Signal anxiety
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  Signal anxiety

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.


The arrangement or association of the elements or parts of anything in relation to the effect they generate; the combination of mental processes by which an effect is generated.

A psychological and/or biological response to stress. Feelings of anxiety involve discomforting apprehension or concern, which may include symptoms such as cognitive difficulties, hypersensitivity, dizziness, muscular weakness, breathing difficulties, irregular heart beat, sweating, and sensations of fear. Typically, anxiety is a natural and healthy response to life experiences. However, exaggerated or chronic anxiety often indicates an anxiety disorder. Anxiety can be produced by external stress (exogenous anxiety) or internal stress (endogenous anxiety).

Weakened, diluted, thinned, reduced, weakened, diminished.


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


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).

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

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

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.

Social adaptation
The ability to live and express oneself according to society's restrictions and cultural demands.

Somatic delusion
A delusion whose main content pertains to the appearance or functioning of one's body.

Somatic hallucination
A hallucination involving the perception of a physical experience localized within the body (such as a feeling of electricity). A somatic hallucination is to be distinguished from physical sensations arising from an as-yet undiagnosed general medical condition, from hypochondriacal preoccupation with normal physical sensations, and from a tactile hallucination.

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