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In early cognitive psychology studies (Tolman, 1948), the term cognitive map was originally used to describe the process by which rats learned the sequence of a maze. As such, it represented the process by which they acquired and stored knowledge about the correct route by appearing to develop an internal map-like representation of the environment. Subsequently, this characterization was applied to human thought processes as well.

In current psychological literature, cognitive maps refer to one’s internal mental representations that simulate the physical environment, particularly aspects of relative location and spatial relationships. These representations are based upon three types of orienting…

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Somatoform Disorders, Factitious Disorders and Malingering are among the most difficult disorders for clinical psychologists to diagnose and differentiate.

Somatoform Disorders

Somatoform Disorders are “problems that appear to be physical, or medical, but are actually due to psychosocial factors” and as such represent “psychological disorders masquerading as physical problems” (Comer, 2004, p. 200). This class of disorders does not represent a conscious or purposeful attempt by the patient to intentionally deceive medical and/or mental health practitioners, but instead, manifests as persistent or recurrent symptoms or impairments which the patients themselves believe to be physical in nature and consider beyond their…

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Piaget’s comprehensive theory of infant cognitive development emphasizes the complexity of processes and stages involved as children begin to conceptualize about and interact with their environment. He contributed to the understanding of cognitive development by establishing the link between a child’s sensory input and subsequent motor responses, suggesting the stepwise progression of conceptual development (Santrock, 2002). His theory was particularly revolutionary because it encompassed a generalized and unifying theory of universal cognitive development in young children. Unlike many other broad and comprehensive psychological theories, Piaget’s offers distinct, concrete concepts that can be easily tested and measured in a variety of…

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Acknowledging the relevance of Piaget’s cognitive perspective on development, Kohlberg proposed a theory of progressive moral development based upon cognitive aspects of moral reasoning. He proposed that children progress through stages of moral maturation based on their cognitive conceptualizations of right and wrong. He measured these constructs using situational examples of moral dilemmas to assess the underlying thought processes used in the determination of these judgments.

The theory gives precedence to the reasoning utilized to arrive at moral conclusions rather than evaluating the moral content of the choice. Based on his research, Kohlberg posited three levels and six stages of…

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Once family dinners

Replaced by microwave meals

On the fly

Fend for yourself

Retreat to your own corner

Sunday morning sharing The NY Times

Working the crossword together

Replaced by solemn brooding

Sleeping off the hangover

Of another desperate night

The inside joke

Now falls on deaf ears

Who remembers

What was even so funny

Saturday afternoon drives in the country

Going nowhere

Enjoying the ride

Replaced by his golf game

Mostly played out in the clubhouse

And her book club

With book abandoned

For resentful talk of his golf game

And too much wine

Summers at the cottage


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Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget is credited with constructing the first comprehensive stage theory of cognitive development in which mental processing structures become increasingly abstract and sophisticated. He posited that universally children formulate their conclusions about the world by actively engaging in manipulation of objects in their environment and from this interaction, learn basic principles in a step-wise manner. Piaget posited four cumulative age-related stages of qualitative cognitive change characterized by very distinct ways of thinking. …

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Projective tests were the predominant form of personality test used by clinical psychologists prior to 1950. Louttit and Browne (1947) examined the frequency of test usage and found that human figure drawings, the TAT, and the Rorschach were the most commonly used personality tests, following only individually administered IQ tests. Similarly, Sundberg (1954) reviewed the 1936 to 1951 editions of the Mental Measurements Yearbook and observed that the Rorschach ranked either first or second among all psychological tests in the frequency with which it was cited in the professional literature.

The status of projective tests was quite high at the…

Other forms of Projective Tests

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While the Rorschach Inkblot Test, the Thematic Apperception Test and the Human Figures Drawing Test are among the most well recognized and clinically utilized projective assessment measures, various other lesser-known projective tests exist.

Below is a list of various projective personality assessment measures (Lilienfeld, 2000).

Free Association

· Freud’s “fundamental rule” of psychoanalysis. Clients say whatever comes to mind, without making a conscious effort to inhibit their speech. Unconscious troubling material is interpreted from slips of the tongue, blocking, and other verbal expressions.

Word Association Test

· Items consist of single words read aloud by the examiner and to which…

Donna L Roberts, PhD (Psych Pstuff)

Writer and university professor researching media psych, generational studies, human and animal rights, and the intersection of art and psychology

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