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COURSE NAME: "Abnormal Psychology"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2023

EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: TTH 10:00 AM 11:15 AM
PREREQUISITES: Prerequisite: PS 101
OFFICE HOURS: before and after class and by appointment in person or online


Issues related to psychopathology will be explored, with an emphasis on methodological problems and the causes of psychopathological conditions. The classification system of DSM-IV, which has become standard in North America and in many other parts of the world, will be examined critically, and other more theoretically coherent nosologies will be studied. Diagnostic categories will be examined from the point of view of three major theoretical approaches: psychodynamic, biological, and cognitive. Through required readings and a research paper, the student will become familiar with contemporary work in the field and will learn to read professional articles in a critical way. Emphasis in the course will be on the understanding and not simply the description of psychopathological states and their multiple complex determinants. Every psychological disorder has its specific content for the person suffering from it.

Satisfies "Applied Psychology" core course requirement for Psychological Science majors.

Through a textbook and many additional readings, the course will explain the fundamental epistemological issues faced in psychopathology and then examine the major diagnostic areas such as Depression, Dissociation, Obsessive and Compulsive personalities, etc.  (see course schedule). Emphasis will be on the implications of theory for the conception of diagnosis, the phenomenology of mental disorders, the experience of the person who suffers from these disorders, and symptoms as ways the individual is dealing with the suffering he or she experiences. 
The student should be able to understand the significance of theoretical approaches in the understanding of psychopathological conditions and the implications of the more common theoretical approaches.  The student will be able to understand these conditions from the points of view of symptoms, history, cause, experience of the patient of their particular symptoms and feelings, and their treatment. The student should be able to understand and explain with examples, what the specific symptoms and defenses do for the patient and how they are an attempt to heal besides the ways they hurt them. 
Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberCommentsFormatLocal BookstoreOnline Purchase
Psychoanalytic Diagnosis Nancy McWilliams don't rememberisbn this is a reference for the course, almost all chapters are required   
The Abyss of Madness George Atwood don't rememberisbn the whole book is requires except a couple of chapters   
I never promised you a rose garden joanne greenbergdon;t rememberisbn     

group presentation in person or on forumSeveral topics, some involving readings, will be offered, and you should sign up for one. It will be a group project. You will have to describe the reading or the topic, discuss it, and then monitor student responses and discussion to it on forum or in class. If you want to do a project alone, you would have to come up with a topic and get it approved.1/3
homework assignmentsThese will be short answers to questions posted as homework, sometimes with an option to choose one or the other. In all there will be 3 or 4, no more, assigned during the course and concern specific topics that will be posted on moodle. 1/3
forum participationThe forums are your way of participating in the course. You're expected to engage actively throughout the semester and this will give you some points as class participation.. It is a very free way of participating, where you will get credit for participating. There are no bad grades given here, only plusses that will add up to the third of the specific forum grade. (in other words, you don;t need to be afraid of saying something that will give you a bad grade. Your comment might not give you a plus BUT IT WON'T GIVE YOU A MINUS.1/3

A Because this course is not about knowledge of facts or even knowledge of the course material, itself, since you will have access to it, but applying it in another context, comparing, critically evaluating etc. - in other words an understanding that shows that you’ve thought about it, can come up with examples or show its application and implications for the field and perhaps outside of the specific field - is the mark of an excellent paper or exam. You will, hopefully, form your own opinions of this material and by no means are you required to agree with the professor. In fact, very often some of the best work students do comes from a critical analysis of the material and positions taken by the professor. However, your critical analysis must necessarily show your understanding of what it is you’re criticizing, as well as clear and reasoned arguments for your opinion. Ideally it should try to anticipate the criticism of the professor’s point of view and answer these potential criticisms. If you agree with the material, then you should be able to show that you’ve thought about it, come up with further examples, considered the implications and thought of possible objections and the answers to them. A paper, forum post or presentation that shows the above qualities will be given an A
B To receive a B you’ll show good knowledge of the course material and arguments presented, will have some examples of the material but while some will be original, they will be primarily the examples given in class, and you’ll show some sense of the implications but these, too, will be primarily limited to the implications mentioned in the course. Your arguments will be well presented and thought out, but these won’t go very far beyond the actual material of the course.
C To receive a C you’ll show knowledge of the material insofar as it can be found in the readings and lecture notes, but it will often not be complete, and will not show much personal elaboration of the material. Examples and applications of the material will be limited and there will be some concepts that you haven’t clearly understood.
D You’ll receive a D when there’s some indication that you didn’t fully read or understand the material or follow the class lectures and discussions or if you have clearly looked something up on internet without realizing that it is contradicting the course material . There will be gaps in what you’ve been able to find in the readings and class notes. You won’t have understood some concepts.
F To fail the course with an F it will be apparent that you haven’t read or understood a large part of the material and can’t find it among your notes or readings, that you haven’t done some of the reading or followed in class and have no understanding of the material that is in the paper or essay beyond relaying some facts.



The student is presumed to be a responsible adult who will attend class and get the notes for classes missed. Therefore there will be no official penalties for absences. However it will be extremely difficult to pass the course without attending class and class material will be drawn on for all assessment. In the case of group projects, the responsibility of the student is to the other group members, and participation in the group will be part of the grade.   NOTE - CLASSES ARE IN LECTURE FORMAT WITHOUT POWER POINT.  IT IS NECESSARY TO BE ABLE TO FOLLOW A LECTURE
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.


Each unit may have a different number of classes dedicated to it.  It will depend on the difficulty and complexity of the material and also on the amount of class discussion it elicits.  

To know what we’ll be covering next, just see what’s in the next unit!!!  For example, if we are doing depressive disorders then the next will be narcissistic disorders.  There will be a calendar with approximate dates posted on moodle

I may make small changes to reading assignments, but they’ll be announced in advance in class and online,  you should check at least weekly. 

Here’s the full reading list followed by the schedule

REQUIRED READINGS FOR ABNORMAL PSYCHOLOGY  none of the below are optional unless indicated specifically,

 These are not in order of the course material but you can check the syllabus and see what readings apply to the unit being covered. 

 ·         Nancy Mc Williams – Psychoanalytic Diagnosis this will be referred to as “the textbook” or “the text” – and you have to read pretty much all of it. 

·         Joanne Greenberg – I Never Promised You a Rose Garden – not expensive and you can buy it easily used on amazon.it or amazon.co.uk or as an ebook through the library - you have to read the whole thing (hopefully it will be hard to put it down).

·         George Atwood The Abyss of Madness, almost the whole book: “Exploring the Abyss of Madness”  available as ebook through library

·         Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual pg 1 – 31, and 483-509  NOTE THAT THIS IS ONLY AVAILABLE IN THE LIBRARY AND YOU HAVE TO COPY IT YOURSELF

-        Whitaker - Mad in America

·         Davies, Frawley, Treating the Adult Survivor of Childhood Sexual Abuse: chapt 10 pp 186-197

·         Ferenczi, Final Contributions to the Problems and Methods of Psycho-Analysis: p. 156-167 “The confusion of tongues between adults and the child” available as an ebook


·         Beebe & Lachmann: The Origins of Attachment ch 1

·         Gabbard, Glen: Psychodynamic Psychiatry in clinical practice, : pp 249-267

·         Brandchaft, Bernard Towards an Emancipatory Psychoanalysis,  ch 11 “Obsessional disorders” p 163-191

·         Bowlby, John: Attachment and Loss vol 2- Separation Ch 19: “Anxious Attachment and Agoraphobia” pp 334-355

·         Bowlby, Attachment and Loss vol 3 Loss, sadness and depression: ch 14 “sadness, depression and depressive disorder” p 245-262

·         Optional: Psychoanalytic electronic publishing, Atwood, G.E., Orange, D.M., Stolorow, R.D. (2002). Shattered Worlds/Psychotic States Psychoanal. Psychol., 19:281-306. http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail?sid=5ae58f0c-d6a1-4fca-8a75-7f7468060104%40sessionmgr4002&vid=5&hid=4206&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=pdh&AN=2002-12574-003

·         Miller, Alice. The Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for the True Self. Basic Books, 1997. ISBN 978-0-465-01647-1. 139 p. Ch 1: “The Drama of the Gifted Child and how we became Psychotherapists” P. 1-25

·         C. Johnson, Psychodynamic treatment of anorexia nervosa and bulimia, Chapter 2 Susan sands, “Bulimia dissociation and empathy: a self-psychological view” p 34-49

·         Firestone: Suicide and the Inner Voice. Pp 35-58, 94-103, 219, 279-296

·         Mate’ In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts ch.11-13, 17-19





“Normal” vs “abnormal”

Lecture notes 1

Atwood  The Abyss of Madness: ch 2:“Exploring the Abyss of Madness” (ch 1 optional);

Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual pp 1-10

Mad in America ch (to be announced)


Epistemological premises, Implications of theory

Lecture notes 2: “Theoretical approaches”

Text ch 2 optional as reference

PDM p. 483-486


Diagnosis & classification – why, how

Text ch 1;

PDM 11-31

Abyss ch 1


Approaches compared DSM vs PSM

Pdm 486-509


Levels of disorder

Text ch 3

PDM 20-26

Reference to ch 5 and 6 – just to clarify mechanisms of defense

Text p 151-155


Dissociation & dissociative disorders

Text ch 15;

Atwood ch 5 (The unbearable and the unsayable)

Davies&Frawley ch 10;

Ferenczi “confusion of tongues”

Beebe&Lachmann The Origins of Attachment Ch 1 "Origins of Relatedness"


Obsessive & compulsive disorders

Text ch 13;

Brandchaft Towards an Emancipatory Psychoanalysis ch 11 "Obsessional disorders"


Anxiety, anxiety disorders, phobias

Gabbard Psychodynamic Diagnosis in Clinical Practice ch 9 “anxiety disorders”;

Bowlby: Separation: “anxious attachment:


Depression, depressive & manic disorders

Text ch. 11

Bowlby: Separation "Loss sadness & depression"

Atwood  Abyss ch 7 "The dark sun of melancholia"

Atwood Ch 8:"What is a Ghost"


Narcissism, narcissistic disorders

Text ch. 8,

Miller: “The drama of the gifted child”


“Eating” disorders

Gabbard: Psychodynamic Psychiatry in Clinical Practice: “Eating Disorders”;

Sands, “Bulimia, dissociation and empathy”


Addictions and other problems of self-regulation

Mate’In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts 133-147, 187-219


Schizoid personalities, schizophrenia

Text ch 9

Greenberg: I Never Promised You a Rose Garden


Paranoia and paranoid disorders

Text ch. 10


Psychopathic / sociopathic disorders

Text ch. 7



Firestone Suicide and the Inner Voice): p 35-58, 94-103, 219, 278-296,

Atwood The Abyss of Madness"The tragedy of self-destruction"