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    An objective manifestation of a pathological condition. Signs are observed by the examiner rather than reported by the affected individual.


The term "condition" has a number of biomedical meanings including the following: 1.An unhealthy state, such as in "this is a progressive condition." 2.A state of fitness, such as "getting into condition." 3.Something that is essential to the occurrence of something else; essentially a "precondition." 4.As a verb: to cause a change in something so that a response that was previously associated with a certain stimulus becomes associated with another stimulus; to condition a person, as in behavioral conditioning.



Secondary gain
The external gain derived from any illness, such as personal attention and service, monetary gains, disability benefits, and release from unpleasant responsibilities. See also primary gain.

Secondary process
In psychoanalytic theory, mental activity and thinking characteristic of the ego and influenced by the demands of the environment. Characterized by organization, systematization, intellectualization, and similar processes leading to logical thought and action in adult life. See also primary process; reality principle.

Sensory extinction
Failure to report sensory stimuli from one region if another region is stimulated simultaneously, even though when the region in question is stimulated by itself, the stimulus is correctly reported.

Separation anxiety disorder
A disorder with onset before the age of 18 consisting of inappropriate anxiety concerning separation from home or from persons to whom the child is attached. Among the symptoms that may be seen are unrealistic concern about harm befalling or loss of major attachment figures; refusal to go to school (school phobia) in order to stay at home and maintain contact with this figure; refusal to go to sleep unless close to this person; clinging; nightmares about the theme of separation; and development of physical symptoms or mood changes (apathy, depression) when separation occurs or is anticipated.

Psychological awareness of one's separateness, described by Margaret Mahler as a phase in the mother-child relationship that follows the symbiotic stage. In the separation-individuation stage, the child begins to perceive himself or herself as distinct from the mother and develops a sense of individual identity and an image of the self as object. Mahler described four subphases of the process: differentiation, practicing, rapprochement (i.e., active approach toward the mother, replacing the relative obliviousness to her that prevailed during the practicing period), and separation-individuation proper (i.e., awareness of discrete identity, separateness, and individuality).


Reinforcement of responses in the patient's repertoire that increasingly approximate sought-after behavior.

Sick role
An identity adopted by an individual as a "patient" that specifies a set of expected behaviors, usually dependent.

Signal anxiety
An ego mechanism that results in activation of defensive operations to protect the ego from being overwhelmed by an excess of excitement. The anxiety reaction that was originally experienced in a traumatic situation is reproduced in an attenuated form, allowing defenses to be mobilized before the current threat does, in fact, become overwhelming.

Inability to comprehend more than one element of a visual scene at the same time or to integrate the parts into a whole.

Sleep terror disorder
One of the parasomnias, characterized by panic and confusion when abruptly awakening from sleep. This usually begins with a scream and is accompanied by intense anxiety. The person is often confused and disoriented after awakening. No detailed dream is recalled, and there is amnesia for the episode. Sleep terrors typically occur during the first third of the major sleep episode.

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