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


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First published online 13:00 GMT 28th February 2006, Copyright Derek J. Smith (Chartered Engineer). This version [HT.1 - transfer of copyright] dated 09:00 GMT 9th March 2011





G.3 - The Glossary Proper (Entries P to S)



p-Awareness: See property-awareness.



Panic Attack: This is one of the thirteen DSM-IV disorder groups under the category header of anxiety disorders. It is characterised by "a discrete period of intense fear or discomfort in the absence of real danger that is accompanied by at least 4 of 13 somatic or cognitive symptoms [such as] palpitations, sweating, trembling or shaking [etc.]" (DSM-IV, 2000, p430). Panic behaviour is a major element in differential diagnosis under DSM-IV, although - to be judged pathological - it must be "intense" (First, Frances, and Pincus, 1995, p88) and not associated with a genuine cause (e.g., a snake).



Parallel Processing: See serial versus parallel processing.



Paranoid Personality Disorder: This is one of the 11 DSM-IV disorder groups under the category header of personality disorders. It is characterised by "a pervasive distrust and suspiciousness of others" (DSM-IV, 2000, p690), and appears in early adulthood. Here is a pen-picture .....


"Individuals with this disorder [] suspect on the basis of little or no evidence that others are plotting against them and may attack them suddenly, at any time, and without reason. They often feel that they have been deeply and irreversibly injured by another person or persons even when there is no objective evidence for this. They are preoccupied with unjustified doubts about the loyalty or untrustworthiness of their friends and associates, whose actions are minutely scrutinised for evidence of hostile intentions. [.....] Individuals with this disorder are reluctant to confide in or become close to others because they fear that the information they share will be used against them []. They may refuse to answer personal questions, saying that the information is 'nobody's business'. They read hidden meanings that are demeaning and threatening into benign remarks or events []. [.....] Compliments are often misinterpreted [.....]. Individuals with this disorder persistently bear grudges and are unwilling to forgive the insults, injuries, or slights that they think they have received. [..... They] are generally difficult to get along with and often have problems with close relationships. [.....] Although they may appear to be objective, rational, and unemotional, they more often display a labile range of affect, with hostile, stubborn, and sarcastic expressions predominating" (DSM-IV, 2000, pp690-691).


RESEARCH ISSUE: It would be interesting to re-analyse the above pen-picture from the point of view of a defect in the sort of mind-reading ability discussed in the entries for theory of mind, insofar as the skewed ideation which results then expresses itself as an equally skewed or incomplete development of the normal repertoire of speech acts.



Paranoid Schizophrenia: This is one of the five DSM-IV disorder groups under the category header of schizophrenia. It is characterised by "the presence of prominent delusions or auditory hallucinations in the context of a relative preservation of cognitive functioning and affect" (DSM-IV, 2000, p313). The delusions are "typically persecutory or grandiose, or both" (Ibid.), but the preserved cognitive functioning offers a better prognosis than other types of schizophrenia.



Paraphilia: A "paraphilia" is a recurrent and intense sexual urge, fantasy, or behaviour that involves unusual objects, activities, or situations, sufficient to cause "clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning" (DSM-IV, 2000, p535). The DSM-IV recognises the following as paraphilias .....


exhibitionism; fetishism; frotteurism; paedophilia; sexual masochism; sexual sadism; transvestic fetishism; voyeurism


The DSM-IV also has a "not specified" category, into which we may place a whole host of other paraphilias identified in the (not always academic) literature but not listed above. These include .....


coprolalia; klismaphilia; necrophilia; scoptophilia; stigmatophilia; telephone scatologia; troilism [so get Googling]



Parapraxis: [(pl. parapraxes) from the Greek verb paraprassein, "to do beside".] In the context of psychodynamic theory, "parapraxes" are diagnostically valuable slips of the tongue [the word is the standard translation of Freud's original German Fehlleistung]. As such, they demand to be carefully examined to see if they are true "Freudian slips", that is to say, hidden feelings and beliefs suddenly revealing themselves by intruding into the process of lexical look-up during speech production.


ASIDE: We must remember that Freud's (1891) monograph on aphasia had predated by about a century the basic structure of modern modular psycholinguistic models such as those of Ellis (1982) and Kay, Lesser, and Coltheart (1992). Freud modelled conceptual memory as a network of object representation nodes, and regarded lexical memory as an array of separate, but appropriately associated, word stores [the modern term for each such store is a "lexicon"]. The mind's sentence production process is thus constantly having to turn ideas into their associated words, and it is at this point that rogue thoughts can slip through the normal rules of etiquette and social appropriacy and make themselves known. The role of partial activation of the lexicon is central both to Freudian theory [see Freud's Project] and modern spreading activation theories of lexical access Specifically, a rogue thought will have pre-excited a certain subset of rogue words, which, if structurally similar to the genuine target, can be selected by mistake. Examples: "A good psychotherapist can really set you fee"; "how ought an oral fixation to be teated". [For some idea of the awesome complexity of the sentence production process, and the points therein at which parapraxes are most likely to occur, see our e-paper on "Speech Errors".]



Parentification: See Atlas personality.



Parenting-as-Teaching: We use this phrase at a number of points in this glossary because there is more to the intergenerational transfer of knowledge and skills than just showing children how to tie their shoelaces. Teaching is a reflective evidence-based professionalism in its own right, complete with its own received system [see "Tyler Rationale", if interested]. Pride of place in the arsenal of educational techniques is the emphasis on providing children with carefully graded experiences, both in the classroom and out of it, together with the opportunity to reflect upon them [see experiential learning]. This needs to be supported (a) by an overriding vision, namely that which is set down in formal education in the "curriculum", and (b) by detailed lists of specific and objectively measurable learning objectives. It is also important to "stretch" the child-student by deliberate exposure to "desirable difficulties" (Bjork, 1994). We illustrate what is at stake when parents fail as teachers qua teachers in the various scenarios in the entry for toxic parenting and cognitive deficit.



Parenting, Authoritative: TO FOLLOW.



Parenting Programmes: [See firstly parenting style and toxic parenting.] A parenting programme is a formally constituted training package, sponsored by social services, charities, and like bodies, and designed to remedy the problems faced by children by treating the people really responsible for those problems, namely their parents. Sanders (2003) promotes the University of Queensland's "Positive Parenting Program", a "multi-level, preventively oriented, parenting and family support strategy" (p4) for addressing a range of juvenile problems. Having noted that family risk factors such as poor parenting, family conflict, and marital breakdown are powerful early predictors of behavioural and emotional problems. The Triple-P is structured so as to develop independent problem solving and self regulation skills, and includes an emphasis on non-toxic marital communication and the effective management of parents' own emotional distress. It has been deliberately targeted on the following specific weaknesses .....


- lack of a warm positive relationship with parents


- insecure attachment


- harsh, inflexible, and inconsistent disciplinary practices


- inadequate supervision of / involvement with children


- marital conflict and breakdown


- parental mental health problems (especially depression and stress)


Scott (2006) reassures us that in the last decade there has been a shift from clinic-based to "community-wide" services. He identifies three root-cause problems, as follows .....


"Three typologies are being increasingly recognised as complicating the picture for some antisocial children, and each is highly hereditable. Firstly, severe hyperactivity and inattention can lead to such impulsive responding that the child doesn't have time to reflect before acting - such children are easily seen as emotionally illiterate, and their hyperactivity can be missed due to the salience of the antisocial acts. Then children with Asperger's syndrome or autistic-like traits have difficulty reading emotions and engaging in the basic to-and-fro of day-to-day social encounters, and this, coupled with their intolerance of changed routines, means they easily get frustrated and become aggressive, often with screaming tantrums. Finally, there is increasing interest in children who seem otherwise intact but display marked callous-unemotional traits. These children seem to be able to understand most emotions, but not to care about distress in others, or to feel much hurt themselves [.....]. They can use a superficial charm to make new relationships, but have difficulty sustaining them. They often make excellent bullies, choosing skilfully how best to hurt their victims [.....]. Although these three traits are highly heritable [.....] this doesn't mean they cannot be improved. Children with moderate autistic traits respond well to rule-governed social skills programmes [.....]. Callous-unemotional traits in antisocial children are ameliorated by parenting programmes [..... and h]yperactivity and inattention in antisocial children improve with structured parenting programmes alone [], and in severe cases they respond well to stimulant medicine"(Scott, 2006, p484; emphasis added).


Nevertheless, British children remain among the most "deprived" in Europe, thus .....


"Children in Britain are among the worst off in Europe, with many living in dysfunctional families that refuse to eat together or talk to each other, researchers have found. A report comparing data on children and teenagers across the 25 European Union countries ranks Britain as 21st on an index of 'child well-being'. Children fare worse only in Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, and Slovakia. The data, which will form the basis of a Unicef report, indicate that the government should try to tackle the breakdown of the family unit" (The Sunday Times, 6th August 2006).


And it is probably also indicative that .....


"Working parents spend only 19 minutes a day looking after their children, figures revealed yesterday. This is just enough time for a quick breakfast together or reading a few bedtime stories. [.....] The Office of National Statistics survey found that many parents are struggling to meet the demands of their jobs, children, and a long list of domestic tasks. [.....] In comparison, full-time mothers and fathers have 58 minutes each day to dedicate to their children" (The Daily Mail, 20th July 2006).



Parenting Skills: In everyday language, "parenting skills" are the things you have to be good at in order to bring up children. As such, they are a subtle combination of primate instincts (the way we respond viscerally to an infant's crying, say), our cultural folklore (the way we like to do things the way our parents and grandparents did), conventional wisdom (the way we follow published advice as to what is good for our children and what is not), and one's own direct experience. As is often the case with complex skills such as these, you understand more about them when they are lacking - so take a deep breath and see now toxic parenting.



Parenting Style: [See firstly parenting skills.] A parenting style is a characteristic pattern on the part of parent-carers in the selection of whether and how to deliver the nurturant or educational behaviours required of them; it is one's own "fingerprint", if you like, of strengths and weaknesses across the spectrum of available parenting skills. Part habit, part personality, part conscious choice, it is how we deliver what we have to deliver on behalf of the child in our care. It is also probably the greatest single determinant of what/who that child turns out to be. Not surprisingly, therefore, parenting styles are a major focus of attention amongst the professionals and academics responsible for clearing up the mess whenever parenting goes wrong. Taris and Bok (1996), for example, have studied the affects of parenting style upon the psychological wellbeing of young adults. They tested 642 young adults aged 18-26 years for locus of control, and asked them to rate their upbringing on warmth, parental love, and caring. Responses indicated that paternal involvement in this way was associated with an internal locus of control, but the reverse was true of maternal involvement. Individuals who felt they had some influence over events were less likely to feel depressed. [See now parenting programmes.] WAS THIS A SENSITIVE TOPIC FOR YOU?: If for any reason you have been emotionally affected by any of the issues dealt with in this entry, you will find suitable helpline details in the entry for toxic parenting.



Parmenidean One, the: TO FOLLOW.



Parsimony: See principle of parsimony.



Partial Report Paradigm: A memory test set-up in which subjects are presented with an array of test items, but required to process only a subset thereof. This involves cueing before, during, or after the display with instructions as to which subset is to be recalled. Providing the cue is received early enough, this allows advantage to be taken of sensory memory resources as well as more centrally situated STM. [For probably the most famous application of this method, see Sperling (1960).]



Partner Abuse: Although readers can be referred to this entry from a number of directions, the common denominator is likely to be domestic violence. If for any reason you have been emotionally affected by any of the issues dealt with in the entry in question, you will find professionally prepared information packs and competent helpline staff at the contact points identified below or at a number of other websites readily accessible over the Internet. UK readers will probably find it best to start with the information on the government-supported 24 hour Domestic Violence Helpline [take me there], which is supported professionally by two separate bodies, namely Womens Aid [take me there] and Refuge [take me there]. Non-UK Readers will need to refer to the healthcare, social, and educational services in the country concerned, although the UK-based websites will give a general indication of the issues. All Readers: Should a hyperlink no longer be active, please contact the author to have it reinstated.



Passive Aggression: 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 "indirectly and unassertively expressing aggression toward others" (DSM-IV, 2000, p812).



Pathological Gambling: This is one of the six DSM-IV disorder groups under the category header of impulse-control disorders not elsewhere classified. It is more intense than "social gambling", lacks the discipline and limited risk taking of a "professional gambling", and should not be diagnosed if the behaviour is better accounted for as a manic episode (First, Frances, and Pincus, 1995).



Pathos: [Greek = "event, experience, suffering, emotion, attribute" (Peters).] This classical Greek word for the feelings associated with experience was used by the Greek tragedian playwrights to connote "instructive suffering" (Peters, 1967), and then adopted within mental philosophy as the attributes of things or the emotions of souls.



Pattern Recognition: The second main processing stage in the broader process of perception (the first being the early processes of figure-ground analysis, segmentation, and other pre-organization of the stimulus stream).



P-Consciousness: See consciousness, Carruthers' theory of.



PCs: See preconscious.



Percept: [See firstly perception.] A percept may be defined somewhat circularly as the desired end product of the process of perception, thus: "The object of perception" or "the mental product or result of perceiving as distinguished from the action [of perceiving]" (O.E.D.). It may be defined more rigorously as the initial and unelaborated conceptual activation provoked by comparing an external scene against the range of shapes (sounds, smells, etc.) known to perceptual memory. As such, it is the end product of the processes of pattern recognition rather than perception [Baars (1997) profiles the percept as lacking as yet the qualia needed to elevate it to the status of concept]. In the visual modality, each percept is a mental determination of the identity of all or part of a visual scene, including (where a figure-ground decision has been applied) some comprehension of the unattended background, and, where there exists prior context, some comprehension of what the actors in the present external scene might be about. By "initial and unelaborated" we mean to draw attention to the fact that the percept, rigorously defined, is NOT in fact the end product of perception. It is one thing to recognize that out there is a scene containing elements a, b, c, etc., but quite another to understand the interaction of these elements against a background [this point is well brought out by Husserl - see consciousness, Husserl's theory of]. In fact, you need to apply to these non-verbal percepts the same sort of agent-action-object analysis which our central linguistic processors applies to verbal mental content.



Perception: [From the Latin percipio = "to lay hold of, take possession of, seize", and hence, figuratively, "of the senses, to feel, take in" (C.L.D.).] "The taking cognizance or being aware of objects in general; sometimes practically = consciousness" (O.E.D.). The philosopher Empedocles gave an influential early account of visual perception, which we have outlined in G.2, (5) Ideation. Alternatively, "the first faculty of the mind" (Locke, 1690, p92), and very much the same basic process as having an idea (Op. cit., p62). Alternatively, an inner state of representation, short of "reflective knowledge" (Leibniz, Principles, p23). Alternatively, the name given to the process by which information acquired from the environment is transformed into experience of objects and events (Roth and Frisby, 1986). It is a selective placing of input into one category of identity rather than another (Bruner, 1957), thus making it essentially an act of categorisation [see category]. This act of categorisation seems to take place in discrete stages, culminating with access to a dedicated subcomponent of long-term memory known as "perceptual memory". Philosophically speaking, the problem with perception is that the explanation presumes prior understanding of experience, and by needing a perceiver you introduce all the philosophical problems of subjectivity and the hard problem. You also have to account for the difference between perception and recognition (Cherry, 1957). Ryle (1949) was hinting at much the same when he remarked of sensations, feelings, and images, that they were "things the owner of which must be conscious of" (p190).



Perception, Alcmeon's Theory of: Alcmaeon's account of the body's sensory systems is typical of the classical world's understanding of perception. For the basics, see aesthesis, phenomenal awareness, and ideation, then compare with consciousness, Descartes' Theory of and the sensory input legs of modern hierarchical models of cognition such as Norman (1990).



Perception, Direct: [See firstly perception, immediate, carefully noting the puzzle cases of the fox and the apple.] Armstrong (1980)  invokes this concept as part of better explaining Berkeley's notion of immediate perception. He analyses the problem thus .....


"Faced with [the apple] puzzle, it is natural to wonder whether we might not reintroduce a distinction somewhat like that between immediate and mediate perception in the sphere of object recognition. I will use the words 'direct' and 'indirect'. Might we not say that the front surface of the apple is the directly perceived 'object', while the rest of the object is not directly perceived?" (Armstrong, 1980, pp128-129).



Perception, Immanent: TO FOLLOW.



Perception, Immediate: An immediate perception is Berkeley's notion of a perceptual experience which emerges so rapidly that it presents as immediately known.


ASIDE: The adjective "immediate" is here being used in the everyday sense of without delay. Berkeley was, however, writing in the early years of the 18th century, and would have lacked the apparatus necessary to break the process of perception down into accurately timed substages. That ability did not start to emerge until the mid-19th century - see the entries for Hipp chronoscope and reaction time studies.


Berkeley introduced the phrase during a discussion of the mechanisms of distance perception, thus .....


"I know evidently that distance is not perceived of itself. That by consequence it must be perceived by means of some other idea which is immediately perceived, and varies with the differing degrees of distance. I know also that the sensation arising from the turn of the eyes is of itself immediately perceived [.....] since I am not conscious that I make any such use of the perception I have by the turn of my eyes" (Berkeley, 1709, New Theory of Vision; Lindsay edition, p17).


His substantive point was that some judgments were made entirely as the result of experience, whilst others were not [those which came without the need for prior experience were, to use terminology from elsewhere in this glossary, "primordial" (Husserl) or "a priori" (Kant). This means, in turn, that what we think we see is something which is actually there, and something what we expect is actually there. To take a specific example, "the ideas of space, outness, and things placed at a distance, are not, strictly speaking, the object of sight ....." (op. cit., p33) [it would take theorists of the distinction between objekt and objektive another two hundred years to reach the same conclusion]. Here are two neat summative passages to draw this point to a close .....


"In order therefore to treat accurately and unconfusedly of vision, we must bear in mind that there are two sorts of objects apprehended by the eye, the one primarily and immediately, the other secondarily and by intervention of the former. [..... Nevertheless,] we find it so difficult to discriminate between the immediate and mediate objects of sight, and are so prone to attribute to the former, what belongs only to the latter" (op. cit., pp34-35).


"As we see distance, so we see magnitude. And we see both, in the same way, that we see shame or anger in the looks of a man. Those passions are themselves invisible: they are nonetheless let in by the eye along with colours and alterations of countenance, which are the immediate object of vision, and which signify them for no other reason, than barely because they have been observed to accompany them" (op. cit., p41).


We have dwelt on this early definition because the issue of immediate or mediate reflects one of philosophy's deepest issues, namely whether there is actually anything out there in the world at all. Here is how Berkeley translates his 1709 theory of vision into his 1710 "Principles of Human Knowledge" .....


"Some there are who make a distinction between primary and secondary qualities: by the former, they mean extension, figure, motion, rest, solidity or impenetrability, and number: by the latter they denote all other sensible qualities, as colours, sounds, tastes, and so forth. The ideas we have of these [are not] the resemblances of any thing existing [outside] the mind [..... But] only ideas existing in the mind ....." (Berkeley, 1710, Principles of Human Knowledge; Lindsay edition, p117).


Immediate perception is discussed at length in Armstrong (1980; Chapter 8), where it is contrasted with "mediate" perception, that is to say, perception which involves inferential knowledge. However, Armstrong is not happy with Berkeley's definition of inference, and argues that the immediate/mediate distinction is overly simplistic. One reason for this is that the act of inference will be complicated whenever the true object is not yet apparent due either to inappropriate figure-ground judgment or merely excessive distance. Armstrong uses two neat thought experiments to illustrate what is at stake, thus .....


"If I say that I see a fox, then I imply that I know or I believe there is a fox there. [..... But] it is worth noticing that 'I can see a fox, but I cannot see that it is a fox' is not a paradoxical statement. For suppose that the fox looks to me to be but an indistinguishable object in the distance, but a friend who is nearer shouts out that it is a fox. I can then make that statement with propriety and truth" Armstrong, 1980, p126).


"Consider the following puzzle cases. (1) A sees an apple. (2) A sees a half-apple, but the outer skin of the half-apple is turned towards A so that his eyes are affected just as in case (1). Now consider case (1) again. We would be happy to say [.....] that A cannot see the back half of the apple. But this jostles with (1). If A cannot see the back of the apple, then he cannot see the whole apple. Perhaps what he sees is only the front half of the apple? But [in fact A] cannot see most of the front half of the apple [either, just] the surface of the front half of the apple. And the surface is not even a physical object, although it belongs to a physical object" (Armstrong, 1980, p128).


To help make sense of these puzzle cases, Armstrong introduces the notions of "direct" and "non-direct" perception, and this discussion is continued under perception, direct .....



Perception, Indirect: See perception, direct.



Perception, Mediate: See perception, immediate.



Perception, Special: See special perception.



Perception, Transcendent: TO FOLLOW.



Perceptual Inference: This is the process by which perceptual judgments are made a posteriori, that is to say, at least partly on the basis of past experience. It is the process which will often tell us what is coming next, and why, and what (hopefully) to do about it [note the prima facie survival value in this].



Perceptual Margin: This is Husserl's (1913) term for the contents of the perceptual scene outside the immediate focus of our attention.



Perceptual Memory: [See firstly perception.] This is LTM for external stimulus pattern (primarily visual or auditory). Its contents help you recognise things you have interacted with in the past (particularly familiar faces and objects), and this act of recognition is at the heart of the process of "perception". The visual input lexicon (which gives you the ability to recognise the words in this sentence at high speed), and the auditory input lexicon (which gives you the ability to segment incoming speech) are both further examples of memory for external stimulus pattern. In turn, perceptual memory supports a rich array of higher perceptual and thought processes. For example where more than one external object is involved, perception does its best (a) to identify all of them, (b) to locate them appropriately in three-dimensional space, (c) to flag them appropriately (as friend or foe, perhaps), (d) to attribute intention to them and to raise predictions as to their imminent behaviour, and (e) to track their subsequent actual behaviour against said expectations. [See now imagery.]





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Perseveration: [See firstly frontal battery.] An inability to discontinue (i.e. cancel) an ongoing planned behaviour, despite instructions to do so, and a common feature of dysexecutive syndrome. Perhaps a failure of the mind's contention scheduling mechanism.



Personification: (1) [See firstly complex.] The process of "personification" (from the verb "to personify") is Jung's (1935/1968, p81) suggestion as to how we ought to regard the powers of a "complex" - be it the main ego complex or any of its lesser rivals in the mind - to express "a certain will-power" of its own. This reflects Jung's fundamental conceptualisation of a complex as "an agglomeration of associations" (p79), sometimes traumatic, othertimes just "highly toned", which is "difficult to handle" mentally because of the physiological reactions it automatically engenders, thus .....


"..... a complex with its given tension or energy has the tendency to form a little personality of itself. It has a sort of body, a certain amount of its own physiology. It can upset the stomach. It upsets the breathing, it disturbs the heart - in short, it behaves like a partial personality. For instance, when you want to say or do something and unfortunately a complex interferes with this intention, then you say or do something different from what you intended. [.....] Under those circumstances we really are forced to speak of [complexes] as if they were characterised by a certain amount of will-power. [.....] We know our own ego-complex, which is supposed to be in full possession of the body. It is not [.....] All this is explained by the fact that the so-called unity of consciousness is an illusion. It is really a wish-dream. We like to think that we are one; but we are not, most decidedly not [.....] because we are hampered by those little devils the complexes. Complexes are autonomous groups of associations that have a tendency to move by themselves, to live their own life apart from our intentions. I hold that out personal unconscious [.....] consists of an indefinite, because unknown, number of complexes or fragmentary personalities. [.....] "The complexes, then, are partial or fragmentary personalities. When we speak of the ego-complex, we naturally assume that it has a consciousness [.....b]ut we also have a grouping of contents about a centre, a sort of nucleus, in other complexes. So we may ask the question: Do complexes have a consciousness of their own?" (Jung, 1935/1968, pp80-82; emphases added).


Jung does not entirely dismiss the possibility that complexes have consciousnesses of their own, and certainly goes on to discuss the visions and voices characteristic of schizophrenias as complexes managing to express themselves. He sees complexes at work also in the normal process of dreaming, as well as in the altered states of consciousness achieved during yogic contemplation. (2) Personifications are Harry Stack Sullivan's notion of a nameable self-image, abstracted from the accumulated phenomenal experience of life so far, but capable (like any cognitive schema) of skewing not just experiences yet to come, but also the interpretation placed thereon.  One of Sullivan's most vivid examples of this process is the personification of "bad mother" which an infant might form if the mother's nipple is not effectively made available or if the supply of milk is less than satisfactory.



Perspectives and Schools of Psychology: (1 - Perspectives as General Theoretical Orientations) A psychological "perspective" is a particular approach to the understanding of human behaviour, to which not all psychologists/philosophers subscribe, and which tends to be good at explaining one aspect of behaviour (its own), but not so good at others. The typical textbook list of perspectives will include the following .....


Perspective, Behaviourist

Perspective, Biological

Perspective, Cognitivist

Perspective, Evolutionary

Perspective, Humanistic

Perspective, Neo-Kantian

Perspective, Post-Freudian

Perspective, Psychodynamic

Perspective, Social Learning Theory


Perspectives emerge whenever theorists approach the same problem from different, but philosophically distinct, standpoints. This can readily be illustrated with the topic of aggression, where the perspectives differ wildly not just in their understanding of its basic causes, but also in their philosophies of how to go about "curing" it. Perspectives tend to endure for as long as there is no "unifying" theory capable of reconciling their different approaches. In Freud's Project, for example, Freud himself tried (not totally successfully) to ground his psychodynamic views in neurophysiology, and, more recently, the notion of cognitive deficit has been very successfully applied in such areas as autism and schizophrenia. (2 - Schools as Specific Affiliations) There can also be "schools" within perspectives, reflecting particularly active and influential university departments, at certain times, on certain issues. The typical textbook list of schools will include the following .....


Berlin School

Chicago School

Gestalt School

Graz School

Marburg School

Würzburg School



 Perspective, Humanistic: [See firstly perspectives and schools of psychology.] The humanistic perspective is perhaps the most difficult of all the psychological perspectives to get to grips with. Basically, it gets listed as a perspective because in 1961 a number of influential psychologists declared it to be a perspective by forming the Association of Humanistic Psychology [mission statement]. Early members included Gordon Allport, a major theorist of individual differences, Abraham Maslow, architect of the famous "hierarchy of human needs", Erich Fromm and Rollo May, psychodynamic theorists, George Kelly, developer of personal construct theory, and Carl Rogers, founder of client-centred therapy. What these authors had in common was an insistence on treating individuality as precious and essentially human. We see this very clearly in Rogerian therapy's insistence that the key qualities of a therapist are "unconditional positive regard" for the patient (Rogers, 1961, p47), allied with the ability "to participate completely in the patient's communication" (p53), and followed closely by the ability to be "always right in line" (p53) with what the patient was trying to convey. Another popular theme amongst those on the existentialist wing of humanism is that the institutionalisation of mental "illness" and the professionalisation of psychiatry is in very large part driven by the self-referenced smugness of those who have presumed the right to make such judgments about us. For example, in a keynote paper entitled "The Myth of Mental Illness", the Hungarian psychotherapist Thomas Szasz put forward the argument that psychodynamic theory dangerously encouraged the unnecessary labelling of personal idiosyncrasy as mental illness (Szasz, 1960/2007 online). For Szasz, indeed, the whole idea of mental illness falsely implies that there exists a state of mental normality! The Glaswegian psychoanalyst R.D.Laing also cuts caustically to the heart of the issue of fairness when he remarked as follows .....


"In the context of our present pervasive madness that we call normality, sanity, freedom [Laing was writing at the height of the Cold War - Ed.], all our frames of reference are ambiguous and equivocal. A man who prefers to be dead rather than Red is normal. A man who says he has lost his soul is mad. A man who says that men are machines may be a great scientist. A man who says he is a machine is 'depersonalised' in psychiatric jargon. [.....] A little girl of seventeen in a mental hospital told me she was terrified because the Atom Bomb was inside her. That is a delusion. The statesmen of the world who boast and threaten that they have Domesday weapons are far more dangerous, and far more estranged from 'reality' than many of the people on whom the label 'psychotic' is affixed" (Laing, 1960, pp11-12).



Perspective, Psychodynamic: [See firstly perspectives and schools of psychology.] This is the generic name for any theory of mental structure and operation which presumes the mind to be a mass of instinctively derived desires and cognitions in more or less constant conflict over how best to behave, and which regards one's personality (or personalities) as fundamentally shaped by said conflicts. Unlike Freudian theory - arguably the most famous of the psychodynamic theories - there is no automatic insistence on the specific method of psychoanalysis as a cure for the dysfunctions and pathologies to which the resulting system is all too susceptible. [For examples of psychodynamically grounded explanations, see aggression, psychodynamic theory and and national heroes, psychodynamic theory and.]



Perspectivalness: This is one of the three "special problems" of consciousness proposed by Metzinger (1995) (the other two being presence and transparency). Specifically, the fact "that experiences always appear to be experiences for an experiencing ego". Alternatively, one of the three philosophically interesting aspects of the first-person perspective identified by Metzinger (2005b) (the others being mine-ness and selfhood), and conceptualised as an "immovable centre to phenomenal space" from which it derives an "inward perspective".



Pervasive Developmental Disorders: [In Europe, the term autistic spectrum disorders is preferred.] This is the DSM-IV header category for five specific disorder groups, namely Asperger's disorder, autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified, and Rett's disorder. These five disorders have in common problems using or understanding language, difficulties relating to other people, unusual play patterns, inability to cope with changes in routine or surroundings, and bizarre habitual movements.



Phänomenologie: [German = "phenomenology"; "the study of 'the immediate aspect of mind'"]. See phenomenology.



Phantasia: [Greek = "appearance; display, show; splendour; imagination" (O.C.G.D.); "imagination, impression" (Peters).] See image.



Phantasma: [Greek = "appearance; apparition, phantom, vision, spectre" (O.C.G.D.).] See image.



Phantom Limb: This is the term used by neurologists to describe the imaginary continued existence of an amputated body part. The phantom limb phenomenon is conventionally interpreted as indicating that our physical body is represented, or "modelled", in the mind, and that this representation can endure even when the represented part has been amputated. (In other words, when you amputate a limb, you amputate the flesh and the sensory systems within it, but you leave the central representation intact.) The phenomenon is commonplace in, for example, battlefield amputees, and was certainly known about in the 17th century, as the following extract from Descartes demonstrates .....


"..... I have learned from some persons whose arms or legs have been cut off, that they sometimes seemed to feel pain in the part which had been amputated" (Meditations, p180).


Ramachandran and Blakeslee (1998) have recently brought added topicality to the issue of the mental representation of our body parts. Using cleverly arranged deceptions, they have produced the illusion of bodily distortions in intact volunteer subjects. They called these illusions "fake phantom limbs", and there are a number of websites giving the necessary details [check one out].



Phenomenal Affect: [See firstly affect.] Emotion, emphatically as felt, and thus complicated by all the age-old problems of explanation associated with phenomenal consciousness in general.



Phenomenal Awareness: This is the same thing as phenomenal consciousness in all but the most sophisticated analyses (such as that mentioned in the entry for Central State Materialism).



Phenomenal Consciousness: [See firstly experience.] Phenomenal consciousness is the state of being aware of something, thus making it the defining characteristic of aesthesis. Alternatively, it is an "object as known" (Sir William Hamilton, in Mansel and Veitch, 1865, p150), or "the physical world as perceived" (Velmans, 2005, p164). The problem of phenomenal consciousness has been well expressed by Nagel (1979) with his chapter title challenge "what's it like to be a bat?" [for more on which see the entry for the what's it like to be test]. He calls what's-it-likeness "the subjective character of experience" (p166), and Carruthers (2001) has based his own notion of "p-consciousness" on the same test. [See also Smart's (2004) point about consciousness being "awareness of awareness" in the entry for Central State Materialism.]



Phenomenal Epoche: See epoche.



Phenomenological Reduction: See consciousness, Husserl's theory of.



Phenomenological Residuum: See consciousness, Husserl's theory of.



Phenomenology: Phenomenology is "the science of phenomena as distinct from that of being (ontology)" (O.E.D.). It is thus the study of conscious experience, so that when we refer to "the phenomenology" in something, we are referring to the whys and wherefores of how that something is felt - "lived through" - as an experience, and "a phenomenology" is a particular system of explanation of phenomenal consciousness. For Heidegger (1927), the purpose of phenomenology is "to let that which shows itself be seen from itself in the very way in which it shows itself from itself" (Being and Time, p58). Perhaps the most penetrating modern work on the subject is Merleau-Ponty's (1945/1962) "Phenomenology of Perception". This is the lead work in the modern emphasis on "embodied cognition", that is to say, the point of view that cognition cannot be understood if divorced from the tasks of managing its owner's physical self. However, most modern commentaries acclaim Husserl as the "father of phenomenology". Husserl himself, however, affords that honour to Bergson [for a history of the phenomenological "movement", see Spiegelberg (1963)]. Husserl observes a "remarkable duality and unity" (p227) of the "sensile" - the hyle - and the "intentional" - the morphe - and carefully distinguishes between hyletic phenomenology and noetic phenomenology, the former being what accounts for our "reflections and analyses" of substances, and the latter ("incomparably more important and fruitful") being what accounts for the forms which substances can assume.


ASIDE: Husserl cleverly contrasts these as "formless materials and immaterial forms" (p227), respectively. This fundamental distinction between the hyletics of substance and the noetics of Platonic form derives from the original Greek distinction between hyle and morphe. Yet again, we have to note en passant that the applied science of database design [see the entries for Bachman diagram and entity (and as then directed)] worked out for itself how to go from abstract representation of the real world to a practically workable physical representation thereof.


Here are some other opinions .....


"The method of phenomenology is reflective. This is possible because all modes of consciousness, all experiences (Erlebnisse), are conscious (bewusst), experienced (erlebt). I cannot be in a mode of consciousness or be having an experience without being aware of it. It is this awareness which makes reflection possible" (Gorner, 2001).


"In Heidegger's hands, phenomenology becomes a way of letting something shared show itself [when that something can never be totally articulated and for which there can be no indubitable evidence]" (Dreyfus, 1991, p30).



Phenomenology, Hyletic: [See firstly phenomenology.] This is one of two basic types of phenomenology identified by Husserl (the other being phenomenology, noetic). It is the phenomenology of substance itself, rather than of the forms substance can adopt.



Phenomenology, Noetic: [See firstly phenomenology.] This is one of two basic types of phenomenology identified by Husserl (the other being phenomenology, hyletic). It is the phenomenology of the forms substance can adopt rather than of substance itself.



Phenomenon: [Greek phainomenon = "that which appears".] To count as a "phenomenon", an object has to be "cognisable by the senses, or in the way of immediate experience; apparent, sensible, perceptible" (O.E.D.). Kant used the term "phenomenal reality" to refer to our internal experience of the world about us, whilst for Heidegger, it was .....


"that which shows itself in itself, the manifest. Accordingly the φαινομενα or 'phenomena' are the totality of what lies in the light of day or can be brought to the light - what the Greeks sometimes identified simply with τα οντα (entities)" (Heidegger, 1927/1962, p51).



Philadelphia Inner City Project: [Project Homepage] This is a longitudinal public services project into the relationship between parental behaviour and the academic competence, emotional health, community relationships, and problem behaviour of adolescent children.



Philology: Philology is "the study of the structure and development of language; the science of language; linguistics" (O.E.D.); an interest in what language is all about in general, as distinguished from a specific skill in and with a particular language. It follows that "a linguist" may be highly adept at a number of languages, but not have the faintest idea about the psycholinguistic or philosophical issues involved. Linguistic philosophers (i.e. philologists), on the other hand, will be able to tell you a lot about pragmatics and semantics, but are not necessarily able to speak a single word outside their native language!



Philon of Byzantium: [Alexandrian Greek inventor (ca. 280-220 BCE).] [Click for external biography] Philon is known to have had an early interest in the design of military catapults, and may therefore have earned at least part of his living as an prototypical "arms dealer". Certainly, several of the nine books in his treatise on "Mechanics" have military overtones, whilst the remainder, such as the one on "automatic theatres", were presumably a way of spinning off military technology into civilian applications during times of peace. Philon figures large in the history of automata qua automata, as well as in the history of automata as inspiration for Materialist explanations of the mind.



Philosophy: [Greek = "the love of wisdom".] Put poetically, philosophy is "the art of doubting well" (Aristotle, Metaphysics, III.i). It is "the study of wisdom and truth" (Berkeley, 1710, p93). Sir William Hamilton reviews the shifting history of how different philosophers have subdivided their science differently over the millennia (Sir William Hamilton, p.p. Mansell and Veitch, 1865), but for the purposes of this glossary we shall treat philosophy as being divided into two distinct application areas, namely (1) the study of what is good and proper [for more on which see ethics, aesthetics, and law], and (2) the study of the mind [for more on which see mental philosophy], which latter has three separate avenue to it, namely (2a) the study of understanding [for more on which see noemics], (2b) the study of consciousness, and (2c) the study of knowledge [for more on which see epistemology], and (3) the study of the predictability of nature [for more on which see causation, logic, and scientific method].



Philosophy, Mental: [See firstly philosophy.] Generally speaking, the science of mind. Classically, one of the three main sub-branches of philosophy (the others being ethics and aesthetics).



Phonological Loop: [See firstly Working Memory Theory in general and articulatory loop in particular.] Later theoretical adjunct to the articulatory loop, introduced by Baddeley (1986) to explain the phonological similarity effect. Characterised as "a function of the short-term store which is maintained and refreshed by the process of articulation, and which can in turn be used to feed the articulatory process" (p84). This leaves "a very simple system comprising a phonological store and an articulatory control process" (p85). The facility is "assumed to have developed on the basis of processes initially evolved for speech perception (the phonological store) and production (the articulatory rehearsal component)" (Baddeley, 2000, p419). [See now articulatory suppression effect.]



Phonological Recoding Effect: [See firstly Working Memory Theory.] This is the name given to the recruitment of both the phonological loop and the articulatory loop memory resources for material initially presented to the four senses other than hearing (i.e. vision, touch, smell, and taste). It reflects our ability (indeed preference) for naming non-auditory stimuli, thereby increasing the likelihood of their safe retention.



Phonological Similarity Effect: [See firstly confusibility studies.] This is the name given to an STM impairment when presented with acoustically similar material. It was first detected by Conrad (1964), who found that misrecollections of target letters were more likely to be acoustically similar than not. Thus "D" would be more commonly an error for "B" (with which it rhymes) than for "R" (with which it does not rhyme). Where consonant sequences were to be memorised, Conrad and Hull (1964) found that acoustically similar sequences such as "B-G-V-P-T" were more prone to error than acoustically dissimilar sequences such as "Y-H-W-K-R". The same effect was found where word sequences were to be memorised, with "man-mad-cad-mat-cap" being more prone to error than "pit-day-cow-sup-bar" (Baddeley, 1966). As to whether the source of the confusion is truly acoustic, or in fact articulatory, see Baddeley (1986; Chapter 5), and/or compare the "ac" and "ph" lineflow codes in Ellis (1982). [Contrast semantic similarity effect.]



Phronesis: [Greek = "wisdom, practical wisdom, prudence" (Peters).] This classical Greek word for the mind's powers of focussed contemplation was adopted by Plato as "the intellectual contemplation of the eide" or as "a synonym for nous as the highest type of knowledge" (Peters, 1967, p157).



Phusica: [Greek = "natural things".] This classical Greek word for the natural world was anglicised into science as "physics", and into philosophy as "metaphysics".



Physical Database Design: This is the second of the two basic phases in the development of a database [the earlier phase being logical database design]. It is the phase during which the logical design is finally committed to a particular physical implementation. The particular "industry standard" sequence of events here was determined by CODASYL between 1969 and 1971, and laid down in two major statements of database principles (CODASYL, 1969, 1971; subsequently incorporated into ANSI/SPARC, 1976). It was inspired by the single central axiom that the internal complexities of a database should at all times remain totally "transparent" to the end-user: a DBMS, in other words, should allow users to concentrate upon their data rather than upon the tool they happened to be using to view it. This transparency was obtained by implementing the data model in three time-separated sub-stages, each separately programmed, and each passing critical output to the one following. These three stages were as follows .....


(1) Set Up a "Database Schema": The first step is to convert the data model into a physically equivalent set of declarations and descriptions known collectively as a "database schema" [see dedicated entry].


(2) Set Up Database "Subschemas": The second step is to create individual "departmental" views of the database schema, known as "database subschemas" [see dedicated entry]. This reflects the fact that no single application program will ever need access to all the available data, and is thus where the notion of sharing a common central pool of data is enabled.


(3) Set Up Database "Storage Schemas": The third and final step is to create a "machine level" view of the data, known as a "storage schema" [see dedicated entry].



Physicalism: See Materialism.



"Pilot of the Soul", the: This nicely poetic phrase from the Jowett translation of the Phaedrus dialogue provides an excellent example of how an apparently innocuous variation in scholarly interpretation can sometimes dramatically alter the meaning of an obscure original. The problem is that there is considerably more to the metaphor of a pilot than meets the eye. To start with, Jowett worked in the mid-19th century so we have to clear from our minds any pilot-as-aviator connotations and stick with those for pilot-as-mariner. We then need to allow for the facts that in Jowett's days the chain of maritime command ran upwards from the helmsman via the officer of the watch to the captain, and that the captain would have been assisted in his decision making by appropriate technical input from petty officers and engineers, and by calculations from a navigation officer. There was no pilot on the permanent payroll, in other words, because pilots were simply local experts taken on to assist the permanent crew when entering foreign ports, etc. As such, a pilot did not formally outrank the captain of the ship to which he had been assigned, but was merely allowed by convention to "have the con" momentarily. Specifically, therefore, a helmsman was never the same person as a pilot, and the pilot was never actually totally in charge. With all these technicalities firmly in mind, Jowett's 19th century pilot metaphor implies (a) something to be steered (the body), (b) something that knows where it wants to go (a soul, or "central executive", or whatever you want to call it), (c) something that knows how to get there safely (the pilot), (d) something to give the orders (the will), and (e) something that can actually do the steering (the helmsman). The pilot metaphor also implies (f) that the soul is content to let the mind do whatever it needs to do for the simple reason that it cannot do it for itself. This is a straightforward enough analysis, but in our opinion is unlikely to be what Plato originally intended, because it does not stand up to close scrutiny. Specifically, it requires too much of the pilot, crediting him with much of the regular crew's knowledge and skills. Now Plato's original Greek used the word kubernetes <κυβερνητης> - the Greek for "steersman" - and this word has connotations which actually go far beyond those conveyed by the 19th century English word "pilot". Not only is kubernetes the root of the Latin gubernator [= "governor"] and hence of the modern "cybernetics" [= "the science of control"], but to do its translation full justice we need to factor in navigation skills, general maritime techne, and no little intestinal fortitude. In fact, we have inherited a fairly precise feel for the way Greek steersmen behaved, because their deeds became fictionalized in the Greek myths [see, for example, the stories of Palinurus in The Aeniad, and of Tiphys in Jason and the Argonauts], and when we read of their exploits we are left with the image of the heroic steersman, single-handedly at his post, drawing on his reserves of knowledge, skill, and strength to save the day. Unlike Jowett's 19th century pilot, therefore, Plato's  kubernetes WAS pilot and helmsman combined into a single person. This might well explain why the American Phi-Beta-Kappa fraternity, whose P-B-K acronym stands for philosophia biou kubernetes [literally "love-of-cleverness - (of) life - the steersman"] render kubernetes as "guide" rather than "pilot". Certainly, the Waterfield (2002) translation of Phaedrus follows the Phi-Beta-Kappans and renders the phrase in question as "intelligence, the soul's guide". Either way, the nub of the problem remains what it had been for Plato - namely who is really in control of our metaphoric ship, what information flows and  decision making devices does this require of the captain, what other functions then need to be assigned to a hierarchy of subordinate decision makers, and how are all these individual decision making nodes to be organized into an effective "control architecture". For our own part, we think "guide" remains too passive a rendering of kubernetes, and would prefer to emphasise the close, but never quite total, integration of steersman, navigator, and captain by going for the intellect as the "control hierarchy of the soul". [Compare "charioteer of the soul".]



Pinel, Philippe: TO FOLLOW.



Pipelining: [Computer term] See Smith (2004 online; Section 2.3).



Planning: Although planning is strictly speaking a cognitive process, not a form of memory (i.e. it is something the mind does, not something it contains or creates), it is nevertheless a process which requires memory, (a) to store its primary products (i.e. the plans), (b) to store the action schemas needed to enact said plans, (c) to put the whole experience away in episodic memory once completed, and (d) to update the indexing of that new memory as appropriate. There seems to be no final and all-embracing theory of planning, although Schank and Abelson's (1995) scripts, story memories, and event memories present a neatly integrated package, and Chevignard et al (2000/2003 online) are working on identifying and integrating the memory components involved in executive function.



Plato: [<Πλατον>] [Greek philosopher (floruit ca. 380BCE).]. This from the S.E.P.: "Plato (429-347 B.C.E.) is, by any reckoning, one of the most dazzling writers in the Western literary tradition and one of the most penetrating, wide-ranging, and influential authors in the history of philosophy. An Athenian citizen of high status, he displays in his works his absorption in the political events and intellectual movements of his time, but the questions he raises are so profound and the strategies he uses for tackling them so richly suggestive and provocative that educated readers of nearly every period have in some way been influenced by him, and in practically every age there have been philosophers who count themselves Platonists in some important respects. He was not the first thinker or writer to whom the word “philosopher” should be applied. But he was so self-conscious about how philosophy should be conceived, and what its scope and ambitions properly are, and he so transformed the intellectual currents with which he grappled, that the subject of philosophy, as it is often conceived — a rigorous and systematic examination of ethical, political, metaphysical, and epistemological issues, armed with a distinctive method — can be called his invention. Few other authors in the history of philosophy approximate him in depth and range: perhaps only Aristotle (who studied with him), Aquinas, and Kant would be generally agreed to be of the same rank." [See the full biography.] Plato's theory of forms is traditionally known as "idealism".



Pleasure Principle: The pleasure principle [German = Lustprinzip] is one of the fundamental propositions of Freudian theory, and asserts that the ultimate motivator of all behaviour is an innate predisposition of vertebrate nervous systems to seek out that category of experiences which provides the greatest net "pleasure" [German = Lust] over "unpleasure" [German = Unlust]. As a general explanatory framework, the pleasure principle was explicitly modelled physiologically in Freud's 1895 Project for a Scientific Psychology (Freud, 1895 [see Freud's Project]). It was then frequently discussed and developed in his private correspondence with Wilhelm Fliess [see Masson (1985), especially the letters dated 8th October 1895, 1st January 1896, and 6th December 1896]. It was also briefly touched on in The Interpretation of Dreams, although it is the unpleasant side of the equation which gets recognised when stating the controlling principle, thus [two separate mentions, strung together] .....


"We have so far been studying dream wishes: we have traced them from their origin in the region of the Ucs. and have analysed their relations to the day's residues, which in their turn may either be wishes or psychical impulses of some other kind or simply recent impressions. [.....] But all this has not brought us a step nearer to solving the riddle of why it is that the unconscious has nothing else to offer during sleep but the motive force for the fulfilment of a wish [.....] The excitations produced by internal needs seek discharge in movement, which may be described as an 'internal change' or an 'expression of emotion'. A hungry baby screams or kicks helplessly. But the situation remains unaltered, for the excitation arising from an internal need is not due to a force producing a momentary impact but to one which is in continuous operation. A change can only come about if in some way or other [.....] an 'experience of satisfaction' can be achieved which puts an end to the internal stimulus. [(p718)] We went on to discuss the psychical consequences of an 'experience of satisfaction'; and in that connection we were already able to add a second hypothesis, to the effect that the accumulation of excitation (brought about in various ways that need not concern us) is felt as unpleasure and that it sets the apparatus in action with a view to repeating the experience of satisfaction, which involved a diminution of excitation and was felt as pleasure. A current of this kind in the apparatus, starting from unpleasure and aiming at pleasure, we have termed a 'wish'; and we have asserted that only a wish is able to set the apparatus in motion and that the course of the excitation in it is automatically regulated by feelings of pleasure and unpleasure. [.....] Some interesting reflections follow if we consider the [.....] regulation effected by the unpleasure principle" Freud, 1900/1958, The Interpretation of Dreams [Standard Edition (Volume 4)], pp757-759; bold emphasis added).


The topic was then revisited in detail in Formulations on the Two Principles of Mental Functioning (Freud, 1911/1958), and the opportunity taken to change the controlling emphasis to the pleasant side of the equation, thus .....


"In the psychology which is founded on psychoanalysis we have become accustomed to taking as our starting point the unconscious mental processes [.....]. We consider these to be the older, primary processes, the residues of a phase of development in which they were the only kind of mental process. The governing principle obeyed by these primary processes is easy to recognise; it is described as the pleasure-unpleasure (Lust-Unlust) principle, or more shortly the pleasure principle [Strachey's footnote at this point indicates that this is the sentence in which Freud first used this term in preference to the earlier "unpleasure principle"]. These processes strive towards gaining pleasure; psychical activity draws back from any event which might arouse unpleasure. (Here we have repression.) Our dreams at night and our waking tendency to tear ourselves away from distressing impressions are remnants of the dominance of this principle and proofs of its power" (Freud, 1911/1958, Two Principles of Mental Functioning [Standard Edition (Volume 12)], pp218-219; bold emphasis added).


Freud stayed with the term "pleasure principle" when he summarised his first two decades of theorising in his Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis (Freud, 1915-1917/1962). Here is the pertinent paragraph .....


"We may ask whether in the operation of our mental apparatus a main purpose can be detected, and we may reply as a first approximation that that purpose is directed to obtaining pleasure. It seems as though our total mental activity is directed towards achieving pleasure and avoiding unpleasure - that it is automatically regulated by the pleasure principle. We should of all things like to know, then, what determines the generation of pleasure and unpleasure; but that is just what we are ignorant of. We can only venture to say this much: that pleasure is in some way connected with the diminution, reduction, or extinction of the amounts of stimulus prevailing in the mental apparatus, and that similarly unpleasure is connected with their increase" (Freud, 1915-1917/1962, Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis, pp401-402; bold emphasis added).



 PMLD: See learning disability and special educational need, the basics.



Pneuma: [Greek pneo <πνεω> = "to blow, breathe out"; hence a sign of and metaphor for life; hence soul or spirit.] This classical Greek word for the breath (that signified life) was used by Homer in its literal sense, and only acquired the signification of life with Diogenes of Apollonia in the fifth century BCE (Peters, 1967). It then appears in Aristotle and other works as some sort of vital force capable of connecting body and mind, and passing across the generations in sperm.



Poios / Poiotes: [Greek = "of what sort" / "what sort-ness".] This classical Greek word for the defining characteristics of something was used by Plato to refer to the qualities of things, and by Aristotle as one of his ten Categories.



Poor School Performance: Poor academic performance can be a major element in differential diagnosis under DSM-IV, although - to be judged pathological - it must be clinically significant. The disorders this behaviour is commonly associated with are mental retardation, pervasive developmental disorder, specific dyslexia (or similar), attention-deficit / hyperactivity disorder, and conduct disorder.



"Popperian" Creatures: This is Dennett's (1996, p116) description of an organism possessed of what we have elsewhere described as higher cognitive functions. Dennett was at the time discussing what sort of processing architecture would improve on "Skinnerian" creatures, that is to say, organisms equipped only with systems for operant (and lower) forms of conditioning, but denied insight and problem solving. Here is the nub of Dennett's argument .....


"Skinnerian conditioning is a good thing as long as you are not killed by one of your early errors. A better system involves preselection among all the possible behaviours or actions, so that the truly stupid moves are weeded out [in advance]. [.....] We may call the beneficiaries of this third floor in the [cognitive hierarchy] Popperian creatures, since, as the philosopher Sir Karl Popper once elegantly put it, this design enhancement 'permits our hypotheses to die in our stead'" (Dennett, 1996, p116).


Higher cognitive functions, in other words, are the quintessential requirement for organisms wanting to leave some safe ecological niche and live a life for which trial-and-error learning is not sufficient. Our own "periodic table" of the sequential emergence of cognitive modules during evolution was set out in Smith and Stringer (1997).



Poros: [Greek = "passage, ford, straight; bridge, thoroughfare, way for ships; sea, river; means of achieving" (O.C.G.D.).] This classical Greek word for an avenue of some sort for conduction of some sort was used by Alcmaeon to describe the process we now know as neurotranmission.



Positivism: A philosophical system put forward by the French philosopher Auguste Comte (Comte, 1830-1842), and predicated upon the assertion that "we have no knowledge of anything but phenomena" (Mill, 1865). Comte's analysis was not to all tastes, and his scheme was criticized in British scientific circles by John Stuart Mill (notably Mill, 1865).



Posner, Michael I: [American cognitive scientist (1936-).] [Homepage] Posner is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for his work on attention.



Post-Synaptic: Generally relating to the neuron on the "down" side of a synapse.



Post-Synaptic Membrane: [See firstly cell membrane.] The receiving (or "down") side of the synaptic cleft.



Post-Synaptic Potential: Refers to the electrotonic effects at the receiving neural cell membrane when the neurotransmitter substances arrive. Can be inhibitory or excitatory (i.e. it can either discourage or encourage a further action potential in the receiving neuron).



Post-Tetanic Potentiation: The reduction of the action potential threshold for a short period following a given action potential.



Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): This is one of the 13 DSM-IV disorder groups under the category header of anxiety disorders. It is characterised by "the development of characteristic symptoms following exposure to an extreme traumatic stressor involving direct personal experience of an event that involves actual or threatened death or serious injury" (DSM-IV, 2000, p463). A wide range of traumas may be involved, as follows .....


"Traumatic events that are experienced directly include, but are not limited to, military combat, violent personal assault (sexual assault, physical attack, robbery, mugging), being kidnapped, being taken hostage, terrorist attack, torture, incarceration as a prisoner of war or in a concentration camp, natural or manmade disasters, severe automobile accidents, or being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. For children, sexually traumatic events may include developmentally inappropriate sexual experiences without threatened or actual violence or injury" (DSM-IV, 2000, pp463-364).


One of the main psychological features of PTSD is the experience of "painful guilt feelings about surviving" when others did not survive" (ibid., p465). We continue this discussion under the heading "survivor syndrome".



Potential: [In electricity theory.] The presence of ions at a given point. Loosely speaking, the same thing as "voltage".



Potential Difference: [In electricity theory.] A difference in potential between two points; a "slope" of potential between these two points; a potential gradient. Potential gradients are important because ions tend to "flow down" them until the potential difference is cancelled out. This is what is happening whenever a current is flowing. This is similar to the concepts of concentration and concentration gradient, but is driven by electrostatic forces rather than random molecular movement.



Potential Gradient: [In electricity theory.] See potential difference.



Practical Intelligence: See intelligence, practical.



Pragma: [(pl. pragmata) Greek <πραγμα> = "a doing, deed, transaction; action, fact" (O.C.G.D.), from the verb root prassein, "to do".] This classical Greek word for deed(s) done was anglicised into philosophy as Pragmatics, but needs to be carefully contrasted with its cousin praxis. Heidegger explains the difference between the doing and the deed this way .....


"The Greeks had an appropriate term for 'Things': πραγματα [pragmata] - that is to say, that which one has to do with in one's concernful dealings [praxis] (Being and Time, pp96-97).



Pragmata: See pragma.



Pragmatic Comprehension: [See firstly pragmatics and semantics versus pragmatics.] This is the process in the mind of the recipient of a communication by which the speech act of the sender of that communication is decoded (and about which cognitive science knows surprisingly little). Consider .....


Imagine you are in a room with a friend you know to be deaf. Suddenly a man rushes in, shouts "Fire!", and rushes out again. This one word will raise many possible interpretations in your mind. Was it a prank, perhaps? What precisely are you supposed to do next? What are you allowed to take with you? What did your friend make of the encounter? It usually takes only moments to make the necessary judgments, and unless something goes wrong you end up with an interpretation in your mind which will control your behaviour over the ensuing seconds, and central to that interpretation is the judgment that the man in question not only knew what he was talking about but was also requiring you to execute your fire drill. That is pragmatic comprehension.


Pragmatics became popular in the 1970s, thanks to John Searle's writings on the subject (e.g., Searle, 1969, 1971, 1979, 1983). However, as a study area it is hampered by cognitive science's general lack of understanding of the processing architecture within higher cognitive functions .....


ASIDE: There are some excellent models of cognitive modularity about, but they all leave the higher cognitive functions "box" unspecified. One of the most adventurous in this respect is Norman (1990), which shows half a dozen subcomponent processes but does not show how they pass information between each other.


Rinaldi (2000) has studied the sort of problems people have when interpreting the multiple meaning of both single words and short phrases. She reminds us that the noun "jam" needs a choice to be made within semantic memory, specifically, between jam (1), the conserve, and jam (2), the blockage. However semantic memory is unable make that choice unaided, but needs to know the context within which the word is used, and that, by definition, "is located within the domain of pragmatics" (p2). She took 64 [specific language impairment] schoolchildren aged 11:11 to 14:10 and scored them on how well they coped (relative to controls) with sentences containing words such as "stuck" [= having problems with] and "short" [= bad-tempered], and phrases such as "full of beans", "pull your socks up", "caught red-handed", and "thin on the ground" (none of which should mystify the experienced English speaker). Here, in summary, is what she found .....


"This study provides evidence that pragmatic comprehension poses particular difficulties in relation to semantic comprehension (dealing with unambiguous meaning) for students with specific developmental language disorder in the later stages of communication development. Secondary school SDLD students made significantly fewer pragmatic responses than two non-impaired comparison groups, matched for language and chronological age, on two procedures assessing different aspects of pragmatic comprehension, despite understanding semantic elements of the forms studied" (Rinaldi, 2000, p13).



Pragmatic Impairment: [See firstly pragmatics.] This is Craig's (1995) term for a dysfunction of any sort in the complex of mental information processing responsible for pragmatic comprehension. Perkins (2005b) offers an "emergentist perspective" on the problem, arguing that pragmatics should not be regarded as "some kind of discrete entity" (p371), but rather as an "emergent property of interactions" between the subsystems responsible for language, memory, attention, etc. He concludes .....


"This view of pragmatics is radically different to most other accounts to be found in the language pathology literature where the term 'pragmatic disability' is most commonly restricted to behaviours resulting from the type of socio-cognitive impairment found in autism, right hemisphere brain damage, and traumatic brain injury. It has been proposed that pragmatic impairment results when there is a restriction on the choices available for encoding or decoding meaning [.....]. The emergentist model outlined here accounts for pragmatic disability in terms of an imbalance between interacting linguistic, cognitive, and sensorimotor systems within and between individuals, and also in terms of attempts to compensate for both linguistic and non-linguistic impairment. [.....] Pragmatics is therefore not a discrete and isolable component of our communication - it is all-pervasive" (Perkins, 2005b, pp375-376).


Perkins (2005b) explains that these impairments can grace a wide variety of conditions, including Asperger's disorder, autism, Downs' syndrome, focal brain injury, hearing impairment, learning disability, schizophrenia, etc., but he warns that there is little consistency of definition. Damico and Nelson (2005) have recently suggested a mechanism of "compensatory adaptation" in the aetiology of pragmatic impairment.



Pragmatics: Pragmatics is the science of communicational motivation, that is to say, "of the aspects of meaning and language use that are dependent on the speaker, the addressee, and other features of the context of utterance" (Lingualinks). The study of pragmatics grew out of the works of John Austin, Herbert Grice, and John Searle, and looks in particular at the effect that immediate motive, context, and custom have on discourse, that is to say, the coherent (and therefore successful) deployment of speech acts in the furthering of a narrative or volitional theme. [See now pragmatic comprehension and pragmatic impairment.]



Prassein: [Greek = "to do".] See pragma and praxis.



Praxeme: This is our forced English word to connote a unit of intention, thus paralleling sememe as unit of meaning, lexeme as unit of vocabulary, morpheme as unit of grammatical combination, and phoneme as unit of sound processing.



Praxis / Praxis: [Greek <πραξις> = "a doing, deed, transaction [etc., etc.]" (O.C.G.D.), from the verb root prassein, "to do"; English = "action, practice; spec. a. The practice or exercise of a technical subject or art, as distinct from the theory of it []. b. Habitual action, accepted practice, custom" (O.E.D.).] This glossary is more concerned with praxis-as-deed than praxis-as-custom. This is because cognitive science has used the word to refer to the broad spectrum of voluntary behaviour. "Serial motor praxis" - or praxis, for short - means the initiation of sequential voluntary (i.e. willed) movement, for any purpose, including locomotion or communication, as long as it is willed. Reflex movements or instinctive vocalisations are not praxis, even though they end up using the same motor pathways and muscles. Praxis and pragmatics actually share the same linguistic root, namely the Greek word prassein = "to do", via its derivations praxis ("doing") and pragma ("deed"). Defects of praxis are known as "dyspraxias". [For the impact of praxis upon the general organisation of cognitive architecture, see the entry for motor hierarchy.]



Preconscious Perception: See preconscious, the.



Preconscious, the (PCs): [See firstly consciousness, Freud's theory of.] This is Freud's (initially 1896) double-edged notion, (a) of a near-phenomenal type of perception and (b) of the functional location [*] in which that near-phenomenal perception takes place. This initial formula was then improved upon in Freud (1923) and Freud (1933). The notion is also similar to Husserl's (1913) perceptual margin. Curiously enough, it is easy to lose sight of the preconscious in the search for the unconscious. For example, Tallis's (2002) 182 pages on the latter only indexes the former once (p61), and that only to mention it as part of the Freudian scheme. This is unfortunate, because the problems we have with the conscious and the unconscious are problems as often as not of getting information from the one to the other, and the preconscious cannot be uninvolved in this transfer, for the basic physiological reason that it is where the mind's short-term processes interface with the underlying long-term structures. Here is an apparently relevant comment from Galton's Inquiries into Human Faculty .....


"When I am engaged in trying to think anything out, the process of doing so appears to me to be this: The ideas that lie at any moment within my full consciousness seem to attract of their own accord the most appropriate out of a number of other ideas that are lying close at hand, but imperfectly within the range of my consciousness. There seems to be a presence-chamber in my mind where full consciousness holds court, and where two or three ideas are at the same time in audience, and an antechamber full of more or less allied ideas, which is situated just beyond the full ken of consciousness. Out of this antechamber the ideas most nearly allied to those in the presence-chamber appear to be summoned in a mechanically logical way, and to have their turn of audience. The successful progress of thought appears to depend first on a large attendance in the antechamber" (Galton, 1907, p146; bold emphasis added).


There are a few good references to the cognitive value of medium-term memory, most significantly Humphrey's "afterglow", but no full and final theories thereof. Our own suggestion is that calcium-sensitised medium-term memory creates the "pointers" necessary to implement some giant mental database (e.g., Smith, 1997). [Note the Beck (1967) quotation in the entry for automatic thoughts.]


[*] By "functional location", we are referring to the functional architecture of the nervous system, not its structural architecture. Readers unfamiliar with this distinction may find the entry for data model useful.]



Predicate (1 - Noun): A predicate is "the portion of a clause, excluding the subject, that expresses something about the subject. Example: 'The book is on the table'." (Lingualinks, 2003). Alternatively, it is "what is affirmed (or denied) of the subject" (Hyperdictionary). [See also predication and the predicative adjective.]



Predicate (2 - Verb): To predicate is (amongst other things) "to affirm (a statement or the like) on some given grounds; hence [.....] to found or base (anything) on or upon stated facts or conditions" (OED). Hence the modern usage "predicated upon" as indicating the earlier items in an argument or causal line].



Predication: [See firstly predicate (1 - noun).] The joining of two ideas by the copular "is" to make a proposition. The idea is explained in detail in James Mill's "Analysis of the Phenomena of the Human Mind" (Mill, 1829, 1869a), of which the following is an extract .....


"The purposes of language are two. We have occasion to mark sensations or ideas singly; and we have occasion to mark them in trains; in other words, we have need of contrivances to mark not only sensations and ideas; but also the order of them. The contrivances which are necessary to mark this order are the main cause of the complexity of language. [….. One problem is that] communication requires names of different degrees of comprehensiveness; names of individuals, names of classes [….. so that] there is perpetual need of the substitution of one name for another. When I have used the names, James and John, Thomas and William, […..] I may proceed to speak of them in general, as included in a class. When this happens, I have occasion for the name of the class, and to substitute the name of the class, for the names of the individuals. [I therefore] invent a mark, which, placed between my marks, John and man, fixes the idea I mean to convey, that man is another mark to that idea which John is a mark [and] for this purpose, we use in English, the mark ‘is’ [and] say John ‘is’ a man” (Op. cit., pp159-161).



Predicative Adjective: An adjective used as a linguistic complement. Example: "The man is big".



Prescriptive Knowledge: [See firstly knowledge types and knowledge economy.] Mokyr's (2002) synonym for procedural knowledge. Knowledge of technique.



Pre-Sensation: Bichowsky (1925) interpreted data from structured introspection studies to suggest possible sub-stages within the process of aesthesis. Here are his nine main observations (a long passage, heavily abridged)  .....


"(1) The first conscious effect that can be traced to a stimulus of the sense-organs is a feeling which does not possess spatial or temporal quality, that is to say, is not felt to be located or extended in space or time, or to have the definite qualities and relations usually associated with sensations. Such feelings or pre-sensations, as they will be called, can not be described accurately, as they have none of the substantive or relational qualities necessary for description. They can only be felt. [Reports]. (2) These pre-sensations, however, have emotional tone and feeling quality. They possess intensity. They differ with the kind of stimulus, but this difference is not describable except by incomplete figures of speech. [Reports] (3) The pre-sensations tend to be followed by varying perceptual and imaginal contents which are distinct from them and which appear to be stimulated by them. [.....] In the particular case under investigation the stimulation of percept by pre-sensation may be likened to, if indeed it is not, the psychological correlate of the stimulation of a high level reflex arc by the activity of a lower one according to the familiar scheme of Hughlings Jackson and his school. [Diagrams] (4) A given pre-sensation tends to stimulate a considerable range of percepts - a perception pattern - usually of its own modality. [.....] (5) A particular pre-sensation may fail, however, to stimulate its corresponding perception [.....] under a variety of circumstances [.....] [Reports] (6) It is doubtful if a pre-sensation can be originated by any activity of the perceptional and other higher levels. [.....] (7) When perception is inhibited by activity of higher arcs there seems to be no certain proof that the underlying pre-sensation is also inhibited. [.....] [Reports] (8)When two or more end-organs are stimulated together so that two or more pre-sensations might be expected, apparently in every case fusion of some sort takes place, there being but one joint pre-sensation, not two separate ones. [.....] [Reports] (9) Pre-sensations may produce motor effects directly, either with or without conjoint stimulation of percept activity. This direct stimulation of motor reactions is, however, subject to inhibition by higher centres" (pp589-593).



Presence: This is one of the three "special problems" of consciousness proposed by Metzinger (1995) (the other two being perspectivalness and transparency).



Present-at-Hand versus Ready-to-Hand: [See firstly the two entries separately.] This is Heidegger's (1927/1962) distinction between a perceptual object which has Being - that is to say, "presence" - and one which is just there. His point is that the all-important act of interacting with an object requires that it has said Presence-at-Hand. Here is Heidegger himself on this .....


"To say that the Being of the ready-to-hand has the structure of assignment or reference means that it has in itself the character of having been assigned or referred (Verwiesenheit). An entity is discovered when it has been assigned or referred to something, and referred as that entity which it is. [.....] The character of Being which belongs to the ready-to-hand is just such an involvement" (Being and Time, p115).


[See now An-sich-sein and involvement.]



Pre-Synaptic: Generally relating to the neuron on the "up" side of a synapse.



Pre-Synaptic Membrane: [See firstly cell membrane.] The transmitting (or "up") side of the synaptic cleft.



Pribram, Karl H.: [American Neuropsychologist (1919-).] [Click for external biography] Pribram is noteworthy within the context of the present glossary for his work on the holographic theory of memory, for his work on aggression in primates, and for his proselytising commentary upon Freud's Project.



Price Estimation: [See firstly executive function and dysexecutive syndrome.] MAIN ENTRY TO FOLLOW



Primacy Effect: [See firstly serial position effect.] Superior performance on the early list items in a free recall learning task. [See serial position effect and compare recency effect.]



Primal Sketch: TO FOLLOW.



Primary Consciousness: See consciousness, Edelman and Tononi's theory of.



Primary Function: See Freud's Project.



Primary Gain: See conversion disorder.



Primary Identification: See identification.



Primary Narcissism: See narcissism, primary versus secondary.



Primary Quality: This is Locke's (1690) notion of qualities which are "utterly inseparable" (p85) from the entity which owns them. This includes qualities such as "solidity, extension, figure, motion or rest, and number" (ibid.). In some important way, they "exist in" (p87) their host objects, and they produce their effects by "some motion" transmitted "to the brain or the seat of sensation, there to produce in our minds the particular ideas we have of them" (p86).



Primary Subjective Experience: This is Stern's (2002) term for a person's "inner reality" (p698), a notion which broadly corresponds to Bollas's "true self", thus .....


"Our primary subjective experience at a given moment in time is shaped by our entire life history up to that moment and is the product of both our innate qualities and our experience as these two factors have become merged in our personalities and subjectivities. Beginning from birth, therefore, (and, who knows, perhaps earlier) there is an intersubjective aspect both to one's primary subjective experience and to one's intersubjectively constituted experience. This is one of the complexities that make it inadvisable to think of these dimensions as stable and distinct psychological structures of the mind; rather, they describe the structure of momentary subjective experience [.....]. I view both a person's primary subjective experience and its accompanying intersubjectively constituted experience as in a constant state of flux, responding both to changes in external circumstances and internal associative processes and fantasies. The point is that in a given psychological moment it is the relationship between these two dimensions of subjectivity that determines the overall quality of a person's self-experience in that moment" (Stern, 2002, pp698-699).


It is in analyses such as this that we start to see mental philosophy, mental health, and clinical psychotherapy converging in the most exciting manner. What we have, in short, are the problems of phenomenal experience and the problems of deducing  the mental structure of the experiencer - the self - coming together. For more on this, see Dasein and the Dissociation of Identity.



Priming: The act of pre-exposing subjects to memory test material prior to the memory test proper being applied. This might involve something as simple as deliberately pre-using items from a word list prior to the delivery of that list (item priming), or of pre-presenting semantically related items (semantic priming) or phonologically similar items (phonological priming). Priming typically improves subsequent memory recall, and so failure to benefit from a particular type of priming can often indicate an underlying pathology [as seen, for example, in Nation (2001)].



Primordial Experience: In the context of consciousness, Husserl's theory of, a primordial experience is the "dator" [that is to say, "object-giving"] intuition which characterises "the first, 'natural' sphere of knowledge" (p45). Husserl explains it this way .....


"To have something real primordially given, and to 'become aware' of it and 'perceive' it in simple intuition, are one and the same thing. In 'outer perception' we have primordial experience of physical things, but in memory or anticipatory expectation [.....] we have primordial experience of ourselves and our states of consciousness in the so-called inner or self-perception" (Husserl, 1913/1931, pp45-46).



Principle of Parsimony: TO FOLLOW.



Principle of Sufficient Reason: This is Leibniz's (1714a, 1714b) attempt to provide philosophy with a decisive test of the truth of a proposal, namely that it should make sense on some higher plane. Here is the proposal in his own words .....


"So far we have spoken only at the level of physical enquiry; now we must move up to the metaphysical, by making use of the great principle, not very widely used, which says that nothing comes about without a sufficient reason; that is, that nothing happens without its being possible for someone who understands things well enough to provide a reason sufficient to determine why it is as it is and not otherwise" (Leibniz, Principles; Woolhouse and Francks translation, p262).


"Our reasonings are founded on two great principles: the principle of contradiction, in virtue of which we judge to be false anything that involves contradiction [..... a]nd that of sufficient reason, in virtue of which we hold that no fact could ever be true or existent, no statement correct, unless there were a sufficient reason why it was thus and not otherwise" (Leibniz, Monadology; Woolhouse and Francks translation, p272).



Private Language: [See firstly interlingua and language of thought.] This is Fodor's (1975) term for the "medium in which we think" (p56). He sees this as a language, but disagrees that it is a natural language, in part because there are nonverbal organisms (including preverbal humans) who think. As he puts it, "at least some cognitive operations are carried out in languages other than natural languages" (p64).



Private Self: See self, private.



Proactive Interference: A type of interference, specifically, the deleterious effect of previous memory contents on newly memorised material. [Contrast retroactive interference.]



Problem-Focused Coping: See coping and defending.



Problem Solving Space: [Often just "problem space".] First coined by the artificial intelligence industry in the 1960s, this is cognitive science's rather vaguely defined notion of a sub-process available on demand to our higher cognitive functions module(s), and used as a resource during general purpose reasoning. The word "space" seems to have been a deliberately selected visuospatial metaphor, implying as it does that effective reasoning requires at least a two-dimensional mental sheet of paper (or perhaps even a three-dimensional mental office) for the storage of relevant information and intermediate results. For an example of how both word and concept are used, see consciousness, Block's theory of.



Procedural Knowledge: This is memory for sequential performance. It is the sort of memory which needs to be retrieved when you are faced with time-extensive tasks such as making a cup of tea, carrying out a long division, or safely administering an injection. Educationally, it is one of the most important types of memory, because it is at the heart of being able to do things; it is the sort of memory where - having once been shown how to carry out a sequence of tasks - that sequence becomes internalized as some sort of mental computer program, so that you find yourself thinking: "you do this, then this, then this .....", and so on. [Compare prescriptive knowledge, schema, and script.]



Procedural Memory: This is memory for sequential performance. It is the sort of memory which needs to be retrieved when you are faced with time-extensive tasks such as making a cup of tea, carrying out a long division, or safely administering an injection. Educationally, it is one of the most important types of memory, because it is at the heart of being able to do things; it is the sort of memory where - having once been shown how to carry out a sequence of tasks - that sequence becomes internalised as some sort of mental computer program, so that you find yourself thinking: "you do this, then this, then this .....", and so on. It is conceptually similar, if not identical, to the scripts and stories of the Schank and Abelson tradition, and overlaps with knowledge management units and action schemas.



Procedural Sequence Model (PSM): This is Ryle's (1990) proposed implementation of a system of cognitive-behavioural therapy which focuses on a patient's maladaptive "procedures".  The theoretical approach is as follows .....


"[P]rocedures are seen as being formed and enacted in the course of the individual's ongoing activity and can only be understood in relation to his or her history and current context. A full account of a procedural sequence will include the following: a description of the individual's active involvement with his/her surroundings, his/her appraisal of this involvement, the formation and pursuit of goals in this context, his/her anticipation of his/her capacity to attain these goals and consequences of so doing, his/her consideration of the means available and his/her selection and enactment of one of these, his/her evaluation of the efficacy and consequences of his/her action, and his/her confirmation, revision, or abandonment of his/her aims and/or his/her means. Such sequences are seen to underlie the organisation of aim-directed action. [..... They] are normally revised in the light of experience but neurotic procedures are characteristically both ineffective and resistant to such revision. Three patterns of neurotic procedures are recognised: (1) traps, which involve negative beliefs and appraisals and forms of action leading to consequences seemingly confirming these negative beliefs and appraisals; (2) dilemmas, which represent false dichotomisation of the options for roles or actions; and (3) snags, which are false predictions leading to the abandonment or undoing of appropriate aims" (Ryle, 1991, pp307-308).


Ryle explicitly relates his model to object relations theory. His point is that these all-important procedural sequences start to be laid down from a very early age, as now explained .....


"The new-born infant, on the basis of inborn attachment behaviours, using sensorimotor intelligence, is involved from birth in elaborating 'role procedures' for relating to its mother [or other caretaker]. (2) Early role procedures are concerned with only parts or aspects of the mother and their development precedes the infant's ability to discriminate self from other. (3) A role procedure (unlike a procedure for manipulating a physical object), requires one to predict (as the consequences of one's action) the responses of the other. [.....] (4) In time, the infant not only predicts and elicits the mother's role, but begins to enact it, for example, feeding the mother or mothering a doll or teddy bear. (5) At a later date, evident from early speech, the child enacts the maternal role towards him/herself. This internalisation of the mother's role is the basis of a capacity for self-care, self-management, self-consciousness, and also of a liability to internal conflict. (6) The dependent infant can only control the environment by way of communication with the mother, and this communication will have a large affective component. [.....] (7) Early reciprocal role and self-management procedures have a common origin in early reciprocal roles with aspects of the mother; a major task of early childhood is the integration of these part procedures into complex, whole-person procedures. (8) This integration will depend upon the capacity of the mother to provide a safely predictable environment appropriate to the child's temperament and developmental level. [.....] (9) The persistence of non-integrated part procedures will be manifested in splitting (persistent polarised judgments) and in projective identification, in which one pole of a poorly integrated reciprocal role procedure is elicited from another person" (Ryle, 1991, pp308



Production System: A set of computational principles AND an associated processing architecture, proposed by Anderson (e.g., 1983) as the basis of all biological cognition. Combines the best of modern memory theory with some basic cybernetics and a programming language capable of producing working simulations. A package of very good things, therefore. For a full history of production architectures, see Neches, Langley, and Klahr (1987). Our own interest in production systems arises from the fact that ACT practitioners routinely found themselves considering data relationships in their research, and soon adopted a form of entity-relationship diagramming of their own. When writing software to simulate the production of a sentence, for example, it involved constantly dipping in and out of the mind's lexicon, not just for the words in their root form, but for the rules by which they could be linked to other words. Anderson called these "propositional networks" [for more on which see Section 10 of the companion resource on "Data Modelling", if interested].



Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties: See learning disability and special educational need, the basics.



Program Structure: A program's "structure" determines the sequence of execution of each machine instruction. The default structure is simple sequential execution, but this can be creatively expanded by conditional branches and loops where appropriate. But beware - just as "ready - fire - aim" is a notably ineffective sequence of instructions to a firing party [think about it], so, too, does the slightest mis-sequencing of machine instructions prejudice a calculation. Indeed, it only takes one rogue instruction to wreak total and immediate havoc. Structuring therefore helps to ensure (a) that only logically related sets of instructions are executed, and (b) that they are executed when and only when necessary. Cognitive science has yet to establish how the highly trained mind of an experienced programmer models such structuring, that is to say, how the loops and branches of the mind mirror the loops and branches of the written code.



Programming Language: See computer language.



Prohibitives: [See firstly speech acts, the Bach and Harnish taxonomy.] A "prohibitive" 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 wishes that something which can reasonably be prevented should not, in fact, take place, thus [original abbreviations rewritten in full] .....


"In uttering a prohibitive, the speaker prohibits the hearer from acting in a certain way if the speaker expresses (i) the belief that his utterance, in virtue of his authority over the hearer, constitutes sufficient reason for the hearer not so to act, and (ii) the intention that because of the speaker's utterance the hearer not so act" (Bach and Harnish, 1979, p47).


RESEARCH ISSUE: In the context of this glossary, it would be interesting to trace the prohibitive speech acts in the language habits of the victims of childhood sexual abuse, in order to exclude the possibility that it was limited rebuttal and avoidance behaviour which somehow failed to deter the abuser in the first place. 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 express with the full force of verbal argument their unwillingness to respond to a seductive advance.®



Project, the: In the particular context of this glossary, this phrase is probably referring to Freud's (1895) "Project for a Scientific Psychology", as detailed in the entry for Freud's Project.



Projection: This is one of the defense mechanisms postulated by psychoanalytic theory, and recognised by the DSM-IV as belonging to the "disavowal" defense level. It presents as the patient "falsely attributing to another his or her own unacceptable feelings, impulses, or thoughts" (DSM-IV, 2000, p812). Projection can express itself in many ways and in many day-to-day areas of behaviour, and the link is often quite apparent to an observer. Classic examples of projection come with the imputation of our own negative motivations such as sexual desire or covetousness to those around us. [Compare paranoid projection and contrast projective identification.]



Projective Identification: [See firstly identification and projection.] This is Klein's (1946) term for the redirection of self-directed hatred onto the mother during the first few months of an infant's life. Here is her explanation of the underlying psychodynamics [a long but historically significant passage] .....


"So far I have dealt particularly with the mechanism of splitting as one of the earliest ego mechanisms and defenses against anxiety. Introjection and projection are from the beginning of life also used in the service of this primary aim of the ego. Projection, as Freud described, originates from the deflection of the death instinct outwards and in my view it helps the ego to overcome anxiety by ridding it of danger and badness. Introjection of the good object is also used by the ego as a defense against anxiety. Closely connected with projection and introjection are some other mechanisms [namely] splitting, idealisation, and denial. As regards splitting of the object, we have to remember that in states of gratification love feelings turn towards the gratifying breast, while in states of frustration hatred and persecutory anxiety attach themselves to the frustrating breast. Idealisation is bound up with the splitting of the object, for the good aspects of the breast are exaggerated as a safeguard against the fear of the persecuting breast. While idealisation is thus the corollary of persecutory fear, it also springs from the power of the instinctual desires which aim at unlimited gratification and therefore create the picture of an inexhaustible and always bountiful breast - an ideal breast. We find an instance of such a cleavage in infantile hallucinatory gratification. The main processes which come into play in idealisation are also operative in hallucinatory gratification, namely splitting of the object and denial both of frustration and of persecution. The frustrating and persecuting object is kept widely apart from the idealised object. However, the bad object is not only kept apart from the good one but its very existence is denied [.....]. The denial of psychic reality becomes possible only through strong feelings of omnipotence - an essential characteristic of early mentality. Omnipotent denial of the existence of the bad object and of the painful situation is in the unconscious equal to annihilation by the destructive impulse. It is, however, not only a situation and an object that are denied and annihilated - it is an object relation which suffers this fate; and therefore a part of the ego, from which the feelings towards the object emanate, is denied and annihilated as well. In hallucinatory gratification, therefore, two interrelated processes take place: the omnipotent conjuring up of the ideal object and situation, and the equally omnipotent annihilation of the bad persecutory object and the painful situation. These processes are based on splitting both the object and the ego. [.....] In considering the importance of the processes of denial and omnipotence at a stage which is characterised by persecutory fear and schizoid mechanisms, we may remember the delusions both of grandeur and of persecution in schizophrenia. So far, in dealing with persecutory fear, I have singled out the oral element. However, while the oral libido still has the lead, libidinal and aggressive impulses and phantasies from other sources come to the fore and lead to a confluence of oral, urethral, and anal desires, both libidinal and aggressive. Also the attacks on the mother's breast develop into attacks of a similar nature on her body, which comes to be felt as it were an extension of the breast, even before the mother is conceived of as a complete person. The phantasied onslaughts on the mother follow two main lines: one is the predominantly oral impulse to such dry [.....]. The other line of attack derives from the anal and urethral impulses and implies expelling dangerous substances (excrements) out of the self and into the mother. Together with these harmful excrements, expelled in hatred, split-off parts of the ego are also projected on to the mother [.....]. These excrements and bad parts of the self are meant not only to injure but also to control and to take possession of the object. In so far as the mother comes to contain the bad parts of the self, she is not felt to be a separate individual but is felt to be the bad self. Much of the hatred against parts of the self is now directed towards the mother. This leads to a particular form of identification which establishes the prototype of an aggressive object relation. I suggest for these processes the term 'projective identification'. When projection is mainly derived from the infant's impulse to harm or to control the mother, he feels her to be a persecutor. In psychotic disorders this identification of an object with the hated parts of the self contributes to the intensity of the hatred directed against other people. [.....] It is, however, not only the bad parts of the self which are expelled and projected, but also good parts of the self. [.....] The identification based on this type of projection again vitally influences object relations. The projection of good feelings and good parts of the self onto the mother is essential for the infant's ability to develop good object relations and to integrate his ego. However, if this projective process is carried out excessively, good parts of the personality are felt to be lost, and in this way the mother becomes the ego ideal [..... ,] weakening and impoverishing the ego. Very soon such processes extend to other people, and the result may be an over-strong dependence on these external representatives of one's own good parts. [.....] The processes of splitting off parts of the self and projecting them into objects are thus of vital importance for normal development as well as for abnormal object relations" (Klein, 1946, pp181-184; emphasis added).


Projective identification went on to become one of favourite defense mechanisms of the entire Kleinian School, and is nowadays recognised by the DSM-IV as belonging to the "major image-distorting" defense level. As with simple projection, it involves dealing with emotional conflict "by falsely attributing to another [one's] own unacceptable feelings, impulses, or thoughts" (DSM-IV, 2000, p812). However, the individual does not then "fully disavow" what has been projected (Kelly, 2006 online). Ominously, the patient-therapist relationship is itself at risk from projective identification as the therapist gets drawn into the web of what can and cannot afford to be felt. For his part, Bollas (1987) sees projective identification as part of therapy of the "unthought known" [see that entry for details]. Here is how he sees the process working .....


"It is my view [.....] that the analysand compels the analyst to experience the patient's inner object world. He often does this by means of projective identification: by inspiring in the analyst a feeling, thought, or self-state that hitherto has only remained within himself. In doing this the analysand might also re-present an internal object which is fundamentally based on a part of the mother's or father's personality, in such a way that in addition to being compelled to experience one of the analysand's inner objects, the analyst might also be an object of one feature of the mother's mothering, and in such a moment the analyst would briefly occupy a position previously held by the analysand" (Bollas, 1987, p5; emphasis added). 


Projective identification also seems to be one of the dynamics at work in incest survivors. For example, Price (1994) notes as follows .....


"Although incest is an abuse of power, it is also an abuse of sexuality. It is interesting to note how frequently this aspect is neglected in the literature and clinical case vignettes and may be indicative of countertransference issues and a cultural discomfort with this topic. A variety of different feelings and attitudes regarding sex that range from pleasure to pain and disgust are maintained by individuals with an incest history. Analysts may be put into the position of containing these split-off and dissociated reactions through varying projective identifications" (Price, 1994, p224).


Price warns that the resulting feelings can actually start to prejudice the delivery of the therapy. Consider .....


"In an example [], a female patient, who maintained a 'special, idealised relationship with her incestuous father had a great deal of difficulty in discussing any of the details of the sexual abuse. She stated feeling ashamed and disgusted. In one session, she began to relate some of the more graphic details, whereby the analyst began to feel sexually stimulated. The analyst then began to feel ashamed and disgusted with herself, as well as doubting her ability to maintain an appropriate analytic stance. [.....] In addition, incest involves individuals in an initiation into the world of sexual relations from childhood on. A message that they frequently received was that sex was connected to their sense of value to others. Sexual attractiveness becomes the basis for self-esteem, self-worth, and love. Their identity becomes interfused with sexuality and it may permeate all their relationships and encounters. This will certainly occur in treatment, whereby the sessions and the office may be cloaked in an erotic atmosphere and tension that may be difficult for the analyst to contain and tolerate" (Price, 1994, pp224-225).


More recently, Waska (1999/2007 online) has analysed the relationship between projective identification, patient aggression, and the likely course of psychotherapy. He notes that projective identification can typically present as "a bullying way of relating", and he reports case, M, whose "unique style of relating" [generally flouncing and confrontational] created such a breakdown in the therapeutic relationship that the patient terminated it. For Otto Kernberg's views on the contribution of projective identification to the aetiology of borderline personality disorder, see personality, splitting of. See also Ryle's views in the entry for procedural sequence model.



Prompting: See cueing in our Neuropsychology Glossary.



Pronoun Resolution: See this entry in the companion Psycholinguistics Glossary.



Propagation: The movement of a depolarising influence from one point on a neural cell membrane to adjacent points. Can be of two types, namely decremental propagation and non-decremental propagation. Decremental propagation is the term used to describe minor fluctuations in resting potential which fail to reach the threshold necessary for an action potential to develop, and which rapidly die away. Non-decremental propagation is another term for the spike discharge action potential. What makes the action potential highly biologically significant is that a depolarisation at one point on the cell membrane somehow affects the metabolic pumping at the immediately adjacent point. The term voltage-dependent gating is often used to describe the fact that the metabolic pumps which set up the potential difference in the first place are themselves sensitive to changes in that potential. This results, in turn, in an action potential developing at that adjacent point, which affects the area next to that, and so on in a ripple effect. This gives a viable basis for the transmission of information from one point in a biological system to another.



Property-Awareness: [Or "p-awareness", for short.] This is one of the three subtypes of awareness suggested by Dretske (e.g., 1997) [the others being fact awareness and object awareness]. For further details, see consciousness, Dretske's theory of.



Proposition:  [See firstly predicate and proposition in our Psycholinguistics Glossary.] A proposition asserts a particular truth relationship between concepts or images. These are usually considered to be verbally based [e.g. "cats have fur"], although propositional imagery has also been investigated (e.g., by the guru of visual mathematical education, Reuven Feuerstein). Either way, a proposition may be defined as "the smallest unit of knowledge that can be judged either true or false" (Matlin, 1989). It follows that propositions must exist either within, or close to, semantic memory, because that (by definition) is where all the concepts are stored. Quine (1970) refers to the expression of purportedly factual propositions as "observation sentences" (p3), and characterizes them as being verifiable there and then by simple observation. [See now propositional knowledge and propositional thought, and compare the constative and the performative types of speech act.]



Propositional Knowledge:  [See firstly proposition.] Knowledge which is made up of propositions. Also known as "declarative" knowledge.



Propositional Network: A form of entity-relationship diagram used by cognitive scientists (as opposed to commercial database designers), and given the new name by Anderson (1983) [for a specimen of such a diagram see Section 10 of our e-paper on Data Modelling, if interested].



Propositional Thought: Propositional thought is a form of reasoning characterized by movement forward along a series of apparently logically interrelated propositions, and may be regarded as a modern rendering, therefore, of the older notions of logismos, logos, phronesis, etc.



Proprioception: Proprioception is the detection of body-framework sensory information, such as skeletal movement (or "kinaesthesis") and position in space.



Prosody: In everyday English, prosody is "the rhythmic and intonational aspect of language" (Merriam-Webster online). The same definition is maintained by psychology and the linguistic sciences, only with the added emphasis on the human capacity for non-verbal communication, where the use of prosody is one of the principal aids to mind-reading and difficulties in its expression and interpretation are one of the principal symptoms of mindblindness.



Prosopagnosia: [Greek prosopon = "face, countenance, mien; look, appearance, figure; mask (worn by actors); person" (O.C.G.D.) compounded with agnosia.] An agnosia specifically for the visual recognition of other people by their faces (as opposed to their behaviour or other situational cues). 



Prosopopoeia (1/2): [Greek prosopon (as preceeding entry) + poiein = "to make, do, produce, bring about [.....]; compose, write, represent in poetry" (O.C.G.D.).] (1) This word first started to be used in erudite English to describe the figure of speech by which an inanimate thing (or no-longer-animate person) is spoken of as if it were (still) alive. (2) The term has also recently been extended to include "a middle-aged proneness to re-enact the heady events of one's youth", the allusions here being to a fondly remembered former existence, to no little regret at its passing, and to the resultant tendency towards "not acting one's age".



Prospective Memory (PM): Prospective memory is memory for events which have yet to happen, that is to say, it is "the ability to remember at a particular moment that one has previously decided to carry out a particular action at that moment" (Raskin, 2003 online), although Elvevag, Maylor, and Gilbert (2003/2003 online) add the proviso "without any explicit prompting to recall". Prospective memory is therefore an association between future cue and future action. The cue may be arriving at a particular moment in time or location in space, or the occurrence of a particular triggering event (i.e., "time-", "location-", and "event-based" PM, respectively). The theoretical complexities of "intention as a distinct form of memory" were first noted by Kvavilashvili (1987), and have inspired considerable empirical research ever since (e.g., Ellis, 1996). The faculty itself has been attributed to the frontal lobe as an adjunct to the planning process. It is possible that prospective memory is also involved in the execution of multiple future actions not covered by a suitable procedural memory, nor script. This would presumably be the sort of skill assessed by the Activities of Daily Living Test of executive ability. PM might also involve some sort of right hemisphere "time line", with NOW in the middle, one's past stretching away in the PAST direction, and one's ambitions and plans for the future suitably sequenced at points in the FUTURE direction. PM is also increasingly being treated as one of the cognitive abilities wherein a deficiency might legitimately constitute a cognitive deficit, that is to say, where the construct itself may help explain a special educational need or mental health problem of some sort. For example, Kliegel, Ropeter, and Mackinlay (2006) have studied its correlates with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, Warren et al (2007) have done the same with type 1 diabetics, Woods et al (2007) have done the same with HIV positives, Cockburn (e.g., 1996) has done the same with brain injured patients, and Kumar, Nizamie, and Jahan (2005) have studied event-based PM in schizophrenia, and report this ability to be "poor" compared to matched non-psychiatric control subjects. The UK government, moreover, has recently recognised that PM needs to be screened for when assessing autistic spectrum disorder, but there is little yet in the literature regarding this line of enquiry.



Protein Kinase Studies: [See firstly electrochemical medium-term memory.] Successful neurotransmission relies in large part on enzymes which can phosphorylate - that is to say, add a phosphate group to - other proteins, thus changing their molecular shape, electrical charge, and overall properties. They are fairly abundant in brain tissue, where they are heavily involved in second messenger neurotransmission. Though there are many types of protein kinase, two of them in particular seem to be triggered, or "primed", by the presence of calcium ions, that is to say, they are "calcium-dependent". These are calcium/calmodulin-dependent kinase (type II) (or Cam/K II, for short), and protein kinase C (or PKC, for short). Both Alkon (1989) and Levitan and Kaczmarek (1991) provide detailed descriptions of these triggering processes to which the specialist student may refer. In essence, however, what happens is that both PKC and Cam/K II - once triggered - will migrate outwards from post-synaptic cytoplasm to post-synaptic membrane, and there - over a period of many minutes - act to adjust the ease of subsequent potassium ion (K+ ) transfer across that membrane. In other words, they generally enhance the "receptivity" of the post-synaptic neuron to all subsequent stimulation. Levitan and Kaczmarek describe this sensitising process as providing the neuron with a "calcium-switch" (p239), by which relatively long-lasting changes to a neuron's properties can be turned on and off. Another recent paper summarises its importance this way: "The protein kinases [activated by calcium ions] are now thought to govern many types of slow (or modulatory) synaptic mechanisms and to mediate many forms of short-term synaptic plasticity. These processes, which do not depend on the synthesis of new proteins and can endure from minutes to a substantial part of an hour ....." (Schwartz and Greenberg, 1987, p459.) [For a broader introduction to this topic, see our e-paper on "The Neurobiology of Memory".]



Proton Pseudos: [Greek protos = "first, foremost, earliest, highest, noblest" (O.C.G.D) + pseudos = "lie, falsehood, untruth" (O.C.G.D.).] See Freud's Project.



Prototype: [See firstly abstraction.] This is Eleanor Rosch's notion of an in-some-way-average representation of such commonly encountered perceptual inputs as faces, letters, shapes, etc. (Rosch, 1973). Prototypes may be regarded as emerging from early perceptual experience, thanks to the process of abstraction, and as thereafter helping the process of recognition. The prototype for a face, for example, would include a basic oval shape, two eyes, a nose, a mouth, a chin, and so on, all in the average expected position.



Proximity, Gestalt Law of: [See firstly Gestalt Laws.] This law of perceptual organisation describes the situation where an array of separate items in the visual field falls by accident or design into two or more physical clusters, by contiguity [compare similarity, Gestalt law of], whereupon the clusters tend to be perceived as coherent natural groupings. What seems to happen is that the mind adds a "subjective contour" of its own to redefine the cluster as a figure, and then submits the completed form to the pattern recognition stage of perception.



Pseudocode: Pseudocode is computer code which is not yet source code because it is not yet committed to the machine it is intended for. It is still on the "coding sheet". It is "sketchbook" code, if you like; code which is still being considered by the relatively forgiving minds of the humans in the loop, and which has yet to be subjected to the full rigours of the computer compiler. Nevertheless, it is code which approximates to English and which can therefore adequately convey at a glance the essence of the processing solution being proposed. This makes pseudocode a very powerful way of linking the conceptualising and problem solving capabilities of the human mind to the number crunching capabilities of the logic circuitry.



PSM: See either phenomenal self model or procedural sequence model.



Psuche: [Greek psuche <ψυχη> = "soul, spirit, life"; anglicised as "psyche".]. This classical Greek word for the driving force of individual essence was used by most classical writers, from the Atomists onwards, in much the same way that we today use the word "soul". It is thus best considered as the entity upon which pneuma bestows life, although that living soul then knows nothing without a mind to go with it.



Psyche: [See firstly the Greek root form psuche.] The "psyche" is "the animating principle in man and other living beings, the source of all vital activities, rational or irrational" (O.E.D.). The word is not often used free-standing in modern psychology, but as a prefix still carries the connotation "of mind and soul" in compounds such as psychology, psychometrics, and psychophysics.



Psychoanalytic Theory: [A.k.a. Freudian Theory.] This is the generic name for Freud's original psychodynamic theory, and/or any of the more or less closely affiliated post-Freudian variants thereof.



Psychodrama: This is the name given to Moreno's (1934) deliberate use of theatrical sets and staged interactions in group therapy, which, by encouraging free expression of emotional experiences has been acclaimed as an effective method of catharsis and abreaction.



Psychodynamic Theory: See perspective, psychodynamic.



Psychodynamic Therapy: This is a psychotherapy grounded either on the generic principles of psychodynamic theory in general, or upon one such theory in particular.



Psychological Autonomy: TO FOLLOW.



Psychological Birth: See self, fragile.



Psychological Unconscious: See unconscious, the.



Psychological Womb: See self, fragile.



Psychology, Archetypal: This is Hillman's (1970, 1975, 1983) vision of "a cultural movement, part of whose task is the re-visioning of psychology" (1983, p2). This metavision is rooted ultimately in Jung's notion of the "archetype", as now explained .....


"From Jung comes the idea that the basic and universal structures of the psyche, the formal patterns of its relational modes, are archetypal patterns. These are like psychic organs, congenitally given with the psyche itself (yet not necessarily genetically inherited), even if somewhat modified by historical and geographical factors. These patterns or archai appear in the arts, religion, dreams, and social customs of all peoples, and they manifest spontaneously in mental disorders. For Jung, they are anthropological and cultural, and also spiritual in that they transcend the empirical world of time and place and, in fact, are in themselves not phenomenal. Archetypal psychology, in distinction to Jungian, considers the archetypal to be always phenomenal [..... and t]he primary, and irreducible, language of these archetypal patterns is the metaphorical discourse of myths. These can therefore be understood as the most fundamental patterns of human existence" (Hillman, 1983, pp2-3).


[See now self, poly-centric.]



Psychometrics: [literally, "mind-measurement"] The science of psychometrics is psychology's way (a) of "dimensionalising" [our term] the mind, (b) of then statistically quantifying those dimensions against objectively determined norms, (c) of then further quantifying (a) and (b) recursively, and (d) of marketing both concept and product to an eagerly awaiting world. In other words, psychometrics produces not just measures such as one's IQ, but it accumulates statistics on the validity and reliability of those measures, and it offers to let you (or - worryingly - your employer) know how you rate thereon.



Psychotherapy: This is the generic name for any form of therapist-patient interaction, formal or informal, theory-driven or otherwise, grounded in a psychodynamic theory or otherwise, which purports to cure dysfunctions and pathologies of mind and/or soul.



Psychotic Defenses: See defense mechanisms.



Psychotic Denial: This is one of the defense mechanisms postulated by psychoanalytic theory, and recognised by the DSM-IV as belonging to the "defensive dysregulation" defense level. It involves dealing with emotional conflict by denying the evidence of observation to such an extent that it starts to become clinically significant.



Psychotic Distortion: This is one of the defense mechanisms postulated by psychoanalytic theory, and recognised by the DSM-IV as belonging to the "defensive dysregulation" defense level. It involves dealing with emotional conflict by distorting your construction of the world to such an extent that it starts to become clinically significant.



PTSD: See posttraumatic stress disorder.



Pure Consciousness: This is Husserl's (1913, ¶50) notion of what remains once the process of phenomenal epoche has "placed in brackets" anything we can "reflect about" rather than "live in", thus leaving us just the bit we "live in".



Pure Phenomenology: The study of pure consciousness. A pure phenomenology, in other words, tries to get straight to the immediate reality - the phenomenal consciousness - at the heart of the perceptual process [i.e. block (4) out of the eight building blocks of aesthesis listed in G.2 above].



Pussin, Baptiste: TO FOLLOW.



Putnam, Frank W.: [American paediatrician-psychiatrist] [Homepage] Putnam is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for his work on multiple personality disorder.



Pylyshyn, Zenon W.: [Home Page] Pylyshyn is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for his work on metarepresentation.



Pythagoras: [Greek philosopher-mathematician (and class-defining Pythagorean) (ca. 570BCE-490BCE).] [Click for external biography]



Quale: [Plural = "qualia".] In everyday (but erudite) English, a quale is "a property (as redness) considered apart from things having the property" (Merriam-Webster online). Mental philosophy adopts the same basic definition, but increases the emphasis on the mysteries of phenomenal experience thereby revealed, not least the problem of localising and describing the mental subset which is doing the experiencing. Alternatively, a quale is "the sensational moment" whereby a "single property" of a complex stimulus becomes apparent to the perceiver, rather than its "concrete whole" (Husserl, Logical Investigations, pp202-203). It is also - unfortunately for all concerned - "ineffable" [= cannot be communicated]. The issue of qualia became a popular subject of cognitive scientific debate in the late 1980s, following a provocative paper by Daniel Dennett (Dennett, 1988). In Dennett's view, qualia were just a touch too "obvious" to people. Instead, he held that the special properties most would ascribe to conscious experience were - upon inspection - not particularly special after all, at least not as far as a theory would require them to be. Not least of the problems here is that people might be mistaken about their own qualia. "Far better, tactically," in his opinion, "to declare that there simply are no qualia at all" (p520). Jackson (1982), meanwhile, had advanced a strong "knowledge argument" in defense of qualia. He argues that qualia are there to be experienced and known, and offers a popular thought experiment pertaining to the problem [see Mary's room]. Edelman and Tononi (2000) have looked at the neuroscience of qualia, and see each individual quale as a correspondence between states of what they define as the "dynamic core" of the mind [for more on which, see consciousness, Edelman and Tononi's theory of]. It is all a matter of the dimensions of encoding along which the neuronal groups in said area have encoded the information to which they are tuned. Here is how they present the qualia problem .....


"The prototypical qualia discussed by philosophers are simple sensations, such as the 'redness' of red, the 'blueness' of blue, and the 'painfulness' of pain. In this view, a quale is that special subjective feeling that makes red, red and different from blue or that makes pain painful and different from both red and blue. All kinds of philosophical arguments are built on the presumed irreducibility of qualia. Why does red feel the way it does? And could it be that what both you and I call red actually looks red to me and green to you, and would this make any difference?" (Edelman and Tononi, 2000, p158).


Edelman and Tononi's explanation of the problem then involves the neural correlates of perception systems involved, which are, in the examples given above, the colour and pain perception systems. The solution is to consider how qualia are treated within the dynamic core, thus .....


"A key implication of our hypothesis is that the legitimate neural reference space for conscious experience, any conscious experience, including that of colour, is given not by the activity of any individual neuronal group [.....] or even by any small subset of neuronal groups [.....], but by the activity of the entire dynamic core" (Edelman and Tononi, 2000, pp164-165).



Qualis: [Latin = "of some sort or kind".] See quale.



Quantum Consciousness School: See consciousness, quantum.



Random Access: Same thing as direct access, and hence computer terminology for long-term data storage systems from which specific data items can be retrieved without serial search. Random access can be achieved in a number of ways, as described in some detail in our e-paper on "Short-Term Memory Subtypes in Computing and Artificial Intelligence", Part 5 (Section 3.1).



Random Molecular Movement: The particles making up gases and liquids are continually moving about at very high speeds. This allows them, when they are bounded by a permeable (porous) membrane, to find their way through to the other side. Moreover, once they are on the other side, some of them find their way back in again! Depending on how many holes there are, and how big they are relative to the size of the particles, this process takes more or less time to come about. In the end, however, the density of particles on one side of the membrane will be the same as on the other. In gases, this process is known as diffusion, and in liquids it is known as osmosis.



Rank, Otto: [Austrian psychoanalyst (1884-1939).] [Click for external biography] Rank is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for his work on individual differences in volition and will.



Rat Man: [Often Ratman] See case, Rat Man.



Ratiocinate, To: [Latin ratiocinato = "accounting"] "To reason, to carry on a process of reasoning" (O.E.D.). Hobbes (1651/1914, p18) gives one of the first uses of the word "ratiocination" as a catch-all for the processes of reasoning. However, the word did not become popular until the 19th century Associationist philosopher James Mill tightened up its definition and included it in his analyses of higher cognition. Mill saw ratiocination as the controlled linking of successive propositions into a more complicated argument, and quite reasonably judged it "one of the most complicated of all the mental phenomena" (Mill, 1869, p424). In this respect, Mill was following Aristotle's use of the three-term syllogism - arguments wherein the third proposition is derived safely from the first two, as in: "All men are animals: kings are men: therefore kings are animals" (Ibid.). James Mill's ideas were subsequently developed by his son John Stuart Mill, whose own magnus opus included the word in its title (Mill, 1886) before microscopically contrasting the processes of syllogistic reasoning with induction.



Ratiocination: [See firstly ratiocinate, to.] Broadly and loosely the same thing as reasoning. The term was popularised by the mental philosophers Thomas Hobbes and James Mill for sustained and thematically integrated propositional thought.



Rational Emotive Imagery: See imagery, rational emotive.



Rationalisation: This is one of the defense mechanisms postulated by psychoanalytic theory, and recognised by the DSM-IV as belonging to the "disavowal" defense level. Its particular function is to defuse a source of anxiety by belittling it or otherwise explaining it away. We might suspect rationalisation, for example, in a failed dieter who claims a problem metabolism.



Rationalism: As used within 17th century mental philosophy, the term Rationalism was used to describe the philosophical tradition opposed by definition to Empiricism. Nowadays, however, a competing usage has arisen which relates more to ethics and theology than mental philosophy, and so within this glossary we prefer the term Continental Rationalism.



Reaction Formation: This is one of the defense mechanisms postulated by psychoanalytic theory, and recognised by the DSM-IV as belonging to the "compromise formation" defense level. Its particular function is to reduce one set of tensions by over-affiliating with their perceived opposite, as when lovers fall out, or closet gays become queer-bashers.



Reaction Time: See psychophysics.



Reaction Time Studies: [See firstly perception, immediate.] TO FOLLOW.



Reactive Attachment Disorders of Infancy or Early Childhood: [See firstly attachment.] This is the DSM-IV disorder in which "developmentally inappropriate social relatedness" (DSM-IV, 2000, p127) is the predominant sign. It is recognised in two types, namely (a) an "inhibited" type, in which the child fails to initiate or respond to social interaction, and (b) a "disinhibited" type, in which there is "indiscriminate sociability or a lack of selectivity in the choice of attachment figures" (p129).



Readiness Potentials: A readiness potential is a strong negative shift in parietal EEG in the moments immediately prior to the initiation of a voluntary response, almost as though the brain were "winding itself up" in readiness to go off. This effect was first detected by Kornhuber and Deecke (1965). A typical study by Libet et al (1983) found a negative shift on average 350 msec. prior to the movement beginning. The impact has been summarised as follows: "These experiments at least provide a partial answer to the question: What is happening in my brain at the time I am deciding on some motor act? It can be presumed that during the readiness potential there is a developing specificity of the patterned impulse discharges in neurons so that eventually there are activated the correct pyramidal cells for bringing about the required movement." (Eccles, 1977, p111.)



Reafference: See under forward model for the specific mention, and Section 4 of our e-paper on "Basics of Cybernetics" for the fuller explanation.



Real Time: In the world of computing, processing is deemed to occur in "real time" if and when the decision making element of the machine (what Babbage called "the mill") is free to respond to a demand (a) instantaneously, and (b) without interruption. Real time processing is thus the sort of computing needed to control any sort of system in motion. The principal method of real time control in 1900 was to have a dedicated human operator at the system's (real or figurative) helm. By 1945, however, many functions were being carried out automatically by analog computers linked to servomechanisms, and modern real time systems (albeit they are now heavily digitalised) have become the mainstays of the aerospace, healthcare, and military cybernetics.



Realitätsprinzip: See reality principle.



Reality: [See firstly Realism.] Reality is "the quality of being real or having an actual existence" (O.E.D.). Reality is thus the subject matter of ontology, and the first recorded ontology worthy of the name was that of the Atomists. However, since so little early Greek science has survived, the main classical sources are the later works of Plato and Aristotle [see theory of ideas and categories respectively]. Dark Age and Mediaeval ontologies tended to follow the classics, and it was not until the mid-17th century that the Continental Rationalists started to come up with workable ontologies of their own. John Locke followed in 1690, but the most challenging of the British Empiricist offerings was that of George Berkeley in 1710, which begins with the following deliberately provocative assertion (a long passage, heavily abridged) .....


"It is indeed an opinion strangely prevailing amongst men, that houses, mountains, rivers, and in a word all sensible objects have an existence natural or real, distinct from their being perceived by the understanding. [Nevertheless, this principle involves] a manifest contradiction. For what are the forementioned objects but the things we perceive by sense, and what do we perceive besides our own ideas or sensations. [.....] Some truths there are so near and obvious to the mind, that a man need only open his eyes to see them. [..... But none have] any subsistence without a mind, that their being (esse) is to be perceived or known; that consequently so long as they are not actually perceived by me [.....] they must either have no existence at all, or else subsist in the mind of some eternal spirit" (Berkeley, 1710, Principles of Human Knowledge, I.¶6; Lindsay edition, p114-116).


It is easy to misinterpret what Berkeley meant by this. At first glance, he seems to be saying that everything is just a figment of our imagination. Yet Downing (2004 online) reminds us that Berkeley did not in the least doubt the existence of the physical world - it was just that there was a subtle difference between what the words "material" and "physical" actually implied. The physical world was substantively there, but in order for that physical world to have "an existence", or "a being", it had to be "material" for someone capable of appreciating it in a certain manner. Berkeley's challenge, in short, was for ontologists to describe the world without having to perceive it first, and the ensuing debate continues to this day. As for the German philosophical tradition, Kant's Critique addresses the problem both directly (by discussing what Reality is), and obliquely (by discussing our ability to determine objective truths about anything, reality included). His basic definition is broadly in line with the Naive Realist view that "Reality [is] what corresponds to a sensation as such [whose] very concept indicates a being [of something in time]" (Kant, 1781, Critique; Pluhar translation, p215), and the problems only start to emerge when he subsequently points out how much of what we innocently presume is real is in fact "ideal" (if not downright imaginary). For his part, Heidegger (1927/1962) sees the problem of understanding reality as one of achieving "phenomenological access to the entities which we encounter" (Being and Time, p96), in order to explain their Being. He continues (a long passage, heavily abridged) .....


"The question of the meaning of Being becomes possible at all only if there is something like an understanding of Being [and that] belongs to the kind of Being which the entity called 'Dasein' possesses. The more appropriately and primordially we have succeeded in explicating this entity, the surer we are to attain our goal in the further course of working out the problem of fundamental ontology. [.....] Of these questions about Reality, the one which comes first in order is the ontological question of what 'Reality' signifies in general [..... and] it has long been held that the way to grasp the Real is by that kind of knowing which is characterised by beholding (das anschauende Erkennen). Such knowing 'is' as a way in which the soul - or consciousness - behaves. [.....] The question of whether there is a world at all and whether its Being can be proved, makes no sense if it is raised by Dasein as Being-in-the-world; and who else would raise it? [..... Unfortunately, t]he question of the 'Reality' of the 'external world' gets raised without any previous clarification of the phenomenon of the world as such. Factically, the 'problem of the external world' is constantly oriented with regard to entities within-the-world (Things and Objects). So these discussions drift along into a problematic which it is almost impossible to disentangle ontologically" (Being and Time, pp244-247).


Readers may piece together the modern position on the reality of Reality by starting with the entry for consciousness, Heidegger's theory of, and following the onward links. Note, however, that this glossary must be expected to give a skewed picture of the debate to the extent that it tends to avoid theologies (including atheistic theologies such as Existentialism) in favour of out-and-out ontologies.



Reality Principle: {070815} [German = Realitätsprinzip] The reality principle is one of the fundamental propositions of Freudian theory, and asserts that the information processing strategy employed by the fully developed and normal human ego is, as the name suggests, to base one's interpretations of the world [what we refer to today as our mental model of the world] on objective fact rather than subjective desire, and to design one's behaviours, either in the short-term or the long-term, accordingly. It is to see things for what they are, not how you would like them to be [and, as such, it contrasts sharply with behaviour based on the pleasure principle]. As a general explanatory framework, the emphasis on the need to process reality as well as (or rather in the service of) our instinctive impulses was explicitly modelled physiologically in Freud's 1895 Project for a Scientific Psychology (Freud, 1895 [see Freud's Project, especially the function of the ω neurons as described in the quotation in that entry from pp325-327]. It also regularly appears in The Interpretation of Dreams, whose 800 or so pages are one way or another totally dedicated to the relationship between reality and unreality, thus .....


"A dream is something completely severed from the reality experienced in waking life, something, as one might say, with an hermetically sealed existence of its own, and separated from real life by an impassable gulf. It sets us free from reality, extinguishes our normal memory of it, and places us in another world and in a quite other life-story which in essentials has nothing to do with our real one" Freud, 1900/1958, The Interpretation of Dreams [Standard Edition (Volume 4)], p67; bold emphasis added).


The topic was then revisited in detail, and the specific term "reality principle" introduced, in Formulations on the Two Principles of Mental Functioning (Freud, 1911/1958), thus .....


 "[I have elsewhere suggested] that the state of psychical rest was originally disturbed by the peremptory demands of internal needs. When this happened, whatever was thought of (wished for) was simply presented in a hallucinatory manner, just as still happens today with our dream-thoughts every night. [.....] Instead of it, the psychical apparatus had to decide to form a conception of the real circumstances in the external world and to endeavour to make a real alteration in them. A new principle of mental functioning was thus introduced; what was presented in the mind was no longer what was agreeable but what was real, even if it happened to be disagreeable. This setting-up of the reality principle proved to be a momentous step" (Freud, 1911/1958, Two Principles of Mental Functioning [Standard Edition (Volume 12)], pp218-219; bold emphasis added).



Reasoning: In everyday English, reasoning is "[using] the faculty of reason so as to arrive at conclusions" (Merriam-Webster online. In psychology, the same basic definition is retained, making reasoning one of the most important aspects of higher cognitive functions. Unfortunately, it is also one of those difficult-to-define terms for this elusive mental activity. We all know what it is, but we do not know what happens inside our heads when we do it. Hobbes profiled it as follows: "The use and end of reason is [to] proceed from one consequence to another" ("Leviathan", p19), whilst according to the Scottish philosopher Thomas Reid, reasoning is the process by which we pass from one judgment to another (Reid, 1863, cited in Thomson, 1892). According to Wason and Johnson-Laird (1972, p1), reasoning is the process by which humans "draw explicit conclusions from evidence". In fact, however, reasoning is usually regarded as existing in two fundamentally different forms, namely inductive and deductive. Inductive reasoning, or induction, means deriving general rules from specific observations. It is the sort of reasoning which is seen in rule-guessing experiments where subjects have to study a series of stimuli and work out what the underlying rule or pattern is. Deductive reasoning, or deduction, on the other hand, is what you might call "Sherlock Holmes reasoning", and involves deriving a conclusion from the available evidence.



REBT: See rational emotive behavioural therapy.



Recall: [See firstly the three fundamental physical memory types described in memory, physiological versus functional types.] This is the term given to retrieval of stored knowledge into short-term memory, especially that part of it we know as consciousness. If that recall is of long-term memory items not recently accessed, then recall is assisted by search processes like ecphory or indexing. If, on the other hand, it is of more recently accessed medium-term memory, then it is probably assisted by neuronal sensitisation by second messenger neurotransmission. [Compare recognition.]



"Receiver, the": [See firstly agency and volition.] This is Russell's (1996) thought experiment notion of a moving and thinking artificial system in which no mechanisms have been provided for processing re-afference as re-afference.


ASIDE: Readers unfamiliar with the joint notions of efference copy and re-afference may benefit from consulting the separate entries on these topics before proceeding.


This thought experiment is thus similar in concept to Condillac's statue, but put to a different illustrative purpose. Here is Russell's conclusion .....


"With the aid of a thought-experiment, let us consider the anti-piagetian view that self-world dualism could emerge in a system incapable of action-monitoring and reversible activity. Imagine something called 'The Receiver'. The big difference between us and it is that The Receiver has no mechanisms for monitoring its movements (within which I include shifts of attention) and it cannot reverse them at will. [.....] The Receiver is moved around on a trolley so that it is subject to what Gibson called visual kinaesthesis [.....]. When it is moved directly forward, for example, the visual world flows towards and past it [..... but t]here is nothing in [this information] that specifies it as a subject of experience" (p92).


[Compare forward model.]



Recency Effect: [See firstly serial position effect.] Superior performance on the late list items in a free recall learning task. [See serial position effect and compare primacy effect.]



Receptor Sites: Points on the post-synaptic neural cell membrane where neurotransmitters can "bind" chemically, and thus cause post-synaptic potential to appear.



Recognition: [See firstly cognition, noting especially Cherry's distinction between cognition and re-cognition.] The action or fact of perceiving that some thing, person, etc., is the same as one previously known; the mental process of identifying what has been known before" (O.E.D.). Knowing again. Recognition in its everyday sense.



Record: [See firstly file.] Records are the second of the three levels of data conventionally recognised in computer system design (the others being field and file). Specifically, a record is a set of one or more fields arranged contiguously (i.e. next to each other) because they belong together, and so that they can be moved about as a coherent unit. Records are thus very important as units of storage, and their contents will usually be tightly dictated by the nature of the data in question.



Recursive Computing: The everyday definition of "recursive" computing is that it involves repeatedly applying a comparatively short program to a problem, making minor advances with each pass, until the final (or best possible approximation) result is obtained. The theory and the practice are both complex, however, and alternative definitions and examples are offered in Section 3.1 of the companion resource. [See now consciousness, Johnson-Laird's theory of.]



Rede: [German = "speech, utterance, words, talk, discourse, conversation" (C.G.D.).] This everyday German term for the substance of verbal communication was specifically applied to the philosophical problems of equipping Dasein with the faculty of language by Heidegger. In fact, Heidegger used the term for both overt and silent speech, seeing the latter as often being as effective as the former in getting an idea across.


ASIDE: Silent speech should not here be interpreted as inner speech. It refers to the deliberate use of silence in conversation. The mechanism by which speakers may decide in inner speech to commit their next "utterance" in silent speech is not known.


Here is an indicative passage .....


"Keeping silent authentically is possible only in genuine discoursing. To be able to keep silent, Dasein must have something to say - that is, it must have at its disposal an authentic and rich disclosedness of itself" (Being and Time, p208).



Reductionism: Reductionism is a philosophical doctrine predicated upon the assertion that complex sociocultural and psychological phenomena can ultimately be explained in terms of underlying chemical or physiological processes [in which respect it is diametrically opposed to the position known as "holism"]. The reductionist approach is far from universally supported, because complex systems tend to be denatured by being dissected - you lose sight of the wood for looking at the trees. Or to put the same point the other way round, wholes are often more than the sums of their parts. As Aristotle put it: "If it is the number of the points in the body that is the soul, why do not all bodies have a soul? [Unless] there is some distinctive number that comes into the soul and is different from the number of the points in the body" (De Anima, Lawson-Tancred translation, pp147-148). More recently, Fodor (1975) has distinguished "behavioural reduction" and "physiological reduction", arguing that psychologists lose both ways. "Insofar as psychological explanations are allowed a theoretical vocabulary," he points out, "it is the vocabulary of some different science (neurology or physiology) [and] insofar as there are laws about the ways in which behaviour is contingent upon internal processes, it is the neurologist or the physiologist who will, in the long run, get to state them" (p2). [See the extended discussion in the entries for consciousness, Searle's theory of and explanatory gap.]



Reductionist: A follower of Reductionism as a philosophical school and set of explanatory principles.



Referent: A referent is a thing referred to, and thus "a term used in philosophical linguistics and semantics for the entity (object, state of affairs, etc.) in the external world to which a linguistic expression relates" (Crystal, 2003, p391).



Reflection Model of Inner Speech: See inner speech.



Reflective Abstraction: See abstraction, reflective.



Refractory Period: [See firstly action potential.] Period of inexcitability at a given point on the neural cell membrane during the repolarisation phase after an action potential. Helps (a) to limit the number of times per second that a given neuron can fire, and (b) to prevent antidromic conduction.



Regression: This is one of the defense mechanisms postulated by psychoanalytic theory. Its particular function is to wind developmental time backwards to a stage at which the particular threat just goes away. A temper tantrum, for example, is not appropriate adult behaviour, and so (in the absence of physical brain pathology) would probably indicate regression on the part of the offender to an age (in the UK we know it as "the terrible twos") when life was so much more predictable. [For a novel application of the notion of regression to the hostage-captor relationship, see Stockholm syndrome.]



Rehearsal: The repeating of memory test material to oneself, either out loud or subvocally using the faculty of inner speech. Explicitly suppressed by the interpolated activity task(s) in studies using the Brown-Peterson technique to investigate the serial position effect. In fact, Craik and Lockhart (1972) proposed two types of rehearsal, namely maintenance rehearsal (also known as "Type 1" rehearsal), where items circulate within a given processing level, and elaborative rehearsal (also known as "Type 2" rehearsal), where each repetition deepens the level. Increasing the amount of maintenance rehearsal does not influence later recall. Allowing or encouraging elaborative rehearsal, on the other hand, seems to assist recall in two ways, firstly by making the stimulus in some way distinctive, and secondly by multiplying the number of associational links to the stimulus. [Compare context rehearsal.]



Reich, Wilhelm: [Austrian psychoanalyst (1897-1957).] [Click for external biography] Reich is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for his work on sexuality.  


Reinach, Adolf: [German Phenomenologist philosopher (1883-1917).] This from Wikipedia: "Adolf Reinach studied at the Ostergymnasium in Mainz (where he became at first interested in Plato) and later entered the University of Munich in 1901 where he studied mainly psychology and philosophy under Theodor Lipps. [.....] From onward 1903/4 he was increasingly busy with the works of Edmund Husserl, especially his Logische Untersuchungen. [.....] In the summer of 1907 he took the First State Examination in Law, but also went later to Göttingen to attend discussion circles with Husserl. With the support of Husserl, Reinach was able to obtain habilitation for university teaching at Göttingen in 1909. [.....] He lectured i.a. on Plato and Immanuel Kant. In this period, Husserl embarked on a thorough revision of his main work, the Logical Investigations, and asked Reinach’s assistance in this endeavour. Moreover, in 1912 Reinach, together with Moritz Geiger and Alexander Pfänder founded the famous Jahrbuch für Philosophie und phänomenologische Forschung, with Husserl as main editor. Besides his work in the area of phenomenology and philosophy in general, Reinach is mostly famous for his development of a theory of speech acts long before John Austin. Reinach's work was based mostly on Husserl's analysis of meaning in the Logical Investigations, but also on Daubert's criticism of it. Pfänder had also been doing research on commands, promises and the like in the same period. However, it was Reinach's work Die apriorischen Grundlagen des bürgerlichen Rechtes ('The A Priori Foundations of Civil Law) which was the first systematic treatment of social acts and speech acts. [.....] Instead of following Husserl into idealism and transcendental phenomenology, the Munich group remained a realist current. At the outbreak of the first world war Reinach volunteered to join the army [and fell] outside Diksmuide in Flanders on 16 November 1917." [See negative judgment, theory of.]



Relation: [See firstly idea, complex.] One of Locke's three subclasses of complex idea (the others being mode and substance). A declaration of how one idea "stands in conformity to any other" (Locke, 1690, p232). [Compare relationship.]



Relation, Hume's Account of: Hume's Treatise (Hume, 1739-1740) dwells at length on the nature of the relation, prompted in large part by his strongly Associationist stance. The central proposal is .....


"The qualities from which this association arises, and by which the mind is after this manner convey'd from one idea to another, are three, viz. RESEMBLANCE, CONTIGUITY in time or place, and CAUSE AND EFFECT. [..... Indeed,] there is no relation which produces a stronger connection in the fancy, and makes one idea more readily recall another, than the relation of cause and effect betwixt their objects" (p11).


What Hume is getting at here is that if two ideas are going to become associated then there are three basic processes involved. Thus the association between "duck" and "goose" would be established by resemblance, that between "duck" and "quack" by contiguity in time, that between "duck" and "water" by contiguity in space, and that between "duck-coitus" and "duckling" by cause and effect. All types of association can be successfully encoded as propositions in modern propositional networks.



Relational Entities: [See firstly entity.] A "relational entity" is "an entity that possesses at least one essential property relationally" (Fine, 2003, p327n). She offers the following illustration (after Armstrong, 1978) .....


"If I explain x's being F by saying that x stands in some relation to some entity or entities other than x, I give a relational analysis of x's being F" (p328).



Relationship: As used within computer science, this is the name given to the interaction between the entity types dealt with by a system. Alternatively, it is "the way in which two or more entities are dependent on each other" (Kramer and de Smit, 1977, p15). This being so, then a relation (or network of relations) may be suspected "if a change in a property of one entity results in a change in a property of another entity" (Kramer and de Smit, 1977, p16). [Note that a relation is not automatically an interface. An interface is a physical pathway between two subsystems, and therefore implements what might originally have been a multi-nodal web of entities and relations. A relation, by contrast, is (a) a logical association rather than a physical one, and (b) exists between entities rather than between subsystems.] [See now entity-relationship modelling.]



Relationship, Many-to-Many: Whenever information system designers draw up the all-important entity-relationship diagram for a system, it is routinely discovered that many entities of one type are related to many entities of another type. One might observe, for example, that many <INDIVIDUALS> are associated with many <HOUSES>, but that there is no fixed allocation of the one to the other, either qualitatively or quantitatively. One <INDIVIDUAL> may own no <HOUSES> or several [see relationship, one-to-many], or one only [see and compare relationship, one-to-one]. Equally, several <INDIVIDUALS> may have clubbed together to buy a single <HOUSE> [see and compare relationship, many-to-one] or to invest in as many of them as they can afford. This latter instance constitutes a "many-to-many relationship". Now it so happens that pioneer computer designers regularly came to grief when mapping many-to-many relationships onto the physical file structures they were building into their systems, because for technical reasons such data structures are inherently unwieldy, space-wasteful, difficult to maintain, and slow to access. The solution which eventually emerged was, as a matter of course, to resolve all many-to-many relationships into a three-entity, "back-to-back", arrangement. So for our specific example you start with this .....


<INDIVIDUALS>>> - - - - - <<<HOUSES> [many:many]


and replace it with .....


<INDIVIDUALS>>> - - - - - DUMMY ENTITY - - - - - <<<HOUSES> [many:one:many]


The <DUMMY ENTRY> is a minor system overhead, but produces massive improvements in codability and performance.



Relationship, Many-to-One: [See firstly relationship, many-to-many.] In database theory, a "many-to-one relationship" is one of the three types of relationship allowed to be recorded on an entity-relationship diagram [the others being relationship, one-to-many and relationship, one to one]. Many-to-one relationships are highly prized by the designers of Codasyl [a.k.a. "DBTG"] databases, because they map naturally onto their class-defining one-to-many (set owner - set member) principle of organisation.



Relationship, One-to-Many: [See firstly relationship, many-to-many.] In database theory, a "one-to-many relationship" is one of the three types of relationship allowed to be recorded on an entity-relationship diagram [the others being relationship, many-to-one and relationship, one to one].  One-to-many relationships are highly prized by the designers of Codasyl [a.k.a. "DBTG"] databases, because they map naturally onto their class-defining one-to-many (set owner - set member) principle of organisation.



Relationship, One-to-One: [See firstly relationship, many-to-many.] In database theory, a "one-to-one relationship" is one of the three types of relationship allowed to be recorded on an entity-relationship diagram [the others being relationship, many-to-one and relationship, one to many]. In practice, however, genuine instances of one-to-one relationships are so rare that they are usually declared as one-to-many owner-member sets in the database schema, safe in the knowledge that there will only ever be a single member record.



Reliability: See this entry in the companion Research Methods and Psychometrics Glossary.



Repertory Grid: [See firstly personal construct theory.] This is the data tabulation and management system by which Kelly's (1955/1963) personal construct theory is most commonly put into practical effect. Its purpose is to record detailed personal construct data for the elements within the set currently under investigation. The elements are laid out across the page and the dimensions are listed down the page. This allows the resulting cellular array to contain row-by-column indexed data of any sort, thus .....



 Element #1

 Element #2

 Element #3

 Element #4

 Element #5

 Dimension #1

(1,1) datum

 (2,1) datum

 (3,1) datum

 (4,1) datum

 (5,1) datum

 Dimension #2

(1,2) datum

 (2,2) datum

 (3,2) datum

 (4,2) datum

 (5,2) datum

 Dimension #3

(1,3) datum

 (2,3) datum

 (3,3) datum

 (4,3) datum

 (5,3) datum

 Dimension #4

(1,4) datum

 (2,4) datum

 (3,4) datum

 (4,4) datum

 (5,4) datum

 Dimension #5

(1,5) datum

 (2,5) datum

 (3,5) datum

 (4,5) datum

 (5,5) datum


Grids of this kind can then be used in a number of useful ways. The first is to provide a "raw data" table of the scores for each element on the dimensions in question. Thus if the elements happened to be modes of transportation, and dimension #1 had been chosen as speed, we could use row #1of the table to reflect the average speed of each different mode. Other dimensions could then be added as required. For example, dimension #2 might be set to the average annual cost, dimension #3 to a rating of emission-friendliness, and so on, as follows ..... 








 Average Speed (kph)






 Average Cost














 Dimension #4

(1,4) datum

 (2,4) datum

 (3,4) datum

 (4,4) datum

 (5,4) datum

 Dimension #5

(1,5) datum

 (2,5) datum

 (3,5) datum

 (4,5) datum

 (5,5) datum


Alternatively, a grid could be set up to record similarities and dissimilarities between elements on the dimensions in question, as follows ..... 








 Average Speed (kph)


similar in speed 

 similar in speed 



 Average Cost



similar in cost



 similar in cost



similar in greenhouse gas emission

 similar in greenhouse gas emission




 Dimension #4

(1,4) datum

 (2,4) datum

 (3,4) datum

 (4,4) datum

 (5,4) datum

 Dimension #5

(1,5) datum

 (2,5) datum

 (3,5) datum

 (4,5) datum

 (5,5) datum


As used within personal construct psychology, grids help researchers/clinicians probe a subject's "construct system" - the way s/he happens to have coded the world. This will typically include the cognitive structures underlying person perception, where the elements will be different persons (or classes of person) and the dimensions will be personal attributes. We have set  dimension #1 to be "patience", so the construct is "patient" and the contrast is "impatient". It is also common practice to allow the list of dimensions to be left relatively open-ended to begin with [see dimensions #4, #5, etc. below], so that they can be empirically established by iterative investigation, as follows .....






 Best Friend




most similar 

 most similar 


most dissimilar 


most similar

most dissimilar


most similar




most similar 


most dissimilar

 most similar

 Dimension #4

(1,4) datum

 (2,4) datum

 (3,4) datum

 (4,4) datum

 (5,4) datum

 Dimension #5

(1,5) datum

 (2,5) datum

 (3,5) datum

 (4,5) datum

 (5,5) datum




















Readers should now be sufficiently well prepared to work their way through one of the online repertory grid self-assessment sites - try this one for size. There is a nice example of the use of the technique in the entry for cognitive complexity.



Representanda: See consciousness, Metzinger's theory of.



Representata: See consciousness, Metzinger's theory of.



Representation: [See firstly reality.] In everyday usage, a representation is an "image, likeness, or reproduction in some manner of a thing" (O.E.D.). Within mental philosophy, the word refers more specifically to a mind-internal representation of a mind-external object. There has been little consensus beyond that, however, because the true nature of external objects is every bit as vague as the true nature of the mind. Thus we have the Ancients agonising over their forms and substances, and Berkeley apparently telling us that all matter is imaginary [see the entry on reality for more on this]. Be that as it may, once a mind-internal representation has been established, we can at least get it back on demand. Consider .....


"When I shut my eyes and think of my chamber, the ideas I form are exact representations of the impressions I felt [.....]. In running over my other perceptions, I find still the same resemblance and representation. Ideas and impressions appear always to correspond to each other" (Hume, 1739-1740, Treatise; Nidditch edition, p3).


It remained for Kant to remind us that between the mind-external and the representation lay all the mysteries of phenomenology. Representation was easy, once you had an intuition to be going on with, thus .....


"[If intuitions] are to become cognitions, I [.....] must refer them, as presentations, to something or other as their object, and must determine this object by means of them" (Kant, Critique, 1787; Pluhar translation, pp21-22).


We also need to consider the underlying physiology. Hughlings Jackson followed the Darwinian spirit of his age and regarded the brain's powers of representation as delivering major evolutionary advantage. The brain had clearly evolved to do a particular job of work, he argued, and representations were what it needed to have on board in order to do that job successfully. Representations were what allowed the nervous system to respond, and the "survival of the fittest" rule would have ensured that you carried no more and no less than was necessary. Moreover, if your nervous system was sophisticated enough to be hierarchically layered, then the sophistication of the representation at each layer was layered as well.


ASIDE: The Jacksonian system was here suggesting that we must regard as representation even the primitive content of "cognition" down at the level of simple habit acquisition. Strictly speaking, therefore, we should refer to as "higher cognitive representation" the material available to the higher cognitive functions.


Brentano and Husserl followed Kant in the belief that the real mysteries lay in the representation of aspect of representation [see the entry for intentionality], their point being that the conceptual structures - the representations simpliciter - needed to be activated and applied to their natural referents in what then automatically became a state of awareness. For Heidegger, however, the problems came after the Vorstellung of an external entity, when the mind attempted to establish the Being and truth of that entity [for more on this, see the long quotation at the end of the entry for reality]. To come right up to date, we see great promise in the work of  Jeannerod (1994) and Kintsch (1998).  Jeannerod calls the brain "the representing brain", and has developed a theory of cognitive architecture based upon a particular type of representation called "motor imagery", whilst Kintsch uses propositional networks to show how knowledge may ultimately be represented in what he calls "knowledge nets" (p412). Suitably combined, such approaches may gradually start to unravel "the particular go" of the physical system which, by representing the world in the same way as biological systems represent it, would experience the same experiences. So to summarise .....


"The central epistemological question, from Plato on, is this: How is representation of a world by a self possible? So far as we can tell, there is a reality existing external to ourselves, and it appears that we do come to represent that reality, and sometimes even to know how its initial appearance to our senses differs from how it actually is" (Churchland and Sejnowski, 1989; Lycan reprint, p225).


[See now meta-representation.]



Representationism: TO FOLLOW.



Repression: This is one of the defense mechanisms postulated by psychoanalytic theory, and recognised by the DSM-IV as belonging to the "compromise formation" defense level. Its particular function being to keep unconscious not just the unwelcome material itself, but also any too-close-for-comfort derivatives of it. This process will normally require the Ego to deploy counter-cathexes, consuming mental energy as it does so and requiring careful balancing of the down-forces against the up-forces. This is therefore the defence which most clearly fits with the mental architecture described in Freud's Project. Margetts (1953) quotes an passage from Schopenhauer's (1819) The World as Will and Idea which indicates how important this process might be to our mental wellbeing .....


"[Our explanation of madness] will become more comprehensible if it is remembered how unwillingly we think of things which powerfully injure our interests, wound our pride, or interfere with our wishes [.....] In that resistance of the will to allowing what is contrary to it to come under the examination of the intellect lies the place at which madness can break in upon the mind" (Schopenhauer, 1819; cited in Margetts, 1953, p125).



Res Cogitans: [Latin = "thinking thing"; informally "mind stuff".] See dualism and compare res extensa.



Res Extensa: [Latin = "spatial thing"; informally "body stuff".] See dualism and compare res cogitans.



Resource Allocation Theory: See dedicated support article. Resource Allocation Theory is Norman and Bobrow's (1975) early vision of the brain as a computational system responsible for "executing" mental "programs" and allocating mental "resources". The term "supervisory system" came along slightly later, when the concept of limited resources was incorporated into attention theory by the Norman-Shallice Model of Supervisory Attentional Function. [See also Norman (1990) and our e-paper on Mode Error in System Control.]



Resting Potential: The neural resting potential is an electrostatic potential difference between the inside of a cell (the cytoplasm) and its surrounding fluid medium (the interstitial fluid). It arises from the operation and interaction of three complex and conflicting factors, namely random molecular movement, metabolic pumping, and electrostatic forces. In a typical neuron (in common with all other types of cell), there is naturally more protein in the neuroplasm than there is in the interstitial fluid. The opposite is true of salt (NaCl). Both types of molecule ionise, the protein into potassium cations (K+) and protein anions (protein-), and the salt into sodium cations (Na+) and chlorine anions (Cl-). This creates FOUR separate concentration gradients (one for each of the ion types) along which ion movement would normally be expected. All these particles "want" to balance their inner and outer concentrations, but they are physically of different sizes, so their natural osmotic speeds will vary (negligible, in fact, for the large protein anions because they are the biggest of the lot) . At the same time, there is active metabolic pumping going on within the neuron membrane, with thousands of sodium pumps pushing the sodium ions back out as fast as they can. And thirdly there are the electrostatic forces of ion attraction and repulsion. If you leave things alone, however, the flows rapidly stabilise into an equilibrium, where the numbers of each ion inside and outside the cell stays constant, but not necessary equal. There will, for example, be a difference in the Na+ count due to metabolic pumping, and as a result the net charges inside and outside the cell are different. This gives rise to an electrical potential difference between the intracellular and extracellular fluids, and because this potential difference, once established, remains constant, it is known as a resting potential. A cell's resting potential can thus be defined as the difference in electrical potential across its cell membrane when ion movements inwards and outwards are in equilibrium. The resting potential for a typical neuron is -70mV.



Retrieval: The act of accessing the information stored in memory.



Retroactive Interference: A type of interference, specifically, the deleterious effect of newly memorised material on previous memory contents. [Contrast proactive interference.]



Retrieval Structure: See long-term working memory.



Revolving Door Crisis: [See firstly multiple personality disorder and persona.] This is Putnam's (1989) term for a rapid and near-psychotic cycling between the personae available to an MPD patient with no one persona able to take control. Here is Putnam himself on this .....


"At times, MPD patients may appear to have a profound thought disorder. This is caused by a dissociative phenomenon known as 'rapid switching' or the 'revolving door crisis', which occurs when no single alter personality is able to gain and maintain control over the patient's behaviour. The revolving door phenomenon often follows and further contributes to a personal crisis by producing a marked psychosis-like picture. The patient appears to be extremely affectively labile, typically cycling rapidly through a wide range of inappropriate emotions. The patient will appear to have signs of a major thought disorder, including blocking, thought withdrawal, and 'word salad' speech. [.....] What is happening is that the patient is failing to stabilise in a single alter personality state long enough to carry on coherent and integrated behaviour" (p63).


WAS THIS A SENSITIVE TOPIC FOR YOU?: If for any reason you have been emotionally affected by any of the issues dealt with in this entry, you will find suitable helpline details in the entry for personality disorders.



Ribosome: This is a small granular organelle, of which several thousand may be present in a given cell, congregating especially on the membranous walls of the endoplasmic reticulum. It is the place where single molecules of protein can be synthesised.



Richens-Booth Continuous Form Interlingua: [See firstly interlingua.] See the history and examples in Section 4.1 of our e-paper "Short-Term Memory Subtypes in Computing and Artificial Intelligence (Part 4)".



Right Hemisphere Syndrome: See this entry in the companion Neuropsychology Glossary.



Roger: See case, Roger.



Rogers, Carl: [American psychoanalyst (1902-1987).] [Click for external biography] Rogers is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for his work on the humanistic perspective in general and on client-centred therapy in particular. 



Ross, Colin A.: TO FOLLOW.



Rote Learning: [See firstly Bloom's Six Levels of Knowledge.] Learning lists or definitions "off by heart" (that is to say, with little concentration on understanding). A good method of surface learning, therefore, and of little practical utility in the modern world. 



Routine Neurological Examination: This is a battery of individually quite simple bedside tests of nervous system integrity. These tests are very effective at detecting problems in both central and peripheral nervous function. The first cluster of tests assesses higher cerebral function, and includes observations of alertness and orientation, long-term memory, short-term memory, phonation, articulation, verbal fluency, naming, comprehension, and repetition. A second cluster of tests assesses the integrity of the cranial nerves, and the remaining tests assess the peripheral nerves, that is to say, the sensory and motor systems of the upper and lower limbs.



Rowntree, Joseph: [British entrepreneur-philanthropist (1836-1925).] [Click for external biography] Joseph Rowntree is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for having diverted a sizeable part of his personal fortune to establishing the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, and for helping thereby to alleviate the effects of homelessness, toxic parenting, and other societal ills.



Run Time Currency Indicator: [Computing term.] This term is synonymous with, but slightly more precise than, database currency, so if new to the currency concept see that entry. The adjective "run time" merely emphasises the fact that database currencies exist for the duration of a database access session, that is to say, in the computer's equivalent of biological short-term memory.



Rush, Benjamin: [American physician-politician (1745-1813).] [Click for external biography] Rush is noteworthy in the present context for having been one of the first physicians ever to report a case of multiple personality.





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