Other useful terms

Asperger syndrome and autism

A lifelong developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people. It also affects how they make sense of the world around them. It is a spectrum condition, which means that, while all people with autism share certain difficulties, their condition will affect them in different ways.

Some people with autism are able to live relatively independent lives but others may have accompanying learning disabilities and need a lifetime of specialist support. People with autism may also experience over- or under-sensitivity to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, light or colours.

Asperger syndrome is a form of autism. People with Asperger syndrome are often of average or above average intelligence. They have fewer problems with speech but may still have difficulties with understanding and processing language.

(Based on information on the National Autistic Society website)

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

A range of psychotherapeutic techniques (talking therapies) that help people change how they think (cognitive) and how they act (behaviour).

It can help make sense of overwhelming problems by breaking them down into smaller, more manageable ones using a goal-oriented systematic approach.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends CBT as the treatment of choice for a number of mental health difficulties, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), bulimia nervosa, and clinical depression, and for the neurological myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME or condition chronic fatigue syndrome).


A state of sadness and gloom often accompanied by a loss of interest or pleasure in normally enjoyable activities. It can also be linked to severe weight loss, insomnia, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, diminished ability to think or concentrate or recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.
It can appear as a symptom of many mental disorders and has numerous different variants with similar but different dominant symptoms or underlying causes.

(Based on information on the Anxiety UK website)

Eating disorders

A class of mental condition characterised by disturbances or problems associated with feeding or eating (such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa).

Problems with food can begin when it is used to cope with boredom, anxiety, feelings of anger, loneliness, or feeling ashamed or sad. Food becomes a problem when it is used to cope with painful situations or feelings, or to relieve stress often without the person even realising it.

It is unlikely that an eating disorder will result from a single cause. It is much more likely to be a combination of many factors, events, feelings or pressures which lead individuals feeling unable to cope. These can include: low self-esteem, family relationships, problems with friends, bereavement, problems at work, college or university, lack of confidence, sexual or emotional abuse. Many people talk about simply feeling ‘too fat’ or ‘not good enough’.

(Based on information on the beat website)

Experimental psychologist

A psychologist who conducts research utilising experimental scientific methods to discover the processes underlying how people think and behave.

Experimental psychologists have traditionally conducted research, published articles and taught classes on neuroscience, developmental psychology, sensation, perception, attention, consciousness, learning, memory, thinking, and language. More recently, the experimental approach has extended to motivation, emotion and social psychology.

Mental health

This term can be used either to describe someone’s level of mental well-being or an absence of any mental disorder.

It describes an individual's ability to enjoy and cope with the normal stresses of life, work productively, and be able to make a contribution to his or her community.

(Based on information on the Anxiety UK website)

Neuroscience and neurobiology

Branches of biology concerned with the scientific study of the nervous system.
The definition encompasses different approaches to studying the molecular, cellular, developmental, structural, functional, evolutionary, computational, and medical aspects of the nervous system.

Traditionally, neuroscience has been seen as a branch of biology but is now an interdisciplinary science that collaborates with other fields such as psychology, mathematics, physics, chemistry, engineering, computer science, philosophy and medicine.

The techniques used by neuroscientists have also expanded enormously, from molecular and cellular studies of individual nerve cells to imaging of sensory and motor tasks in the brain. Recent theoretical advances in neuroscience have also been aided by the study of neural networks.
The term neurobiology is often used interchangeably with the term neuroscience, although the former refers specifically to the biology of the nervous system, whereas the latter refers to the entire science of the nervous system.

Offender profiling

The scientific analysis of behaviour and circumstances associated with serious crimes to identify the most likely characteristics of the offender.

Types of criminal profiling vary, and the general approach is also covered by the terms criminal profiling, criminal personality profiling, criminological profiling, behavioural profiling or criminal investigative analysis.


A phobia is an irrational fear of an object or situation that would not normally trouble most people.
As the name suggests, simple/specific phobias are phobias that are about specific objects or situations. They can be quite distinct in nature and easily identified. For example, fear of spiders, fear of thunderstorms or fear of heights.

Any phobia may produce a state of panic when the sufferer is confronted with the phobic object/situation. A wide variety of physical symptoms can be experienced such as nausea, increased heartbeat and jelly legs. For this reason, many people with simple or specific phobias enter into a pattern of avoidance which can vary enormously in severity from someone who would not want to touch a spider to someone who cannot even look at a picture of a spider in a magazine and therefore has to vet everything they come into contact with. The latter demonstrates just how debilitating even a simple phobia can be.

(Based on information on the Anxiety UK website)

Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

An anxiety disorder arising as a delayed and drawn-out response after witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event. Even learning about it may be sufficient if the persons involved are family members or close friends. It is characterised by intense fear, distressing flashbacks, recurrent dreams, panic attacks and heightened awareness. PTSD is sometimes found in ex-military personnel who have been involved in conflict situations, but can also occur following traumatic childbirth, recurrent domestic violence, and other distressing events.