Course Syllabus

Psychology 250: Introduction to Abnormal Psychology
Syllabus #1535
5 credits

James M. Orr, Jr., Ph.D.



This course will introduce the student to the fields of Abnormal and Personality psychology.  We will focus on how psychologists apply research findings to real world situations.  Through this study we increase our understanding of the full range of human behavior – from normal to abnormal.  The course will draw from psychophysiological, social, and clinical literatures. We will cover psychological disorders and psychotherapeutic strategies, and address issues of stress and mental/physical health, interpersonal functioning, and lifespan changes.  Throughout this course, strategies for healthy emotional, social, and cognitive functioning will be presented.  The contextual considerations of gender, culture, and zeitgeist will be addressed as well.

Introduction to Psychology is a prerequisite for taking this course.



By completing this course of study the student will:

  • Become familiar with the terms and definitions in common use within the fields of abnormal and personality psychology.
  • Gain an understanding of the methods used to gather information about human behavior.
  • Be introduced to aspects of abnormal psychology that may continue to influence his/her behaviors for many years to come.
  • Come to realize that knowledge of human behavior is a source of personal power in one’s own life.




Abnormal Psychology  by Ronald J. Comer 10th Ed 2018
ISBN-13 978-1-319-06694-9

ISBN-10 1-319-06694-1

The textbook may be obtained online through a price comparison website such as  Plan on purchasing your textbooks early and always be sure you are purchasing the correct edition of the book for this syllabus.    You do not need the study guide to do well in this course.



The author and I seek three main objectives for writing their book: provide students with scholarship of the highest quality, offer an evenhanded treatment of abnormal psychology as both a scientific and a clinical endeavor, giving students the opportunity to explore topics thoroughly and responsibly, and to make the book (and thus this study) inviting and stimulating to a wide range of students. I think this text fills the bill.

The text and this course will cover the following topics:

Ch. 1  Abnormal Behavior Past and Present

Ch. 2  Research in Abnormal Psychology

Ch. 3  Models of Abnormality

Ch. 4  Clinical Assessment, Diagnosis and Treatment

Ch. 5  Anxiety Disorders, Obsessive-Compulsive, and Related Disorders

Ch. 6  Disorders of Stress and Trauma

Ch. 7  Depressive and Bipolar Disorders

Ch. 8  Treatment for Depressive and Bipolar Disorders

Ch. 9  Suicide

Ch. 10  Disorders Featuring Somatic Symptoms.

Ch. 11  Eating Disorders

Ch. 12  Substance Abuse and Addictive Disorders

Ch. 13  Sexual Disorders and Gender Variations

Ch. 14  Schizophrenia Related Disorders – symptoms, types, course and etiology

Ch. 15  Treatment for Schizophrenia and Other Severe Mental Disorders

Ch. 16  Personality Disorders 

Ch. 17  Disorders of Childhood and Adolescence

Ch. 18 Disorders of Aging and Cognition

Ch. 19 Law, Society and the Mental Health Profession

The following websites will help you with your research on abnormal psychology:

United States National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

This government site gives up-to-the- minute news on NIMH activities, grants, and mental health topics for both the general public and for researchers.

Journal of Abnormal Psychology

The American Psychological Association publication, Journal of Abnormal Psychology, publishes articles on “basic research and theory in the broad field of abnormal behavior, including  psychopathology; normal processes in abnormal individuals; pathological or atypical features of the behavior of normal persons; experimental studies, with human or animal subjects, relating to disordered emotional behavior or pathology; sociocultural effects on pathological processes, including the influence of gender and ethnicity; and tests of hypotheses from psychological theories that relate to abnormal behavior.” This specific section of their site provides access to summaries of current articles and listings of the titles of a year’s back issues.

Abnormal Psychology News

International Association of Applied Psychology: 



There are 19 chapter assignments worth 10 points each, one research paper worth 20 points and a final exam worth 40 points.

Grading is as follows:
225 – 250 = A 
200 – 224 = B
175 – 199 = C
150 – 174 = D
less than 174=F

Research Paper Critique:  To complete the assignment for the critique of a research paper you will need to locate one research-based journal or use one of the articles cited in the reference section of your text (pp R1 – R57), and write a five page critique of the article. Your paper should state the authors’ working hypothesis, their research methods, the population they worked with, their findings, any conclusions they drew from their work and what you thought of their approach to the research question, as well as what you think should be studied next (research always leads to more research).

Final Exam:  When you finish your chapter assignments and your research paper you may do the final exam.   The exam is an open book essay style exam.



As I’m sure you know, you have six months to complete this course unless you have other deadlines, in which case you must finish by the end of the quarter of registration.  Set a good pace for yourself to allow for timely completion.

I suggest you turn in only one chapter assignment at the beginning, to learn how I evaluate your work.  Thereafter you may submit more than one assignment at a time for grading.  When answering, personalize your answer wherever possible; relating it to your life and your experience.  If you are unsure that you are correctly doing the assignment, you may want to submit the first one by itself.  After that it is much easier bookkeeping if assignments come in 3 or 4 or more at a time.  You may always e-mail me if you have any questions.


You do not have to submit assignments in any particular order.  When you are finished with all your work, you may request the final exam.

ALWAYS make a copy of your work BEFORE submitting it.  If lessons are lost, it is far easier to resubmit a copy than to rewrite an entire assignment.  All assignments must be completed in order to receive credit for the course.  Under no circumstances may you submit all, or even most, lessons at one time.  All work must be submitted in Canvas.

Time considerations (a message from the Western Online office) – Organize your time so that you are spreading the work out over 10 or 12 weeks, just like a regular academic quarter.  Treat your self-paced course as the serious learning experience that it is.  True learning takes time: time for reading, time for processing new information, time for reflection.  When students get into trouble in a self-paced course, it is most often when they try to rush through a large part of the work at the end of the quarter or right before their own deadline.

Remember that grading takes time and your instructor has other classes, students and obligations.  Therefore, your instructor cannot be expected to grade assignments immediately because you have a deadline. 



Your questions and discussions are welcome.  You can always write a note to me on your lessons and I will respond.  I also check my e-mail ( often and will reply promptly. 

Course Summary:

Date Details Due