needs to be challenged rather than presumed and pandered to. Here is the crux of Polansky's argument .....


"Students of neglect who emphasise economic causes [of neglectful parenting] assume the parents involved are 'average-expected people', victims of external accidents of fate, such as poverty. But to describe someone as character-disordered is to acknowledge she is also life-accident prone. Many of the external pressures she experiences are self-induced" (Polansky, op. cit., pp37-38).


..... and here is a pen-picture of the sort of individual he is talking about .....


"These were women who appeared passive, withdrawn, lacking in expression. Upon being interviewed, they showed many schizoid features [.....]. Their workers found them disorganised in their life-styles and child caring; they were also frustrating because, although they did not oppose the suggestions offered, neither did their care improve. [.....] After a time we were able to identify the following features, or character traits, as making up the pattern involved in the syndrome: 1. A pervasive conviction that nothing is worth doing [.....]. 2. Emotional numbness sometimes mistaken for depression. It is beyond depression; it represents massive affect-inhibition from early splitting in the ego. 3. Interpersonal relationships typified by desperate clinging [yet] intense loneliness. 4. Lack of competence in many areas of living [.....]. 5. Expression of anger passive-aggressively and through hostile compliance. [6 .....] 7. Verbal inaccessibility to others, and a related crippling in problem solving because of the absence of internal dialogue. 8. An uncanny skill in bringing to consciousness the same feelings of futility in others" (Polansky, op. cit., pp39-40) [note the mention of "internal dialogue" in (7), and then see the entry for inner speech].


Polanski supported his analysis with data from 46 neglect families in Philadelphia during the mid-1970s. [See now parenting, neglectful.]



A Posteriori Knowledge: [Conventionally, "knowledge following after [perceptual experience]".] This is one of the two possible types of propositional knowledge when classified according to the ultimate source of the particular knowledge in question (the other possible type being a priori knowledge). The defining source of a posteriori knowledge is past empirical experience, that is to say, evidence derived from previous observation of the world. It follows that the scientific method relies in large part on knowledge of this sort. The issue of a priori vs a posteriori in mental philosophy received a lot of attention in Kant's Critique, and is discussed in the entry for consciousness, Kant's theory of.



Appearance: This is Arendt's (1971) term for the phenomenon by which "the inorganic thereness of lifeless matter" (p21) comes to be "perceived by sentient creatures endowed with the appropriate sense organs" (p19). Arendt explains her thinking as follows: "Dead matter [.....] depends in its being, that is, in its appearingness, on the presence of living creatures. Nothing and nobody exists in this world whose very being does not presuppose a spectator. In other words, nothing [.....] exists in the singular" (ibid.). She goes on to develop the observations that "living things make their appearance like actors on a stage set for them", and that the critical quality of appearance is "seeming", or the "it-seems-to-me"(Arendt, 1971, p21).



Apperception: Apperception is "the mind's perception of itself as a conscious agent; self consciousness [;] mental perception, recognition" (O.E.D.); alternatively, it is the "relation of new facts to facts already known; mental assimilation; state of being conscious of perceiving" (Hutchinson Encyclopedia). This term has been popular within philosophical psychology since Leibniz distinguished it from perception, thus .....


"It is well to distinguish between perception which is the inner state of the monad representing external things, and apperception, which is consciousness, or the reflective knowledge of this inner state" (Leibniz, Principles, p23; emphasis added).


Kant used the term in a number of ways in his Critique [see separately the entry for apperception, transcendental vs empirical]. Herbart then used it in an educational setting as an "interaction of two analogous presentations [.....] whereby the one is more or less reformed by the other and ultimately fused with it" (Felkin and Felkin, 1906, p36), and William James doubted its utility, as follows .....


"In Germany since Herbart's time Psychology has always had a great deal to say about a process called Apperception. The incoming ideas or sensations are said to be 'apperceived' by 'masses' of ideas already in the mind. It is plain that the process we have been describing as perception is, at this rate, an apperceptive process [but] I have myself not used the word apperception because it has carried very different meanings in the history of philosophy [.....]. 'Apperception' is a name for the sum-total of the effects of what we have studied as association [..... and] we gain no insight into what really occurs either in the mind or in the brain by calling all these things the 'apperceiving mass' [.....]. On the whole I am inclined to think Mr Lewes's term of 'assimilation' the most fruitful one yet used" (James, 1890, II. p107).



Apperception, Transcendental vs Empirical: [See firstly empiricism.] Kant recognises two kinds of apperception in his Critique, distinguished as follows .....


"All cognition requires a concept, no matter how imperfect or obscure that concept may be. [.....] But a concept can be a rule for intuitions only by presenting, when appearances are given to us, the necessary reproduction of their manifold and hence the synthetic unity in our consciousness of these appearances. Thus when we perceive something external to us, the concept of body makes necessary the presentation of extension [etc.]. [.....] There must, therefore, be a transcendental basis to be found: a transcendental basis of the unity of consciousness in the synthesis of the manifold of all our intuitions; and hence a transcendental basis also of the concepts of objects as such, and consequently also of all objects of experience - a transcendental basis without which it would be impossible to think any object for our intuitions. [.....] This original and transcendental condition is none other than transcendental apperception. Now there is, in inner perception, consciousness of oneself in terms of the determinations of one's state. This consciousness of oneself is merely empirical and always mutable; it can give us no constant or enduring self in this flow of inner appearances. It is usually called inner sense, or empirical apperception" (Kant, Critique, p158).



Apperzeption: [German = "apperception".] This standard (but not exactly everyday) German term for apperception (as defined above) was specifically applied to mental philosophy by Kant, Herbart, and Lange [Karl].



Apperceptive Mass: [See firstly apperception.] This is Herbart's (1816) notion of the accumulation of highly personalised understandings and interpretations of knowledge, on all topics including oneself, which builds up over time during human experience. However, it is not just the knowledge itself which is important (in the sense that knowledge is by definition a large subset of long-term memory), but the fact that it also includes the presently-conscious subset thereof which is somehow capable of knitting [our metaphor] new material into the most appropriate places in the old. Here is Herbart himself on this .....


"..... after a considerable number of concepts in all kinds of combinations is present, every new act of perception must work as an excitant by which some will be arrested, others called forward and strengthened, progressing series interrupted or set again in motion, and this or that mental state occasioned. These manifestations must become more complex if, as is usual, the concept received by the new act of perception contains in itself a multiplicity or variety, that at the same time enables it to hold its place in several combinations and series, and gives them fresh impulse which brings them into new relations of opposition or blending with one another. By this, the concepts brought by the new act of perception are assimilated to the older concepts ....." (Herbart, 1816, Textbook of Psychology, ¶39; extracted in Watson (1979), Chapter 13).


ASIDE: Note that storing new memory content requires connecting [note this word] new concept nodes into the "combinations and series" by which the pre-existing content had been organised. Mutatis mutandis, this is precisely what needs to be done when new set-organised content is stored in man-made network databases - see the entry describing the <CONNECT> database manipulation instruction if interested in pursuing this line of enquiry.


Herbart's apperceptive mass is thus a similar notion to the "blank slate" of the British Empiricists, although Herbart prefers the metaphor of a lump of soft clay to be shaped by the teaching process. Gilmartin (1987/2006 online extract) explains what is at stake .....


"This shaping of the glob of clay (apperceptive mass) by life experience illustrates the fact that as people we are constantly changing. We do not interpret things the same way today as we interpreted them yesterday. During early childhood, changes in the structure and content of the apperceptive mass (perceiving and interpreting mind) are often quite dramatic. In a very real sense the three-year old child is in a whole host of ways a different person than he/she had been at the age of two. [.....] The gist of this discussion is that people interpret their world with and through an apperceptive mass (mind) whose content is constantly changing. Changes become fewer and slower as the organism grows older and matures. But people are nonetheless constantly changing in their perceptions/interpretations of social stimuli. They are constantly in the process of change from the moment of birth until the moment of death" (Gilmartin, op. cit.).



Appetition: [See firstly conation.] This is Leibniz's (e.g., 1704) term for what we today prefer to describe as "consummatory" drives. He used it to distinguish such phenomena from the fully conscious willed acts produced by volition. His point was that appetitions could motivate without requiring any obvious act of will. [The possibility that such forces might also be able to motivate the will covertly was not, of course, going to be widely discussed until the publication of Freud's (1900) The Interpretation of Dreams.] Leibniz's use of the word is clear in the following .....


"I shall say that volition is the effort or endeavour (conatus) to move towards what one finds good and away from what one finds bad, the endeavour arising immediately out of one's awareness of those things. [.....] So it is not only the voluntary inner acts of our minds which follow from this conatus, but outer ones as well, i.e., voluntary movements of our bodies, thanks to the union of body and soul which I have explained elsewhere [see identity, Leibniz's approach to - Ed.]. There are other efforts, arising from insensible perceptions, which we are not aware of; I prefer to call these 'appetitions' rather than volitions, for one describes as 'voluntary' only actions one can be aware of and can reflect upon"  (Leibniz, 1704/1764, New Essays on the Human Understanding [Remnant and Bennett (1996) edition], II.xxi,§5:172-173; bold emphasis added).



Appraisal: See coping versus defending.



Apprehension: "The action of laying hold of with the senses; conscious perception" (O.E.D.). This term has been popular as a descriptor of an important mid-stage product of the process of perception since Kant (who appears to have used the English spelling in the German original of his Critique) used it to signify a perceptual level in which the elements of a scene are "compiled" from what has already been "intuited", but nevertheless lack a "presentation of the necessity of the linked existence in space and time of the appearances that it compiles" (Critique, p248 [the necessary higher level of perception is experience]). Husserl's and Meinong's use of the German word Erfassen may also be translated as apprehension.



A Priori Knowledge: [Conventionally, "knowledge before (and hence potentially without) [perceptual experience]".] This is one of the two possible types of propositional knowledge when classified according to the ultimate source of the particular knowledge in question (the other possible type being a posteriori knowledge). The defining source of a priori knowledge is reasoning, that is to say, the use of ideas to create other ideas. It follows that there are two major aspects to this topic, namely (a) determining the nature of said reasoning, and (b) investigating the possibility that some things are "knowable without appeal to particular experience" (American Heritage Dictionary), or even without formal proof altogether. The issue of a priori versus a posteriori in mental philosophy received a lot of attention in Kant's Critique, where the expressed purpose of the work was to promote the status of the a priori in the face of British Empiricism's liking for the a posteriori. Kant does, however, have to subdivide a priori propositions into analytic and synthetic subtypes depending on how much real substance a particular proposition actually contained. [See now consciousness, Kant's theory of and compare analytic judgment and synthetic judgment.]



AQ: See autistic spectrum quotient.



Aquinas, St. Thomas: [Italian priest-philosopher (1225-1274).] [Click for external biography] Aquinas is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for his part in the story of the android named Android [for more on which see the entry for Materialism and underlying mechanism].



Arachnion: [Greek = "spider's web".] See semantic network, web or lattice.



Archetypal Psychology: See psychology, archetypal.



Archetype: [See firstly apprehension and unconscious, collective.] The construct of the "archetype" [Greek arche = "old, ancestral" + typon = "shape, form"] is Jung's (e.g., 1928) notion of the human perceptual system's "unlearned tendency to experience things in a certain way"  (Boeree, 1997-2006/2007 online), an ability which then presents as a commonality of interpretation and symbolism across human cultures. Here is Jung himself on the subject .....


"Archetypes are typical forms of apprehension; indeed, wherever we meet with uniformly and regularly recurring ways of apprehension, they are referable as archetypes. The collective unconscious consists of the sum of the instincts and their correlates, the archetypes. Just as everybody possesses instincts, so he also possesses archetypes. The most striking evidence for the existence of archetypes is seen in mental derangements that are characterised by an intrusion of the collective unconscious into the conscious, as occurs in all paranoiac and hallucinatory psychoses. Here we can easily observe the occurrence of instinctive impulses associated with mythological images" (Jung, 1928, p281).


Archetypes, in other words, help explain why there are such reliable patterns to these mythological images. Specifically, there are only a handful of different basic images and image-scenarios, and they tend to recur across cultural boundaries. Thus we have what Jung called the "mother archetype", the Isis/Mary Madonna figure of Egypto-Christian religion. Other common archetypes include the father figure, the divine couple, the superman, the hero, the wise old man, and the crafty trickster. More importantly, given this glossary's persistent interest in the structuring of the mind's semantic network, Jung saw archetypes as capable of attracting clusters of memories to themselves, and thus of causing the formation of complexes. [See now psychology, archetypal and Jung's own application of the archetype construct to the topic of alien abduction.]



Arendt, Hannah: [German (American from 1951) social scientist-essayist (1906 - 1975).] [Click for external biography] Arendt is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for her work on appearance.



Aristotle: [<Αριστοτελης>] [Greek philosopher (384-322BCE).] [Click for external biography] Aristotle is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for his part in the framing of the classical view of mind and science. However, the fact that Aristotle studied under Plato means that his works draw frequently upon the older scholar's treatises. His output includes De Anima [Latin = "Concerning the Soul"], De Sensu [Latin = "Concerning the Senses"] and De Memoria" [Latin = "Concerning Memory"], The Categories, The Metaphysics, and De Motu Animalium [Latin = "Concerning the Movement of Animals]. [See now consciousness, Aristotle's theory of.]



"Armstrong's Fox": This is Armstrong's (1980) thought experiment on the topic of "immediacy" in perception, the point being that it is possible to "see" something without being able, in absolute terms, to recognise exactly what it is. [For more on this, see perception, immediate.]



Articulatory Loop: [See firstly Working Memory Theory.] This is Baddeley and Hitch's (1974) first proposed slave system [the other being the visuo-spatial sketchpad]. It is the hypothetical structure which allows you to rehearse a short list by saying it to yourself over and over again. The use of the word articulatory as opposed to auditory is deliberate. This is because the emphasis is on internal speech - the circulation of an unvoiced output trace, rather than a prolonged echoing of the input trace (which would be better regarded as a form of echoic memory). Above all, the articulatory loop has a limited capacity, with subjects performing better at recalling, say, five short words than five long words. Even when words are matched for number of syllables, those with long vowels are slower to articulate than others ("harpoon", for example, takes longer to enunciate than "wicket"), so it is no surprise that STM is poorer on the slower. This phenomenon is known as the word length effect, and is consistent with a trace-decay explanation of STM forgetting. Baddeley (1986) considers that the phonological similarity effect and the word length effect reflect different components of the articulatory loop system: the word length effect reflects the loop's limited time capacity, whereas the phonological similarity effect, on the other hand, reflects the confusibility of the internal codes maintained.



Articulatory Suppression Effect: [See firstly Working Memory Theory.] Reductions in the capacity of the phonological loop when the cognitive system is required to carry out a simultaneous articulatory interference task. Thus Baddeley, Lewis, and Vallar (1984) found a reduction in digit span from seven to five digits when subjects simultaneously repeated a distractor word like "the" during the retention period. 



ASC: See consciousness, altered states of.



ASD: See autistic spectrum disorders.



Ashby's Law of Requisite Variety: [See firstly metacontrol.] This is a systems law which states in essence that a control system always has to be more complicated than the system it is controlling (or, in everyday language, that you have to know a system's "wrinkles" before you can safely operate it, let alone attempt to take it to pieces, or try to repair or improve it). [See now control architecture.]



AS Interactive Project: This is a research initiative ongoing since 2000 by the University of Nottingham's Virtual Reality Applications Research Team, and funded by the Shirley Foundation. It is investigating the use of virtual environments - three-dimensional computer simulations like those used in computer games - to support people with Asperger's disorder. Parsons, Beardon, Neale, et al (2000) have reviewed previous attempts at using CAL [= computer-assisted learning] techniques in the remediation of autistic spectrum disorders, and note some limited successes. They themselves have studied the use of a collaborative virtual environment, that is to say, networked software systems where more than one participant "share the same virtual world" through their respective network terminals, and they report as follows .....


"People with high-functioning autism, or Asperger's Syndrome (AS), are characterised by significantly impaired social understanding. Virtual environments may provide the ideal method for social skills training because many of the confusing inputs in 'real world' interactions can be removed" (Parsons, Beardon, Neale, et al, 2000, p163).


To learn more about this project, visit the project website.



Asperger's Disorder: [See firstly autistic spectrum disorders.] This is one of the five DSM-IV disorder groups under the category header of pervasive developmental disorders. It is regarded as an autistic spectrum disorder, emerges in early childhood, and is characterised by social isolation and eccentricity, impairments or abnormalities in verbal and non-verbal communication, clumsiness, and idiosyncratic interests and hobbies. The social isolation is believed to result from impaired social understanding. There is also a highly intriguing pattern of cognitive strengths and weaknesses which, taken together, tends to shape the life experiences of individuals with Asperger's traits. The strengths, for example, include the sort of highly focused and analytical mind required within professions such as engineering and computer programming. The weaknesses include difficulties with inference and abstraction, and a reduced ability to generalise as effortlessly as others might from one life experience to the next. Here is a previously unpublished case anecdote .....


CASE REPORT, "T.C.": [British male born 1988; informal notes to the author from his mother] "One of the major problems I had with language and [T.C.] when he was young was that he simply did not seem to 'get it'. This was very frustrating. From the moment his horizons opened up at 18 months when he walked, he was a running disaster. When [T.C.] wished to play with another child, he would go over to them and simply push them until they fell down and cried. After that they would keep their distance from him, but he could not see that this rejection was a result of the pushing. He was also incredibly persistent, and it was very embarrassing for me. I got to feel like a very 'rubbish mum' early on because of this, and avoided going to social places like toddlers groups. When [T.C.] started school, I had still not got through to him. I had used language in every way I could think - explanations and verbal boundary setting, but all to no avail. One day, when he had pushed a little girl over (yet again) in our home and my friendship with her mum was on the line, I took him aside and gave him a big push like he gave other children. This 'language' reached him and he never pushed a child again! While he was little, this was the only language that reached him. So when he bit his sister once, I took his arm and bit him, telling him that if he felt this was OK to do to his sister, then it would be OK for me to do it to him. He did not bite again either. It is my understanding that with autism, a child may be picking out only one or two words per sentence and guessing the rest, much as we might do in France if we only had a smattering of French. This leaves the child at a HUGE disadvantage. They simply do not 'get the message'. This way of relating to [T.C.] - showing him in real terms HOW it felt, rather than trying to explain it verbally - was the ONLY effective way to modify his behaviour when he was young (say under eight years). In time it has been much more possible to work with [T.C.] through language although I guess he is reluctant to talk about many personal issues if it is eyeball to eyeball. This is why conversations when you are driving and can't really concentrate on them, can be so profound! There is a lack of eye contact - which can be so painful for young people. [T.C.] at 18 is an amazing young person and a gentle giant. I am so proud of him! He is pedantic about language. If I say a time, he expects it to be to the minute (so I get in lots of trouble for that!!). There is also a problem in exams, because he does not get what the question is about sometimes and so loses marks. It is definitely a 'communication' disorder that has often in his childhood left him very lonely and has been very damaging to his self-esteem because he has 'got it wrong' through misunderstanding."


We particularly like the "guessed message" simile above - having only a smattering of French ourselves, we know how easy it is to miss all the important little words like "if", "when", "or", and "not" [for more on which, see and compare the entries for function words and content words in the companion Psycholinguistics Glossary]. We are also taken with the advice to avoid too much eye contact if you want quality of interaction, and wonder how this could be incorporated into formal treatments. [For an interesting approach to remediation using modern technology, see the entry for the AS Interactive Project. For case-anecdotal evidence of a pathological intergenerational effect on the quality of parenting of Asperger's disorder children by Asperger's disorder parents, see case, Sarah.]


BREAKING RESEARCH: Adams et al (2002) have investigated the conversational characteristics of individuals with Asperger's disorder, and found evidence that not all children with the disorder are "verbose" (although some were extremely so), and that their difficulty seemed to reside in "general conversation" rather than during more animated and emotionally focused topics [details in Asperger's disorder, pragmatics and]. For more on the potential role of "abnormal connectivity" in preventing or degrading the maximal integration of multi-modular cognitive processing, see functional connectivity and its onward links.



Asperger's Disorder, Pragmatics and: [See firstly Asperger's disorder.] Adams et al (2002) compared the conversational behaviour of 19 boys aged 11-19 years with Asperger's disorder with a control group of 19 matched biys with conduct disorder. They focused on the "exchange structure" of conversations each participant had with the researcher, and used a number of researcher-initiated linguistic probes such as "s/he does?" (requesting confirmation of something just said) and "inside" (requesting clarification of the preceding statement). Measures of assertiveness, responsiveness, and "meshing" were also taken. Here is an extract from their conclusions .....


"The main finding of this study was that the group with Asperger syndrome showed significantly more pragmatically problematic responses that the control group. While the groups showed similar rates of overall responsiveness, the analysis addressing the quality of responsiveness (meshing) showed that individuals with AS clearly produce more problematic responses [..... especially] in the 'emotional' conversation [.....]. These findings therefore tend to support the view that there is no primary language impairment in Asperger syndrome but a problem with understanding emotional concepts. Examination of Social-Emotional profiles suggests that individuals with AS tended to be more talkative than the control group" (pp686-687; bold emphasis added). 



Assertiveness: In everyday English, assertiveness is "aggressive self-assurance" (Word Net). Psychologists honour the basic definition, but then look in greater detail at the variable itself, seeing it as a core factor in our mental constitution. We see this, indeed, in the "self-assertive element" which forms one third of Plato's soul, tripartite. [See now Adult Expression Scale.]



Assimilation: This everyday term comes from assimilate, "to absorb and incorporate" (O.E.D.) [i.e. of a smaller entity into a larger]. It does not appear to have been widely used within mental philosophy prior to Lewes (1874) [see the William James quotation in the entry for apperception], and did not receive its modern technical meaning until Piaget (e.g., 1926/1973) used the term in the context of childhood intellectual development [for more on which, see the entry for adaptation, assimilation, and accommodation].



Association: The ability to establish neural pathways between two separate but in-some-way-related neural events is one of the two fundamental abilities at the heart of cognition (the other being abstraction) [Llinás (1987) suggests that "the ultimate and most general of all global functions of the brain" is prediction (p340), but since the essence of neural prediction is the association of a present stimulus with the outcomes of previous similar stimuli, we see no need to recognize a third fundamental ability in this glossary], and the term association is commonly applied to both the process and the individual pathways. The notion is very commonly applied (a) to the linking of two events within episodic memory either by contiguity of occurrence or sharing of attribute, or (b) to the linking of sememes within semantic memory, usually by sharing of attribute alone. The fact that association occurs so readily probably indicates that the power to associate is another basic neural property. The value of association lies in the fact that it allows regularities in the external world - predictable co-occurrences such as <thunder-follows-lightning> or <lurking things are bad things> - to be detected almost as soon as they start to appear. [See now association (Freudian).]


BREAKING RESEARCH: For more on the potential role of "abnormal connectivity" in preventing or degrading the maximal integration of multi-modular cognitive processing, see functional connectivity and its onward links.



Association (Freudian): [See firstly association and Associationism.] As with association in its general sense, the Freudian notion of association is basically one of links between individual items in memory. The specifically psychodynamic angle comes when it is then emphasised that many of the associations are inaccessible to consciousness even when activated, thanks, it is asserted, to their unacceptable emotional content. [See now free association as a therapeutic technique.]



Associationism: A philosophical doctrine of which the works of David Hartley are typical, predicated upon the proposal that higher states of consciousness emerge from prolonged experience with simpler mental phenomena such as sensations, emotions, and fragmentary memories. Hartley argued that sensations which typically occurred together became linked with each other by simple contiguity, resulting in a semantic network memory. The Associationist ethic can be seen in the following individual quotations: "The mind is endowed with a power of exciting any idea it pleases; whenever it dispatches the spirits into that region of the brain, in which the idea is placed" (Hume, 1739a, pp60-61); "The furniture of a man's mind chiefly consists of his recollections and the bonds that unit them" (Galton, 1883, p131); "The amount of activity at any given point in the brain-cortex is the sum of the tendencies of all other points to discharge into it" (James, 1890, pI.567). However, there arose a swelling of opinion around this time against Associationism on the grounds that it diverted theoretical attention away from the self "in its original purity" (Bergson, 1889/1910, p224). However, Bergson's complaint was more about Associationism's lack of theoretical ambition than with the notion of association itself, which he regularly invoked in his own theorising. The following extract nicely illustrates Bergson's somewhat ambivalent position: "That every idea which arises in the mind has a relation [.....] with the previous mental state, we do not dispute; but a statement of the kind throws no light on the mechanisms of association, nor, indeed, does it really tell us anything at all" (Bergson, 1896/1911, p212). Echoes of Associationism can also be seen in modern theories of the semantic network, in the computer industry's network database, and in the branch of artificial intelligence known as "Connectionism".



Associationist: A follower of Associationism as a philosophical school and set of explanatory principles.



Assumption: [Ultimately from the Latin adsumo = "to take to oneself" (C.L.D.).] In everyday usage, an assumption is "the action of taking [a thing, role, apparel, etc.] to oneself" (O.E.D.). The term was then re-coined for philosophical use by Meinong's translators as the best rendering of his usage of the word Annahme(n) [hence the formal English translation of "Über Annahmen" (Meinong, 1902) is "On Assumptions" (Meinong, 1902/1983)]. Great care is needed here, however, because the philosophical and everyday usages of the word bear little relationship to each other. [For further detail, see consciousness, Meinong's theory of.]



Asyndetic Thinking: See cognitive deficit.



Atlas Personality: [In classical mythology, Atlas was turned to stone as the result of Perseus showing him the Medusa's head, and became the Atlas mountains, so tall that they carried the weight of the heavens on their shoulders [whence the following allusion.] This is Vogel and Savva's (1993) notion of a "parentified child" (p323), that is to say, a child in which there is a precocious assumption of an adult role within the family, typically by having to care for younger siblings or other dependents, potentially as the result of "a volatile, erratic, and demanding parent" (p323) [for a review of the possible scenarios, see both incest, covert and toxic parenting]. The phenomenon is relevant in the present context because of the psychological damage such under-age parentification seems to inflict. Here is the nub of the author's argument .....


"The family of the Atlas personality is frequently dominated by the mother; a powerful, emotional, egocentric, volatile, angry, and menacing woman, commonly diagnosed as having a borderline personality disorder. She is idiosyncratic and has her own sense of reality which is divorced from the culturally suggested norms. She expects the rest of the family to identify with her view of the world. She responds with unpredictable outbursts of rage to frustrations and disappointments and accuses others of letting her down. The Atlas child is singled out to contain, absorb, and cushion the volcanic and emotional eruptions. [.....] The external circumstances of the Atlas child's parents are at times catastrophic.  [.....] They were immature, demanding, infantile, and manipulative. [.....] Frequently, Atlas children were expected to take sides in marital disputes [.....] (pp325-326; emphasis added).


The saddest aspect of the Atlas scenario is that when Atlas children have grown to adulthood themselves they exhibit "the same indiscriminate and obsessive sense of responsibility" that they learned as children. This leads them to strive for social and academic achievement, but only at the cost of depression.



Atomism: It was not beyond the Ancients to reflect upon the commonplace observation that some things (like water) could be divided into essentially identical parts, whilst other things (like people) could not be. The question they liked to ask themselves was how long you could keep doing the dividing. With a pile of sand, for example, you would soon end up with a single grain of sand, which you could then crush into a powder, whose structure, to the unaided eye, was indeterminate. The conclusion was that there was probably some tiny indivisible unit, something which had no-next-cut, out of which all the bigger things were, by reversing the process, constructed; something which was, to use their own terminology, a-tomic [Greek = "un-sliceable"]. This position was probably inspired by Thales and Anaximander, further developed by Leucippus, Democritus, and their followers, and soon became a major philosophical position on the question of the nature of matter. Those who subscribed to it are now known as "Atomists" [literally, "no-next-cut-ists"], and they are noteworthy as the fore-runners of Materialism.



ATQ: See Automatic Thoughts Questionnaire.



Attachment: In everyday English, attachment (in the sense of an interpersonal relationship) is "close adherence or affection; fidelity; regard" (Webster's). The psychological sciences retain the same basic definition, but tend then to divide their focus according to whether they are developmental psychologists (in which case they home in on the human parent-child relationship), comparative psychologists (who gather data from the entire animal kingdom), neuropsychologists (who look at the neural mechanisms involved), social psychologists (who concentrate on group dynamics and human relationships in general), and clinicians, social workers, and the criminal justice system (who have to pick up the pieces). Readers will now need to follow their primary interest as follows .....


-        If interested in human attachment, see next attachment, Bowlby on.


-        If interested in animal (especially non-human primate) attachment, see next attachment, ethological theory and.


-        If interested in human relationships in general, see next affiliation, bonding, and group cohesion.


-        If interested in psychosexual development, how it can all go so badly wrong, and the associated psycho- or psychopharmaceutical therapy, we recommend starting with attachment, personality disorders and, and thoroughly exploring the onward links.


The following websites are also well worth a visit .....


The Adult Attachment Lab at the University of California, Davis [thoughtful and precise]



Attachment, Avoidant: [See firstly attachment, Bowlby and Ainsworth on.] This is one of the three basic attachment styles identified by Bowlby's (1969) Attachment Theory (the other two being attachment, preoccupied and attachment, secure). It is characterised by an emotionally one-sided infant-caregiver relationship, in which the caregivers are either unwilling or unable to develop their child's emotional self. As a result, the child learns to expect little or nothing out of the relationship, produces less spontaneous emotional behaviour of its own (there being no backchannel encouragement to do so), and carries the resulting pathocomplex of sensorimotor habit and derived cognitive structure forward into later childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, where it does a lot of personal and relationship damage.



Attachment Disorder: See reactive attachment disorders of infancy or early childhood.



Attachment Interview: Attachment interviews are research instruments for measuring the various subphenomena of attachment. Green et al (2000) and Goldwyn et al (2002) have developed the Manchester Child Attachment Story Task, an attachment interview designed for use with children, and Main and Goldwyn (1994) have done likewise with their Adult Attachment Interview.



Attachment Motivational System: This is Liotti's (1999/2006 online) notion of a major neural system centred both functionally and anatomically on the limbic system, and responsible (a) for the initiation and maintenance of social relationships, and (b), when it malfunctions, for many of the symptoms of borderline personality disorder.



Attachment, Personality Disorders and: [See firstly Kernberg's contribution towards the entry for aggression, personality disorders and, and note that the hatred which characterises borderline personality disorder seems to stem from a pathology of the attachment system, possibly in the way set out by Liotti (1999/2006 online) in his theorising about an attachment motivational system.] The last half-century has seen a slow convergence of four important fields of scientific endeavour, two theoretical, one empirical, and one clinical. These were, respectively, attachment theory, object relations theory, laboratory neuroscience, and psychotherapeutic practice. This convergence has left us with a tightly knit complex of the theoretical, the empirical, and the applied, where ideas inform the practicum and the practicum duly reciprocates by inspiring new ideas, and where hard neuroscientific data help to confirm or disconfirm them both. Attachment is now clearly seen as a process which can fail, and fail, moreover, according to a precise psychodynamic logic and sequence. And when it fails or is perverted in its various ways, the way is left open for the development of certain of the personality disorders seen in the DSM-IV. Here is Fonagy (1996/1997) on the determinants of attachment security .....


"The influence of temperament on attachment security is controversial, but the balance of the evidence is now against [that] account [citations]. There is little evidence that distress-prone infants become anxious-resistant babies [..... even though t]he quality of maternal care has been repeatedly shown to predict infant security. The sensitive responsiveness of the parent is traditionally regarded as the most important determinanty of attachment security in the infant []. The factors assessed include: ratings of maternal sensitivity [], prompt responsiveness to distress [], moderate stimulation [], non-intrusiveness [], interactional synchrony [], warmth, involvement, and responsiveness []." (§2.1 of the e-version).


ASIDE: Note the phrase "sensitive responsiveness" in the above extract, and the need for "interactional synchrony". What Fonagy is talking about here - and he explicitly (but without reference to Shannonian theory) uses the term "transmission gap" - requires the sort of feedforward-feedback interaction described in neo-Shannonian terms in Berlo's (1960) S-M-C-R Model, a model which emphasises just how many variables are capable of affecting the performance of the human communication channel, and which stresses that backchannel traffic is vital if the communicators are to reach a state of successful mutual understanding and satisfaction. "Synchrony" is also a major element in Schaffer's (1977) theory of mothering, and in Daniel Goleman's theory of social intelligence (Goleman, 2006).


Fonagy then draws attention to Mary Main's work on "metacognitive monitoring" in attachment (Main, 1991), the essence of which was that metacognitively relatively impaired children were more vulnerable to inconsistencies in the caregiving relationship than metacognitively relatively strong ones, all other factors being equal ..... 


"The availability of a reflective caregiver increases the likelihood of the child's secure attachment which, in turn, facilitates the development of theory of mind. [Indeed,] we assume that a secure attachment relationship provides a congenial context for the child to explore the mind of the caregiver, and, as the philosopher Hegel (1807) taught us, it is only through getting to know the mind of the other that the child develops full appreciation of the nature of mental states. The process is intersubjective: the child gets to know the caregiver's mind as the caregiver endeavours to understand and contain the mental state of the child. The child perceives in the caregiver's behaviour not only her stance of reflectiveness which he infers in order to account for her behaviour, but also he perceives in the caregiver's stance an image of himself as mentalising, desiring, and believing. He sees that the caregiver represents him as an intentional being. It is this representation which is internalised to form the self. [The ego cogito] will not do as a psychodynamic model of the birth of the self; 'She thinks of me as thinking and therefore I exist as a thinker' comes perhaps closer to the truth" (§3.2 of the e-version; bold emphasis added).



Attachment, Secure: [See firstly attachment, Bowlby on.] This is one of the three basic attachment styles identified by Bowlby's (1969) Attachment Theory (the other two being attachment, avoidant and attachment, preoccupied). It is characterised by a healthy infant-caregiver relationship, capable of delivering both physical and emotional sustenance. This, in turn, indicates adequate and effective parenting skills on the part of the caregiver, and an intact and properly responsive brain and nervous system on the part of the infant. Taken together, these two factors - all other things being equal - predict a healthy progression through the stages of psychosexual development.



Attachment Theory: [Click for external introduction.] The entry-level definition of attachment theory is that it is generically any attempt to systematise and explain the many sub-phenomena of attachment behaviour, and specifically either Bowlby's or Harlow's attempts thereat. Thus .....


"Attachment theory is a theory, or group of theories, about the psychological tendency to seek closeness to another person, to feel secure when that person is present, and to feel anxious when that person is absent. The origin of attention theory can be traced to the publication of two 1958 papers, one being John Bowlby's 'The Nature of the Child's Tie to his Mother', in which the precursory concepts of 'attachment' were introduced, and Harry Harlow's 'The Nature of Love', [.....] which showed, approximately, that infant rhesus monkeys preferred emotional attachment over food" (Wikipedia).


Alternatively, "attachment theory concerns the nature of early experiences of children and the impact of these experiences on aspects of later functioning of particular relevance to personality disorder" (Fonagy, 1996/1997, §1 of the e-version). Blum (2004) has drawn attention to the role played by attachment processes in Mahler's separation-individuation theory, and recommends that we regard separateness as "a necessary complement to attachment" (p551)



Attention: In everyday English, attention (as a state of mind) is "a condition of readiness [to attend to something] involving especially a selective narrowing or focusing of consciousness and receptivity" (Merriam-Webster). Within psychology, the same basic definition is adopted, but there is a much greater emphasis on attention as one of the most important subsystems within the broader systems of perception and aesthesis. As such, the role of attention has been highlighted by many mental philosophers over the ages [see, for example, Husserl on the "directedness" of the ego]. Attention is also, of course, the area of cognitive functioning most notably lacking in the various attention deficit and disruptive behaviour disorders. [See now attention, metaphors for. Also, for Heidegger's unique approach to attention theory, directed attention.]



Attention-Deficit and Disruptive Behaviour Disorders: This is the DSM-IV header category for five specific disorder groups, namely attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder not otherwise specified, conduct disorder, disruptive behaviour not otherwise specified, and oppositional defiant disorder. These five disorders possibly arise from, and certainly possess in common, an inability to focus the mind on a task in hand [see distractibility], and thus constructively invest one's mental energies. They are further characterised by a number of social, educational, and psychological sequelae, as described in the separate entries for the three groups highlighted earlier in this paragraph.


BREAKING RESEARCH: For more on the potential role of "abnormal connectivity" in preventing or degrading the maximal integration of multi-modular cognitive processing, see functional connectivity and its onward links.



Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): This is one of the five DSM-IV disorder groups under the category header of attention-deficit and disruptive behaviour disorders. It is characterised by hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and inattentiveness, to clinically significant extremes, with consequent underachievement at school, a disciplinary record, a skewed or restricted circle of friends, and generally low self-esteem. Brynes and Watkins (2006 online) warn (a) that ADHD can also be comorbid with substance abuse, antisocial personality disorder, and the mood disorders, and (b) that the clinical signs become less visible as children approach adulthood.


BREAKING RESEARCH: There are frequent claims that the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil, or other dietary impairments, can help reduce ADHD symptoms in children (e.g., Sinn, 2006 [press comment]), perhaps by alleviating metabolic deficiencies at neuronal level. There is also an ongoing controversy concerning the use of drug interventions using methylphenidate drugs such as Ritalin.



Attention, Metaphors for: [See firstly attention.] The attentional component of cognition is frequently spoken of metaphorically. Here are some typical instances .....


"theatre footlights" - James (1890) [see consciousness, "spotlight theory" of].


"the attending ray" and "the shaft of attention" - Husserl (Ideas, p249) [see consciousness, Husserl's theory of].


"glancing toward" - Husserl (Ideas, p109) [see consciousness, Husserl's theory of].


"internal attentional searchlight" - Crick (1984) [see consciousness, "searchlight theory" of].


"theatre spotlight" - Baars (1997) [see consciousness, "spotlight theory" of].



Attention Seeking: In everyday English, "attention seeking" is the name given to any behaviour which, by unconscious habit or conscious design, serves by some unnecessary quality or quantity to re-orient a potential audience in the direction of the perpetrator. The phrase can reasonably be used of any audience and any perpetrator, but is most commonly used to describe people who are unnecessarily loud, disruptive, or socially intrusive. The term therefore acquires value within psychiatry as a clinical sign of poor upbringing, an inner personality imbalance, or a mental health or neurological pathology. Attention seeking  behaviours are noted, for example, in narcissistic personality disorder, as follows .....


"Individuals with this disorder have a grandiose sense of self-importance (Criterion 1). They routinely overestimate their abilities and inflate their accomplishments, often appearing boastful and pretentious. [.....] Individual with this disorder generally require excessive admiration (Criterion 4) [and] may be preoccupied with how well they are doing and how favourably they are regarded by others. This often takes the form of a need for constant attention and admiration" (DSM-IV-TR, 2000, pp714-715).


Similar considerations apply in histrionic personality disorder, as follows .....


"Individuals with histrionic personality disorder are uncomfortable or feel unappreciated when they are not the centre of attention (Criterion1). Often lively and dramatic, they tend to draw attention to themselves and may initially charm new acquaintances by their enthusiasm, apparent openness, or flirtatiousness" (DSM-IV-TR, 2000, p711).


There is also an element of attention seeking associated with self harming, some types of factitious disorder, and bullying, as well as in the sort of classroom-disruptive behaviour resulting from poorly managed autistic spectrum disorders and ADHD.



Attribute: [See firstly category.] An attribute is "a quality or character ascribed to any person or thing" (O.E.D.), and thus one of many possible "grounds for predicability" as used by Aristotle in The Categories; the qualities of an entity type (such as its size and weight, etc.) or event (such as who or what was involved in the action, what happened, and why); the defining characteristics of a thing; anything, indeed, which assists an entity's detection and identification or adds value to the semantic encoding of an episodic event. [Compare Locke's definition of substance as a complex of individual qualities.] The process of abstraction is at the heart of our ability to make representations of the world, but to do the process proper justice we must firstly consider the difference between a thing, and the "attributes" of that thing. Attributes are thus the properties, features, or parts of an object, and may be sub-categorised as perceptual, functional, relational, defining, characteristic, or irrelevant. Moreover, any permutation of these may have been the dimension(s) of commonality which prompted abstraction in the first place. However, not all attributes are given equal weight when describing an object - some seem to be relied upon more than others. In other words, attributes vary in their salience. Thus Grady (1977) found that in describing the person who had just sold them a New York subway token travellers always noted the sex of that person, but less regularly noted their race, age, hair colour, weight, and so on. Similarly, in flower design experiments Trabasso (1963) found that colour was far more value as the identifying attribute than was leaf angle, for example. Distinguishing between entities, attributes, and relationships is an important part of entity-relationship modelling.



Attributional Style: [See firstly locus of control.] One's "attributional style" is the dimension which at a fundamental level of cognition determines the internality-externality of our personal locus of control. It is, as its name suggests, our characteristic way of constructing a subjective causal line, that is to say, of explaining why something has happened. This is akin to the principle believed to be at work in projective tests such as Rorschach's Inkblot Test and Murray's Thematic Apperception Test. Projective tests tell you how people see the world, not what is actually there, and that is mightily useful when you are interested in the former rather than the latter. Other dimensions of attribution include helping behaviour (supportive or unsupportive). Kelley (1971a) described the problems of attribution in social interaction thus .....


"In the course of my interaction with other people, I often wonder why they act as they do. I may wonder how to interpret a compliment a student makes of a lecture I recently gave, or why my colleague has not done his share of the work on our joint project. These are questions about the attribution of the other person's behaviour - what causes it, what is responsible for it, to what is it to be attributed? In all such instances, I not only ask these questions but I myself - through my actions, characteristics, social status, and so on - provide some of the possible answers. It is a special feature of social interaction that each participant is both a causal agent and an attributor. His own behaviour may be a cause of the behaviour he is trying to understand and explain" (Kelley, 1971, p1; bold emphasis added)


Kelley (1971b) then coined the term "causal schema", as "a general conception the person has about how certain kinds of causes interact to produce a specific kind of effect" (p151). He likens the cognitive process by which a number of possible causes are weighed up to that taken by statisticians when they interpret an analysis of variance. What we look for are causal factors which appear to "uniquely covary", that is to say, move in the same direction despite their different locations in space and time. He offers the following illustration .....


"To take a simple example, a given individual's reaction of dislike to a particular animal is attributed to him if it is more or less unique to him and consistently associated with him, but it is attributed to the animal if other persons, each consistently and all consensually, have the same reaction" (Kelley, 1971b, p151).



Attunement: See affect mirroring and social intelligence.



Atypical Depression (AD): This is a DSM-IV subcoding within the main body of the depressive disorders, to allow clinicians to cater for major depressive disorders where the predominating signs are mood reactivity [= temporary remission in response to an enjoyable experience], oversleeping, and overeating (rather than insomnia and weight loss), "leaden paralysis", and sensitivity to rejection. Perugi et al (2003) report a significant overlap between AD and bipolar 2 disorder.



Auditory Input Lexicon: Term popularised by Ellis and Young (1988) for the mental storehouse for whole heard word forms. [For further details see the longer entry under the same heading in our Psycholinguistics Glossary.]



Aufheben: [German = "lift or raise up" (C.G.D.), but with many and various derivations, including "annul, preserve, elevate"; past participle aufgehoben.] Hegel uses this word in all its three senses simultaneously (Loewenberg, 1929). "When something in Hegel's text is characterized as aufgehoben", his translator explains, "we must understand it to be cancelled and conserved and exalted all at once. How? Why? Hegel's entire system is the answer" (Loewenberg, 1929, xiii). [See now consciousness, Hegel's theory of.]



Aufschliessen: [German = "unlock, open (up)" (C.G.D.).] This everyday German term for the general behaviour of opening something up was specifically applied to mental philosophy by Heidegger in the context of the disclosure of meaning during "the projection of the understanding" (Being and Time, p192).



Augustine: See case, Augustine.



Ausdrucksfunktion: [German Ausdruck = "expression" (C.G.D.) + Funktion = "function" (C.G.D.).] [See firstly consciousness, Cassirer's theory of.] This is the most primordial of the three types of symbolic meaning proposed by Cassirer (1929/1957) (the other two being Darstellungsfunktion and Bedeutungsfunktion). Cassirer devotes the first three chapters of Symbolic Forms (III) to it, and characterised it as serving the communication of our most immediate experiences. Here is how he sets the scene .....


"All conceptual knowledge is necessarily based on intuitive knowledge, and all intuitive knowledge on perceptive knowledge. Should we also seek the achievement of the symbolic function in these preliminary stages of conceptual thinking [with its] immediate certainty? What seems to distinguish conceptual knowledge once and for all from perception and intuition is precisely that it can content itself with mere representative signs, while perception and intuition have an entirely different and even opposite relation to their object" (p47).


His next insight was that the phenomenon of "expression" was the basic factor in "perceptive consciousness" (p58). The problem here was that philosophers had been making do with one word (i.e., "perception") for what were in fact two quite distinct topics of discussion, the psychological and the epistemological, thus (a long passage, heavily abridged) .....


"Throughout the history of philosophy the [psychological and the epistemological] have been in constant conflict [.....]. The question is concerned either with the origin and development of perception or with its objective significance and validity, either with its genesis or with what it accomplishes for objective knowledge as a whole. [....] Perception is no longer determined by the outside world as its cause: rather, it is determined by the aim appointed for it. And this aim is none other than to make possible the experience [and understanding] of nature. The significance of perception has changed completely; it is no longer the copy of an existing world, but in a sense the prototype of the natural object" (pp58-59).


Pursuing this line of argument, Cassirer goes on the suggest that the structures of human myth have a lot to say about the individual perceptual system, thus .....


"[Myth] shows us a world which is far from being without structure, immanent articulation, yet does not know the organisation of reality according to things and attributes. Here all configurations of being show a peculiar fluidity [.....]. Each of them is, as it were, ready at any moment to transform itself into another, seemingly antithetical configuration. Mythical metamorphosis is bound by no logical law of identity, nor does it find a limit in any fixed constancy of classes. For it there are no logical classes, no genera in the sense of things which are separated by definite and unalterable characteristics [.....]. Here, on the contrary, all the boundary lines drawn by our empirical concepts of genera and species keep shifting and vanishing. [.....] Such an involvement becomes understandable only if perception itself discloses certain original traits in which, one might say, it approaches the mode and direction of myth. [.....] In itself primitive perception is far from being inarticulate or blurred [..... and theories thereof] must do justice to that form of perceptive experience in which myth is originally rooted and from which it forever draws new nourishment" (pp61-62).



Authoritarianism: See personality, authoritarian and ethnocentric.



Autism: See autistic spectrum disorders.



Autistic Disorder: [See firstly autistic spectrum disorders and cognitive deficit.] This is one of the five DSM-IV disorder groups under the category header of pervasive developmental disorders. It is characterised as follows .....


"The essential features of autistic disorder are the presence of markedly abnormal or impaired development in social interaction and communication and a markedly restricted repertoire of activity and interests. [.....] The impairment in reciprocal social interaction is gross and sustained. [.....] Individuals with this disorder may be oblivious to other children (including siblings), may have no concept of the needs of others, or may not notice another person's distress. [.....] They may insist on sameness and show resistance to or distress over trivial changes [.....]. In most cases, there is no period of unequivocally normal development, although in perhaps 20% of cases parents report relatively normal development for 1 or 2 years" (DSM-IV-TR, 2000, pp70-71).


Autism has been a popular area of study in the last 20 years, following a now classic paper by Baron-Cohen (1989) which suggested that autists suffered a precise and potentially seriously disabling cognitive deficit, namely that they had difficulties forming the sort of "theories of mind" needed to support skilled social interaction. They were, to use today's phraseology, "mindblind". [This discussion continues in the entry for theory of mind theory of autism.]



Autistic Fantasy: This is one of the defense mechanisms postulated by psychoanalytic theory, and recognised by the DSM-IV as belonging to the "major image-distorting" defense level. It involves dealing with emotional conflict "by excessive daydreaming as a substitute for human relationships, more effective action, or problem solving" (DSM-IV-TR, 2000, p811).



Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD): This is the name given to a cluster of developmental learning disorders which have in common Wing's triad of clinical indicators, albeit not necessarily with the same severity profile. The disorders are possibly the result of a major underlying cognitive deficit [see mindblindness], itself possibly occasioned by one or more subtle neural dysfunctions, themselves possibly inherited. Bishop (1989) took issue with those who saw the autistic spectrum as a linear dimension, with full autistic disorder at the "low" end and Asperger's disorder at the "high" end. She writes .....


"The diagnostic criteria for autism have been refined and made more objective since Kanner first described the syndrome [.....]. However, many children do not meet these criteria, yet show some of the features of autism. Where language development is impaired, such children tend to be classed as cases of developmental dysphasia (or specific language impairment) whereas those who learn to talk at the normal age may be diagnosed as having Asperger's syndrome. It is argued that rather than thinking in terms of rigid diagnostic categories, we should recognise that the core syndrome of autism shades into other milder forms of disorder in which language or non-verbal behaviour may be disproportionately impaired" (p107).


Bishop therefore plots <meaningful verbal communication> and <interests and social relationships> as two orthogonal dimensions on a two-axis graph. People who score low on both dimensions [which we show here in Cartesian coordinate form as (low, low)] are straightforward autistics, people who score low on interests and social relationships but moderate or better on communication [(moderate, low)] are Asperger's, and people who score moderate or better on both dimensions [(moderate, moderate)] would be better classified as semantic-pragmatic disorder.


BREAKING RESEARCH: It has recently been reported that the incidence of autistic spectrum disorders has increased tenfold in the past 20 years, to just over 1% of the child population [press comment]. Another recent study reports that older fathers may tend to sire more autistic offspring than younger ones [press comment]. See also the mention given to the work of Bayliss and Tipper (2005) in the entry for cognitive style. For the potential role of "abnormal connectivity" in preventing or degrading the maximal integration of multi-modular cognitive processing, see functional connectivity and its onward links.



Autobiographical Memory: Memory which is related to the self. When autobiographical memory relates to events in one's personal past, this will involve the appropriate episodic memory resources, and when it relates to the identities, meanings, and attributes of our own self and/or the things and other people around us, this will involve the appropriate semantic memory resources.



Autobiographical Memory, Overgeneralised: [See firstly autobiographical memory.] This is Williams' (1996) notion of a subtly, and in the end pathologically, dysfunctional autobiographical memory, one in which a relatively straightforward cognitive deficit can contribute to, or even wholly cause, depression. The defect presents clinically as a preference for generalised rather than specific memory, that is to say, case-positive individuals "will recall 'arguments with friends' rather than 'the argument I had with my best friend last Friday'" (Kuyken, 2006, p279).


ASIDE: Note the quintessentially "right-brained" nature of the generalised reply, and then check out the entry for conceptual hierarchy.


There are a number of theoretical explanations as to why this effect should occur [reviewed in Kuyken (2006), if interested]. Williams himself saw the behaviour as an avoidance strategy of sorts, since it would be the (avoided) specific episodes which would be the most directly linked to the underlying traumatic memories. [Compare life story schema and narrative processing.]



Autokinetic Suggestibility: See cognitive style, depression and.



Automata: [Greek automatos = "self moved; of one's own will" (O.C.G.D.); "spontaneity" (Peters).] An "automaton" (pl. "automata") is "something which has the power of spontaneous motion or self-movement" (O.E.D.), frequently with resort to deliberately hidden internal mechanism, and sometimes with intent to deceive or amuse. The modern robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) industries use technology which is typically only a few years old, and yet what they are trying to achieve cannot properly be understood without delving much more deeply into history. Two thousand years ago, for example, automata were reputedly already capable of rudimentary synthetic sound, and legends of metal men and statues coming to life can be found in the works of Homer, Plato, Pindar, Tacitus, and Pliny. Engineering treatises survive from the late classical period, describing the works of Philon of Byzantium [tell me more] and Heron of Alexandria [tell me more]. This field has already been repeatedly reviewed by authors such as Cohen (1966), Ash (1977), Aleksander and Burnett (1983), Pratt (1987), Mazlish (1993), Lindsay (1997), Franklin (2000), and Wood (2002), so suffice it here to note that the possibility of mechanical mind became a hot topic during the Enlightenment, thanks to pioneering work by Hobbes, Descartes, Leibniz, and La Mettrie [see the individual entries for the specific theoretical positions on this]. [For an alternative telling of the history of automata, see Bedini (2006 online).]



Automatic Thoughts: This is Beck's (1967) term for Ellis' (1962) notion of a seriously debilitating class of cognitions characteristic of patients with depression. Beck (1967) summarised the history and the issue this way .....


"The second approach in insight therapy consists of the patient's focusing on his specific depression-generating cognitions. In the mild or moderately ill depressed patient, these thoughts are often at the periphery of awareness and require special focusing in order for the patient to recognise them. In psychoanalytic terminology, they would probably be regarded as preconscious. In the more severely ill depressed patient, however, these thoughts are at the centre of the patient's phenomenal field and tend to dominate the thought content. This kind of depression-generating cognition seems to be a kind of shorthand and a rather complicated thought occurs within a split second. Albert Ellis (1962) refers to these thoughts as 'self statements' or 'internalised verbalisations'. He explains these thoughts as 'things that the patient tells himself'. I have labeled these types of cognitions as automatic thoughts" (p321).


[See now autobiographical memory, overgeneralised.]



Automatic Thoughts Questionnaire (ATQ): [See firstly clinical psychometrics.] The ATQ is a 30-item questionnaire designed to measure a person's tendency towards the sort of automatic negative thoughts commonly seen in depressive disorders. It was first published by Hollon and Kendall (1980). The two main factors identified in this study were "personal maladjustment" and "negative self-concept". Shorter 15- and 8-item versions of the questionnaire have recently been developed by Netemeyer et al (2002).



Autonomic Nervous System (ANS): The ANS is the second "half" of the PNS. Unlike the somatic branch, which deals with skeletal sensations and locomotion, the ANS deals solely with the functioning of the viscera. It controls the glands, heart, smooth muscle, sweating, unconscious bodily activity in general, and homeostasis. As with the somatic branch of the PNS, the ANS consists of both afferent and efferent pathways. The ANS consists in turn of two sub-branches of its own - the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system deals with the body's ability to expend energy. That is to say, it supports what are usually termed "fight" responses. It does this by stimulating heart rate, blood pressure, the production of adrenalin, and the production of blood glucose from glycogen. One of the main features of the sympathetic NS are the "sympathetic chains". These are vertical columns of sympathetic ganglia running up either side of the vertebral column (and therefore sometimes termed the "paravertebral" ganglia). The parasympathetic NS, on the other hand, is the branch of the ANS which deals with the body's ability to conserve energy. That is to say, it supports what are usually termed "flight" responses. It achieves this by releasing acetylcholine, which slows down the heart and increases gut peristalsis. Anatomically, the story of the parasympathetic nervous system is largely tied up with the story of the vagus nerve. Indeed, there are only four nerve outflows into the parasympathetic system. The first of these is CN.X itself, and is known as the cranial outflow because it arises from the brainstem. The other three are all from the sacral region (nerves S2-S4), and are known collectively as the sacral outflow. The cranial outflow descends to innervate the organs of the thorax and all but the lowest abdomen. The sacral outflow innervates the organs of the pelvic floor. Sacral afferents are the nerves responsible for awareness of vesical and lower colonic distension. [See next cortisol.]



Autonomy: In everyday English, autonomy is synonymous with independence and self-determination. The same basic meaning is adopted within the cognitive sciences, only with an added emphasis on autonomy as a core factor in our mental constitution. Specifically, cognitive autonomy is a measure of independence from interfering others in much the same way that an internal locus of control bestows upon us the ability to set our own life agendum instead of looking to others to set it for us [for examples of this special emphasis, see ego autonomy and ego strength].



Autonomy, Behavioural: This is one of the two measures of autonomy discussed by Beyers and Goossens (1999) as possible indicators of psychosocial adjustment.



Autonomy, Ego: See ego autonomy.



Autonomy, Emotional: This is one of the two measures of autonomy discussed by Beyers and Goossens (1999) as possible indicators of psychosocial adjustment.



Auxiliary Ego: See ego, auxiliary.



Availableness: See Dreyfus, Hubert L.



Avatar: In computer science, an avatar is "an image you select or create to represent yourself to the other party in a chat or instant messaging (IM) session. An avatar is a caricature, not a realistic photo and can be a simple image or a bizarre fantasy figure" (Free Dictionary). The word derives from the Sanskrit avatar, the "temporary manifestation or aspect of a continuing entity", especially "the incarnation of a god on earth". An avatar is thus a two-dimensional automaton, built using cutting-edge computer graphics, and pushing at the boundaries of human-computer-interaction [click to see examples]. [For the clinical use of avatars in the treatment of autistic spectrum disorders, see the entry for the AS Interactive project.]



Awareness: See both phenomenal awareness and phenomenal consciousness.



Axis (of Mental Health Disorder): The thrust of the current DSM approach to classifying mental health pathology is that it is possible for certain disorders to be partly comorbid, so that some degree of "multiaxial classification" is therefore both theoretically and clinically useful. The DSM-IV allows for this by offering five "axes" of classification, as follows .....


Axis I Disorders: This axis covers what we might call the "traditional" psychiatric conditions, that is to say, the psychoses, the neuroses, and the broad range of mood and similar disorders.


Axis II Disorders: This axis covers the personality disorders and mental retardation.


Axis III Disorders: This axis covers mental health problems occasioned or aggravated by general medical conditions.


Axis IV Disorders: This axis covers mental health problems occasioned or aggravated by psychosocial and environmental factors.


Axis V Disorders: This axis allows the clinician to provide a "global assessment of functioning" (GAF), a measure which will both command or exclude certain levels of treatment as well as provide a broadly quantitative measure of progress [see the separate entry for the coding system used].



Bachman, Charles W.: [U.S. computer scientist, b.1924] [Click for external biography] Famous in several areas, we mention one time flak [US = "triple-A"] technician Charles Bachman here for having devised the data-structure diagram known as the "Bachman diagram", and for having then shown how such diagrams could make for highly effective use of "direct access" data storage devices. Bachman was awarded the 1973 Turing Award by the Association for Computing Machinery for this achievement.



Bachman Diagram: [See firstly data analysis and data model.] Bachman diagrams are graphical representations of the inherent qualitative structure of the world, prior to encoding data from that world onto a computing system. As such they may usefully be regarded as an engineering solution to the long-standing philosophical problems of describing and defining that which is about to become mental content. Specifically, Bachman diagrams (a) codify Platonic forms by their Aristotelian categories [or, in database science's own terminology, entity types by their attributes], (b) take no philosophical position on the nature of machine cognition, and (c) work in practice. The technique was devised more or less single-handedly by one Charles W. Bachman as an adjunct to developing General Electric's "Integrated Data Store" (IDS) database management system in the early 1960s, and the Bachman diagram for a given system is the single most important deliverable to come out of the complex longitudinal process known as data analysis and normalization. Structurally speaking, Bachman diagrams show the record types needing to be stored in the proposed system, together with their storage arguments and their owner-member set relationships. Bachman Diagrams treat attributes as the defining properties of things, and entity types are treated as the things which matter to, and therefore need to be identified by, the system. Each entity type is thus a collection of attributes, and relationships are the reasons entity types may be associated. The notational conventions are few: entity types are represented by suitably captioned boxes, relationships by lines drawn between the entity boxes concerned, and the pluralities characteristic of those relationships by adding arrowheads or so-called "crows' feet" symbols at the "many" end of these lines (Bachman, 1969) [data analysis will already have reduced all relationships to either one-to-one or one-to-many relationships]. [See now and carefully compare entity-relationship diagram. See also self, Bachman diagram of, for the present author's work-in-progress attempt at data modelling the structures of the human cognitive system.]



Bacon, Francis: [British philosopher and politician (1561-1616).] Described by Lewes as "the union of great intellect with moral baseness" (1886, p360), Francis Bacon is nowadays acclaimed as the father of the scientific method. His most influential presentation of this method was in the Novum Organum (1620), and the key points are as follows (a long passage, heavily abridged) .....


"Bacon is the Father of Experimental Philosophy. And why? Was he the first great experimentalist? No. Was he the most successful experimentalist? No. Was he the discoverer of some of those great laws [.....]? No. He owes his title to his Method. [.....] The first object must be to prepare a the past of the phenomena to be explained, in all their modifications and varieties. [.....] This record of facts is Natural History [and] the next object is to discover, by a comparison of the different facts, the cause of these phenomena [.....]. There is, however, great difference in the value of facts. Some of them show the thing sought for in the highest degree, some in the lowest. [.....] The instantia crucis. When in any investigation the understanding is placed in equilibrio, as it were, between two or more causes, each of which accounts equally well for the appearances, as far as they are known, nothing remains to be done, but to look out for a fact which can be explained by one of these causes and not by the other. Such facts [are] called crucial instances" (Lewes, 1886, pp361-369).



Bacon, Roger: [British clergyman-scholar-alchemist (1214-1294).] [Click for external biography] Bacon is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for some early contributions towards the scientific method (but compare Bacon, Francis) and is mentioned also in the entry for Materialism and underlying mechanism].



Bad Object, the: See object, bad.



BADS: See Behavioural Assessment of the Dysexecutive Syndrome Test.



Baron-Cohen, Simon: [British cognitive neuropsychologist - professional homepage] [Click for external biography] Simon Baron-Cohen is currently Professor of Developmental Psychopathology at Cambridge University and Co-Director of that university's Autism Research Centre. He has been studying the problems of "mindblindness" since the mid-1980s, and his work is covered in some detail in the entries for theory of mind and theory of mind theory of autism.



Bartlett (1932): Sir Frederick C. Bartlett's 1932 classic monograph "Remembering", in which research with both the method of repeated production and the method of serial reproduction was described in detail, and various suggestions made as to the nature of memory for gist.



Battered Child Syndrome: [Alternatively, "battered baby syndrome".] [See firstly aggression, family violence and.] This is Kempe et al's (1962) term for the persistent covert physical abuse of infants or young children, to such levels of severity that social services and child protection authorities need to work alongside medical and psychiatric personnel in an integrated treatment package. It is a temper-management condition in which one's own child(ren) is/are deliberately injured by rough treatment, but where the covert nature of the offence means that it is difficult to establish the true scale of the problem. The following cases will illustrate what is involved .....

case, Jade Sinclair

case, Rebecca Wilson


ASIDE: Great caution is needed in this area, because there have been a number of high-profile miscarriages, or near-miscarriages, of justice recently. See case, Mark Latta, for example, where a father was wrongly accused of murdering his baby daughter, or case, Tina McLeod, where a childminder was wrongly accused of murdering a child in her care.

Wyszynski (1999) estimates 750-3750 cases of "shaken baby syndrome" per year in the US, with approximately equal chances of death, full recovery, or residual impairment, while in Britain a recent report in The Lancet suggests that the true rate for non-accidental head injury in children under one year is 24.6 per 100,000. The average age of the victims was only 2.2 months (Barlow and Minns, 2000). Lee et al (1999) investigated 10 cases (3 deaths) in HK, and estimate 3 by parents, 3 by childminders, 2 by maids, and 2 unknown. If parents are involved, it is more frequently fathers than mothers, and Wilson, Daly, and Weghorst (1980) have noted that children under two years of age are roughly one hundred times more likely to be injured by a step-father than a natural father [on which point it is probably not entirely coincidental that there is regular step-infant infanticide in monkeys, baboons, etc.]. There seems to be no preference as to the method of infant/child assaults, which frequently involve bruising and fracturing, burning with cigarettes, and tearing of the frenula labii (the flaps of connective tissue on the midline behind the upper and lower lip). Violent shaking and swinging the child bodily into fixed objects are particularly well documented. Signs of general neglect (unwashed, untreated sores, unkempt hair, and the like) are also often indicative. Here, from a paper written to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the original, are some additional statistics .....


"Today's readers, of course, recognise that [the 1962] results vastly underestimated the extent of the problem. For example, in the United States in 1999 there were 2.9 million reports of suspected maltreatment and 826,000 cases that were substantiated. Approximately 60% of the cases were due to neglect, 21% physical abuse, 11% sexual abuse, and 8% emotional maltreatment. Approximately 1100 children died of maltreatment (US Department of Health and Human Services, 2001). The [1962] article [.....] helped clinicians see what was before them and thus helped children and families everywhere. There is no question that this article has stood the test of time. The message was a breakthrough and began a new field of clinical work and research" (Leventhal, 2003, p545).


[See also Munchausen syndrome by proxy.]



Bay Area Study: See metacognitive monitoring.



Bayle, Pierre: [French encyclopaedist (1647-1706).] Bayle's main work of mental philosophy is his "Historical and Critical Dictionary" (Bayle, 1695-1697, 1702, 1740/1991), in which he spent a lot of time discussing the Hobbes-Descartes view that biological brains were just machines and that animals were therefore just fancy automata. This then prompted a textual debate with Leibniz [for more on which, see consciousness, Leibniz's theory of].



Beck, Aaron T.: [American psychotherapist (1921-).] [Click for external biography] Beck is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for his work on developing cognitive therapy and cognitive behaviour therapy.



Bedeutung: [German = "meaning, significance, import" (C.G.D.).] For the particular usage of this term within mental philosophy, see consciousness, Husserl's theory of.



Bedeutungsfunktion: [German Bedeutung = "meaning, significance, import" (C.G.D.) + Funktion = "function" (C.G.D.).] [See firstly consciousness, Cassirer's theory of.] This is the third-most and least primordial of the three types of symbolic meaning proposed by Cassirer (1929/1957) (the other two being Ausdrucksfunktion and Darstellungsfunktion). It is the level of "signification" (p279), which, taken to its limits, gives us scientific knowledge, thus .....


"Thought preserves its discursive nature not by contenting itself with the order of the given but by striving actually to 'run through' this series. And this it can do only by seeking a rule of transition that will lead from one link to another. This rule, which is not immediately given but is solely postulated and sought, remains the characteristic by which the peculiar 'facticity' of scientific thinking differs from every other form of mere factual knowledge" (p408).



Begehren: [German = "desire, want, wish for, covet" (C.G.D.).] See consciousness, Meinong's theory of.



Begriff: [German = "grasp" (as of a truth); hence "comprehension".] See firstly consciousness, Hegel's theory of, and then note that the term Begriff was used by Lichtheim (1885) to express a combination of perceptual understanding, semantic understanding, and pragmatic initiation, and is shown as the "B" module at the top of his famous "House" diagram of the aphasias. For a note on how Hegel used bestimmter Begriff as "'concept' or 'notion'", see Loewenberg (1929, p101). [See now concept.]



Begriffsdichtung: [German Begriff = ""comprehension" + Dichtung = "poetry".] This is Friedrich Lange's notion of "concept poetry", that is to say, "the imaginative generation of conceptual structures" (Hussain, 2006 online) in areas such as religious belief.



Begriffsschrift: [German Begriff = "comprehension" + Schrift = "script".] [See firstly logic and language of thought.] This is the name chosen by Frege (1879) for his system of formal logic.



Behavioural Assessment of the Dysexecutive Syndrome Test (BADS): [See firstly executive function and dysexecutive syndrome.] The BADS test set [buy one from the publisher] assesses the all-points integrity of human executive function, and, as such, can either be included in a broader frontal battery or applied as it stands. The test package was developed by Wilson et al (1996), and requires (a) the subject to complete six separate practical tests, and (b) both subject and carer(s) to complete a 20-item diagnostic questionnaire (known as "the dysexecutive questionnaire", or DEX). The tests are as follows: (1) Temporal Judgement, (2) Rule Shifting, (3) Action Programme, (4) Key Search Task, (5) Zoo Map Task, and (6) Modified Six Elements Test.



Behaviourism: [U.S. = Behaviorism] See perspective, behaviourist.



Being(s): The entry level definitions here are that being (as existing) is "existence, the fact of belonging to the universe of things material or immaterial" (O.E.D.), whilst a being (as a thing, as in "human beings") is "that which exists or is conceived as existing; in philosophical language, the widest term applicable to all objects of sense or thought, material and immaterial" (ibid.). For the particular usage of this term within mental philosophy, start with on(ta) or ousia, and work outwards from there, or see variously .....


BEING AS EXISTING: Bestehen; Dasein; Existenz; Sein


BEING AS THING: Bestand; Ens; τα οντα; Wesen



Being-in-Itself: This is the standard anglicisation of Heidegger's (1927) An-sich-sein, q.v.



Belief: [See firstly knowledge types.] In everyday usage, a belief is the "mental acceptance of a proposition, statement, or fact, as true, on the ground of authority or evidence; assent of the mind to a statement, or to the truth of a fact beyond observation, on the testimony of another" (OED). Within psychology, a belief "is a representational mental state that takes the form of a propositional attitude" (Wikipedia). Beliefs are thus the cognitive component of attitudes, but need to be carefully contrasted with propositional knowledge to determine where the one ends and the other begins. This latter problem has been known about since Plato's time, thus .....


"SOCRATES: Well, do you think that knowing and believing are the same, or is there a difference between knowledge and belief?" (Plato, Gorgias, ¶454; Hamilton translation, p31).


Plato's own answer is that there is indeed a difference, because a belief is a mental conviction which can be tested as true or false, whereas knowledge is just mental conviction. However, if we adopt the modern notion of propositional knowledge it is easy to extend any proposition into a testable belief simply by preceding it with the words "I believe that .....", and the same is true, incidentally, even of those fleeting qualia-based perceptual judgements which take the form "this paper is white".



Belief System: See this entry in the companion Rational Argument Glossary.



Bemerken: [German = "notice, observe, become aware of" (C.G.D.).] This everyday German term for the general behaviour of paying attention to something was specifically applied to the philosophical problem of apprehension by Husserl, who used it (along with its near-synonym achten) to describe the way in which "apprehending an object coincides with mindfully heeding it (achten), and noting its nature (bemerken)" (Ideas, p110).



Bender Visual Motor Gestalt Test: This test is grounded theoretically in the Gestalt laws of perception, and stimulus sets consist of simple line drawings designed to probe such early visual abilities as the law of continuity and resolving figure-ground. The test was devised by Bender (1938), and Anastasi (1990) mentions that it was initially "difficult to evaluate" (p487) because it was subjectively rather than objectively scored. Later versions are more precise.



Beobachtung: [German = "observation".] See consciousness, Brentano's theory of.



Bergmann, Julius: See Sachverhalt.



Berkeley, Bishop George: [Irish Idealist and Empiricist philosopher-clergyman (1685-1753).] [Click for external biography] Berkeley is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for his contribution to the philosophy of reality.



Berlin School: See Gestalt School.



Besetzung: [German = "(military) occupation; filling (of a vacancy); casting (of actors)" (C.G.D.).] This everyday German word was adopted by Freud (1895) to denote the process of charging up neurons with energy. See next cathexis.



Bestand: See bestehen.



Bestehen: [German (verb) = "be (in existence or in being), exist, subsist" (C.G.D.); (noun) = "existence" (C.G.D.); also occurs as the derived abstract noun Bestand = "(continued) existence, permanence" (C.G.D.).] This everyday German term for the general property of existing was specifically applied to mental philosophy by Kant (e.g., Critique, p87) and Meinong (On Assumptions, p51ff), who both used it to indicate subsistence.



Bestimmter Begriff: See Begriff.



Bewusstheit: [German (abstract noun derivative of wissen) = "consciousness, awareness" (C.G.D.).] This everyday German term for the state of being consciously aware of something was specifically applied to mental philosophy by Natorp and Husserl, who both used it to indicate that simple states of awareness were markedly less than "the total fact of consciousness" (Husserl, Logical Investigations, p208). [Compare Bewusstsein.]



Bewusstsein: [German = "(state of) consciousness; awareness" (C.G.D.).] Bewusstsein is the standard German word for "consciousness" in both everyday and philosophical discussion. It derives from the root verb wissen, "to know", and was popularised in the psychological literature by the likes of Kant and Hegel. It was also proposed as the topmost of the five levels of perceptual content identified by Freud (1896) (the others being Unbewusstsein, Vorbewusstsein, Wahrnehmungen, and Wahrnehumungszeichen), specifically, as the stage of full conceptual consciousness. [Compare Bewusstheit.]



BFQ: See Big Five Questionnaire.



Bicameral: [Literally, "with two rooms or compartments".] See consciousness, Gazzaniga's theory of.



Big Five Factors:  See personality factors.



Big Five Questionnaire (BFQ): [See firstly psychometrics and big five factors.] This is Caprara et al's (1993) 132-item psychometric instrument for assessing a person's relative position on the "big five" personality factors. Here are the key points according to Picardi, Toni, and Caroppo (2005/2006 online) .....


"The Big Five Questionnaire [.....] yields scores on five scales: the energy scale refers to the factor usually labeled 'extraversion' (activity, enthusiasm, assertiveness, self-confidence); the friendliness scale refers to the factor usually named 'agreeableness' (concern and sensitivity toward others and their needs, kindness, civility, docility, trust); the conscientiousness scale refers to self-regulation in both its proactive and inhibitory aspects (dependability, orderliness, precision, [etc.]); the emotional stability scale refers to personality characteristics often subsumed under the label of 'neuroticism' (ability to cope with anxiety and depression, and to control irritation, discontent, and anger); the openness scale refers to the factor often named 'intellect' or 'culture' or 'openness to experience' (broadness of cultural interests, openness to novelty, tolerance of different values, interest toward different people, habits, and lifestyles)" (Picardi, Toni, and Caroppo, 2005, p372).


The BFQ has been used as a correlative measure in research into the stability of the alexithymia construct (Picardi et al, op. cit.), avoidance (Caroppo et al, 2005), belonging and sharing (Nicol et al, 2002), bullying (Tani et al, 2003), and empathy (Del Barrio et al, 2004).



Big Rock Candy Mountains: [Probably US road slang, early 20th century.] The Big Rock Candy Mountains are a known-to-be-mythical place where life is much easier than it is where you currently are. They are a minor Utopia, in other words, somewhere which when spoken of or sung about lifts the spirits and warms the heart. They made their way into song in 1928, as follows .....


"In the Big Rock Candy Mountains all the cops have wooden legs,

And the bulldogs all have rubber teeth, and the hens lay soft boiled eggs.

The farmer's trees are full of fruit, and the barns are full of hay.

Oh, I'm bound to go where there ain't no snow,

Where the rain don't fall and the wind don't blow,

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains" (attrib. "Haywire Mac" McClintock, ca. 1928).



Binden: [German = "to bind, tie up, fasten [etc.]" (C.G.D.).] This everyday German word for the general behaviour of fastening things together was specifically applied to the process we now know as cathexis by Freud (e.g., 1895), and then rendered in the standard English translation of Freud's works as "binding".



Binding (Freudian): [See firstly binden and cathexis.] This is the psychodynamic process by which "free" cathexis becomes invested in "bound" cathexis. [For the source quotation, see towards the end of the entry for Freud's Project. Compare binding (phenomenal).]



Binding (Phenomenal): [See firstly perception.] Within mental philosophy, the term "binding" refers to the (as-yet-unknown) mechanism(s) by which a number of simultaneous sensory input streams are bound together into what is subjectively a single perception. Example: The coldness, colour, texture, and shape of an ice cube. [Compare binding (Freudian), see then binding problem, and note the need for binding in Aristotle's account of aesthesis and Locke's notion of idea, complex.]



Binding Problem: [See firstly binding (phenomenal).] Research into the mechanisms of binding has been popular since Crick (1994) highlighted it as a problem in his book "The Astonishing Hypothesis". The hypothesis itself was the extreme physicalist one that the human soul must ultimately be reducible to the cellular chemistry of the brain. Modern neuroscience is exploring precisely that sort of reductionism in its attempt to understand the mind-brain problem, and the binding problem is one of the main barriers to achieving that understanding.



Binding Site: Sites on the post-synaptic membrane where neurotransmitters act to induce either an EPSP or an IPSP.



Biofeedback: [See firstly autonomic nervous system.] In its simplest application, the term "biofeedback" can be used to refer to any information channel which collects data from a bodily source using a non-biological sensing system of some sort, and then directs that information back to the individual concerned, rather than to a third party. As such, the notion is not new, for it is no more than might be involved in taking our own pulse, temperature, or blood pressure. The interesting aspect of biofeedback comes when conscious efforts are made to vary the readings being received, interesting because most physiological indices are NOT under voluntary control. This area of research was pioneered by the physiological psychologist Neal Miller in the 1950s (although the word itself seems not to have been coined until Barber et al, 1970), and by the mid-1970s biofeedback had become both a clinical "big business" and a standard textbook topic [see, for example, Karlins and Andrews (1975), Brown (1977), Richter-Heinrich and Miller (1982)]. The clinical simplicity of the technique led to it being used therapeutically for a wide range of mental health and behavioural problems. It was particularly useful as a treatment for stress, since there are a number of dimensions which may conveniently be used to operationalise that construct, not least muscle tension [Brown (1977) provides a thorough early review of this area, if interested]. Biofeedback, in other words, made relaxation visible, and thus easier to achieve! More recently, "neurofeedback" has surged in popularity, thanks to the greater availability of non-invasive EEG pick-up systems and computerised analysis and display [see typical neurofeedback set-up and specification (commercial site)]. Such systems have been trialled with ADHD [see Breaking Research, below], migraine, insomnia, and depression. By contrast, non-neuro indicators are, by their nature, better for targeting relaxation-tension in skeleto-muscular systems (EMG) and other autonomic indicators (GSR and heartrate).


BREAKING RESEARCH: Significant successes are being reported of late in the use of neurofeedback systems in the remediation of ADHD. The University of Swansea hosts just such a research unit [see recent press article]. 



Biofeedforward: [See firstly biofeedback.] The term "biofeedforward" is the formally correct (but in fact rarely used) term for the deliberate bypassing of a damaged efferent pathway in order to get instructions - "feedforward" - out beyond the lesion in question. It is the companion notion to biofeedback, and, mutatis mutandis, follows the same general pattern of application. The defining characteristics are (a) that the initiating information flow is efferent rather than afferent, and (b) that there is at least one stage in the overall architecture where information must pass from the body to the external electronics. This interfacing might be accomplished, for example, by EEG or EMG pick-up (as in the systems described for biofeedback), or, increasingly nowadays, by the use of implant technology. Computer processing then converts these raw signals into a form capable of long-distance transmission, and interfacing back into the body in order to activate the desired muscles.


BREAKING RESEARCH: Universities across the world are working on biofeedforward systems to allow paralysed patients to recover the use of their own muscles. Brown University's John Donoghue [homepage] is typical of the genre. His projects include using cortically implanted multipin electrodes to detect neuronal activity in the motor cortex, processing the signals in a computer, and then displaying them in coded form on a screen. The patient then has to learn to think in such a way that the software can detect thought-contingent differences in the signals, which are picked up by the system and used to make the screen cursor move accordingly. Once these thought-contingent signals are under the subject's conscious control, they can be used to initiate movement, either wholly electronically (the cursor movement) or by routing instructions out to physical apparatus. It remains to take the control signals back into the patient's body, so as complete the circuit, and this is where attention is currently focused.



"Biological Approach", the: See schools of psychology.



Biological Cybernetics: [See firstly cybernetics.] Generally speaking, biological cybernetics is the science of control in biological systems. More specifically, therefore, the term encompasses all investigations into the control processes and servomechanisms making up the body's skeletomuscular motor hierarchy.



Bios Theoretikos: [Aristotelian Greek = "a life of deep, if not Godlike, reflection on the world".] See nous theoretikos.



Bipolar Disorders: This is the DSM-IV header category for six specific disorder groups, namely bipolar 1 disorder, bipolar 2 disorder, bipolar disorder not otherwise specified, cyclothymic disorder, mood disorder due to [cause to be inserted], and mood disorder not otherwise specified. These six disorders have in common a characteristically cyclical swing between "highs" (the episodes of hypomania or mania) and "lows" (the episodes of depression) of mood.



Bipolar 1 Disorder: This is one of the six DSM-IV disorder groups under the category header of bipolar disorders. It is characterised by alternating episodes of major depression alternating with episodes of full mania, accompanied by extreme irritability, and denial.



Bipolar 2 Disorder: This is one of the six DSM-IV disorder groups under the category header of bipolar disorders. It is characterised by episodes of major depression alternating with episodes of hypomania, accompanied by extreme irritability, and denial. [But compare hyperthymia.]



Bit: Modern digital computers work in what is known as "binary" arithmetic. This means they reduce everything to strings of noughts and ones. Each nought or one is called a "bit" (the word comes from shortening the separate words "binary digit"), and the capacity of much of the hardware is measured in the number of bits it can (a) store, and/or (b) transmit per second. The common units are kilobits (Kbit), which are thousands of bits, and megabits (Mb or Mbit), which are millions of bits. [Compare byte.]



Black Box: [See firstly scientific models in general and cognitive modelling in particular.] One particularly common form of psychological model is the "black box" model. These are models where it has been decided in advance to ignore as many of the internal complexities as possible; the complexity is consigned to a black box, so to speak, which by common agreement is not going to be opened. Thus if all you want to do is watch your television (rather than take it apart), you do not need to know - and do not care - what goes on inside it: you plug it in, switch it on, and that is that. You observe merely how the mechanism responds to the stimuli you give it. Here is a formal definition .....


"A black box is a system whose contents are unknown to us or do not interest us, and whose relation with the environment is predetermined. By viewing [systems] as black boxes, we can describe them functionally and clearly and study them experimentally, without the risk of damaging the system by opening it." (Kramer and de Smit, 1977, p85; italics added.)


In practice, however, you always want to know more than a black box model can readily tell you .....


"The task of explanation lies in deciding what sort of machinery inside the black box could produce the responses in question, given the inputs. Ideally, given sufficient knowledge of that machinery, behaviour could be predicted as a function of inputs and internal states of the system. [] One proposes hypothetical states inside the black box - internal variables, whose variation accounts for the observed regularities" (Clark, 1980, p44; italics added). [See now functional decomposition.]



Bloom's Six Levels of Knowledge: In the period 1949-1953, the American educationalist Benjamin Bloom chaired an influential "think tank" looking into the role of cognition in education. By a process of painstaking analysis, Bloom's team identified and ranked many different types of learning, memory, and thinking, setting them out finally in a complex six-level hierarchy of cognitive learning outcomes (Bloom, 1956). Bloom's hierarchy significantly influenced subsequent theory and research. Robert Gagné, for example, incorporated it into his discussions of learning outcomes (Gagné, 1975, p68), and Marton and Saljo (1976a,b) distinguished what they called "surface learning" (the recall of simple facts) from "deep learning" (the recall of issues and principles). Bloom's original six-level hierarchy is reproduced in Beard and Hartley (1984), and a five-level variant is found in Mulholland and Smyth (1988). The six-level version consists - in order of increasing difficulty - of knowing facts, understanding facts, applying facts (i.e. their use as knowledge, rather than their rote regurgitation), analysing that knowledge, synthesising that knowledge, and (finally and supremely) giving considered evaluations of that knowledge (Bloom, 1956, p18).



BNT: See Boston Naming Test.



Bobby: See case, Bobby.



Body Dysmorphic Disorder: This is one of the seven DSM-IV disorder groups under the category header of somatoform disorders. As the name suggests, it is characterised by a disturbed body image. Individuals will present as preoccupied by, or ashamed or critical of, their physical appearance, to such an extent that it causes "clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning" (Wikipedia).



Body Image: In everyday English, one's "body image" is one's background spatio-tactile understanding of what sort of person we are, that is to say, physically rather than intellectually or emotionally. As such, it more or less invariably includes some reflective - and often critical - appraisal of our own physical appearance and capacity, especially insofar as we believe it to be attractive or not to others, by which latter token it is intricately wound up with our self-esteem. Clinically, moreover, its failures can result in depersonalisation. Viewed more philosophically, one's body image is a subset of "the self", complete with all the problems of explanation that go with that broader topic. Viewed more technically still, it must ultimately be regarded as a particular functional domain within a compound long-term memory structure of many domains, which the mind abstracts from everyday experience. This includes semantic memory components (such as our propositional knowledge that we are, say, 176 cm. tall), episodic memory components (such as our recollection that we had toast for breakfast yesterday), motor memory components (such as our ability to tie shoelaces, throw ball, swing a golf club, etc.), and sensory memory components (such as our recollection of personal perfume, facial image, voice quality, etc.). A given body image is enduring, but not everlasting. The things are time-stamped, if you like. A stooped old man may still well recall the greater mobility of his youth, and an athlete who is suddenly crippled will have an actual body-image [a wheelchair-bound quadriplegic, say] as well as a now-defunct past body-image [the athlete prior to the injury]. The same sort of change occurs during normal aging. Research into body image is constrained by all the problems associated with perception and imagery as mainstream cognitive processes. The usual technique is to ask individuals to rate their "current" body shape against their "ideal", the difference between the two scores being known as "body satisfaction". Perhaps as a sign of what the future holds for us, Thórisson (2005/2007 online) has been designing robotic systems which include "cognitive presence" as a form of artificial body image! [See next body image and dieting and body image and eating disorders.]



Body Satisfaction: See body image.



"Body stuff": See res extensa.



Bollas, Christopher: [British psychoanalyst ().] [Click for external biography (skeletal)] Bollas is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for his work on the "true self" - see the entries for object, transformational, projective identification, and unthought known.



Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD): [See firstly personality disorders (especially the Jarrett, 2006, quotation).]


"This type of personality disorder presents some of the most difficult and troubling problems in all of psychiatry" (Paris, 2005 online).


This is one of the eleven DSM-IV disorder groups under the category header of personality disorders. It is characterised primarily by "a persistent pattern of labile and irritable mood" of early onset (First, Frances, and Pincus, 1995, p61), and by indications of an unstable identity, but NOT by the experience of having different personalities. Other indicators are suicidal or self-mutilation behaviours, unstable or intense relationships, and poor anger control [for more on which see the entries for affect and anger]. The adjective "borderline" is used not to indicate an element of indecision between one or other type of personality disorder, but rather to reflect the fact that BPD typically involves such a severe distortion of reality that it is often only one stage removed from being classed as a fully-fledged psychosis! Nor is the clinical presentation of the disorder at all imprecise. Consider .....


"The term 'borderline' is a misnomer. These patients were first described sixty years ago by psychoanalysts who noted they did poorly in treatment, and therefore theorized that this is a form of pathology lying on the border between psychosis and neurosis. Although we no longer believe that patients with BPD have an underlying psychosis, the name 'borderline' has stuck. A much more descriptive label would be 'emotionally unstable: personality disorder.' The central feature of BPD is instability, affecting patients in many sectors of their lives" (Paris, 2006 online).


Kernberg (1967) adds .....


"Patients suffering from borderline personality present themselves with what superficially appear to be neurotic symptoms. However, the neurotic symptoms and the character pathology of these patients have peculiarities which point to an underlying borderline personality organisation. Only a careful diagnostic examination will reveal the particular combinations of different neurotic symptoms. No symptoms are pathognomonic [= "a sign or symptom that is so characteristic of a disease that it makes the diagnosis" (], but the presence of two, and especially of three, [.....] strongly points to the possibility of an underlying borderline personality organisation" (Kernberg, 1967, pp646-647).


The exact cause of BPD is not known, but the syndrome is certainly highly correlated with a history of incestuous sexual abuse [see the citations in self, incestuous sexual abuse and]. One of the first deep theoretical analyses of BPD came from the psychoanalyst Otto F. Kernberg, who saw the condition as resulting, in part at least, from the processes of "splitting" and the "split ego" (Kernberg, 1967, 1968, 1971) [the 1967 paper has been reviewed in some detail in the entry for personality, splitting and]. Masterson and Rinsley (1975) see the root cause of BPD in "the mother's faulty libidinal availability" (p163) at the rapprochement subphase of separation-individuation. BPD is thus in part an ego fixation problem, complete with all the attendant problems of immaturity. The resulting borderline mind has two "part-units", namely a "withdrawing part-unit" and a "rewarding part-unit", the former cathected with aggressive energy and the latter with libidinal energy. The critical point is that these two part-units "remain separated from each other [through] the mechanism of the splitting defense" (op. cit., p168). Kernberg (1967) described the end-result as a "combination of sexual provocativeness on the surface and of sexual inhibition underneath" (p653), and Kernberg (2006 online) sees the underlying mechanism in this and other types of abuse as a "structured rage", or "hatred", whose effects he describes as follows .....


"When hatred overwhelmingly dominates an unconscious world of internalised object relations, primitive splitting operations persist. This results in a borderling personality organisation characterised by an internal world of idealised and persecutory object relations with a dominance of the latter and their corollary of paranoid tendencies, characterologically ego-syntonic hatred, sadism, and vengefulness. Dissociated efforts are made to escape a persecutory world by illusory dissociated idealisations. Under traumatic conditions, then, the basic mechanisms would include the immediate transformation of pain into rage and rage into hatred; hatred consolidates the unconscious identification with victim and victimiser."


Liotti (1999/2006 online) has studied the metacognitive processes of this client group. He begins by identifying the two most distinctive features of BPD as follows: "[1] unintegrated representations of self-with-other and [2] serious deficits in self-reflective, self-regulatory and metacognitive capacities". He then calls in two related theoretical points. The first of these, from Kernberg (as above, plus 1975, 1984), holds that the predominance of splitting, projection, and projective identification in the organisation of BPD "leads to fragmented representations of self and important others".


ASIDE: Projection is a "disavowal" type of ego defense, and the other two are "major image distorting" types. All three are deemed "immature" or worse in the scale of defense adaptiveness [see defense levels and the onward links for more on this].


The second related theory is Linehan's (1993) belief that the root cause of BPD pathology lies with defects in the mental systems responsible for "the experience and expression of emotions", and especially in the self-monitoring aspects of said system. Liotti's substantive point is then as follows [citations omitted] .....


"Recent research on early attachment has identified a particular relational configuration leading to disorganisation of attachment behaviour in the infant []. The essence of this relational configuration has been captured by the hypothesis of a style of caregiving that is frightened and/or frightening to the infant, and is linked to unresolved traumas or losses in the attachment figure []. To suffer from unresolved traumatic memories means that fragments of past painful events emerge unpredictably in the stream of consciousness, and that these fragments cannot be integrated in any organised process of thought []. Parents who were abused children, or who suffered the loss of an attachment figure or of another child, may tend to remember these events while taking care of their infants [and] unwittingly, and often unconsciously, express fear" (Liotti, 1999/2006 online).


Linehan (1991) has devised a variant form of behaviour therapy called dialectical behaviour therapy specifically for work with the BPD client group. The textbook recommendations for BPD treatment specifically advise NOT tampering with the patient's existing defensive structure (dysfunctional though it will certainly be) because it is all she has going for her! [See also aggression, personality disorders and and Atlas personality.]


BREAKING RESEARCH: Pelletier (1998) and others have recently remarked on areas of curious similarity between BPD and Asperger's disorder. Teicher (2002) has recently noted a possible explanatory relationship between BPD and physiological changes with the patient's limbic system [for more on which see the entry for abuse-related brain damage], whilst Liotti (op. cit.) promotes a model of BPD based on the dysfunctional activation of what he calls the "attachment motivational system" [check it out]. Other authors have linked BPD to Munchausen Syndrome. For the potential role of "abnormal connectivity" in preventing or degrading the maximal integration of multi-modular cognitive processing, see functional connectivity and its onward links. Coming right up to date, Grosjean and Tsai (2007) have considered the role played by the glutamatergic system in general, and the neurotransmitter NMDA in particular, in promoting neural plasticity, and suggest that "dysregulation" of said system might well account for some of the cognitive dysfunctions presented by BPD patients.



Boson: [Physics term - Click for external definition] This category of subatomic particles is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary because it is invoked by consciousness theorists of the "Quantum Consciousness" School. [See now consciousness, quantum, and compare boson.]



Boston Naming Test (BNT): [Informally, "the Boston".] [See firstly clinical psychometrics.] The BNT is a 60-item picture-naming task which has been age-standardised to indicate the degree of anomia in children with learning disabilities and brain-injured adults. The test was first constructed in the 1970s by the neuropsychologists and specialist aphasiologists at the Boston Veterans Hospital, and first published as Kaplan, Goodglass, and Weintraub (1976).



Bouchon, Basile: [French weaver-inventor (? dates).] [Click for external biography (skeletal)] Bouchon is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for having devised a punched-paper "program" for the pattern of the weave on a textile loom. [For the main story, see Materialism and underlying mechanism.]



"Bournewood Gap", the: This is the name recognised by learning disabilities professionals in the UK for a loophole in the Mental Capacity Act, 2005 which left institutionalised patients with unclear rights to "least restrictive regime" treatment compared to non-institutionalised.



Bowlby, John: [British psychiatrist-paediatrician (1907-1990).] [Click for external biography] Bowlby is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for his work on attachment in infants and children - see attachment, Bowlby on.



Boyle, Robert: [Irish polymath (1627-1691).] [Click for external biography] Boyle is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for his contribution to the Leibniz-Boyle debate.



BPD: See borderline personality disorder.



Bracketing: See epoche.



Braid, James: [British physician (1796-1860).] [Click for external biography] [See firstly Mesmerism.] Intrigued by demonstrations of Mesmerism in 1841, Braid set out to establish whether the trance-states which the procedure induced were genuine phenomena or just charlatanism. He therefore studied the method objectively, and published his own suggestions as to how it worked in a book entitled "Neurypnology: Or the Rationale of Nervous Sleep" (Braid, 1843). In so doing, he recommended the term "hypnosis" as a replacement for Mesmerism. Here is how Flugel and West (1964) tell the story .....


"Braid was a physician of Manchester, and his first interest in the matter was aroused by the visit of Lafontaine, a French mesmerist, to that city in 1841. Braid started by being 'loud in his denunciation of the whole affair', but soon became convinced that it was not mere fraud [..... and] urged by a genuinely scientific desire to understand the phenomena that he had witnessed. [.....] He went home and experimented on the members of his own family. To his surprise, he found that he could induce an artificial sleep-like state by the simple process of making them stare continuously at a bright object situated slightly above the level of the eyes. He therefore concluded that mesmerism was but a kind of sleep, 'induced by paralysing the levator muscles of the eyelids'" (p86).



Brentano, Franz Clemens: [German philosopher (1838-1917).] [Click for external biography] See consciousness, Brentano's theory of and Brentano's thesis.



Brentano's Thesis: [See firstly consciousness, Brentano's theory of.] This is the name given to Brentano's assertion that intentionality is not just "the defining characteristic of the mental" (McIntyre and Smith, 1989, p148), but also (a) "that all mental phenomena are intentional", and (b) that "only mental phenomena are intentional" (ibid.). McIntyre and Smith summarise the argument this way .....


"Today, the more interestingly controversial part of Brentano's Thesis is the second half, the claim that only mental phenomena are intentional. Is it true? Photographs are photographs 'of' their subjects, symbols 'stand for' or 'represent' things other than themselves, and the languages we speak are representational systems. Yet none of these things is itself a mental state or experience [..... for they] are only so many marks on paper. Their intentionality - their 'representing', or being 'of' or 'about' things other than themselves - is therefore not a character they have intrinsically [.....] but is derivative from their relation to intentional mental states" (pp148-149).


[See now intentionality.]



Briggs, Katharine C.: [American psychometrician (1875-1968)] [Click for external biography] Briggs is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for her work on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.



British Empiricism: This is the name commonly reserved for a number of British-born empiricist philosophers of the Associationist school at the height of the Enlightenment, primarily Locke, Berkeley, and Hume. It is useful to emphasise their Britishness because their orientation was often at odds with rival schools based in continental Europe, specifically Rationalism.



Brown-Peterson Technique: A memory experiment in which subjects listen to a list of items and then free recall as many as they can remember in any order either immediately or after a delay. In the delayed recall condition, an interpolated activity may be used. This is a distractor task inserted between the final stimulus item and the recall cue, and is intended to prevent rehearsal. By varying the nature, complexity, and confusibility of the distractor materials, the Brown-Peterson technique has often been used to investigate memory encoding procedures. The procedure is named after the researchers who first developed it, namely Brown (1958) and Peterson and Peterson (1959). For a specimen clinical application of this method, see Van der Linden, Coyette, and Seron (1992). [See now serial position effect.]



Brücke, Ernst Wilhelm von: [German neurophysiologist (1819-1892).] [Click for external biography] Brücke is noteworthy within the context of the present glossary for having been one of Freud's tutors, and for having thereby helped frame the ideas of neuronal function which Freud subsequently built into his Project for a Scientific Psychology (Freud, 1895) [for more on which see the entry for Freud's Project]. 



Bubble Lexicon: Term coined by Liu (2003/2003 online) to describe a lexico-semantic network structure capable of representing (as most such networks do not) nuance and context effects. [For a definition of context, and onward links on that topic, see this entry in our Psycholinguistics Glossary.] 



Buffer: The Buffer is/was one of the "troops", the alter personalities in case, Truddi Chase.



Buffering: [Computer term.] See Smith (2004 online; Section 1.3).



Bühler, Karl: [German linguistic philosopher (1879-1963).] [Click for external biography] Bühler is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for his work on the Darstellungsfunktion of language.



Bulimia Nervosa: This is one of the two DSM-IV disorder groups under the category header of eating disorders. It is characterised by "binge eating and inappropriate compensatory methods to prevent weight gain" (DSM-IV-TR, 2000, p589). [See next body image and dieting.]





"Bullies are cowards, and one coward makes many" ("Tom Brown's Schooldays", p101).


Bullying has been defined as "the systematic abuse of power" (Smith and Sharp, 1994) and, viewed as such, is as old as history itself. What is special about bullying, however, is that the behaviour takes place within - and immediately sours - what promises otherwise to be a cooperative peer group. It is also significant that the group in question is not a spontaneous friendship group, but rather a gathering together of people from various walks of life - this is why bullying is so frequently found in such places as schoolyards, workplaces, and barrack rooms [that said, we have nevertheless to allow that there can also be "bullies" in smaller groupings like the nuclear family]. Bullying first became a matter for public debate thanks to the novel "Tom Brown's Schooldays" (Hughes, 1857), but its formal study as a psychological phenomenon did not begin until 1897 .....


ASIDE: For an introduction to the science of bullying, we heartily recommend a friendly little PowerPoint presentation by the University of Central Lancashire's Mike Eslea [take me there]. This places Burk (1897) as the first formal scientific report on the subject, but then notes a long gap to a study by Olweus (1973) (and even then journal publications remained few and far between until 1985). As it turned out, the villain of Hughes' novel suffered no permanent disadvantage, being resurrected to no little adventure and success in George MacDonald Fraser's "Flashman ....." novels. Significantly, perhaps, no publishing house's commissioning editor seems to have bothered funding an enquiry into the welfare of those Flashman had victimised in their later lives, dare we say it, because these stories would have been too ordinary to have sold.


We continue with this topic under separate headings, namely bullying in childhood, bullying, military, bullying in the workplace, and cyber-bullying.



Bullying in Childhood: [See firstly bullying.] According to the National Bullying Survey 2006, 69% of the 4772 British schoolchildren surveyed reported having suffered bullying of one sort or another. Verbal abuse was the most common form [unsolicited, unwelcome, and calculatedly hurtful comments on such things as weight, appearance, and ability], being reported by 56% of respondents, and physical assault came next at 50% [see more of these findings]. 83% of the teachers surveyed reported not having seen bullying at their school, although 38% reported having themselves been assaulted by pupils! The survey also gathered data from 1323 adults who had been bullied during their years at school. Of these, 20% reported an enduring loss of confidence, 13% said it affected their adult relationships, 7% said it had affected their careers, and 9% said it had made them suicidal. One popular modern approach to bullying suggests that the problem lies with bullies' inability "to process social information accurately" (Randall, 1997, p23). In this explanation, bullies are themselves to be seen as victims - for having (for whatever reason) been deprived of the interpersonal skill base by which the rest of us form and maintain genuine and reciprocal friendships. In an attempt to put this explanation to the test, Sutton (2001) challenges us to decide whether bullies are "social inadequates" or "skilled manipulators". If one takes the position that bullies are what they are "because they don't know how to interact properly" (p530), then they should score poorly on tests of social cognition, whilst if one believes that bullies bully because it is to their calculated advantage in some way, then you may not approve of their values but you cannot criticise their powers of social representation. To obtain data on this issue, Sutton, Smith, and Swettenham (1999) derived for application to bullies a version of the false belief experiment used to test for theory of mind. What was at issue was bullies' awareness of the emotional effects their behaviour would have on their victims. They assessed both bullies and victims for social cognition using story-picture vignettes such as this one .....


"Mike wants to go out with his friends, but he has a really bad tummy ache. He knows that if his mum notices he's ill, she won't let him go out to play. Mike goes downstairs and asks his mum 'Can I go out to play please?' [the child is then shown a four-picture choice card, with simple caricatures of angry, ill, neutral, and happy faces]  'Which picture shows how Mike really feels?' 'Which picture shows how Mike will look when he talks to his mum?'. To get full marks, a child would indicate that although Mike really feels ill he will conceal this by looking happy or at least neutral [.....]. This would show that the child can understand that an appropriate display of emotion can create a belief in another that differs from reality"(p531).


Sutton et al's data indicated (a) that bully score and social cognition score were positively correlated [making them "skilled manipulators", after all], and (b) that victim score and social cognition score were negatively correlated. This suggested that it was the victims' "lack of mentalising ability that puts them at the bottom of the pecking order" (p531)!


ASIDE: What this implies, of course, is that the 20% of adults who reported loss of confidence due to their experiences as bullying victims while at school [see above] could well have contributed to their own victimhood by an insufficient display of confidence. A similar conclusion (that they are themselves partly to blame) is often drawn when profiling rape victims - see the inset in the entry for aggression, ethological theory and. [See also dominance hierarchy.]


Salmivalli (1999) and Tani et al (2003) have taken a different approach, focusing on the interaction between personality variables and the social grouping within which the bullying takes place. Salmivalli proposed four identifiable social roles over and above those of bully and victim per se. These were "reinforcer of the bully", "assistance of the bully", "defender of the victim", and "outsider". The resulting dynamic is complex, thus .....


"Without the support of at least some members of their peer groups, bullies would probably be much less brazen than they are. [.....] Bullies consistently harrass victims and coerce others into joining them; Reinforcers [provide] bullies with an audience [.....]; Bullies' Assistants actively join the bullying once the incident has started by catching or holding the victim; Defenders intervene on behalf of the victim and make an effort to stop the bullying; and Outsiders distance themselves completely [.....]. It is therefore possible to view bullying as a group activity [in] which children might participate differently according to intrinsic personal characteristics" (Tani et al, 2003, p132).


BREAKING RESEARCH: Tani et al have correlated measures of the bullying roles taken with Sutton and Smith's (1999) Participant Role Scale with measures of the Big Five personality factors taken with an Italian version of the BFQ. Their results suggested that Friendliness and Emotional Stability were the two most consistent predictors of role status. Victims were relatively low on Agreeableness, and relatively high on Emotional Stability. Coming at the problem from a different direction, Lavin (2005/2006 online) has re-analysed the problem from the viewpoint of definitions of masculinity. He notes the "highly homophobic environments" of the Australian school system, and draws attention to "the boys' code", as unwritten general understanding that it is a bad thing to be same-sex attracted, and an correspondingly good thing to pick on those who look as though they might be. As to what can be done about it, Acland Burghley School (Camden, London) gets a lot of praise for having pioneered in 1993 the use of student counsellors and peer supporters [check them out]



Bunny Foo Foo: This is the eponymous title of a nursery rhyme with a distinct moral (specifically, that cruelty to animals is wrong) [see full lyric]. Hence figuratively any similar method of communicating complex ideas to young children (or, indeed, cognitively impaired adults).



Byte: [See firstly bit.] Bit sequences are useful to designers of logic circuits, but do not actually mean a great deal to the person in the street who wants to see readable English. What computing hardware does, therefore, is to allocate different 8-bit strings to each of the letters of the alphabet (as well as the numbers and the punctuation marks). This is very clever on its part, because it can thereby talk your language and its own at the same time! Each of these 8-bit strings is called a "byte" (although the equivalent terms character or keystroke are also regularly encountered). The common units are kilobytes (KB, or KByte), which are thousands of bytes, megabytes (MB or MByte), which are millions of bytes, gigabytes (GByte), which are billions of bytes, and terabytes (TByte), which are trillions of bytes.





See the Master References List