Psychology Glossary – Terms [E]

Ego: In Western Psychology theory, the ego refers to an aspect of the personality structure responsible for creating a sense of identity by directing instincts, urges, self-preservation techniques, and testing reality. In everyday contexts, the term “ego” refers to an inflated sense of self. It has a related, but slightly different meaning in Buddhist Psychology, where its seen as the small sense of self that results from the illusion of separateness to other beings and the world itself.

Emotion: In basic terms, emotions refer to positive feelings like happiness and excitement, or more painful ones like fear and sadness. Technically speaking, emotions refer to a complex state of mind involving psychological responses, cognitive processing, and behavioral reactions, all in response to a subjectively significant experience, situation, or person. Some view emotions are the body’s expression of the mind.

Emotional Intelligence: Emotional intelligence (EI) describes the ability to recognize emotions in oneself and others, to understand and express emotions effectively, and to use emotion to facilitate thinking and guide behavior. The concept of EI, or ‘EQ’ (as in emotional intelligence quotient) gained popularity in the 1990’s after researcher and professor Daniel Goleman published Emotional Intelligence: Why it Can Matter More than IQ.

Equality: Equality references the attempt to establish a state of being equal and fair, especially in reference to treatment, status, rights, and opportunities.

Milton Erickson: Milton Erickson was an American psychiatrist specializing in medical hypnosis and family therapy. In 1957, Erickson became the founding president of the American Society for Clinical Hypnosis, traveling and lecturing extensively as the world’s leading hypnotherapist. He is noted for his approach of viewing the unconscious mind as creative and solution-generating, influencing a fundamental shift in modern psychotherapy.

Erik Erikson: Erik Erikson was born in 1902 in Frankfurt Germany and in 1927 became an art teacher at a pscyhoanalytic school for children started by Anna Freud in Vienna. This experience changed his life and he earned a certificate from the Montessori School before attending the Vienna Psychoanalytic Institute. He immigrated to the U.S. in 1933 and became the first child psychoanalyst in Boston before joining the staff at Yale University, later U.C. Berkeley, and in the 1960s Harvard. Erikson is best known for his theory on psychosocial development: eight stages in life where a developmental challenge or “crisis” is presented, with successful navigation leading to healthy development. The term identity crisis was coined by Erikson to describe the failure to achieve ego identity during the adolescent stage.

Psychology Glossary – Terms [F]

Fight-flight-freeze Response: The nervous system’s response to a perceived threat, which activates physiological changes and behaviors manifesting in either preparation for a physical struggle, running away to safety, or freezing when the threat appears overwhelming. (See Autonomic Nervous System). Some have expanded this original model to “fight-flight-freeze-submit-attach” – to denote 2 other types of defensive responses (submit, attach) sometimes taken in the face of a threat.

Fixation: An obsessive interest or attachment to objects, activities, concepts, or people. The concept originated with Sigmund Freud’s reference to childhood traits and associations persisting into adult life. (See also Rumination).

Anna Freud: Anna Freud was born in 1895, the youngest child of Sigmund Freud. Close to her father, Freud followed his path and began teaching at the Vienna Psychoanalytic Training Institute before taking over as director in 1935. Her book The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense laid the groundwork for the field of ego psychology and emphasized the importance of the ego and it’s ability to be manipulated socially. Anna Freud and Melanie Klein are considered the founders of psychoanalytic child psychology; Freud recognized that children require different psychological treatment from adults and studied how early abandonment and attachment influence developmental phases.

Sigmund Freud: Sigmund Freud was an Austrian neurologist credited with developing the theories and techniques of Psychoanalysis, a method through which the practitioner unpacks unconscious conflicts, dreams, fantasies, actions, and life experiences. Freud built upon the theory that the mind is a complex energy-system by articulating and refining a new conceptual and therapeutic frame of reference for understanding human psychological development and the treatment of abnormal mental conditions. Freud is also particularly known for his structural model of the human psyche that consists of the id, ego, and super-ego.

Erich Fromm: Erich Fromm was a German social psychologist, humanistic philosopher, and democratic socialist. Born in 1900, Fromm’s ideas and beliefs during his studies earned him association with the Frankfurt School of critical theory. Fromm fled the emergent Nazi power and in 1934 joined Colombia University. He spent time on the faculty at Bennington College as well as the New School for Social Research in New York before moving to Mexico City in 1949 to establish a psychoanalytic section at the medical school there. Fromm’s writings were influential as much for their social and political commentary as for their philosophical and psychological foundations. Contrary to the Freudian majority at the time, Fromm believed an individual’s psyche was the result of both societal influence as well as biology. His theory of character suggests that humans relate to the world by assimilation and socialization – the origin of these reactions are a direct response to the circumstances of an individual’s life.

Psychology Glossary – Terms [G]

Gender Identity: A person’s innermost sense of self as female, male, a blend of both, or neither and how they perceive and refer to themselves based on this identification. Gender identity can be the same or differernt than the sex assigned at birth.

Gender Roles: Societal norms and expectations dictating behaviors considered acceptable, appropriate, or desireable for a person based on their perceived or actual sex.

Carol Gilligan: Carol Gilligan is an American psychologist best known for her work on ethics and feminism. A professor at both New York University and the University of Cambridge, Gillian first achieved large-scale recognition with the publication of her 1982 book, In A Different Voice, in which she challenges theories on morality and argues that psychology has been ignoring the experiences of half the human race. Her perspective, referred to as difference feminism, highlights the different qualities of men and women, but places no value judgement on them. Gillian initiated the Harvard Project on Women’s Psychology and Girls’ Development and in 1997 became Harvard’s first professor of Gender Studies. Continuing to expand her range of work, Gillian is prolific in publishing on a wide variety of topics and remains firm in her belief that psychology is integral to feminism.

Stephen Gilligan: An American psychologist, psychotherapist, and author who began his career as a student of Milton Erickson studying hypnotherapy. Gilligan is known for his contribution to the early development of neuro-linguistic programming and pioneered a field he calls self-relations psychotherapy where all experiences, both positive, negative, and deeply traumatic, are regarded as resources needing acknowledgment.

Group Think: Groupthink is the tendency for a group of people to emphasize conformity and harmony in reaching a decision, filtering out undesirable input and leading to an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome. By minimizing conflict, group members reach a consensus without critical evaluation of alternative viewpoints.

Psychology Glossary – Terms [H]

Habit: A tendency, practice, or behavior whose repetition often goes unnoticed in persons exhibiting it since they do not need to engage in self-analysis when performing routine tasks. Forming habits is a process by which a behavior, through regular repetition, becomes automatic as the patterns are imprinted in our neural pathways.

Hallucination: The perception of a sensation or experience without stimulus – created by the mind and not physically present. Hallucinations can occur in any sensory system – visual, auditory, olfactory, tactile, taste, etc.

Hawthorne Effect: A reference to the inclination of individuals to modify their behavior in response to their awareness of being observed. The Hawthorne Effect was named for a famous industrial experiment done in the 20s at the Hawthorne Works factory outside of Chicago to test worker improvement. However, later interpretations suggested that the simple novelty of being research subjects and the increased attention lead to temporary increases in worker productivity, not the variables of the experiment.

Karen Horney: Karen Horney was a German psychoanalyst born in 1885 and credited with founding feminist psychology which studies the way gender power imbalances impact the development of psychological theories and therefore mental health treatment. She was outspoken in her belief that the differences between men and women originate in socialization and culture rather than biology. This led to her critique of and departure from the dominate Freudian orthodoxy at the time, even forcing her to resign from the New York Psychoanalytic Institute in 1941. She went on to co-found the Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis, focusing on how culture shapes personality, and co-founded and co-authored the American Journal of Psychoanalysis.

Humanistic Psychology/Humanism: A psychological perspective emphasizing the study of the whole person and the belief that they have the inherent ability to make rational decisions and meet their potential through expression and creativity. A holistic and optimistic approach to the human condition, humanism arose in the mid-20th century in response to the limitations of Freudian psychology and behaviorism. This form of therapy encourages self-awareness and mindfulness to alter behavioral patterns preventing self-actualization.