Selfhood and Consciousness: A Non-Philosopher's Guide to Epistemology, Noemics, and Semiotics (and Other Important Things Besides) [Entries Beginning "T" to "Z"]


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First published online 13:00 GMT 28th February 2006, Copyright Derek J. Smith (Chartered Engineer). This version [2.0 - copyright] 09:00 BST 5th July 2018.





G.3 - The Glossary Proper (Entries T to Z)



TAS: See Toronto Alexithymia Scale.



TAT: See Thematic Apperception Test.



Taylor Manifest Anxiety Scale: See anxiety, manifest.



TCI: See Temperament and Character Inventory.



Teicher, Martin: [American psychiatrist.] [Academic homepage] Teicher is noteworthy in the context of this glossary for his work on abuse-related brain damage.



Temperament: One's temperament is "that aspect of our personalities that is genetically based, inborn, there from birth or even before" (Boeree, 2006 online).



Test for the Reception of Grammar (TROG): [See firstly clinical psychometrics.] This test was devised by Bishop (1993), and is now in its second edition and code-named TROG-2 (Bishop, 2003) [see publisher's advertisement]. It is designed to assess language comprehension in children aged 4 to 13 years with specific language disorder, or adults with acquired dysphasia. The test consists of a number of blocks of items, each block addressing a particular aspect of grammar - adjectives, nouns, verbs, prepositions.



Test of Identity: This is a 110-item psychometric inventory devised by Molla (1978, 1989, 2007 online), and based on Eriksonian developmental theory.



Tests of Planning in Daily Life: [See firstly executive function and dysexecutive syndrome.] See Activities of Daily Living Test.



Thales: [<Θαλης>] [(properly Thales of Miletus) Greek philosopher (floruit ca. 560 BCE).] [Click for external biography]



Thanatos: Thanatos was the "personification of death" in the Greek myths [more on this], and is noteworthy in the context of this glossary for having inspired the naming of the psychoanalytic death instinct [see aggression, psychodynamic theory and].



Thematic Apperception Test (TAT): See personality, motivation and.



Theory of Mind (ToM): [See firstly false-belief task.] This is one of the most intriguing and far-reaching research areas in modern cognitive science. Although mental philosophers (and dramatists) have always looked at the way individuals conceptualise (and mis-conceptualise) the way they are seen by the world at large, it was not until the 20th century that anthropologists like Mead and linguistic philosophers like Saussure started to emphasise the interactive nature not just of communication as overt behaviour but of the mental representation necessary to support that communication. Modelling the mind was therefore one of the priority areas in the "cognitive revolution" of the last half century. In one of the pivotal studies, Miller, Kessel, and Flavell (1970) explored "the child's growing understanding of the recursive nature of thought" (p614) in six boys and six girls from each of the first six years at school (i.e., 72 children in all). They presented each child with stimulus drawings depicting various types of thought content using the received cartoon format (that is to say, thinks "bubbles" - what the authors call "thinking clouds"), as follows .....


"[There were] four basic types of items - contiguity, action (talking), one-loop recursion, and two-loop recursion - which differ in the type of operation involved. This was the variable of major interest. In the contiguity group of items the boy in the drawing thinks about social objects, while in the action group the boy thinks about a social nonrecursive action - talking. The other two item groups involve thinking, a social recursive action. [.....] Within each basic type of item, there were three variables of minor interest. First, the boy in the drawing might think of one, two, or three people. Second, the people being thought of might include the boy doing the thinking: not at all, once, twice, or three times. Third, in cases where the same number and types of faces were involved, the arrangement of these faces within the thinking cloud might vary. [.....] The 18 items chosen allowed the separate assessment of the effects of these three variables of minor interest as well as the major variable (type of operation)" (Miller, Kessel, and Flavell, 1970, p615).


Here are some of the specific examples .....


Item #1 (Contiguity): "The boy is thinking of the girl." [Here the principal's mind contains a passive image of the object of the thought.]


Item #7 (Action): "The boy is thinking that the girl is talking to father." [Here the principal's mind contains a physically active image of the object of the thought.]


Item #10 (Recursion): "The boy is thinking that the girl is thinking of father." [Here the principal's mind contains a mentally active image of the mind of the object of the thought. This is depicted using the thinking clouds mentioned above TWICE, once for the principal, and once for the object.]


Item #15 (Two-Loop Recursion): "The boy is thinking that the girl is thinking of the father thinking of mother." [Here the principal's mind contains a mentally active image of the mind of the object of the thought, which, in turn, contains the same of the second order object. This is depicted using thinking clouds THREE TIMES, once for the principal, once for the object, and once for the object's object.]


Miller et al's results indicated that the contiguity items were correctly understood at all six grade ages (roughly 6 - 11 years), whilst all other conditions improved with age. Action improved from around 40% accuracy to around 80% over the age range in question, one-loop recursion from around 20% to around 50%, and two-loop recursion from around 0% to around 30%. Now it so happened that comparative psychologists of that era had been developing exciting new research paradigms to probe the intellectual capabilities of the great apes. The term "theory of mind" comes originally from Premack and Woodruff (1978), who used it to describe the higher mammalian ability to "impute mental states to himself and others" (p515). What Premack and Woodruff did was to show a then-14-year old female chimpanzee [specifically, case, Sarah] four 30-second videotaped problem scenarios involving a human actor, and then to seek her opinion on what she thought the actor should do to resolve said problems. This "opinion" was operationalised in the form of a one-from-four choice of photographs, as now described .....


"To escape the usual definition of animal problem, we tested Sarah on four cases quite different from the normal variety. She was shown (a) a (human) actor struggling to escape from a locked cage, (2) a malfunctioning heater (as witnessed by an actor who glanced wryly at the heater, even kicked it a little, and at the same time shivered and clasped his arms to his chest), (3) an actor seeking to play an unplugged phonograph, and (4) an actor unable to wash down a dirty floor because the hose he held was not properly attached to the faucet. [.....] Sarah was tested on these cases [..... by being] given pairs of photographs between which to choose. [.....] On the first series the alternatives consisted of a key, an attached hose, an electric cord properly plugged into a socket, and a lit cone of paper (of a kind normally used as a wick to light the pilot). With alternatives of this kind, Sarah made no errors whatsoever. She paired the key with the locked-up human actor, the burning wick with the unlit heater, the plugged-in cord with the unplugged phonograph, and the attached hose with the disconnected one" (Premack and Woodruff, 1978, p520).


It could, of course, be argued that what Sarah was really doing was recognising some element - the hose, say - common to both the scenario footage and the photographs on offer. As is always the case with research into animal cognition, researchers have to be on their guard against reading more into an observation than is absolutely necessary [readers unfamiliar with Lloyd Morgan's canon should check it out before proceeding]. Thus Bennett (1978, cited in Whiten, 1996) wondered whether perhaps Sarah was judging "not the individual's purpose, but rather just what was the next thing to be done" in each scenario. Here are Premack and Woodruff themselves on this issue .....


"Two of these cases - the nonfunctioning hose and the disconnected electric cord - could be accounted for by physical matching and are therefore not interesting as such. But two could not be accounted for in this uninteresting way: there is no physical match whatever between a key and an actor struggling to escape from a cage, nor between a flaming paper cone and an actor shivering and glancing wryly at a heater. In the next series we presented the same problems, but now with greatly refined alternatives. Sarah was no longer required simply to choose among such grossly different alternatives as keys, hoses, cords, and flaming paper. Instead, she was presented with three versions of each of the four cases. For instance: key intact, twisted or broken; hose (or electric cord) attached, not attached, or attached but cut; roll of paper unlit, lit, or burnt out. On this series she made one error in [the twelve choices], choosing the twisted rather than the intact key. [.....] None of her answers in this second series could be attributed to simple physical matching" (Premack and Woodruff, 1978, p520).  


The basic ToM idea was then developed by Dennett (1978), who popularised the notion of "orders of representation", again by Wimmer and Perner (1983), who introduced the "false belief task" as a practical method of tracking the development of this skill in children (they found that at three years of age, a typical child would "fail" a false-belief task, whereas at age five that same child would "pass" it), and again by Baron-Cohen, Leslie, and Frith (1985), who took Wimmer and Perner's method and used it to explore the ToM capabilities of children with special educational needs such as autism. Baron-Cohen (1992) is typical of this latter genre, and offers a valuable introductory illustration .....


"[Consider] the following scenario: A man comes out of a shop and walks off down the street. About half way down the street he suddenly stops, turns around, runs back to the shop, and goes inside. (We instantly think to ourselves that the man must have remembered he left something in the shop, that he wants to retrieve it, and that he believes it will still be in the shop.) The man then re-emerges from the shop, but this time he walks along slowly, scanning the ground. (Now we make the assumption that whatever he thought was in the shop wasn't there, and that he now believes he may have dropped it on the pavement outside.) If we lacked the ability to refer to the man's beliefs, desires, etc., his actions would seem most peculiar" (Baron-Cohen, 1992, pp9-10; all emphasis original).


As to the possible localisation of the associated processing in the brain, it was not long before the world's functional neuroimaging centres got on the ToM case. MIT's Rebecca Saxe is particularly active in this field. Making use of state-of-the-art fMRI brain imaging technology, Saxe and Wexler (2005 online) have noted the involvement of a number of cortical areas, including the left and right "temporo-parietal junction" [roughly Brodmann's Area 39], the posterior cingulate gyrus [roughly Brodmann's Area 23], and the medial prefrontal cortex [roughly Brodmann's Areas 25 and 11 (medial aspect)] [show me these locations]. To help narrow things down, they took 12 normal adult subjects and scanned them as they read brief narrative scenarios from a suitably positioned display screen. Data were accumulated for each subject over two presentations of each of 12 differently themed narratives (on topics such monogamy, violence, and arranged marriage). A 2x2x2 design varied the scenario as familiar or foreign, normal or norm-violating, and successfully resolved or not. Here is an indication of the findings .....


"[Data] suggest that our subjects were attempting to form an integrated impression of the protagonist in each story, and to resolve inconsistencies between expectations based on the protagonist's social background and her stated belief or desire. One brain region - the RTPJ [= right temporo-parietal junction] - fulfilled each of the predictions for the neural substrate of Theory of Mind: (1) the BOLD [= blood-oxygen-level-dependent] response in the RPTJ was low while subjects read descriptions of a protagonist's social background, and increased only once the mental state of the protagonist was described, (2) the low response to background information was not modulated by the familiarity of the described background, and (3) once mental state information was available, the BOLD response in the RTPJ was enhanced when the protagonist's background and mental state were incongruent" (Saxe and Wexler, 2005, p6)


Saxe (2006 online) likes to refer to this new discipline as "the neuroscience of person perception" or "social cognitive neuroscience" (p2).



Theory of Mind, Artificial Intelligence and: See false belief test, artificial intelligence and.



Theory of Mind Theory of Autism: [See firstly theory of mind.] This is the received name for applications of theory of mind theory to the interpretation of the underlying nature of autism. This type of study arose out of work in the early 1970s involving the nature of the cognitive deficit in autistic children. This work had established "Wing's triad" of deficits - parallel deficits in social interaction, communicative behaviour, and imaginative thought - as the clinical fingerprint of autism. It followed, when comparative psychologists devised the ToM analytic to help explain the reasoning abilities of the great apes, that those interested in human development would follow suit. Leslie (1984) set the ball rolling by drawing attention to the possibility of a meta-representational deficit in autism, and this intriguing possibility - the "Leslie model" - was then pursued by Baron-Cohen, Leslie, and Frith [U.] (1985). These authors tested 20 autistic children, 14 Down's Syndrome children, and 27 "clinically normal" children on what has become known as the "Sally Anne" variant of the false-belief test, as follows .....


"There were two doll protagonists, Sally and Anne. First, we checked that the children knew which doll was which (Naming Question). Sally first placed a marble into her basket. Then she left the scene, and the marble was transferred by Anne and hidden in her box. Then, when Sally returned, the experimenter asked the critical Belief Question: 'Where will Sally look for her marble?' If the children point to the previous location of the marble, then they pass the Belief Question by appreciating the doll's now false belief. If, however, they point to the marble's current location, then they fail the question by not taking into account the doll's belief. These conclusions are warranted if two control questions are answered correctly: 'Where is the marble really?' (Reality Question); 'Where was the marble in the beginning?' (Memory Question)" (Baron-Cohen, Leslie, and Frith [U.], 1985, p41; bold emphasis added).


Here are the chronological and mental ages (CA and MA, respectively) of the participants .....





range (mean)







6;1-16;6 (11;11)

5;4-15;9 (9;3)

2;8-7;5 (5;5)



6;3-17;0 (10;11)

4;9-8;6 (5;11)

1;8-4;0 (2;11)



3;5-5;9 (4;5)




And here are the successful answers for the Belief Question [all participants passed the Naming Question, and all but one passed the Reality and Memory Questions] .....




Belief Question OK



4 (20%)



12 (86%)



23 (85%)


We need to note the pattern of the results here very carefully, because what the data show is a selective failure by autistic children on a false belief test, despite intact reality and memory performance, and in circumstances where Down's Syndrome children with markedly inferior mental age perform at normal levels! This has turned out to be a very typical and robust pattern of results. For example, Baron-Cohen (1989) carried out a similar study, this time with groups of ten subjects. The MA data on this occasion included separate scores for expressive and receptive language, as well as non-verbal as before, as follows .....





range (mean)


(Verbal, Expressive)








10;9-18;9 (15;3)

7;3-17;7 (12;2)

2;8-17;9 (7;8)

8;3-18;0 (10;7)



9;3-17;6 (14;3)

6;1-9;8 (7;5)

2;5-6;8 (4;7)

5;0-8;5 (6;8)



7;2-7;8 (7;5)





A longer and well-controlled story about John and Mary was used, culminating in a Belief Question of the form: "Where does Mary think John has gone to [etc.]?" The performance breakdown on this question was as follows .....















On this occasion, Baron-Cohen concluded as follows .....


"[This] experiment extends the database of our earlier study [i.e., the 1985 one - Ed.] in that only 29% of all autistic subjects screened passed the inclusion criterion of being able to attribute beliefs at the simplest level (that is, to one person about an event or object). Second, [it] found that even these subjects are unable to attribute beliefs at a more advanced level (that is, to one person about another person's beliefs). In contrast, non-autistic control children (normal and Down's Syndrome subjects) with a lower MA are able to attribute beliefs at this more advanced level (second-order belief attribution). These results support our prediction that the autistic children who have developed a theory of mind at the lower level are nevertheless specifically delayed in the acquisition of a more complex theory of mind" (Baron-Cohen, 1989, p293).


At the same time, Frith [U.] was warning of the far-reaching effects of just such a deficit .....


"If there was a fault in meta-representational ability (the ability to form second-order representations), then this would be particularly devastating for the development of a theory of mind. Without a theory of mind such everyday sophistications as deception and bluff would be incomprehensible. The idea that there is a way of knowing what 'makes people tick' would be totally alien. There would be no inquisitiveness about other people's beliefs. Also there would be none of the joy or embarrassment that can result from believing that one's thoughts about another have been recognised by that person. [.....] Without a theory of mind one cannot participate in the ubiquitous psychologising that goes on in real life ....." (Frith, 1989, pp128-129).


Reflecting as it did on the long-standing mysteries of the mind, the false-belief research soon generated a storm of academic debate, and by the mid-1990s Carruthers was able to point to a major underlying issue .....


"Both Leslie and Baron-Cohen believe that mindblindness lies at the very heart of the autistic syndrome. They maintain that autism results from damage to a specialised theory of mind module, which underlies the mind-reading abilities of normal subjects. This module is held to contain an implicit theory of the structure and functioning of the human mind, which is accessed whenever a normal subject ascribes a mental state to another person, or seeks a mentalistic explanation of their behaviour. It is possible that this module is organised into a number of distinct sub-systems [citations], and that it may develop in the normal individual through a number of different stages [.....]. Others [examples given] take a different view, arguing, in various different ways and for various different reasons, that the mindblindedness of autistic people is a consequence of some more basic deficit. [.....] According to this alternative proposal, the fundamental deficit involved in autism is an inability (or at least a reduced ability) to engage in imaginative, counterfactual, suppositional thinking. It is for this reason, it is supposed, that autistic children rarely engage in spontaneous pretend play, and tend to display behaviours that are stereotyped and rigidly routinised. It is also held that the difficulties autistic people have in reading the minds of others results from the same underlying deficit, since mind-reading abilities are claimed to require the ability to identify oneself imaginatively with the other person" (Carruthers, 1996, pp257-258). 


ASIDE: Note the point about mind-reading abilities being needed when identifying with other people on any grounds beyond the directly physical (i.e., attractiveness, strength, and so on). We pursue this point in the entry for identification.


Carruthers therefore regards the characteristic autistic deficit as an impairment in the sense of enjoyment which normal children gain from pretend play. Autistic children play less because they do not find it rewarding, and fall behind, in turn, in those areas of social interaction where adult skills are normally acquired in play. More recently still, Fisher, Happé, and Dunn (2005) have examined the relationship between various language variables and ToM. They compared 58 children diagnosed with ASD with 118 children classified as MLD [= moderate learning difficulty]. They found firstly that the ASD group was consistently worse than the MLD group at false belief tasks (the pass rates were in the ranges 49-54% and 63-86%, respectively). They then tested the children's language skills on the TROG and BPVS psychometric instruments. Preliminary analysis of the results indicated a difference of around four years in verbal mental age between those in the ASD who "passed" the false belief tests and those who failed them, compared to a one year difference in the MLD group. Follow-up analyses revealed as follows .....


"[I]n the ASD group no participant with a TROG VMA of less than 5.75 years (38 individuals) passed FB, whilst all those with a TROG VMA equal to or above 10 years (10 individuals) passed. [.....] In the MLD group the relationship was far less clear. Individuals with TROG VMA scores of 4 years passed FB, and 20 individuals with scores less than 5.75 passed (the threshold in the ASD group). At the other end of the ability range [.....] one participant with a TROG VMA of 10.00 still failed FB" (Fisher, Happé, and Dunn, 2005, p414).


Fisher et al summarise their research findings as follows .....


"The specificity of the ToM deficit in ASD is a topic of debate, and some authors have argued that a deficit in FB performance can be seen in other groups with learning difficulties [citations]. This study found some support for that view. Since we did not have a control group of normally developing children, it was not possible to directly contrast our non-autistic group with children's normal development. However, it is striking that 45% of the MLD group failed at least one FDB question, even though the majority of them had VMA scores of over 4 years [.....], the age at which a normally developing child would be expected to pass" (Fisher, Happé, and Dunn, 2005, p417).


Coming right up to date, Pellicano (2007) summarises the state of play in this important research area as follows [embedded citations withheld] .....


 "We know from twin and family studies that autism is largely genetic, though the identification of specific genes is proving more difficult than originally anticipated, largely due to the disorder's heterogeneity. Research suggests that there are multiple, interacting genes involved in its inheritance, and that the neurobiological abnormalities are pervasive and not confined to any one particular region of the brain. Psychologists have focused their efforts on the cognitive level of explanation in order to identify the underlying processes that might account for the various behavioural manifestations of the disorder. Historically, and in the interests of parsimony, the emphasis upon these theories has been to posit a single primary cognitive deficit [.....]. Theories from three cognitive domains have dominated the field: (1) theory of mind - the ability to reason about the mental states of others; (2) executive control - a set of abilities important for flexible behaviour in novel circumstances; and (3) central coherence - the natural propensity to process information in context. Despite much research in all three areas, these accounts on their own have fallen short of providing a complete picture of the disorder. Instead, they explain only part of the triad of symptoms. While difficulties in theory of mind explains well why children with autism have difficulty with joint attention, pretend play, and understanding others' emotions, they fail to provide an adequate account for the presence of repetitive behaviours and circumscribed interests. These latter behaviours seem to be captured best by problems in executive control. And those things that individuals with autism are good at [.....] can be accounted for by 'weak' central coherence" (Pellicano, 2007, pp216-217).


In her own research, Pellicano had exposed 40 Australian ASD children to a battery of cognitive tasks designed to tap all three of the cognitive domains described above. She found as follows ..... 


"The findings were the opposite of what traditional single-deficit models predicted. Rather than children displaying abnormalities in a single domain only, children with ASD, relative to typically developing children, performed worse on false-belief tasks, and on tests of higher-order planning, set-shifting, and inhibitory control; but they performed better than typically developing children on tasks necessitating a piecemeal or local processing style" (Pellicano, 2007, p217; bold emphasis added).


[See now cognitive deficit, curability of, where autism is one of the disorders whose limits of rehabilitation is discussed.]



Theory of Mind and the Schizophrenic Spectrum: [See firstly theory of mind theory of autism for the general approach, but note also that it had been studies of schizophrenic thought which had spawned the notion of cognitive deficit in the first place.] Studies of the type of cognitive deficit found in schizophrenia have often noted a clinically indicative failure to relate realistically to other people, at the one extreme not recognising them as other people at all [see the quotation in the entry for self, Winnicott on], and at the other extreme recognising them as such when they are not, in fact, present [see auditory hallucination]. However, as Bannister and Salmon (1966) noted, progress has always been restricted by the lack of a basic theory of cognition. Bannister and Salmon noted that many psychiatrists were happy enough to speak of "thought disorder", but only with "the unstated implication" that cognition need not be broken down into its subsystems, and that deficits in cognition were a kind of "diffuse malaise" rather than a specific componential failure. They therefore considered how the explanatory constructs put forward by George Kelly in his personal construct theory might throw light on schizophrenic thought disorder. They compared the repertory grid performance of 11 thought-disordered schizophrenic subjects with 12 normal control subjects, and found interesting differences in performance, as follows .....


"[Results] are clearly consistent with the view that the area of maximal damage for thought-disordered schizophrenics as between object- and people-construing is people-construing. This seems to apply whether we are considering the stability of construct systems over time and across elements or considering the degree to which the pattern of negative and positive relationships between constructs (i.e., the general meaning) approaches an operational norm. [.....] Personal construct theory might equally account for the spread of damage to areas like object-construing in terms of the linkages between subsystems which are implied in predicating a personal construct system for each individual. Core role constructs (constructs which subsume and predict the self) may form the links between our conception of the object-world and the people-world, and damage to these (loss of identity) even though it originated in person-construing, might well affect object-construing" (Bannister and Salmon, 1966, pp427-428).


ASIDE: For our own part, we blame the lack of a basic theory of cognition on the sheer interdisciplinarity required to develop a good one. For example, in Smith (2007/2007 online) we identify four separate technical disciplines within cognitive modelling, each a professionalism in its own right, and each with its own characteristic approach to modelling. These four professionalisms are (1) computer programming (whose methods are dataflow analysis and functional decomposition and whose preferred summative models are the program structure diagram and the program flowchart), (2) cybernetics (whose methods - to the extent that they go beyond the skills of computer programming just described - are logical and physical control loop analysis and whose preferred summative model is the real-time control hierarchy), (3) data modelling (whose method is data analysis and normalisation and whose preferred summative models are the entity-relationship diagram (for the logical aspects of the system) and the database schema (for a specific physical implementation), and (4) electronics (whose methods are manifold but whose preferred summative model is the ubiquitous circuit diagram). Small wonder therefore that whilst individual theorists like Bannister and Salmon are able to talk about damage to "the linkages between subsystems" of semantic representation, cognitive science in general is still largely able to relate the underlying structures to other areas of psychology. 


We may comfortably date modern research to 1979, a year which was graced by Frith [C.]'s (1979) theoretical paper on schizophrenia as a defect in "information processing". Frith states the essence of his proposal as follows .....


"The three principal positive symptoms of schizophrenia, hallucinations, delusions, and thought disorder, are all disorders that manifest themselves in the consciousness of the patient. Indeed, two of these symptoms, delusions and hallucinations, can only be assessed on the basis of the patient's introspections concerning his conscious experience. The third symptom, thought disorder, is observed in the patient's speech [but is taken as reflecting] another disorder of consciousness, i.e., the stream of thought" (p225).


More recently, Frith [C.] and Corcoran (1996) have compared the "mentalising ability" of 55 schizophrenic patients (10 with "behavioural signs" such as poverty or incoherence of speech and flattening or incongruity of affect, 24 with "paranoid symptoms", 10 with "passivity phenomena" such as delusions of control, and 9 who were "in remission" and asymptomatic under medication) with that of 13 non-schizophrenic patients (depressive or anxious) and 22 normals. Each participant was read a series of six false belief task and similar stories. The first three of these are reproduced below [all p528] .....


Story #1 - First Order False Belief: This story runs as follows: "John has five cigarettes left in his packet. He puts his packet on the table and goes out of the room. Meanwhile, Janet comes in and takes one of John's cigarettes and leaves the room without John knowing". The questions then posed are: "ToM question: When John comes back for his cigarettes, how many does he think he has left? Memory question: How many cigarettes are really left in John's packet?"


Story #2 - First Order Deception - Prediction: This story runs as follows: "Mary has a box of chocolates which she puts in her top drawer for safe keeping. A few minutes later Burglar Bill comes in and asks Mary, 'Where are your chocolates, in the top or the bottom drawer?' Mary doesn't want Bill to find her chocolates". The questions then posed are "ToM question: In which drawer does Mary say her chocolates are, the bottom or the top? Why? Memory question: Where are the chocolates really?" 


Story #3 - First Order Deception - Explanation: This story runs as follows: "Sarah has saved £1 which she puts in her piggy bank where she thinks it will be safe. A little later Sly Sid comes along and asks Sarah, 'Have you put your £1 in your piggy bank or your money box?' Sarah answers, 'it's in my money box'." The questions then posed are "ToM question: Why does Sarah say that her £1 is in her money box? Memory question: Where is the £1 really?"


[Stories #4 to #6 involve longer and more contrived narratives, and interested readers are referred to the original paper.]


The authors report highly significant differences in performance on the "reality questions" [i.e., the factual questions shown as "Memory questions" above], even in simple first order stories. The behavioural signs subgroup obtained the lowest score and the paranoid subgroup second lowest. Much the same pattern was repeated on the first order ToM questions, and again (although the range of scores was considerably lower in all cases) with the second order questions. The passivity group answered the ToM questions "quite well", as did patients in remission (which latter fact the authors take as evidence that the underlying impairment is a state variable rather than a trait variable).



Theory of Neuronal Group Selection: See consciousness, Edelman and Tononi's theory of.



Therapeutic Interventions: See interventions.



Thetic: The term "thetic" is derived from the more commonly seen "thesis", and means "characterised by laying down or setting forth; involving positive statement" (O.E.D.). Husserl's translators use the term to indicate the quality of certainty which accompanies some perceptions - the thetic ones - but not others.



Thing: In everyday usage, a thing is "an entity of any kind" (O.E.D.). It has no special significance to the English-speaking philosophical tradition (where the word object is generally preferred), but appears in works in German as Ding, Ding-an-sich, and Dinge überhaupt, etc., and in their translations as thinghood, etc.



Thought Experiments: A "thought experiment" is a philosophical poser designed by its author to expose a major philosophical issue in a readily accessible way. For some of the most popular thought experiments in mental philosophy, see separately the entries for "Armstrong's fox", "Dretske's pumpkin", "Leibniz's Mill", "Leibniz's Two Clocks", "Little Miss Muffett", "Mary's Room", "Molyneux Question", "Thinking a Line", the "What's It Like To Be? Test", and the "Zombie Test".



Three Secrets, the: See the Hollins (2000) extract in learning disability, depression and.



Thinking: To think is "to conceive in the mind, exercise the mind, etc. [.....] to have in the mind as a notion [or] to do in the way of mental action" (O.E.D.). Now of course the whole purpose of cognitive science is to determine what "exercising the mind" actually involves, and the convenient answer goes by the name "higher cognitive functions" (such functions as intelligence, problem solving, insight, and creativity). Such skills are theoretically important because they render their owner able to move beyond the merely instinctual, and into the realms of the rational. There is, however, much debate as to what rationality actually is, and, indeed, considerable practical difficulty unraveling it from lesser abilities masquerading as rationality. Oden (1987) reflects that "thinking, broadly defined, is nearly all of psychology; narrowly defined it seems to be none of it" (p203). [See now ratiocination and induction.]



Thinking Skills: A catch-all term for any of the cognitive processes involved in thinking and problem solving. [See now higher cognitive functions.]



Thought, Train of: See train of thought.



3D Object Model: See perception, Marr's theory of.



Thymos: [Greek <θυμος> = "soul, life; will, desire; appetite; resolution; thought; mind, heart, sense; courage, spirit, passion; anger, wrath" (O.C.G.D.); "spirit, animus" (Peters).] This classical Greek term with a wide variety of usages across cognition, conation, and emotion, was used in Homer's time to indicate the soul, although by Plato's time the word psuche was preferred. The term was then resurrected by Sifneos (1972), and is now regularly seen in such combinations as  alexithymia, cyclothymia, dysthymia, euthymia, and hyperthymia, where it indicates emotional intensity.



TMT: See Trail Making Test.



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



Tower of Hanoi: [See firstly executive function and dysexecutive syndrome.] This test is described in Section 5 of our e-paper "From Frontal Lobe Syndrome to Dysexecutive Syndrome".



Tower of London: [See firstly executive function and dysexecutive syndrome.] This test is described in Section 6 of our e-paper "From Frontal Lobe Syndrome to Dysexecutive Syndrome".



Toxic Caring: Although readers can be referred to this entry from a number of directions, the common denominator is likely to be abuse of one sort or another at the hands of a commercially engaged carer, such as a childminder or medical professional. We cannot under this heading direct readers to a helpline, however, since this form of abuse is always going to be a criminal offence, and the appropriate authority will always be the nearest police station.



Toxic Parenting: [See firstly parenting.] A "toxic" parent is Susan Forward's term for a parent who, due to wilfulness, negligence, ignorance, or personality or mental health problems of their own, is at least partly to blame for the disorder(s) suffered by his or her child(ren). Here is how she explains this very important notion in Forward (1989) .....


"All parents are deficient from time to time. [Examples of everyday parental lapses]. Do these lapses make them cruel or unsuitable parents? Of course not. Parents are only human, and have plenty of problems of their own. And most children can deal with an occasional outburst of anger as long as they have plenty of love and understanding to counter it. But there are parents whose negative patterns of behaviour are consistent and dominant in a child's life. These are the parents who do the harm. [.....] Like a chemical toxin, the emotional damage inflicted by these parents spreads throughout a child's being, and as the child grows, so does the pain" (Forward, 1989, p5; bold emphasis added).


Forward then identifies five basic parental duties and six main ways of failing at them. The duties are self-explanatory, so all we need to do is list them. Here they are .....


(1) Providing for the child's physical needs.

(2) Protecting the child from physical harm.

(3) Providing for the child's emotional needs.

(4) Protecting the child from emotional harm.

(5) Providing the child with moral and ethical standards.


Forward then devotes a compellingly vivid chapter to each of the six ways in which toxic parents can damage their children. We have prepared a few words of introduction on each - but basically you should go out and buy your own copy of the book at once [order yours here].  The six core chapters are as follows .....


(1) "The Inadequate Parents": Clearly not one to mince her words, Forward begins by describing toxic parents as "significantly impaired in their own emotional stability or mental health" (p31). In some cases, indeed, the child is expected to take care of the carer! Here is an indicative passage .....


"A child who is compelled to become his own parent, or even become a parent to his own parent, has no one to emulate, learn from, and look up to. Without a parental role model at this critical state of emotional development, a child's personal identity is set adrift in a hostile sea of confusion" (pp31-32).


She supports her point with the story of Les, then 34 years old .....


"As a child, Les was often weighed down with responsibilities that rightfully belonged to his parents. Because he was forced to grow up too fast and too soon, Les was robbed of his childhood. While his friends were out playing ball, Les was home performing his parents' duties. To keep the family together, Les had to become a miniature adult. [.....] He was there to take care of others. He didn't matter" (pp33-34).


The issue of personal identity is rightly made paramount, thus .....


"Parents who focus their energies on their own physical and emotional survival send a very powerful message to their children: 'Your feelings are not important. I'm the only one who counts'. Many of these children, deprived of adequate time, attention, and care, begin to feel invisible - as if they don't even exist. In order for children to develop a sense of self-worth - a sense that they do more than occupy space, that they matter and are important - they need their parents to validate their needs and feelings" (p41).


On the whole, however, the "toxicity of inadequate or deficient parents can be elusive" (p45), and even when the defect has been identified the parents concerned are simple become objects of pity; defended, even, by the very children they had once persecuted.


(2) "The Controllers": [See firstly locus of control.] Forward recognises that protection and guidance are good things, requiring parents to control what their children think and do. There is, however, a point beyond which normal control becomes "overcontrol", thus .....


"Children who are not encouraged to do, to try, to explore, to master, and to risk failure, often feel helpless and inadequate. Overcontrolled by anxious, fearful parents, these children often become anxious and fearful themselves. This makes it difficult for them to mature. When they develop through adolescence and adulthood, many of them never outgrow the need for ongoing parental guidance and control. As a result, their parents continue to invade, manipulate, and frequently dominate their lives" (p48).


We should accordingly be duly cautious whenever we hear phrases such as "I'm only doing this for your own good" or "It's because I love you". Overcontrol can be either "direct", using money, things, and the supply of love as the means of enforcing the parental will, or "indirect" and "manipulative. Manipulation, indeed, is every bit as damaging, even tyrannical. For example .....


"One of the most common types of toxic manipulators is the 'helper'. Instead of letting go, the helper creates situations to make him- or herself 'needed' in the adult child's life. This manipulation often comes packaged as well-meaning but unwanted assistance" (p56).


Another good ploy is to compare you unfavourably to a preferred sibling, say, using phrases such as "Why can't you be more like your sister?" (p60). Nor does the power to manipulate die when the parent concerned had passed away, because the echo of their censure remains with you from beyond the grave. Eli, for example, still hears his late father's words of caution and mistrust about women every time he dated one!


(3) "The Alcoholics": Forward describes alcoholism in a household as a source of "tremendous emotional chaos for children" (p70), and as "the Big Secret" for the family concerned. Her point is that having to put on an "everything's fine" face all the time actually takes considerable effort. Everything becomes a superficial facade, and every family member - the non-alcoholic spouse and the children alike - a party to the denial. There is little time (or cash) left for adequate parenting. Again, children become "emotionally invisible", and remain so throughout their lives, addicts to denial and cover-up in their own relationships, with predictable effects.


(4) "The Verbal Abusers": Forward is not fooled by the saying to the effect that "sticks and stones" are worse than words. Far from it, she says, for nothing can be more hurtful than a few well chosen words, and nowhere are these effects more damaging in the long term than with children, especially if the metaphorical blows are landed during one of the critical periods of identity development. Here is how she explains the problem .....


"Like controlling parents, verbal abusers have two distinct styles. There are those who attack directly, openly, viciously degrading their children. They may call their children stupid, worthless, or ugly. They may say that they wish their child had never been born. They are oblivious to their child's feelings and to the long-term effects of their constant assaults on their child's developing self-image. Other verbal abusers are more indirect, assailing the child with a constant barrage of teasing, sarcasm, insulting nicknames, and subtle put-downs [often hiding] their abuse behind the facade of humour" (p93).


Here is an example of what is at stake .....


"My mom always wanted me to be the perfect little lady. She wanted me to be graceful and elegant, and to speak well ..... when I'd blow it, she'd try to shame me into doing it right. She meant well, she really did. She'd imitate me if I mispronounced a word. She'd make fun of how I looked ..... ballet recitals were the worst. Mom had dreams of being a dancer herself, but got married instead. So I guess I was supposed to live out her dream for her" (p97; bold emphasis added).


(5) "The Physical Abusers": Moving on to the topic of the "battered child", Forward focuses on the issue of "impulse control". This is the sort of thing that goes on .....


"We can only speculate why, but physically abusive parents seem to share certain characteristics. First, they have an appalling lack of impulse control. Physically abusive parents will assault their children whenever they have strong negative feelings that they need to discharge. [.....] It is almost an automatic reaction to stress. [They also] often come from families in which abuse was the norm. Much of their adult behaviour is a direct repetition of what they experienced and learned in their youth. Their role model was an abuser. Violence was the only tool they learned to use in dealing with problems and feelings [.....] Emotionally, they are still children" (pp113-114; bold emphasis added).


Forward notes that abusers of this sort seem to expect emotional comfort from their children, and lash out when the child in question is too immature to provide it. Instead of dealing with his own problems, one father "displaced his fury and sexual frustration" onto his daughters, and then blamed his wife for the resulting physical violence against them. As Forward so poignantly puts it, this sort of abuse creates a sort of "private holocaust" (p114) for the child! As with alcohol abuse, this pathology includes an element of secrecy, thus .....


"The 'family secret' is a further burden for abused children. By not talking about the abuse, the battered child cuts off any hope of emotional help. Here's Kate: 'All my life I felt like I've been living a lie. It's horrible not being able to talk freely about something that affected my life so strongly. How do you get over the pain of something if you can't talk about it? Sure I can talk about it in therapy, but I still can't talk about it to the people who held all this power over me all those years" (p125).


(6) "The Sexual Abusers": Describing sexual abuse as "the ultimate betrayal", Forward introduces the topic of incest by dispelling such common myths as that it is restricted to the poor and the uneducated in society or that it is rare (she goes with the estimate of one child in ten!). She then tries to tease out the key psychological effects, pointing firstly to the feelings of shame which the experience typically engenders, thus .....


"The shame of the incest victim is unique. Even very young victims know that incest must be kept secret [..... and] the blame is compounded by the shame. The belief that 'it's all my fault' is never more intense than with the incest victim." (p141).


The natural response, of course, is to "push it all down inside", making incest "a form of psychological cancer" (p152). Worse. If the victim experiences any pleasure from the incest, his or her shame is magnified accordingly. Her case Tracy exemplifies .....


"She explained: I knew it was wrong, but it did feel good. The guy was a real bastard to do it to me, but I'm as guilty as him because I liked it" (p142).


And worse is yet to come if the incest is between father and daughter, because here there is the quintessentially Freudian dynamic of the daughter achieving the forbidden Freudian aim of stealing the father figure away from the mother, of wanting him for oneself. This just adds "yet another layer of guilt" (p142). And what if the mother was herself complicit in some way with the abuse? Consider .....


"There are three types of mothers in incest families: those who genuinely don't know, those who may know, and those who do know. [.....] I am convinced that some mothers truly don't know. The second type of mother is the classic silent partner. She wears blinders. The incest clues are there, but she chooses to ignore them [.....]. The final type is the most reprehensible: the mother who is told of the molestation by her children but does nothing about it. When this happens, the victim is doubly betrayed" (p149; bold emphasis added).


Forward presents case Liz to illustrate this third type of mother.


ASIDE: This raises the spectre of multiple-generation effects as mother infects daughter (infects daughter (infects daughter)), and so on, a point which we ourselves take up under the heading toxic parenting and cognitive deficit.


Forward then looks at why families behave the way they do, and considers what can be done, either as a society or as an abuse survivor, to remediate the damage which has been done. Her general conclusion is that toxic parents are "self-centred and self-serving" (p158), and habitually deploy a number of pathogenic ego defense and coping mechanisms [specifically, denial, projection, sabotage, triangling [= taking sides], and secrecy] in order to maintain that self-interest. As far as remediation is concerned, confrontation - of the truth, but preferably of the culprits personally - is Forward's solution. Where you go next depends upon your personal avenue of investigation. Here are the main options .....


To follow up the effects of toxic parenting .....

In general, see toxic parenting and cognitive deficit.

For the effects toxic parenting can have on language development, see specific language impairment and parenting.

For the effects toxic parenting can have on basic identity development, see separation-individuation.

For the effects of incestual sexual abuse on transference in therapy, see transference.


To check out the antidotes to toxic parenting .....

To build self-esteem in children, see self-esteem.

To build social skills see social skills training.

For ways of promoting general psychological wellbeing, see meaning of life.


[See now toxic parenting and cognitive deficit.]


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 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 parenting skills available from the NSPCC website [take me there] We also recommend the Royal College of Psychiatrists website [see factsheet], the Raising Kids website, and the Parents Advice Centre website. 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.



Toxic Parenting and Cognitive Deficit: In the core entry for toxic parenting, we noted that many forms of child abuse bring with them the inherent risk of being re-inflicted upon the abused child's own children. There are many possible reasons for this, thus .....


"A broad set of personality characteristics is associated with child maltreatment. These include low self-esteem, poor impulse control, and antisocial behaviour [], growing up in an abusive home [], disrupted early childhood attachment [], character disorders in mothers [], maternal depression [], and cognitive deficits []. Some research suggests that systemic factors combine with personality variables to increase the potential for subsequent childhood maltreatment to occur. These factors include poor living conditions, frequent moves, teenage pregnancy, unemployment, family conflict, and substance abuse []. Parental rejection [], a lack of social supports [], poor disciplinary practices in parents abused as children [], and domestic violence [] have also been identified" (Hurley et al, 2003/2006 online, p4).


Fortunately, Hurley et al reassure us, not all abused children go on to become abusing adults, and the key factor in deciding whether they will or will not seems to be "life course events". Those authors' own data was drawn from the archives of the Children Aid Society's in the Greater London area in both 1995 (447 children) and 2001 (590 children). The caregivers in 26% and 35% of these samples respectively had themselves been involved with the Society as children. As might be expected, the children of these cases were significantly more at risk of being abused a generation down the line, and a number of social services interventions were known to be partly effective in mitigating that risk. It is, however, not possible to all at risk parents for the simple reason that out-and-out abuse - that which transgresses some clear legal ordinance -  is not the only aspect of the toxic parenting nightmare! This is because there are a number of parent-child pathologies in which an in-some-critical-respect-dysfunctional parent intends no harm and does nothing explicitly illegal, nor even reprehensible. They are non-culpable, in other words. They are just being what they themselves are. There are no laws, for example, against two ADD children growing up, marrying, and having an ADD child of their own, even though it is recognised that the environment in which that child will be brought up will be conversationally dysfunctional (Seay, 1998/2006 online), and thus likely to produce a second generation language disorder. Similarly, in many other forms of disability. The problem, in other words, is that we all have a right to make the most of our time on this planet, for all our imperfections, at that includes having children! We offer the following scenarios to illustrate the risk of intergenerational "re-infection" for specific types of problem (see the individual captions below) in specific client groupings such as learning disability, mental health, and socio-familial adequacy (including incestuous sexual abuse) .....


Scenario #1 - The Intergenerational Attention Deficit Problem: Seay (1998/2006 online) reminds us that ADHD is not confined to children, being manifested in adults as impulsivity, poor financial management, proneness to error, temper, relationship problems, a "generally disorganised" life, and so on. He warns that some 70% of ADHD children go on to become ADHD adults, refers to these as "ADDults", and suspects that there are many "ADDers" in the world who are unaware of the underlying cause of their everyday problems with life. In this scenario, we are therefore interested in the knock-on effects, good or bad, of parenting-as-teaching by ADHD parents, now adults, on children who are themselves at risk. Our research question, in short, asks how parents can help an ADHD child attend to a world they might not be able to attend to themselves. As far as intergenerational re-infection is concerned, Seay then draws attention to the nature of conversation skills in an ADDult-ADDult family, as follows .....


"Conversation skills can be a challenge for people who have AD/HD, but there are some things you can do to make it easier. First, understand that AD/HD – yours and/or theirs – can make communication more complicated. 'Once you recognize that interpersonal relationships can and do require 'work' for those with AD/HD, you may feel less anxious and frustrated,' notes Michele Novotni, an ADD social skills expert. 'If your expectation is that listening is hard, you are more likely to gear up to the challenge. However, if your expectation is that it should be easy, you may often find yourself frustrated and overwhelmed'" (Seay, 1998/2006 online; bold emphasis added).


Another commentator points out as follows .....


"Learning disabilities can be hard on a family. One parent, often the mother, may recognize and face the problem sooner or more readily than the other. Misunderstanding and conflict can result. Brothers and sisters often resent the amount of attention given to a child with special needs and may proclaim knowingly that the child is a spoiled brat who is perfectly capable. Grandparents tend to blame parents for not doing enough, not being disciplined enough, organized enough, or not giving enough direct help to the child. Neighbors can be intolerant if the child is very hyperactive or has low frustration tolerance and tends to explode or cry at each hurdle. On a daily basis, children with special needs typically raise the irritant factor in family life. They tend to leave everyone on edge because their behavior is unpredictable, erratic, inconsistent. and full of ups-and-downs. Children with learning disabilities and ADHD are usually very disorganized. They have trouble dealing with sequences and order, so they don't plan well. They are distracted easily and often impulsive. Just getting washed and dressed in the morning can be an arduous task. sometimes resulting in explosions on the part of the children, their parents, or both. Clashes frequently emanate from a child's misunderstanding of instructions or going off on a tangent" Smith (2002/2006 online).


Smith also notes the role of emotional immaturity across the generations, thus .....


"To complicate the problem, when wrong or criticized, children with learning disabilities tend to fall apart, withdraw into day dreaming, or strike out in one form or another. Emotionally this population is very immature and fragile. These children tend to personalize things that have nothing to do with them. For example, when family members are laughing at something, children with special needs are often convinced that they are being laughed at, and, as a result, they get very upset. Furthermore, their moods swing widely, and a child may be laughing one moment, crying the next (Smith, 1995). This emotional lability is hard to live with. Children with learning disabilities and ADHD are prone to depression (Smith, 1991). Their sense of defeat and failure is contagious and, sometimes, the whole family feels their helplessness and despair. Often adults, otherwise incredibly competent in their daily lives, feel incredibly incompetent when with these children. This can take a toll on parents, and support and education may be necessary to bolster parents' sense of confidence and competence in effectively parenting the child with learning disabilities" (Smith, 2002/2006 online).


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


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 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 parenting skills available from the NSPCC website [take me there] We also recommend the Royal College of Psychiatrists website [see factsheet], the Raising Kids website, and the Parents Advice Centre website. 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.



Toxic Parenting and Cognitive Deficit - Scenario #2: [See firstly the introductory entry and Scenario #1 above.]


Scenario #2 - The Intergenerational Autistic Spectrum Problem: As explained in the entry for autistic spectrum disorders (ASD), conditions like Asperger's disorder and semantic-pragmatic disorder are (a) fundamentally disorders of meta-representation, and (b) at least partly inherited. They are also continuously variable in severity, which means that individuals at the high end of "borderline" will either not be detected, or - if they are detected - will attract little remediation if they fall short of the trigger threshold for special educational need provision. True positives at the low end of average are even more likely to go undetected, with a symptomatology which is compensated for, "lived around", or just written off as idiosyncrasy (Bauer, 1996/2006 online). We should be seriously concerned at this state of affairs, given that statistically some 16% of the entire population fall into the "low average" category, thus .....


ASIDE: There are a number of systems for formally describing the relative severity of ability impairments [see the review by De la Jara]. For our present purposes, we have adopted the 100-centred IQ-type scale, sub-banded as follows [percentages rounded to whole numbers] .....


First 25% below the mean = the lower half of "average"

Next 16% = "low average" but unimpaired [this is the 16% referred to above]

Next 7% = "borderline" impairment

Bottom 2% = "moderate" to "profound" impairment


For the purposes of the present scenario, we are interested in the knock-on effects of parenting-as-teaching by borderline or low average ASD children, now grown-up, on children who are themselves borderline or low average high-functioning autists. What we want to know in particular is how such parents can teach their ASD child to model a world they might not have accurately modelled themselves, and, whilst there are many possible family structures in which this sort of entirely unwitting "cognitive abuse" might take place, they each boil down to one or more dysfunctional (or non-existent) speech acts on the part of the parent, compounded by a deficiency in social inference on the part of the child which - cruelly - prevents the parent's shortcomings being compensated for.


EXAMPLE: If the parent lacks speech acts in the Requestive category, then it is possible that the child will "have the same wire out", and certain that it will not be fully exposed to linguistic behaviour in that category. Moreover, if the child managed to work out for itself what Requestives were all about, it would not, by definition, be properly received by the deficient parent. Aston (2005/2006 online) is already studying this very scenario, and offers case Sarah [see case, Sarah] to illustrate what is at stake. Sarah indicates how Asperger's disorder parents can in all innocence quite profoundly affect the upbringing of an Asperger's child. Readers unfamiliar with the topics of speech acts and "mindblindness" may benefit from our introductory PowerPoint presentation on the topic - click here to be transferred. For a full list of speech acts, see speech acts, the Bach and Harnish taxonomy.


As to the prevalence of the condition, estimates vary, thus .....


"Whereas autism has traditionally been felt to occur in about 4 out of every 10,000 children, estimates of Asperger syndrome have ranged as high as 20-25 per 10,000. That means that for each case of more typical autism, schools can expect to encounter several children with a picture of AS (that is even more true for the mainstream setting, where most children with AS will be found). In fact, a careful, population-based epidemiological study carried out by Gillberg's group in Sweden, concluded that nearly 0.7% of the children studied had a clinical picture either diagnostic of or suggestive of AS to some degree. Particularly if one includes those children who have many of the features of AS and seem to be milder presentations along the spectrum as it shades into 'normal', it seems not to be a rare condition at all. All studies have agreed that Asperger syndrome is much more common in boys than in girls. The reasons for this are unknown. AS is fairly commonly associated with other types of diagnoses, again for unknown reasons, including: tic disorders such as Tourette disorder, attentional problems and mood problems such as depression and anxiety" (Bauer, 1996/2006 online; emphasis added).


Bauer also draws attention to the heritability of the syndrome .....


"In some cases there is a clear genetic component, with one parent (most often the father) showing either the full picture of AS or at least some of the traits associated with AS; genetic factors seem to be more common in AS compared to more classic autism. Temperamental traits such as having intense and limited interests, compulsive or rigid style and social awkwardness or timidity also seem to be more common, alone or in combination, in relatives of AS children. Sometimes there will be a positive family history of autism in relatives, further strengthening the impression that AS and autism are sometimes related conditions. Other studies have demonstrated a fairly high rate of depression, both bipolar and unipolar, in relatives of children with AS, suggesting a genetic link in at least some cases. It seems likely that for AS, as for autism, the clinical picture we see is probably influenced by many factors, including genetic ones, so that there is no single identifiable cause in most cases" (Bauer, 1996/2006 online; bold emphasis added).



Toxic Parenting and Cognitive Deficit - Scenario #3: [See firstly the introductory entry and the earlier scenarios above.]


Scenario #3 - The Intergenerational Sexual Abuse Problem: [See firstly incest and its onward links.] Prevalence statistics on the intergenerational transmission of childhood sexual abuse are notoriously difficult to establish with any degree of precision due to the closed-doors nature of the offence before its detection, the denial and evasions at the time of its detection, the repressed, distorted, and otherwise unreliable memory of the principal witness(es), and the need to rebuild the lives of both direct and collateral victims. For the purposes of the present scenario, we are interested in the knock-on effects of parenting-as-teaching by incestuously abused women, now grown up, in promoting that same risk in their own daughters [they will certainly promote other risks (see, for example, Herman, 1981), but that is not the issue at hand]. Our research question, in short, is the extent to which once-abused mothers can help their daughters develop a healthy sense of identity, complete with mature ego defenses and coping strategies, when their own perception of the world has been perhaps irretrievably damaged and they may themselves employ neurotic, immature, or even psychotic ego defenses. Hindman (2006) refers to such mothers as "the non-offending but often offensive spouse in the incestuous family". Indeed, one of the most damaging factors is that the processes of defense are still very active in these mothers, and act to blind them to what might be going on with their own daughter(s). Thus .....


"Some women who are married to the perpetrator are so totally dominated by their husbands that they can't save themselves. [.....] Many of these mothers are also incest survivors. Some are so crippled by their own histories that they cannot see what is before them; to acknowledge the child's incest would be to acknowledge their own" (Blume, 1990, p170; bold emphasis added).


Another factor is the once-abused mother's very conceptualisation of womanhood, thus .....


"[An incest survivor's adult sexuality] can interfere with her relationship with her daughters, because when a woman hates her womanhood, she can impede her daughters' ability to love themselves as well" (Blume, 1990, p213; bold emphasis added).


"Many men who were molested as children go on to molest their own children. Women rarely molest children. [.....] However, when women are taught through rape and molestation that they have no rights to their bodies [.....] they sometimes allow men into their lives who do not respect women or children and, not knowing how to protect themselves, these women do not know how to protect their daughters either" (Bass and Thornton, 1983, p45; bold emphasis added)


..... and another is her inability to create a healthy family environment, thus ..... [a long extract, heavily abridged] .....


"In short, she has learned an entire repertoire of skills that sabotage intimacy. [.....] In the beginning [post-abuse] relationships progress nicely, without obvious problems. The joy of the new bond seems pure; the incest survivor feels great relief and hope. [.....] Then, to her great surprise and indescribable disappointment, all hell might break loose. When this happens, it may be her bewildered partner who bears the brunt of the emotion meant for events of long ago [.....]. In this way, while one may survive incest, one's relationship might not. [.....] The incest survivor may suddenly lose her emotional attachment for her partner [..... and] find herself suddenly, unreasonably angry at her partner, for nothing and for everything. [.....] Closeness has become distance; the closeness they once shared is now transformed into steady tension" (Blume, 1990, pp240-256; bold emphasis added).


For this and similar reasons .....


"..... many studies of incestuous families do report a high incidence of marital discord and sexual estrangement between the parents. Herbert Maisch, for example, in his study of 72 cases reported to the German courts, indicated that 88 percent of the couples had a 'disturbed or disorganised marriage' prior to the onset of incest, and 41 percent had a disturbed sexual relationship" (Herman, 1981/2000, p43).


Perhaps the most devastating factor in the aforementioned "sabotage of intimacy" is the incest survivor's skill at projective identification. The risk here is that "the internal world of torturer and tortured, tyrant and slave" get "enacted" in significant others (paraphrased from Kernberg, 2006 online). As we have already noted elsewhere, classic examples of projection involve the imputation of our own negative motivations such as sexual desire or covetousness to those around us. With the incest survivor, however, this can reach new extremes of intensity.


ASIDE: There is a truly vicious irony at work here, because the sudden and (from their perspective) unprovoked emotional assault on the person on the receiving end of the identification (often a therapist or therapist-figure) can often bring about in them for real that which had not in fact been there prior to the projection, "making it difficult to clarify who did what to whom first" (Kelly, 2006 online)!!


Ray (1996/2006 online) reviewed the literature and includes the following on the intergenerational effect .....


"Problems in relating to both women and men, continuing problems with their parents and difficulty in parenting their own children have been reported by women sexually victimized as children []. In addition, victims reported difficulty trusting others that included reactions of fear, hostility and a sense of betrayal []. The results are supported by findings from Courtois's (1979) sample in which 79% of the incest victims experienced moderate or severe problems in relating to men and 40% had never married. Another effect of child sexual abuse is the apparent vulnerability to be victimized (raped, battered) later on in life []. Another long-term effect concerns the impact of early sexual abuse on later sexual functioning. Almost all the clinical studies show later sexual problems (i.e., more sexually anxious, decreased sex drive, more sexual guilt) among child sexual abuse victims than non-victimized women []."


And Price (1994) adds .....


"Adults with a history of incest often organise their experience of themselves and their identity around their role in the trauma or a certain aspect of it. They frequently maintain this identification rigidly despite conflicting behaviours and more current feedback from others. This serves the purpose of avoiding inner conflict, identity confusion, and maintaining an idealisation of themselves and/or their families. This can often lead to further retraumatisation and reenactment of their childhood and its traumatic consequences. It has been documented that many adults with a history of incest often reenact and repeat their incest history and incest-related patterns in adult life. [.....] Rigid and narrow self-identifications obscure these individuals' ability to perceive and understand their own behaviour and its impact on others, as well as the behaviour and intentions of others. [.....] Although the position of victim is not the only role and identity maintained by an adult with an incest history, it is often the most common and deeply held" (Price, 1994, pp214-215; bold emphasis added).


So what might the substantive cognitive deficit actually be? Well as an academic reviewer, we can only side with the bulk of the literature and blame a corrupted self, as portrayed so consistently and so powerfully in the extracts set out in the entry for self, incestuous sexual abuse and.


ASIDE / RESEARCH ISSUE: Nevertheless, as a systems engineer rather than as a psychologist we are drawn towards some curious discrepancies in "the numbers". Why is it, for example, that the package of ills which follows non-sexual covert incest is about as intense as that which follows the fully-fledged version? Was the act itself not important? And why is it that the prevalence of overt incest (taking contact and non-contact variants together) is about the same as the "borderline" and "low average" categories on the IQ-type scale described in Scenario #2 above? We sorely need to know more about the personality and self-concept of the victims in their pre-abused state, not least this next one .....


We shall give the last word on this matter to one of Price's (1994) cases, and wish we knew how this young woman had approached the world prior to - but especially in the immediate run-up to - her first seduction! Here is her perhaps indicative confession .....


"I control people with my suffering and with my hysterical outbursts. It's all about winning, any way that you can" (Price, 1994, p221; bold emphasis added).


[For more on the potential role of defective pragmatics in predisposing potential victims to abuse, see prohibitives, and in impeding their subsequent rehabilitation, see advisories.]



Toxic Parenting and Cognitive Deficit - Scenario #4: [See firstly the introductory entry and the earlier scenarios above.]


Scenario #4 - The Intergenerational "Learner's Role" Problem: [See firstly learner's role.] One of the keys to effective learning is for the would-be learner to adopt the role of "learner", coming to regard knowledge and skills as worthwhile commodities in their own right and their acquisition as a worthwhile use of their time. Learners seek out learning whenever and wherever they can, cathecting it almost. In this scenario, we are therefore interested in the knock-on effects of parenting-as-teaching by LD children, now grown up, on children who are themselves LD. Our research question, in short, asks how parents are to help their LD child value something they might not genuinely think much of themselves. Gross (1997/2006 online) explains the risks this way .....


"Children who internalize a sense of being slow or poor learners are at considerable risk for failure. Lowered expectations have been shown to have a negative impact on how well children actually learn, and even on how willing they are to attempt tasks. Children with learning disabilities are vulnerable to paralyzing self-doubt, and often avoid learning in order to withdraw from further failure. The literature on learned helplessness is filled with examples of how children try to reduce their sense of failure and to avoid further experiences of incompetence. Labels such as 'slow,' 'stupid,' 'lazy,' and 'dumb,' can have a devastating impact on motivation curiosity and confidence and are unfortunately all too frequently heard during the impressionable early school years."


Gross (1997/2006 online) then identifies the mechanism of the intergenerational transmission as follows .....


"One parent of a child with significant sequencing and organizational difficulties commented about his daughter's school report by saying with irritation, "She wasn't supposed to turn out like me!" This parent had academic difficulties himself and strongly identified with his child's problems, recalling his own sense of injury and failure. He therefore had difficulty giving his child the reassurance and support she needed, and acknowledging that she could be helped through remediation."



Toxic Parenting and Cognitive Deficit - Scenario #5: [See firstly the introductory entry and the earlier scenarios above.]


Scenario #5 - The Intergenerational Physical Abuse Problem: There is little doubt that there is a major risk of intergenerational infection in violent abuse (Widom, 1989; Egeland, 1993; Gara, Rosenberg, and Herzog, 1996). Guterman and Lee (2005/2006 online) have reviewed the factors predisposing children to physical maltreatment, and mention unemployment and economic hardship, young fatherhood, and substance abuse. They conclude .....


"Mounting evidence underscores that troubled or violent relationships between fathers and mothers appear particularly linked with physical child abuse and neglect risk, and, similarly, that coercive interactions between mothers and fathers appear linked with heightened coercive behaviors toward children []. For example, Rosenbaum and O’Leary (1981) reported that parents who use physically aggressive tactics to resolve spousal disputes also tend to use similar tactics in disciplining their children. Similarly, according to reports from battered women, violent husbands are less involved in child rearing and use less induction and physical affection and more negative control techniques in their child-rearing practices []. In line with these findings, a number of studies have reported that the presence of domestic violence between adult partners is closely associated with physical child abuse and neglect" (p143).


However, not all the studies they looked at had reported an intergenerational effect, and further research is needed. Other recent studies also point to the number of risk factors in deviant behaviour. For example, Sutton, Utting, and Farrington, (2006) list both "physical/emotional/sexual abuse" and "hitting/frequent shaking" as risk factors in criminality. Gara, Rosenberg, and Herzog (1996) have compared the parenting behaviour of 55 mothers who had been physically abused as children with 46 matched non-abused controls. They found that "clusters of negative attitudes pervaded the memories and perceptions that abused mothers had of others, particularly parents", and that their extent discriminated the two groups "almost perfectly". There was also a clear correlation between the strength of the positive view of self and others and the security of the infant-mother attachment. And Haapasalo and Aaltonen (1999) have studied how mother's abusive childhood is a powerful predictor of next generation child abuse. They compared 25 mothers whose children were known to social services with 25 matched no-known-risk controls, and found that the treatment group "had experienced more childhood psychological abuse, especially rejection, accusations, terrorising, and corrupting". Significantly, "punitiveness was best predicted by maternal childhood psychological abuse [providing] evidence for the cycle of abuse model".



Toxic Parenting and Cognitive Deficit - Scenario #6: [See firstly the introductory entry and the earlier scenarios above.]


Scenario #6 - The Intergenerational Divorce and "Fatherlessness" Problem: For the purposes of the present scenario, we are interested in the knock-on effects of parenting-as-teaching by children from broken homes, now grown up, in promoting that same risk in their own sons and daughters [they will certainly promote other risks, but that is not the issue at hand]. Our research question, in short, asks how developmentally disadvantaged parents can hope to help their children grow as healthy selves capable of relating appropriately to the world when their own habitual analysis of and reaction to that world has been perhaps irretrievable damaged. Divorce is consistently reported as producing children who will themselves divorce, and fatherlessness is consistently identified as one of the key factors in childhood problems. For example, Pears and Capaldi (2001) have reported that parents who had suffered from "harsh or abusive parenting" (Pears and Capaldi, 2001, p1440) as children were "likely to become harsh and abusive parents in their turn". Pears and Capaldi identified three main vehicles for the transmission of this effect. Firstly, abused mothers are often young mothers, so there is an inherent "confound" with their relative immaturity as parents. Secondly, there was a tendency for abused mothers to have been poorly parented, thanks, for example, to depression, antisocial personality disorder (a disorder characterised by impulsivity, irritability, and aggressiveness), or substance or alcohol abuse. And thirdly, there was a tendency to use "poor disciplinary skills" (p1442). Pears and Capaldi found a 23% rate of "intergenerational transmission" with consistency of discipline being the best protective factor.


ASIDE: This type of effect may underpin what the forensic child psychologist Melanie Gill has called "the devaluation of parenthood" (The Daily Mail, 20th July 2006). Children who have never known genuine unconditional love, she writes, and who have been brought up in homes "without boundaries or discipline", inevitably grow up to become "emotionally broken adults" themselves.


Here is a selection of indicative data .....


- Children from fatherless homes are more likely to commit suicide (5 times as likely), more likely to run away (32 times), to have behavioural disorders (20 times), to commit rape (14 times), to commit substance abuse (10 times), and to end up in prison (20 times) (US data; by secondary citation, so exercise due caution).


- Whitehead (1993) reports that daughters of single parents are 53% more likely to marry as teenagers, 164% more likely to have a premarital birth, and 92% more likely to dissolve their own marriages.


- McCord (1979) reports that the strongest predictor of criminal behaviour in adults was for them to have been poorly supervised by their parents as children.


- Fergusson, Horwood, and Lynskey (1994) have isolated parental conflict as a key factor in producing disturbed children.


There are, of course, many variables at work. For example, Levy (1993) points to the simple practicalities of family finance, informing us that 75% of American children in single-parent families experience formally defined "poverty", compared to only 20% of those in two-parent families. And the damage - whatever it turns out to be - is done very deep and very early .....


"Among teenage and adult populations of females, parental divorce has been associated with lower self-esteem, precocious sexual activity, greater delinquent-like behaviour, and more difficulty establishing gratifying lasting adult heterosexual relationships. It is especially intriguing to note that, in these studies, the parental divorce typically occurred years before any difficulties were observed" (Kalter 1987; bold emphasis added)


As to what society ought to do about the problem, Sanders and Morawska (2006) wonder whether "large-scale multi-risk-factor" interventions are in practice too cumbersome to work effectively. They see a lot of value in "social-learning-based parenting programmes" (p476). They believe the evidence in favour of such programmes is compelling, thus .....


"Quality of parenting is the strongest potentially modifiable risk factor contributing to early-onset conduct problems. Evidence from behaviour genetics research and epidemiological, correlational, and experimental studies shows that parenting practices have a major influence on many different domains of children's development []. Specifically, the lack of a warm, positive relationship with parents, insecure attachment and inadequate supervision of and involvement with children are strongly associated with children's increased risk for behavioural and emotional problems. [.....] Studies evaluating PMT [= "parent management training"] interventions often show large effect sizes [] and have been replicated many times across different studies, investigators, and countries" (Sanders and Morawska, 2006, p477; bold emphasis added).


ASIDE: It is observations like these which presumably led Elgar (2004; see press release) to conclude that the best way to help children with problem behaviour would be to help their mothers overcome their mood problems! They also explain why Adams (1991) is so concerned with the corrosive effects "covert incest" (i.e., oppressive, but not physical, over-parenting) on the victim's identity structures.


In the same vein, Sutton, Utting, and Farrington (2006) draw our attention to the relationship between parenting and juvenile criminality. Noting that the roots of offending, mental health difficulties, and educational underachievement, are often evident from an early age, they review the known risk factors. Organised firstly by critical period of sensitivity and then by point of focus (societal, familial, and personal, respectively), here they are .....


(1) Pregnancy: The important societal influences at this developmental stage are low income, poor housing, and a neglected neighbourhood, the key parenting variables are stress in pregnancy, teenage pregnancy, and smoking in pregnancy, and the key personal variables are prematurity of delivery, birth complications, and genetic predisposition.


(2) Age 0 to 2 Years: The important societal influence at this developmental stage is "socio-economic stress", the key parenting variables are postnatal depression, harsh parenting style, rejection, smacking, and a low level of stimulation, and the key personal variables are temperament and hyperactivity.


(3) Age 3 to 8 Years: The important societal influences at this developmental stage are low achievement at school, behaviour problems / bullying, and school disorganisation, the key parenting variables are inconsistency of managing the child, mental health problems, and smacking, and the key personal variables are tantrums, aggression, witnessing domestic violence, and diet.


(4) Age 9 to 13 Years: The important societal influences at this developmental stage are low informal social control and truancy, the key parenting variable is having a convicted parent at age 10 years, and the key personal variables are behaviour problems, physical / emotional / sexual abuse, ADHD and aggressive behaviour, antisocial peers, and an early initiation into offending.


Hutchings and Lane (2006) have studied why major government interventions such as the Sure Start scheme [details] achieve so little "particularly for the most disadvantaged families whose children are most at risk" (p480). Their core explanation is that the resources are neither delivered at the points nor in the fashion suggested by the available evidence base. They list the following factors as of proven benefit .....


- new parenting skills must be actively consolidated through rehearsal, role-play, or other means


- parenting programs must teach behavioural principles rather than just specific techniques


- parents must implement what they have learned in the home


- programs must include non-violent sanctions for negative behaviour and foster positive relationships


- "difficulties in adult relationships and other family problems must be addressed" (p480)


- Programs need a "collaborative alliance" (p481) with parents, accepting their goals at face value



Toxic Parenting and Cognitive Deficit - Scenario #7: [See firstly the introductory entry and the earlier scenarios above.]


Scenario #7 - The Intergenerational Locus Of Control Problem: [See firstly locus of control] [We begin by declaring our personal belief that it is a good thing to have an internal locus of control; that it is better to be "master of one's own destiny" than a "slave to convention".] For the purposes of the present scenario, we are interested in the knock-on effects of parenting-as-teaching by external locus of control children, now grown up, on their own children, such that the parents' low expectations of personal influence affect the assertiveness and self-confidence of the child. This message can even be transmitted unwittingly! For example, Bugental, Henker, and Whalen (1976) found that expressions of assertiveness differed between internally and externally controlled people. They proposed the "voice leakage hypothesis", the notion that externals would "leak" - unintentionally transmit - their low expectations of their own influence through "nonassertive vocal behaviour" (p406).


ASIDE: The key technical concepts here are intonation and prosody, but the everyday term "voice quality" will suffice for those not immediately interested in the technicalities.


Hall, Mroz, and Braunwald (1983) have studied "vocal assertiveness" in a teaching scenario. They taped subjects delivering a short factual presentation then analysed the recordings for speed, rhythm, intensity, and pitch. Their results were as follows .....


"[We] found more dominant and relaxed affect among internal subjects in the verbal channel, and more dominant and relaxed affect among external subjects in the nonverbal (voice quality) channel.  [..... The] more competent presentations were marked by dominant and relaxed words and nondominant voice quality [.....].Our task was neutral and task oriented, and externals also used more dominant (and relaxed) voice quality than internals while simultaneously using less dominant (and relaxed) words. [..... We therefore suggest] that internals and externals meet the challenge of a task situation in different ways. People who feel that other people or circumstances determine their outcomes may find it difficult to be convincing [..... This] suggests that leakage need not always occur through nonverbal channels, as has often been assumed. [..... I]n our task situation, externals leaked their sense of lack of control through submissive and anxious verbal performance" (pp160-161; bold emphasis added).


The authors interpreted their findings by linking verbal and nonverbal communication style to personality, thus .....


"It appears that locus of control, far from being simply an attributional tendency, is a state of mind and feeling that has observable correlates in the expression of affect" (p161).



Tracy: See case, Tracy.



Trail Making Test (TMT): [See firstly executive function and dysexecutive syndrome.] This test was devised by Reitan and Wolfson (1985), and requires patients to join up specified sequences of letters and/or numbers printed randomly across a test page. The test comes in two parts. Part A requires only that patients connect a sequence of numbers, say in ascending order. Part B, however, requires that numbers and letters be connected alternately in ascending order, and provides the better test of frontal performance (Stern and Prohaska, 1996, p252). The TMT is one of the Halstead-Reitan subscales, and is good measure of attention maintenance.



Train of Thought: This is Hobbes' (1651) anticipation of James' (1890) stream of consciousness metaphor.



Transactional Analysis: This is Eric Berne's (1961, 1964) clever blending together of the Freudian mental architecture and the Shannonian theory of the communication channel. Using terminology of his own devising such as "transaction stimulus", "agent", and "respondent", Berne analyses the basic communication networks of human experience. The roles of parent, adult, and child are central to this analysis, because they each contribute an "alter ego" to our overall mental make-up. The specific contributions are as follows .....


Parent: [See firstly internalisation, and note all its attendant theoretical problems.] Our Parent alter ego gives us an internalised version of the parent-caregiver(s) we had for real, complete with all the rules and restrictions by which they insisted that we ran our lives. Our Parent ego state thus corresponds to the Freudian superego. It is the "taught" side of our existence.


Adult: Our Adult alter ego gives us our everyday conscious, well-informed, rational, willing self. "It processes data and computes the probabilities which are essential for dealing effectively with the outside world" (Berne, 1964, p26). Our Adult ego state thus corresponds to the Freudian ego. It is the "thought" side of our existence.


Child: Our Child alter ego gives us our affective, emotional, and generally unconstrained and irrational self. It is what you would be still, had you never grown up, and - properly handled - it still brings "charm, pleasure, and creativity" (p25) to your adult life. Our Child ego state thus corresponds to the Freudian id. It is the "felt" side of our existence.


Given this basic structural framework, Berne then introduces us to the "transaction". This is "the unit of social intercourse" (1964, p28), and Berne's fundamental thesis is that social intercourse - and the transactions themselves - takes place between ego states.



Transcendence / Transcendental: In erudite standard English "to transcend" is "to pass over or go beyond", and in theology it is "to be above and independent of" (O.E.D.). In mental philosophy, "transcendence" was one of Kant's favourite notions, and means "going beyond (surpassing) the boundary of (all) (possible) experience" (Pluhar and Ellington, 1996), or of "being above and independent of the universe", and can be contrasted with "immanent". To be "transcendental", therefore, is "(2) Philos. a. Orig. in Aristotelian philosophy: Transcending or extending beyond the bounds of any single category [.....] b. In the philosophy of Kant: Not derived from experience, but concerned with the presuppositions of experience; pertaining to the general theory of the nature of experience or knowledge, a priori [.....] c. Used of any philosophy which resembles Kant's in being based upon the recognition of an a priori element in experience" (O.E.D.). [See now all entries beginning transcendental-.]



Transcendental Aesthetics: This is Kant's term for the ability of our perceptual systems (i.e. the end-to-end system described in the entry for aesthesis, phenomenal awareness, and ideation in A.2) to go beyond the concrete givens of that system. [For a fuller account, see and integrate the separate entries for intuition and analytical versus synthetic judgments.]



Transcendental Apperception: See apperception, transcendental.



Transcendental Idea of Freedom: See free will.



Transcendental Perception: See perception, transcendental.



Transcendental Unity of Apperception: [See firstly consciousness, Kant's theory of.] This is Kant's (1787) term for the tendency of many different perceptual input streams to be recoded in some mysterious way as indicating the presence of a discrete external object, and therefore of entering phenomenal awareness as such. Here is how he introduces the topic ..... 


"The transcendental unity of apperception is the unity whereby everything manifold given in an intuition is united in a concept of the object. Hence this unity is called objective, and must be distinguished from subjective unity of consciousness ....." (Kant, 1787, Critique; Pluhar translation, p182).


[Compare the Gestalt School's notion of figure.]



Transcoding: [See firstly encoding.] This term was popularised by McCarthy and Warrington (1984) to describe the act of changing from one basis of encoding to another during information processing, a process which is clearly seen in the Ellis (1982) flow diagram. [See now transcoding model.]



Transcoding Model: [See firstly transcoding.] "Transcoding" models are box-and-arrow models of the longitudinal cognitive system, which attempt to identify (a) the processing modules involved, and (b) the points where transcoding takes place. If restricted to the language processing system, the models in question necessarily have to show inputs separate from outputs and spoken language separate from written, giving it a characteristic X-shape. The classic example of a language transcoding model is Ellis and Young (1988), although much the same layout can be seen in the mental modularity proposed for mathematical cognition. [For a longer history of this particular cognitive modelling genre, see companion resource.]



Transducer: The process of transforming external physical stimuli into nerve impulses is known as transduction, and is carried out in all the body's various sensory systems by the combined effect of "transducers", that is to say, receptor cells and sensory neurons.  Transduction results in the encoding of the physical stimulus in the appropriate pathway.  Thus touch is encoded into neural activity in the pathway for touch, vision is encoded into neural activity in the visual pathway, and so on.  Encoding reflects the discernible properties of the external stimulus, that is to say, the intensity of a touch, the brightness of a light source, the saltiness of a taste, the loudness of a noise, and so on.  Nevertheless, the basis of this encoding is one of biology's most enduring mysteries, because it remains to be explained how we manage to create for ourselves such a rich variety of perceptual experiences out of more or less identical volleys of action potentials.  Where, in other words, does "stimulus quality" come from? [See now quale.] The Fodorian view of cognitive modularity proposes that the existence of a dedicated transducer system (the rods and cones of the retina, for example) is one of the main characteristics of a cognitive module.



Transference: This is the technical name for a commonly recorded phenomenon affecting the therapist-patient relationship during psychoanalytic therapy. Specifically, it describes the situation where the patient starts subconsciously to confuse the therapist with one of the key person-objects in their emotional past, and the associated dynamics are fundamental to Freud's method of psychoanalysis, thus .....


"We are unmistakeably confronted by a formidable resistance. But what has happened to account for it? If we are able once more to clarify the position, we find that the cause of the disturbance is that the patient has transferred on to the doctor intense feelings of affection which are justified neither by the doctor's behaviour nor by the situation that has developed during the treatment. The form in which this affection is expressed and what its aims are depend of course on the personal relation between the two people concerned. If those concerned are a young girl and a youngish man, we shall get the impression of a normal case of falling in love; we shall find it understandable that a girl should fall in love with a man whom she can be much alone and talk of intimate things [etc.]. The further the personal relations between doctor and patient diverge from this supposed case, the more we shall be surprised to find nevertheless the same emotional relationship constantly recurring. [.....] But when a similar affectionate attachment by the patient to the doctor is repeated regularly in every new case, when it comes to light again and again, under the most unfavourable conditions and where there are positively grotesque incongruities, even in elderly women [etc.] then we must abandon the idea of a chance disturbance and recognise that we are dealing with a phenomenon which is intimately bound up with the nature of the illness itself. This new fact, which we thus recognise so unwillingly, is known by us as transference" (Freud, 1917/1963, Introductory Lectures (Lecture #27), pp492-494; bold emphasis added).


"The decisive part of [psychoanalytical therapy] is achieved by creating in the patient's relation to the doctor - in the 'transference' - new editions of the old conflicts; in these the patient would like to behave in the same way as he did in the past, while we, by summoning up every available mental force [in the patient] compel him to come to a fresh decision. Thus the transference becomes the battlefield on which all the mutually struggling forces should meet one another. All the libido, as well as everything opposing it, is made to converge solely on the relation with the doctor" (Freud, 1917/1963, Introductory Lectures (Lecture #28), p507).


However, the process is not necessarily restricted to a therapist-patient relationship, being quite capable of invading family or friendship relationships as well. It is thus "any distortion of a present relationship because of unresolved (and mostly unconscious) issues left over from early relationships, especially with the parents in childhood" (Davis, 1994-1998/2006 online). Since transference involves making the unconscious past visible (albeit symbolically) in the conscious present, it is regarded as a centrally important process within the object relations school of psychoanalysis. It is also a cornerstone of Rogers' (1951) client-centred therapy, although, rather problematically, it is not "strong" in every case. Consider .....


"With many clients the attitudes toward the counsellor are mild, and of a reality, rather than a transference, nature. Thus such a client may feel somewhat apprehensive about first meeting the counsellor; may feel annoyed in early interviews that he does not receive the guidance he expected [etc.]. If one's definition of transference includes all affect toward others, then this is transference; if the definition being used is the transfer of infantile attitudes to a present relationship in which they are inappropriate, then very little if any transference is present. There are many cases, however, in which clients have much stronger emotionalised attitudes directed toward the counsellor. [.....] In general, then, we may say that transference attitudes exist in varying degrees ....." (Rogers, 1951, Client-Centred Therapy, pp199-200).


By the mid-1950s, Winnicott had come to regard transference with even greater respect, thanks to the sheer devastation caused by some parental environments [see the extended quotation from Winnicott (1956) in the entry for holding environment], and a more recent commentator has explained the dynamics of transference this way .....


"During transference, people turn into a 'biological time machine'. A nerve is struck when someone says or does something that reminds you of your past. This creates an 'emotional time warp' that transfers your emotional past and your psychological needs into the present. In less poetic terms, a transference reaction means that you are reacting to someone in terms of what you need to see [.....] Transference reactions are caused by unmet emotional needs, neglect, seductions, and other abuses that transpired when you were a child. In some forms of psychotherapy, a therapist will intentionally create or allow transference to form. When done properly, this helps a therapist to understand and find a connection between the patient's past and how the patient misreads the present and may react ineffectively. [.....] People who don't recognise the difference between past and present can end up in the same messed-up relationships over and over ....." (Conner, 2001/2006 online; bold emphasis added).


Price (1994) has analysed the transference and countertransference implications of conducting psychotherapy with victims of incest. She suspects that the projective identification ego defense allows the patient to re-enact the abuse, but that properly handled it can also be used as a "vehicle for empathy and change". Indeed, "the development of a realistic intimacy with the analyst that takes into account and respects each other's boundaries is a therapeutic goal in the treatment of adults who have been sexually abused". Consider .....


"Despite the various roles and related affects that are being enacted, the patient maintains the identity of the 'abused victim'. As one patient stated with a high degree of insight and astuteness, 'I control people with my suffering and with my hysterical outbursts. It's all about winning, any way that you can'. This was related to a beginning awareness of how her victim stance was used in the service of maintaining control and mastery over others. [.....] The analyst will be expected to be the all-empathic mother who neither neglects, abandons, or is envious of the patient. The analyst can also be perceived as the idealised father with whom the patient had a 'special' relationship. As one patient stated in a romantic tone of voice 'my father was my first lover, I'll never forget him'. [.....] I refer to the idyllic state in the analysis as a state of 'symbiotic bliss' that can be experienced by analyst and analysand with accompanying feelings of love, closeness, and joy that can be intoxicating for both" (Price, 1994, pp221-223; bold emphasis added).


Kernberg makes the same point rather more bluntly .....


"Let us now explore some clinical manifestations of patients dominated by hatred and the related desire to destroy the origin of their suffering as they perceive it, that is, the hated and hateful persecutory object. The most important clinical manifestation of the dominance of hatred in the transference is the patient's attributing to the therapist an intense, relentless degree of hatred. By means of projective identification, the internal world of torturer and tortured, tyrant and slave, are enacted in the form of attributing to the therapist the role of sadistic tyrant" (Kernberg, 2006 online; bold emphasis added).


[Compare counter-transference and see then transference, extreme, transference melt-down, and transference neurosis. Lucente (1988) cites problems with the transference relation as underlying the problem known as "adolescent dual unity".]



Transference, Extreme: [See firstly transference.] Conner (2001/2006 online) describes extreme transference as follows .....


"In an extreme form of transference, you may conclude that someone is an awful or evil person when in fact that person’s favorite food and television show reminds you of an emotionally abusive mother and a sexually abusive brother you have been trying to forget since childhood. That’s an example of negative transference. A warm, supportive and kind person could remind you of what you are missing and wanting in their life. You might then idealize that person and begin to see him or her as wonderful beyond belief. The idea is that you will react to your therapist based on your experience with another person. This is usually a parent that the patient has an unresolved conflict with. In extreme cases a patient will become overly attached to their therapist or they will enter into and create conflicts without realizing how."



Transference Melt-Down: [See firstly transference.] Conner (2001/2006 online) describes transference melt-down as follows .....


"Extreme forms of transference can turn into a full-blown obsession if it is not dealt with. Transference 'meltdowns' can result in accidents, dangerous choices, nightmares, fantasies, stalking someone, psychotic reactions and sometimes violence. While it does not happen frequently in therapy, it can happen in the patient's personal life. How Can You Tell? How do you know you are having a 'transference reaction'? It’s not always easy, but you probably are if you know very little about a therapist (or anyone) and you are having a powerful reaction that is not justifiable to a reasonable person. It can be difficult if the patient can rationalize their reactions. Having a strong sexual attraction to your therapist is almost always a transference reaction [as is] becoming angry at your therapist as if they were a parent ....." (Conner, 2001/2006 online; bold emphasis added).



Transference Neurosis: [See firstly transference.] In classical Freudian theory, a transference neurosis is the standard and expected outcome of the "itself a fundamentally neurotic" relationship between patient and doctor (Robertson 1998/2006 online). 



Transformational Object: See object, transformational.



Transitive Consciousness: See consciousness, Rosenthal's theory of.



Trauma(tic) Bonding: See Stockholm syndrome.



Trendelenburg, Adolf: [German philosopher (1802-1872).] [Click for external biography] See Trendelenburg-Fischer debate.



Trendelenburg-Fischer Debate: [Click for external source]



Triplex Model of Memory: [See firstly consolidation and Duplex Model of Memory] This classification can be applied to any "three-box" model of memory which separates sensory memory, STM, and LTM. Better known as the Modal Model of Memory.



TROG: See Test for the Reception of Grammar.



True Negative: See the entry for diagnostic tests and screening procedures, and any relevant onward links, in the companion glossary on "Research Methods and Psychometrics". [Compare true positive.]



True Positive: See the entry for diagnostic tests and screening procedures, and any relevant onward links, in the companion glossary on "Research Methods and Psychometrics". [Compare true negative.]



True Self versus False Self: [See firstly self, Winnicott on.] The "true self - false self" dichotomy is Winnicott's (e.g., 1956) basic explanation for many of the behavioural abnormalities seen in childhood (and, if allowed to fester, many of the psychological abnormalities seen in adults). The true self component reflects that which we really are, in and of ourselves (in the traditional sense of "soul", "self", "ego", etc.). The false self, on the other hand, is an adjunct to the true self, a persona, perhaps, only more so. Here are two extracts from Winnicott himself on the distinction .....


"[In my experience] there has been what I call a true self hidden, protected by a false self. This false self is no doubt an aspect of the true self. It hides and protects it, and it reacts to the adaptation failures and develops a pattern corresponding to the pattern of environmental failure. In this way the true self is not involved in the reacting, and so preserves a continuity of being. This hidden true self suffers an impoverishment, however, that results from lack of experience. The false self may achieve a deceptive false integrity, that is to say, a false ego strength, [.....] for it by no means follows that early maternal failure must lead to a general failure of child-care. The false self cannot, however, experience life, and feel real" " (Winnicott, 1956, p387).


"Another phenomenon that needs consideration at this phase is the hiding of the core of the personality. Let us examine the concept of a central or true self. The central self could be said to be the inherited potential which is experiencing a continuity of being, and acquiring in its own way and at its own speed a personal psychic reality and a personal body scheme. It seems necessary to allow for the concept of the isolation of this central self as a characteristic of health. Any threat to this isolation of the true self constitutes a major anxiety at this early stage, and defenses of earliest infancy appear in relation to failures on the part of the mother (or in maternal care) to ward off impingements which might disturb this isolation. [On occasions, impingements] get through this defense in spite of the ego support which maternal care provides. Then the central core of the ego is affected, and this is the very nature of psychotic anxiety" (Winnicott, 1960, p590; bold emphasis added).


More recently, Bollas (1987) has incorporated Winnicott's scheme into his own theory of the "transformational object" [see object, transformational]



Turing, Alan: [British mathematician, wartime cryptanalyst, computing theorist, and philosopher (1912-1954).] [Click for external biography] See consciousness, Johnson-Laird's theory of, machine consciousness, and Turing test.



Turing Machine: See Turing, Alan. 



Turing Test: The mathematician and founding-father computer scientist Alan Turing [biography] was "really quite obsessed with knowing how the human brain worked and the possible correspondence with what he was doing on computers" (Newman, 1994/2003 online, p12). In a paper entitled "Computing machinery and intelligence", he argued that the mind would not only prove one day to be "programmable", but that the eventual program would be "implementable" on a machine. The problem would then be how to know you had been successful, because the question "can machines think?" was philosophically unsafe, due to problems agreeing the meaning of the word "think" (Turing, 1950/2003 online).


ASIDE: Bayle and Leibniz had argued over much the same issue two and a half centuries previously - see consciousness, Leibniz's theory of.


Turing therefore proposed objectively establishing whether the machine, so programmed, could perform as successfully as a human in fooling an interrogator in an "imitation game", in which a man (A) and a woman (B) have to fool (C) as to which is the man and which is the woman. The knowledge pertaining to (A) and (B) is accumulated in the mind of (C) by asking questions, the only restriction being that the answers to those questions should be typewritten so as to prevent vocal clues being given. Turing's imitation game evolved somewhat over the years, and in its later form became popularly known as the "Turing Test". This runs as follows: if a human in room A were to communicate via keyboard and screen with an entity in room B which might be a human but which might also be a computer trying to appear human, then the definition of "humanness" would rest on whether the real human could tell the difference or not after five minutes of questioning. Computer programmers now compete annually [check out the Loebner Prize] for the honour of producing the software which will first pass the Turing Test. [For a recent addition to the debate see Smyth (2005) in the entry for smart thing.]



2.5D Sketch: See perception, Marr's theory of.



Tyler, Ralph W.: [American educational theorist (1902-1994).] [Click for external biography] See Tyler rationale.



Tyler Rationale: This is the name now given to a system of basic rules of education prepared by the American educational theorist Ralph W. Tyler, and set down in "Basic Principles of Curriculum and Instruction" (Tyler, 1949). Tyler summarised his arguments into four principles of curriculum development, now referred to as "the Tyler Rationale" .....


Tyler's First Principle: The curriculum development process should begin by defining appropriate objectives.


Tyler's Second Principle: Corresponding educational experiences should be developed.


Tyler's Third Principle: These experiences would then need organising into a programme.


Tyler's Fourth Principle: The programme would need to be complemented by systems to evaluate and improve upon the end result.


Tyler's approach, and especially its emphasis on objectives, went on to become the backbone of the modern educational model, onto which all subsequent modifications up to and including the 1997 Dearing Report [detail] have been grafted, and it earns the epithet "experiential" from the explicit emphasis provided by the second and third principles, and from the fact that three out of Tyler's five chapters directly concern learning experiences. 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.



"Type A" Personality: See personality, type A.



Überbesetzung: [German = "over-filling".] [See firstly Freud's Project.] This everyday German word was adopted by Freud (1895) to complement his use of the word Besetzung to signify the underlying mechanism of cathexis. Where Besetzung signifies the normal attachment of instinctive energy to the neural representations in question, Überbesetzung signifies an element of overreaction. 



Unbewusstsein: This is the third from the bottom of the five levels of perceptual content identified by Freud (1896) (the others being Bewusstsein, Vorbewusstsein, Wahrnehmungen, and Wahrnehumungszeichen). Specifically, it is the stage of unconscious conceptual memory.


Unconscious, the:


"Great is this force of memory, excessive great, O my God; a large and boundless chamber! who ever sounded the bottom thereof?" (St. Augustine, Confessions, Chapter 8).


In his 2002 monograph on the history of the notion of the unconscious mind, the London-based psychiatrist Frank Tallis identifies a number of pertinent early references to the problems of phenomenal consciousness. To start with, there is St. Augustine's comment on the true extent extent of one's self [see header quotation]. Then there is Leibniz's (1704/1765, New Essays Concerning Human Understanding) proposed continuum of consciousness, from apperception at the top, above perception, above a lesser breed of perceptions known as "minute perceptions", above totally unconscious early registration. Later in the 18th century, Kant covered the subject in his analysis of a priori knowledge .....


 To retain historical continuity, read consciousness, Kant's theory of before proceeding.


Even clearer expositions [but still in German] are to be found at the beginning of the 19th century. Tallis gives the credit to Herbart (1816), while Margetts (1953) ensures that Schopenhauer (1819) is not overlooked. Here is Tallis ....


"As the concept of the unconscious became consolidated, attention settled on the theoretical line dividing the mind into upper and lower chambers - the limen or threshold of consciousness. One of the first to consider the exact nature of this horizontal partition was the German philosopher Johann Friedrich Herbart [.....]. For Herbart, the threshold of awareness was not a smooth surface, disturbed only by the graceful ascent of memories. The limen was a plane of perceptual conflict - seething with activity. Thoughts and perceptions jostled each other, vying for a place in awareness [compare Leibniz's minute perceptions above - Ed.]. Stronger thoughts and impressions pushed the weaker ones below the threshold, from where they immediately fought to recover their former position. This account is peculiarly Darwinian. Animated cognitions and percepts compete with each other for a limited resource - consciousness - and only the 'fittest' survive in awareness" (Tallis, 2002, p13; bold emphasis added).


..... and here is Margetts [note Schopenhauer's views on the "suppression" of material from the intellect, and the likely effects on mental health] ..... 


"'The exposition of the origin 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; with what difficulty do we determine to lay such things before our own intellect for careful and serious investigation; how easily, on the other hand, we unconsciously break away or sneak off from them again; how, on the contrary, agreeable events come into our minds of their own accord, and, if driven away, constantly creep in again, so that we dwell on them for hours together. 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. Each new adverse event must be assimilated by the intellect, i.e., it must receive a place in the system of truths connected with our will and its interests [.....]. Whenever this has taken place, it already pains us much less [.....]. However, the health of the mind can only continue so long as this is in each case properly carried out. If, on the contrary, in some particular case, the resistance and struggles of the will against the apprehension of some knowledge reaches such a degree that that operation is not performed in its integrity, then certain events or circumstances become for the intellect completely suppressed, because the will cannot endure the sight of them, and then, for the sake of the necessary connection, the gaps that thus arise are filled up at pleasure; thus madness appears" (Schopenhauer, 1819; cited in Margetts, 1953, pp125-126; italics Margetts'; bold emphasis added).


Schopenhauer also provided a physical metaphor to rival Herbart's upper and lower "chambers" of consciousness, namely a body of water, thus ..... 


"Let us compare our consciousness to a sheet of water of some depth. Then the distinctly conscious thoughts are merely the surface; while, on the other hand, the indistinct thoughts, the feelings, the after sensation of perceptions and of experience generally, mingled with the special disposition of our own will, which is the kernel of our being, is the mass of the water" (Schopenhauer, 1819/1883; cited in Margetts, 1953, p126; bold emphasis added).


..... which went on, Margetts reminds us, to become the "iceberg theory of the unconscious" .....


"The analogy of mind to a body of water, the thin surface being conscious and the vast deep being unconscious, is interesting, because in many theories of the unconscious the same general theme of stratification has been applied. Probably the most common one is the 'iceberg theory', conscious mind activity being the one-ninth of the iceberg above water level, and unconscious being the eight-ninths below the surface. The idea has been ingeniously reapplied lately by J.L.S. Browne ....." (Margetts, 1953, p127; bold emphasis added; irritatingly, Margetts fails to reference his citation of Browne).





Understanding: [See firstly knowledge.] Understanding is "the faculty of comprehending and reasoning; the intellect" (O.E.D.). To see the logic whereby separate subprocesses can be integrated into a system. The word has no formal definition within cognitive science, but is generally regarded as the higher variants of knowledge, but falling short of wisdom.



Undoing: 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. It involves dealing with emotional conflict "by words or behaviour designed to negate or to make amends symbolically for unacceptable thoughts, feelings, or actions" (DSM-IV, 2000, p813).



Unifying Theories: See perspectives and schools of psychology.



Universals: As used within philosophy, a universal is "that which is predicated or asserted of all the individuals or species of a class or genus, or of many things which are regarded as forming a class; an abstract or general concept regarded either as having an absolute, mental, or nominal existence; a universal proposition; a general term, notion, or idea. Chiefly in pl[ural] and opposed to particulars and singulars" (O.E.D.). Plato raises the problem of universals in his Euthyphro dialogue by referring to "the general form" of a number of lesser things (Plato, Euthyphro, §6d; Jowett translation, p42). In the Phaedrus dialogue he then goes into more detail, having Socrates argue that it was important on some occasions to be able to bring "things which are scattered all over the place" together into a single class, and on other occasions to be able to "cut things up again, class by class, according to their natural joints" (Plato, Phaedrus, §265d-265e; Waterfield translation, p55; we have emphasised the closing phrase because it is often quoted).



Unthought Known: [See firstly unconscious.] This is Bollas's (1987) notion of a psychodynamically important form of propositional knowledge laid down in an infant's near-empty and unstructured mind during its early experience of being fed and cared for. As in all object relations theories, this new notion is immediately theoretically challenging, because it proposes knowledge at such a primitive level and in such an undeveloped system that it is impossible for mental philosophers to re-experience it when gazing into their own early histories in search of the roots of the adult psyche.


RESEARCH ISSUE: For our own part we see artificial intelligence simulation, as one of the few sources of objective data in this fundamental area of psychological and philosophical enquiry. We are ourselves working on a rudimentary semantic network simulation of early object structuring with a view to demonstrating the plausibility (or otherwise) of this or that psychodynamic construct. Readers are welcome to e-mail the author for progress reports. 


Bollas sees it as one of the tasks of the therapeutic process to move said unthought known into consciousness, thus .....

"The concept of primary repression does not address early intersubjective contributions to the infant's knowledge of being and relating. It is because we must give room to the infant's internalisation of the parent's paradigmatic operational logic that I think a new term, such as the unthought known, is called for [emphasis added]. We need a term to stand for that which is known but has not yet been thought [.....]. Phantasy does give some mental representation to the unthought known, but it is insufficient to process the unthought known ..... [emphasis original]" (Bollas, 1987, p280).


Nor is it just the patient who is affected .....


"Through the patient's idiomatic uses of me (both as his internal object and as the other to whom he speaks and from whom he expects), I am instructed in the logic of his intersubjectivity, and gradually I have a sense of the nature of this person's being. Becoming the cumulative recipient, for example, of the analysand's varied projective identifications means that I know something 'about' the patient without it having yet been sufficiently mentally processed through my own internal cognitions, reflections, and eventual interpretations. thus a psychoanalysis constitutes a time-consuming effort, as both the analyst and analysand need to being to think the unthought known. Much of my work in the countertransference will be a struggle to put into imagery and language the experience of being the analysand's object [..... and I] struggle to move the unthought known into the thought known. The role of projective identification in this procedure cannot be underestimated, particularly if we bear in mind that infants and children contain unwanted or treasured parts of the parents. How does [s/he] think about this? If the mother or father projectively identifies the element of grief into the child by isolating any sign of sadness as a major psychic occasion, biasing the child to be the family bearer of loss, how will the child know this? Will he know it analytically? Of course not. Will he know it through [.....] fantasy? Try as he might this will not process the content of the known. Then how will he know what he knows? He knows because he bears a projective identification that will seem to him to be part of the nature of his being or of life itself. Containing the other's projective identification seems life defining; grief, in this last example, feels like the essence of his person; it is not to be thought - it cannot be: it is lived" (Bollas, 1987, pp280-281; bold emphasis added).


[See now projective identification.]



Utilisation Behaviour: A clinical sign of impulsivity deficit in dysexecutive syndrome. Attempting to pick up and use lure objects, despite instructions not to. Indicates that perceptual stimulation is being routed to, and capable of activating, motor schema selection processes WITHOUT going through any higher control process.



Vaillant, George Eman: [American psychiatrist (1934-).] [Click for external biography] Vaillant is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for his work on alcoholism, schizophrenia, and personality disorder.



Validity: See this entry in the companion glossary on "Research Methods and Psychometrics".



Value System: [See firstly Dynamic Core Theory.] See consciousness, Edelman and Tononi's theory of.



Varendonck, Juliaan: [Belgian psychoanalyst (1879-1924).] [No serviceable external biography available] Varendonck is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for his work on the psychodynamics of daydreaming, as mentioned in the entry for ego autonomy.



Vaucanson, Jacques de: [French engineer (1709-1782).] [Click for external biography] See automata.



Vernunft: [German = "reason; understanding; judgment; common or good sense" (C.G.D.).] See consciousness, Kant's theory of.



Very Short-Term Memory: Same as sensory memory.



VHQ: See Violence History Questionnaire.



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



Visuo-Spatial Sketchpad Subsystem: This is Baddeley and Hitch's (1974) second proposed slave system [the first being the articulatory loop]. It is the hypothetical structure which allows you to "rehearse pictures", as it were, and its key emphasis is accordingly upon the role of imagery in memory. Now the point about imagery is that word referents are not equally "imageable" - when considering how they might be encoded, you need to know their position along the concrete-abstract continuum. Thus "nudist" (a concrete noun) is easier to visualise than "intellect" (an abstract noun). It is not surprising, therefore, to find that imagery is an important memory variable. Atwood (1971), for example, tested memory for highly imageable phrases against memory for low imageable phrases, and found that interpolated visual activity interfered with the former whilst interpolated auditory activity interfered with the latter. Similarly, Baddeley (1986) found that performance on a pursuit rotor was degraded more by a visual memory task than by a verbal memory task. He also reported that if eye movements were controlled during memory tasks by forcing subjects to attend to stimuli moving on a TV screen it would disrupt a spatial memory task requiring imaging. He concluded that the imaging system - the "visuo-spatial sketchpad" - can hold spatial and patterned information for a short time, but fails quickly when time and sequence are introduced, or when eye movements are otherwise directed.



Volkan, Vamik D.: [American psychoanalyst (1932-).] [Click for external biography] Volkan is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for his work on identity, large group.



Voltage-Dependant Gating: This is the sensitivity of a neuron's sodium pumps to the membrane potential surrounding them, the point being that the pumping (or "gating") only carries on while said potential is within pre-set limits. When the local potential reaches the action potential threshold, the metabolic pumping suddenly shuts down, and an action potential immediately develops.



Von Haller, Albrecht: [Swiss physiologist (1708-1777).] [Click for external biography]



Vorbewusstsein: This is the fourth from the bottom of the five levels of perceptual content identified by Freud (1896) (the others being Bewusstsein, Unbewusstsein, Wahrnehmungen, and Wahrnehumungszeichen). Specifically, it is the stage of nearly conscious memory.



Vous: You are probably here by mistake, having misread the Greek letter "n" as a "v". The Greek "n" is <ν>, so the word <νους> should take you to nous, q.v.



Vygotsky, Lev Semenovich: [Russian linguistic philosopher-psychologist (1896-1934).] [Click for external biography] Vygotsky is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for his position on the importance of inner speech.



Wahrnehmung[en]:  [German = "perception, observation" (C.G.D.).] This is the lowest of the five levels of perceptual content identified by Freud (1896) (the others being Bewusstsein, Unbewusstsein, Vorbewusstsein, and Wahrnehumungszeichen). Specifically, it is the stage of initial sensory response.



Wahrnehumungszeichen: This is the second from the bottom of the five levels of perceptual content identified by Freud (1896) (the others being Bewusstsein, Unbewusstsein, Vorbewusstsein, and Wahrnehmungen). Specifically, it is the stage of sensory registration.



WCST: See Wisconsin Card Sorting Test.



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



Weaver, Warren: See Section 4.1 of the companion resource



Weigl Colour-Form Sorting Task (CFST): [See firstly executive function and dysexecutive syndrome.] This test is described in Section 5 of our e-paper "From Frontal Lobe Syndrome to Dysexecutive Syndrome".



WFT: See Word Fluency Test.



Wing's Triad: In a review of what was then known about autistic disorder, Wing (1988) noted that the many individual clinical impairments could be clustered together under three superordinate headings, thus .....


"The characteristic constellation has now become known as Wing's triad and is the strongest candidate yet for the core features of autism. The triad refers to three kinds of impairment: social impairment, communicative impairment, and impairment of imaginative activity with substitution of repetitive activity" (Frith, 1989, p126).


This is why the differential diagnosis of ASDs now looks for this same pattern of clinical indicators, including indifference to other people, insensitivity to the meaning of gestures, empty facial expressions and tone of voice, and rigidity and ideosyncracy of play. 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 autistic spectrum disorders.



Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST): [See firstly executive function and dysexecutive syndrome.] This test was developed in 1948 (Berg, 1948; Grant and Berg, 1948), and became popular after a positive review by Milner (1963), which pinpointed the dorsolateral frontal cortex. The patient is presented with a shuffled pack of 128 cards, two for each permutation of four simple shapes (triangles, stars, plus-signs, and circles), four numbers (one to four), and four colours (red, green, yellow, and blue) [thus 2 x 4 x 4 x 4 = 128]. The patient is then asked to sort the cards into piles from left to right across a table top, according to four further column markers, namely a single red triangle, a double green star, a triple yellow plus-sign, and a quad blue circle. Any one draw card can therefore be placed in three out of four positions, depending on whether the sort criterion is shape, number, or colour [thus the two-yellow-triangles card belongs in pile #1 by shape, pile #2 by number, and pile #3 by colour]. The examiner then informs the subject whether s/he was right or wrong (no other instruction is allowed), and the subject then has had to guess at the secret rule. In a typical application, colour matches are called right to start with, and that rule maintained until ten consecutive correct responses have been made. This is a single test stage. Without warning, the sorting rule is then switched to shape rather than colour. Again the rule is maintained until ten consecutive right responses have been made, whereupon the sorting rule is switched to number. If the error count is low, there will then be enough cards left to go through the three rules a second time, making six test stages in all. Perseverations are scored for every old-rule error after the first call of wrong. Three basic scores are then calculated, namely SN, the number of stages completed, TE, the total number of errors during the task, and PE, a perseveration score. A Modified Card Sorting Test (MCST) was introduced by Nelson (1976), who was concerned that the originasl WCST was not always capable of informing on the "strategies (if any) the patient is employing" (p314). Nelson pointed out that over hald the WCST cards shared two or more attributes with the column markers, so that the examiner does not know what a correct card placement actually means. He therefore removed the ambiguous stimulus cards, thus reducing the basic set size to 24 cards. Again, however, a double set pack of 48 cards is used in practice. [If interested in this test's place in the more general history of frontal lobe testing, see the theoretical evaluation in Section 5 of our e-paper "From Frontal Lobe Syndrome to Dysexecutive Syndrome".]



Wisdom: "Knowledge (esp. of a high or abstruse kind); enlightenment, learning, erudition" (O.E.D.). The ability to apply one's knowledge and understanding to further a higher-level mission of some sort, such as justice, peace, happiness, etc., usually accompanied by an element of popular approval. In the world of knowledge management, McQuay (2005) has recently noted an ascending progression from data to information to knowledge to understanding to wisdom, and predicts soaring commercial demand for wisdom as a tool of competitive advantage, given that earlier injections of knowledge and understanding per se have not always borne fruit.



Winnicott, Donald W.: [British paediatrician-psychoanalyst (1896-1971).] [Click for external biography] Winnicott is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for his work on object relations theory in general, and for the notions of "transitional objects", the "holding environment", and true self versus false self, in particular.



WMG: See working memory, general.



Wolf Man: See case, Wolf Man.



Word Length Effect: See articulatory loop.



Word Fluency Test (WFT): This test is described in Section 5 of our e-paper "From Frontal Lobe Syndrome to Dysexecutive Syndrome".



Working Memory, General (WMG): [See firstly Working Memory Theory.] This is Baddeley and Hitch's (1974) general purpose STM resource. It is the hypothetical structure which sits alongside the two slave systems in the service of the central executive. Unlike those slave systems, however, it is not possible to predict in advance the nature of the stored information, and so WMG is a close approximation to the use of working storage in electronic digital computers [as fully reviewed in our e-paper on "Short-Term Memory Subtypes in Computing and Artificial Intelligence", Part 6 (Section 3.3)] 



Working Memory Theory (WMT): Term/theory introduced by Baddeley and Hitch (1974), inspired metaphorically by the working storage facility provided in electronic digital computers [as fully reviewed in our e-paper on "Short-Term Memory Subtypes in Computing and Artificial Intelligence", Part 6 (Section 3.3)]. WMT was proposed as an alternative to the then extant Modal Model of Memory, because it dealt more effectively with STM phenomena. The theory proposed two fixed-purpose and one general-purpose STM resources (the slave systems and the working memory, general) and a control structure called the central executive. WMT has been popular ever since, although it has recently been getting stiff competition from the Norman-Shallice Model of Supervisory Attentional Function. One particularly fascinating application of WMT is Calvin's (1983) study of aimed throwing behaviour, wherein it is argued that the precise timing of motor activity is a major consumer of scarce neural resources. Another is its use in the minds of Air Traffic Controllers [reading], and another is Gathercole's (1990) research linking working memory skills to the development of literacy skills in children.



ZDS: See Zung Depression Scale.



Zombie Test: Not that everyone will be equally surprised, but because they have no conscious experience zombies actually have a lot to teach philosophers. The fact that they are zombies makes them useful in thought experiments aimed at analysing consciousness. For one thing, they totally fail Nagel's (1979) what's it like to be test. Zombies were first used in this way by Kirk (1974) [*], but current interest dates from Chalmers (1993, 1996), who concludes that "there is nothing like it is like to be a zombie". Similar thought experiments were offered in Ryle (1949), in his consideration of the human ability for role play pretence. "A person pretending to be a corpse," he argued at one point, "is, unlike the corpse, trying to be motionless" (p205). Smyth (2005) has spotted a flaw in the logic of the zombie test, as outlined in the entry for smart thing.



Zwangsneurose: [German Zwang = "compulsion" + Neurose = "neurosis".] This is Freud's original term for obsessional neurosis.





See the Master References List