Abnormal Psychology in a Dangerous World

Course Number: PSYCHLGY 7430
Course Name: Abnormal Psychology in a Dangerous World (Online)
Course Description:    A graduate course in abnormal psychology that does not presume prior psychology study. The course places the concept of abnormal psychology in historical context, covers the major mental illnesses and their treatments, and relates content to criminal justice applications. There is a major focus on risk and danger, as they relate to the disorders. P: graduate student status.
Prerequisites:    None
Level: Graduate
Credits: 3
Format: Online
Program: Master of Science in Criminal Justice

Registration Instructions

NOTE: The information below is representative of the course and is subject to change.  The specific details of the course will be available in the Desire2Learn course instance for the course in which a student registers.

Additional Information

Learning Outcomes


  • Knowledge of the history and definition of mental illness
  • Awareness of the major theoretical perspectives on psychological disorders
  • Knowledge of assessment and diagnosis of psychological disorders
  • Knowledge of research methods employed in the study of psychological disorders
  • Familiarity with major research in the field
  • Knowledge of the causes and symptoms of various psychological disorders
  • Knowledge of current approaches to treating these psychological disorders
  • Awareness of legal and community responses to psychopathology
  • Awareness of criteria for differentiation between psychopathology and normality
  • Knowledge of disorders outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV) of the American Psychiatric Association
  • Evaluation of strengths and weaknesses of the theories, methods, and research findings
  • Evaluation of the roles of individuality and diversity (e.g., gender and culture) in the development and treatment of psychological disorders

Process Skills:

  • Increased ability to be a knowledgeable consumer of psychological research and psychological services
  • Enhanced ability to employ divergent and creative thinking
  • Enriched use of psychological principles to analyze life situations and perspectives


  • Increased curiosity into behavior and its causes
  • Increased insight into yourself and your own behavior
  • Enhanced sensitivity toward and understanding of people who are mentally ill

Unit Descriptions

Unit 1
In our premier unit, we place abnormal psychology in context, temporally, scientifically, theoretically, and practically. We examine the history of psychology, the scientific method, and the major theories of abnormal psychology. We analyze how research and theory guide the assessment and amelioration of emotional and behavioral problems.

Unit 2
We begin our discussion of the specific disorders with the anxiety disorders. These disorders are very common in the general population, although they often go undiagnosed and untreated. At the other extreme, anxiety disorders can be extremely disabling. Similarly, depression, often labeled "the common cold" of the psychological disorders, often goes undiagnosed and untreated. We will discuss the causes and treatments of these problems and examine the epidemiology of one of the more dangerous sequelae of depression and anxiety: suicide.

Unit 3
Freud was first to identify the phenomenon of psychological conflicts creating physical symptoms. In this unit, we discuss those kinds of disorders, as well as the converse: physical disorders that create psychological problems. We will discuss motivated as well as unconscious attempts to fake mental and physical illness, and we will discuss the pervasive problems of alcohol and other drug abuse and the psychological treatments thereof. Finally, we examine sexual disorders and their impact on people's lives.

Unit 4
Schizophrenia is probably the first word that comes to mind when you think of abnormal behavior. In this portion of the course, we study schizophrenia and other disorders of thought. We also examine the very rare but very interesting dissociative and memory disorders such as psychogenic amnesia and dissociative identity disorder (multiple personality).

Unit 5
We finish the course by examining disorders that tend to begin early in life and persist over most, if not all of the adult life span. These disorders include personality disorders and developmental disorders like autism. We also discuss disorders that are specific to childhood and old age. Finally, we explore ethics, managed care, and the legal system, and contemplate their impact on individuals with disordered behavior.

Grading Information

All assignments (other than exams) will be graded on the following scale:

Grading Scale
A 90% - 100%
B 80% - 89%
C 70% - 79%
D 60% - 69%
F 0% - 59%


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