Psy 210- abnormal Psychology Mercer County Community College Spring 2007

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PSY 210- Abnormal Psychology

Mercer County Community College

Spring 2007

Professor Heather Jennings

Phone: 609-586-4800 ext.3450 (WW) or ext. 3112 (JKC)
Office: LA 129 (West Windsor)

KC 328 (James Kerney Campus)

Office Hours:

Monday 12:00-1:00 (JKC)

Tuesday 4:15- 5:15 pm (WW)

Wednesday 10-10:30 and 12-1:00pm (JKC)

Thursday 10:30-12:00pm (WW)
Textbook: Durand and Barlow (2006) Essentials of Abnormal Psychology (4th ed.)

Welcome to Abnormal Psychology!

This class will explore that fascinating world of abnormal behavior…but what is that exactly? By the end of this course you WILL be able to answer that question!

We will focus on the elements of psychopathology and mental disorders, as well as the history and classifications of various disorders.

This class will discuss a variety mental illnesses, such as, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, PTSD, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, personality disorders and other intriguing ailments that so many people endure on a daily basis; Posing the question, “How abnormal is it really?” This class is great for anyone interested in understanding those “abnormal” behaviors seen very often within our society. This class will also examine the tremendous impact mental illness has on the person living with abnormality.

When I tell people that I work as a therapist, I am usually bombarded with stories like, “I know a guy who sees little green aliens”… “My sister has depression and is on medication… “I think my neighbor is crazy, he stares at the side of his house all day long and talks to his car…what do YOU think?”

When examining the behavior of another, we can see many things both normal and abnormal. This is not to think everyone has a diagnosable disorder! As this class progresses, you will learn many tell-tale indicators of mental illness and psychopathology.
It is a common practice for us to enjoy analyzing people and placing them into neat little categories, but please refrain from diagnosing yourself, your friends, your parents and family, your classmates, your professors or anyone else 

This class will be interesting and fun, but it will not make you a psychologist!

Academic Integrity
The work a student produces must be their own and should result solely from their own efforts. Plagiarism or cheating on any assignment is regarded as an extremely serious academic offense. Student’s who violate this policy will receive an “F” for the course. Please refer to the Mercer County Community College Academic Integrity Handbook, or request one from the professor.
Academic Accommodation
It is the student’s responsibility to arrange an accommodation. If you are a student with a disability or special need, please advise the professor so that appropriate accommodations can be made
Attendance and Conduct

As college students you choose to be here. You have elected to register for this course and YOU will determine your overall experience in this class. Although I do not expect students to attend every class due to demands of life, attendance is very important and required. If you miss class, it is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to get the information you have missed. Do not expect or request the notes to be supplied by me if you did not attend lecture. Attendance and lecture notes are crucial to success in this class.

Missing 6 or more classes will result in the lowering of your final grade by one letter grade.
Without question, students who attend class perform better than those who do not…make sure you get to class. If you are often absent, it should lead you to ask the question, “Why did I register for this course?”
You will not hurt my feelings if this class is not for you, but please don’t just disappear- drop the class as soon as you realize you don’t want to be here. If you choose to not return without officially dropping the course, you will receive an “F” on your transcript.

Attendance Bonus

Students who attend every class will receive a 4 point bonus. If you miss only one class, you will receive a 2 point bonus. Lateness is not acceptable from college students; therefore two lates will be equal to one absence. If you arrive to class after I have taken role, it is YOUR responsibility to advise me that you arrived late, otherwise you will be marked as absent. All absences without a doctor’s note will be considered unexcused. It is at my discretion to add additional points for active participation.


Your final grade will be based on four 50 question multiple-choice exams. All exams will be administered in the testing center. The exams are available at the West Windsor Testing Center ONLY (LA 215). Please check the hours of operation to ensure you arrive during testing hours. All students MUST provide a student ID to take the exams and must know the course number, test number and instructor’s name.
Each exam will be available for a 7- day period (review course schedule for dates). It is the student’s responsibility to take the exam within the allotted amount of time; therefore failure to complete the exam will result in a zero. Make-up exams are not an option in this course. Should you miss an exam, you will have the option of taking EXAM 6, a cumulative exam final, which will replace your lowest exam grade.
Retest policy:

Each student will have the opportunity to retake each exam. Students may retake the exam at any time during the 7 day testing period. The higher grade will be calculated towards the final grade. NO retests will be possible after the exam period has expired.

For example:

Exam #1 (exam period) Sept. 1-8th

  • Ask testing center for PSY 101/Exam 1A/Jennings

Retest Exam #1 (exam period) Sept. 1-8th

  • Ask testing center for PSY 101/Exam 1B/Jennings

All students are welcome to come to my office hours and review version A to discuss any questions about the exam before taking the retest. Take advantage of this opportunity!

West Windsor Campus

Fall and Spring

During the first two weeks of each semester

After the second week of each semester

Monday - Thursday

10:30 a.m. - 8 p.m.

Monday - Thursday

9 a.m. - 8:30 p.m.


9 a.m. - 4 p.m.


9 a.m. - 4 p.m.


9 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.


9 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

For further information go to the testing center on the college’s website:

Position Paper

Each student will be required to submit a position paper. This is a 5-page (minimum) type-written position paper. Details for this assignment are provided in a separate handout at the end of the syllabus. This assignment will be worth 50 points. Please refer to the handout for details, grading criteria and deadline for this assignment.

(3) Analytical writing assignments

Each student must submit 3 short writing assignments, for a total of 50 points. Each student must submit (1) Film Critique, (1) Case summary and (1) Article Review. Articles and detailed information will be distributed in a separate packet. Each writing option will have individual instructions and due date.

Extra Credit Option

Students will have the option of submitting an additional one page, type-written journal summary paper (Instructions included at the end of the syllabus). This paper can be submitted at any time during the semester however, it MUST be submitted before the end of the exam 3 testing period. This paper will be worth 10 extra credit points.

To encourage good study habits, I will give 4 extra credit points per exam to students who make flash cards of the chapter material. It may not sound like much, but that adds up to 20 extra credits points which will be added to your overall final points. Take advantage of this opportunity!

Course Grading

Your final grade for this class will be calculated on a point system. Your grade will be based on exam totals for a total of 300 possible points for the course. The final grades can be computed as follows:


Letter Grade


279 +
























Below 180


Use the space below to keep track of your cumulative points from the exams, paper, writing assignments and extra credit.

EXAM 1 __________ pts. FLASHCARDS EXAM 1 __________ pts.

EXAM 2 __________pts. FLASHCARDS EXAM 2 __________ pts.

EXAM 3 __________pts. FLASHCARDS EXAM 3 __________ pts. EXAM 4 __________pts. FLASHCARDS EXAM 4 __________ pts.

Total Exam points _____________ /200 pts.

Position Paper _____________ / 50 pts.

Total (3) ­­_____________ / 50 pts.

writing assignments

Total flashcard pts. _____________ / 20 pts.

Extra credit paper _____________ / 10 pts.

Attendance Bonus _____________ pts.


I sincerely hope that you find this subject to be interesting and enjoy this psychology course. It is my goal for each of you to successfully learn in this class, as well as, think critically about issues related to Abnormal Psychology. Please feel free to contact me at any time during the semester in class, during office hours, by phone or email with any questions.

Course Schedule:


Course Material

Exam Schedule

January 16

Ch.1-Abnormal Psychology in Historical Context

January 23

Ch.3- Clinical Assessment, Diagnosis and Research Methods

January 30

Ch.4-Anxiety Disorders

Exam 1

January 30 - February 9th (Ch.1 and 3)

February 8th

Research paper-


February 13

Ch. 5- Somatoform and Dissociative Disorders

February 27

Ch. 6- Mood Disorders

Exam 2

February 27-March 6th

(Ch.4 and 5)

March 8th

Bibliography Summary DUE

March 12-18th



March 20

Ch.8- Eating and Sleep Disorders

March 29

Research Papers DUE!

April 3

Ch. 9- Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders

Exam 3

April 3-10th

(Ch.6 and 8)

April 10

Ch.12-Schiozphrenia and related psychotic disorders

April 24

Ch.11-Personality Disorders

Exam 4

May 1-May 7th

(Ch. 9, 11 and 12)
Exam 5-

May 1-7th

OPTIONAL make-up exam (Cumulative)

May 7th

Last day of class!

Abnormal Psychology (PSY 210)

Position Paper

Professor Jennings

50 points
This assignment requires each student to write a research paper that combines critical thinking with research skills. Once you decide on the topic you are committed to analyzing that specific area. This assignment will require each student to form a position on a topic and provide research to support their position. Regardless of which topic you select, there was something about it that interested you- now develop a position and support it with empirical research.
I am looking for a paper that examines and analyzes an element of abnormal psychology-with purpose. This paper is much like an argument; each paper must have a position or stance and be supported with research. Try to win this argument by finding information that supports what you believe. This paper should not be a platform for your personal beliefs about the topic, supported with your experiences or “case studies” that you present about people you know. Research is systematic and scientifically-based; your experiences are NOT and therefore have no place in a research paper.
I am looking for each of you to think critically and analyze your topic. Develop a position about your topic and support it with research. Learning how to analyze a topic, form a position and provide valid research will help you in future classes or colleges.
The Critical Thinking/Research paper must follow the format listed below for full credit. The thesis statement and bibliography summary MUST be submitted by specific deadlines listed below.
Section Zero: (5 points)

  • A typed description of the topic and specific purpose of the paper must be submitted

  • Topic selection with thesis statement must be submitted

  • Identify the purpose of the paper, what you intend to research and prove.

  • Deadline: February 8th

Section One (Introduction): (5 points)

  • Identify your position

  • The purpose of the paper and what you intend to discuss must be presented.

Section Two (Discussion): (10 points)

  • Topic overview

  • Introduction and discussion of the topic.

Section Three (Research Section): (15 points)

  • Application of the course material and research information.

  • Academic research relevant to your topic and position must be presented.

  • Scholarly journals, articles, textbook, or other resources will be presented to support the intended position of the paper.

Section Four (Summation): (5 points)

  • Conclusion- an organized summation and conclusion of the research and material must be presented

  • This section will discuss the analysis of the research and position.

  • What did you find during this research? Did your research support the position?

Bibliography: (5 points)

  • The bibliography summary must be submitted by March 8th for instructor review. This should be a brief summary of the article that will be included in the final version of the research paper. BRIEFLY summarize the article and why you chose to include it in your paper.

  • A minimum of FOUR (4) academic references must appear in your paper

    • Academic references are journals and research-based material

    • The college library has an extensive database available to students- make sure you use this resource.

    • Articles from magazines such as Newsweek, Time, or Cosmopolitan are not appropriate. Psychology Today is acceptable, but not the best source for information.

  • The textbook must appear in the paper.

Format guidelines: (5 points)

  • The body of the paper must be a minimum of 5 full pages typewritten, not exceeding 7 pages in length

  • 12 point Times New Roman font.

  • 1" margins all around and double-spaced.

  • ALL resources must be cited within the body of the paper as well as on the reference page

  • Citations must follow APA guidelines

  • Submit paper stapled with student name and class- please do not place paper in plastic binders or folders.

Very important!

  • Papers submitted with citations not matching the reference page or vice versa will receive an automatic deduction of 25 points.

  • Papers submitted without citations or reference page will receive an automatic failure (0 points)

Pre-approved topic list:

The following is a list of topics that are acceptable for your paper. You are limited only to these specific topics, unless permission is given.

    • Anxiety Disorders (Select one ONLY)

    • Bipolar Disorder

    • Depression

    • Dissociative Fugue

    • Dissociative Identity Disorder

    • Delusional Disorder

    • Eating Disorders- (Select one ONLY)

    • Gender Identity Disorder

    • Generalized Anxiety Disorder

    • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

    • Paraphilia (Select ONE only)

    • Personality Disorders- (Select one ONLY)

    • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

    • Schizophrenia (Select ONE form)

    • Sleep Disorders (Select one ONLY)

    • Social anxiety disorder

    • Social Phobia

    • Somatoform Disorder (Select one ONLY)

    • Specific Phobia- (Select one ONLY)

Due Date: March 29th

Good Luck!

Early submissions are welcome

Analytical Writing Assignment
Recalling and memorizing concepts about abnormal psychology is the easy part, but evaluating and analyzing concepts regarding is far more challenging. Each student must submit 3 writing assignments, for a total of 50 points. There are a variety of assignments you can choose from, but each student MUST select one from each category. Be sure to check the guidelines and due dates, as there are variations.

  • Hollywood Film Critique-

Select one of the following films and review the film as if you were a Psychologist. What mental illness was depicted in the film? Based on your knowledge from class and your text, determine if the film accurately depicts the disorder identified or if it is flawed. Be sure to discuss the observable behaviors that support this diagnosis.

    • KPAX (2001 Drama Sci-Fi; Kevin Spacey, Jeff Bridges, Alfre Woodward; 2hrs, 1 min)

      • Was Prot really an alien? Reflect on your experience while you attempted to assess Prot’s symptoms and behavior. Does this change your impression of assessment?

      • Hollywood versus reality- Did this movie accurately portray the mental health industry in your opinion?

Due January 30th

    • Girl Interrupted (1999 Drama; Angelina Jolie, Winona Ryder, Whoopie Goldberg)

      • Susana (Winona Ryder) was committed for 18 months. Why was she committed? Does this hospitalization accurately represent psychiatric treatment in the 1960’s?

      • Do you think it’s useful to classify lifelong personality characteristics as psychological disorders? Do you think Susana (Winona Ryder) appeared to have Borderline Personality Disorder? Why or why not?

      • Select a character and discuss their diagnosis in the movie. Do you agree with that diagnosis, why or why not? What type of treatment would be typical today?

Due January 30th

    • Primal Fear (1996 Drama/Suspense; Richard Gere, Edward Norton, Laura Linney; 129 min)

      • Why would this diagnosis acquit him from a murder charge?

      • Did the outcome surprise you? Did this change your opinion about the disorder?

Due February 27th

    • Insomnia (2002 Crime/Drama/Thriller; Al Pacino, Robin Williams, Hilary Swank’ 1 hr. 58 min)

      • Has your ability to function ever been impaired due to lack of sleep? What signs of sleep deprivation did Will Dormer (Al Pacino) experience? What environmental, situational, and emotional factors contributed to his insomnia?

      • Do you think this film would have ended differently had the detective been able to sleep? Do you think he would have made different choices? Explain.

      • Is there anything the detective could have done to increase the likelihood of being able to sleep while in Alaska?

Due April 3rd

    • Nuts (1987 Drama; Barbara Streisand, Richard Dreyfuss; 1 hr 56 mins).

      • Why do Claudia Draper’s parents and psychiatrist argue that Claudia (Barbara Streisand) should be committed? Why does Claudia resist?

      • While watching this film, did you change your mind about whether Claudia was “nuts”? If yes, at what point did you change your mind, and why?

      • How is Claudia’s competence to stand trial determined?

Due January 30th

    • As Good as it Gets (1997; Comedy, Drama, Romance; Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt, Greg Kinnear)?

      • How did this disorder impact Melvin’s (Jack Nicholson) relationships with others? How does Melvin behave when his well-established routine is interrupted? What internal feelings might lead to those behaviors?

      • What form of treatment did Melvin use in the movie? Is this a successful treatment? Explain.

Due February 8th

    • A Beautiful Mind (2001 Drama/Mystery; Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly; 2hrs, 16 min).

      • What type of schizophrenia does John Nash (Russell Crowe) have? Discuss a scene that depicts the “positive symptoms” of schizophrenia. Discuss a scene that depicts the “negative symptoms.”

      • Do you think the film implies that a person with schizophrenia can fully recover? Do you think the film implies that a person can recover without medication? Explain and justify your answers.

Due April 24th

  • Journal Article Reviews- 20 Points Due February 15th

Select any of the following articles and write a two-three page reflection paper. Summarize and critique the article by discussing the content and your thoughts on the article. Do you agree with the article? Why or why not? What potential problems did you find, if any?

    • Being Sane in Insane Places (Rosenhan, 1973)

    • Fall into Helplessness (Seligman, (1973)

    • The Quandary Over Mental Illness (Szasz, 2004)

    • Computer and Internet-based Psychotherapy Interventions (Taylor, 2003).

    • Offering Hope to the Emotionally Depressed (Myslinski, 2004)

    • The Effectiveness of Psychotherapy: The Consumer Reports Study (Seligman, 1995)

    • Cognitive Therapy: Nature and Relation to Behavior Therapy (Beck, 1970)

    • Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety (Freud, 1926)


  • Article critique- Due April 10th

Select three scientific research studies which each pertain to a disorder of your choice (that is, one disorder, 3 articles all on that disorder). You should provide a brief summary of each article including an overview of the topic of study, methods used and main results. You should compare and contrast the findings of the research. Finally, you should discuss the practical applications of the findings of the research including the ways in which they add to existing knowledge in the field regarding the disorder, its assessment and treatment. You must submit a copy of each selected article with your completed assignment.

  • Case Study- 15 Points Due March 10th

You will review a case study provided in this packet. You will be responsible for reviewing the case and assigning multi-axial diagnoses. You will also be responsible for providing a rationale for the diagnoses, as well as a discussion of rule outs, differential diagnoses, and prognosis. This assignment should be 2-3 pages in length (typed, double-spaced, one inch margins).

The first page is to be completed in the multi-axial diagnosis format provided below. The remaining pages are to be a discussion of how you determined the diagnoses. It is often helpful to organize the latter pages by axis (see below). This discussion is to include the signs/symptoms of each diagnosis you assign, as well as a complete discussion of differential diagnoses. Differential diagnosis refers to all of the diagnostic categories that you seriously considered during the diagnostic process. Because the symptoms present in the case study suggest the possibility of several disorders, a thorough discussion of disorders that you excluded is warranted. In other words, you should discuss why you assigned the diagnoses that you did and why you ruled out others. You DO NOT need to include diagnostic Numbers.

Multi-axial Diagnosis Format

Axis I: Clinical Disorders

Other Disorders That May Be a Focus of Clinical Attention

Axis II: Personality Disorders

Mental Retardation

Axis III: General Medical Conditions

Axis IV: Psychosocial and Environmental Problems

Axis V: Global Assessment of Functioning

Multi-axial Diagnosis Pointers

Axis I: Includes all of the disorders we have covered in class, with the exception of Personality Disorders and Mental Retardation.

Axis II: Includes only Personality Disorders and Mental Retardation

Axis III: Includes general medical conditions that are relevant to Axis I and Axis II diagnoses.

Axis IV: Includes a listing of any relevant psychosocial and environmental problems or stressors.

Axis V: Includes a numerical rating of current functioning, and occasionally highest functioning over the past year, on a scale of 0 to 100. (See DSM IV for anchors to the GAF rating scale.)
You can have multiple diagnoses on any axis. It is also possible that there is no diagnosis on an axis. List every diagnosis for which the diagnostic criteria are met. When no diagnosis exists for a particular axis, “No Diagnosis” is entered on the line.
The first diagnosis listed on Axis I is assumed to be the principal diagnosis unless otherwise specified. If the principal diagnosis is a Personality Disorder or Mental Retardation, it should be listed on Axis II, labeled as the “Principal Diagnosis” in parentheses.

In the instance that diagnostic criteria are minimally met for two similar disorders and one diagnosis appears relatively clear but there remains a question about which diagnosis fits best, you can identify the most likely diagnosis on one line and list the second possibility on the next line followed by the term “Rule Out” in parentheses. This indicates some diagnostic certainty for the former diagnosis with a suggestion to monitor for the possibility of the latter diagnosis.

If there is insufficient information to make any diagnosis on any axis, enter “Diagnosis Deferred” on the line. This is different from “No Diagnosis” in that there is some possibility of a diagnosis on that axis but there is insufficient information to specify which diagnosis or not enough information to consider a “Rule Out” or a “Provisional Diagnosis”.

Abnormal Psychology (PSY 210)

Extra Credit Paper

Professor Jennings

Submission Deadline: On or before April 15th
This is an extra credit paper worth 10 points toward your total final grade. Your paper should be a summary of a selected article that you choose from a reputable source related to the topic of behavior. Acceptable sources would include articles of at least 4 pages, but no longer than 12 pages from a scholarly, peer-reviewed journal. The article must be published from 2000 to the present.
Your paper must be typed, double-spaced and one page only. The font size should be either 10 or 12 point. You should include your name and section number on the back of the paper only. Please do not submit your paper in a plastic binder or folder.
The title of your article should not be included at the top of the paper or in the body of the paper. The title of the article should only appear in the reference at the bottom of your paper. The first sentence of your paper should include the author of the article you are summarizing and the date of the publication. Examples of how you may start include: As Aronson (2002) discovered that…or Aronson (2002) suggests in his article…or Aronson (2002) states that…found that…etc.
The bottom of your paper should include the reference: author (last name, first initial). If there is more than one author, all the authors must be named in the reference, but not the body of the paper. ) The body of the paper can say, Aronson et al. (2002)…). An example of the APA (American Psychological Association) method that your paper should follow to cite your reference, looks like this:
Murray, B. (2000). Teaching students how to learn. Monitor on Psychology, Vol. 31 (8), pp. 64-68.
The reference should be single spaced and the second line should be indented.
The summary that you write should not be an opinion paper or personal feelings paper. You need to read an article and then summarize the article in your own words. Try not to use direct quotes. If you do, be sure to follow the APA format for direct quotes, do not copy directly from the article. You will be limited to ONE direct quote ONLY should you elect to do so. Your job will be to rewrite what you read…in other words, paraphrase.
Your paper will be graded on the selection of your article, the content, the organization of your paper, and the clarity and coherence of your writing. Spelling, grammar, punctuation, style, all count in the evaluation.

Grading Criteria:
An “A” level paper will receive 7-10 points:

The student uses a scholarly, peer-reviewed article to summarize that is about 4-12 pages in length on a topic clearly related to psychology. The student makes a copy of the article and reads it several times, making comments in the margin and highlighting important sections of the article. The student has full understanding of the article and captures the essence of the article in a clear and concise one page summary. The student manages to address what the article is about, and if it is about an experiment, the student explains the author’s hypothesis and if it was supported. If the student is summarizing an experimental research article, the student relies on the Introduction, Methods, Results and Discussion sections to write the summary. It is not necessary for the student to understand the statistics used in the Results section, but the student must report whether the findings support the hypothesis and what the implications are for the research.

The paper has less than two spelling errors and is grammatically correct, captures the essence of the article and is clearly written. The APA format is followed and the reference is properly cited.

A “B” level paper will receive 4-6 points:

The student selects a topic clearly related to psychology but uses a more readable, less scholarly article to summarize such as Psychology Today, Time Magazine or Newsweek. The student follows the same procedure as above, and writes a clear and consise summary that captures the essence of the article. The paper is grammatically correct, and has more than 4 spelling errors. The student follows APA format and the reference is appropriately cited.

A “C” level paper will receive 1-3 points:

The student submits a paper that meets the requirements of the assignment. The student has done a satisfactory job with the assignment, but the paper is not as clearly written as an “A” or “B” level paper and/or may have cited the reference improperly.

No points will be awarded for a paper that falls below a C level of work.

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