SAMPLE SYLLABUS ONLY -- Actual on Canvas

 Sample Syllabus Only -- Actual on Canvas


 Bowling Green State University

Dr. Chris Mruk, Professor of Psychology

Phone: 419-433-5560, Ext: 20612

E-mail address:

Click Link (Links to an external site.) for Web Site and Office Hours


1. Durand, V. M. & Barlow, D. H. (2016). Essentials of abnormal psychology (7th Edition). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

2. Mruk, C. & Hartzell, J. (2003). From realism to idealism: Traditional Therapies and Zen. Chapter 3, in Zen and Psychotherapy Integrating Traditional and Nontraditional Approaches. New York: Springer. (Note that I will provide copies of this chapter.)

3. Reserved reading: Occasional articles on selected topics may be placed on reserve at the library during the course of the semester. They are regarded as required reading.


Weiner, I., B., & Craighead, W., E., (Eds.) Corsini encyclopedia of psychology. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.


This course is designed to accomplish three goals. The first one concerns theory and focuses on introducing students to the major contemporary approaches to understanding, diagnosing, and treating abnormal behavior. The biological, learning, cognitive, and psychodynamic perspectives will receive the greatest degree of attention, but some mention will be made of the humanistic and sociocultural points of view. In addition, since the text we are using attempts to integrate these approaches wherever possible, we will also be looking at how the perspectives can work together to provide a more comprehensive understanding of human behavior. The specific teaching/learning objectives for this goal include: appreciating the history of abnormal behavior; understanding the difficulties of defining abnormal behavior; and identifying the basic ideas, strengths, and weaknesses of the major theoretical perspectives mentioned above.

The second goal of the course is more practical. After completing the theoretical overview of the field, we will turn our attention to the major types, patterns, or "clinical syndromes" of abnormal behavior. This examination will build on the diagnostic nomenclature of the DSM V, descriptions of the major mental health disorders, and a brief investigation of various treatment approaches demonstrated through relevant case histories and examples. The teaching/learning objectives here include: appreciating the complexities of assessing and diagnosing abnormal behaviors; investigating special treatment and prevention issues; and examining common stereotypes and misconceptions concerning mental illness. This information constitutes the body of the text and the class.

The final goal of the course is to help you to develop a professional perspective toward abnormal behavior based on three principles. The first one is understanding that each major theoretical perspective offers important insights into the human condition -- and that they all have serious limits. The second involves developing an awareness that each of us prefers one or two such orientations more than the others, and that this phenomenon usually results in people having an identifiable "bias" in their understanding and/or treatment of abnormal behavior. The third one is to help people develop a rational, compassionate, and (especially) scientific approach to understanding abnormal behavior. This course aim runs throughout every part of the class.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, you should be able to: identify and articulate the major scientific perspectives on understanding abnormal behavior, describe the major clinical syndromes and their most effective treatment strategies, articulate the major sociocultural issues involved in understanding abnormal behavior, and demonstrate greater sensitivity to those who suffer mental illness and those who work with them.



Of course, such traditional measures as exams are very useful for assessing your learning progress in this course. However, it is also important to monitor whether or not you seem to be learning about abnormal behavior between tests. Fortunately, this class includes regular video depictions of individuals with the major disorders we are going to study, so we can also assess your learning on a regular basis through the class discussions that follow each illustration. For example, such assessments allows us to see whether you can identify various symptom clusters, propose various diagnostic possibilities, and suggest appropriate treatment alternatives as we discuss them, not just upon examination! In addition, you are responsible for all the assigned readings/writing assignments, class activities, and lecture material.


Grading will take place on the basis of three exams spaced fairly evenly through the course. Each one consists of about 40 multiple choice questions and 20 points in essay/short answer questions for a total of 168 to 180 points. The exams are not cumulative and are scored on the basis of a modified standard distribution, which is not be confused with simple "curving." The total points will be graded on a standard percent system based in Canvas using A = 90%, B = 80% and so forth.

In addition, the course involves one alternative grading opportunity designed to address the diversity of learning styles people bring to class and for those do not demonstrate what they have learned well on exams. This writing option is called a "Technical Report" and may replace your lowest exam score except for that of the final exam. You may select this option at any time but the topic must receive my approval first. The paper is due the last day of regular lectures, not on the final exam date. You may read about how to do this paper by going to the "Paper Alternative" link on the main course page for this class. I strongly recommend that if you are worried about your grade in this course for whatever reason, you should plan on doing one of these papers right from the beginning.


Attendance: While the text is a good one, it is by no means the final authority on the subject. Therefore, the lectures are the key to the course. They will cover particularly important information from the readings, make clarifications, offer alternative views, and add information not found in the book. It was carefully chosen to meet both academic and practical needs of the students who generally take this course. In order to further address diversity among learning styles, you should also know that a study guide sometimes accompanies a text and it can be purchased at the bookstore. You may also avail yourself to the Learning Center which often helps start up a study group for this course. Both of the activities are completely voluntary. Attendance is expected because positive participation is an important part of the learning process.

Special Needs: Anyone with documented special needs and who wishes to have a reasonable accommodation made for them must notify the Learning Center and the instructor about this situation well before the difficulties present a problem with material, activities, and/or grading. If you need to take an exam in the Learning Center, then you MUST follow these procedures: (a.) Get my permission: Students with special needs who wish to use the Learning Center must present documentation from the center to me and then obtain my consent for using the center as a reasonable option. Note that other students may make the request for such things as foreign language problems, but the center may not have seating available for them at any given time and does not have to accommodate the request. In that case, a make-up exam could be an option if the instructor agrees to it. (b.) Email to me a request to use the center for any given exam 24 hours in advance of the time the class will take it. I may forward that request to the center. You must make the request for each exam – there are no"blanket requests."(c.) Contact the Learning Center to set up an appointment for the exam at the same time that the class is taking the exam. I will attempt to place the exam in the center for you, but you must make arrangements for such things as readers, etc.

Cheating: Of course, any form of cheating cannot be tolerated and students are referred to the "Academic Honesty" section of the current Student Code/Affairs Handbook for specific information concerning definitions of cheating, plagiarism, other offenses, and their respective penalties beyond the one for violating class policies. All violations will be reported. Students are expected to use the computer in responsible ways that are consistent with general university guidelines concerning email, posting, linking, or sharing files and so forth.

Copying: The use of electronic data recording or transmitting devices, is acceptable except when taking or going over an exam. However, in no case may any material recorded in the classroom be posted anywhere electronically without the instructor's written permission. The University has suggested that professors make it clear to students that lectures and other course materials are protected under copyright laws, meaning that you should not make a complete copy of the course lectures or materials and that you should not pass your copy or recording on to others. Although it is unclear who actually owns student generated material other than exam responses (which are the instructor's), I will make an effort to return written or project material to you as soon as is reasonably possible.

Class room behavior: Pagers, cellular phones, lap tops, text messaging devices and so forth may buzz, ring, make noise, or otherwise distract any person at any time. Such intrusions can disrupt the teaching and learning process, which is the most important priority of a university. It is the responsibility of those who use such equipment to make sure it does not disturb either the instructor or other students. Similarly, excessive talking in the class while someone else holds the floor, or any other kind of disruption to the learning process, cannot be tolerated. If I determine that any of the above phenomena interfere with the learning process in the classroom, I will try to offer the individual(s) concerned a verbal warning. If the disruption continues or is repeated in any way, I may take the steps necessary to have the individual(s)removed from the course.

Make-ups and Drops: As you should know, BGSU does not require the instructor to provide make-up examinations. However, this instructor may allow them for problems deemed by the instructor to be reasonable, such as documented illness, emergencies, and so forth. The make-up exam must be completed within one week of the regular offering of the exam or it becomes an "F." You should know that the make-ups will take place in the Learning Center and that they require you to make an appointment with them for such exams. If for some reason you intend to drop the course after the first few weeks of class, do not just stop showing up and assume that BGSU knows you've dropped it. Instead, make sure you fill out a drop form and have me sign it.

Class cancellations: The BGSU Firelands Faculty handbook requires faculty to notify students that if class is canceled by the instructor for such reasons as illness, students will be notified through their Canvas accounts. Be sure to check them if you are concerned about a class being canceled.

Incompletes: Grades of "Incomplete" must be approved by the instructor, who gives them only under extremely extenuating circumstances occurring near the end of the semester. Requests to extend an incomplete must be made to the Dean's office before the appropriate deadline has passed. In case class is canceled, we may meet for up to ½ hour longer after the usual ending time until we make up material, providing space is available. If this happens, I will attempt to make a recording of the lecture and place it in the library in case you cannot stay.

Special Events: Upon occasion, a campus event may occur which is relevant to a course. In that case, I will identify the event, announce its time and date, and then make up some test questions on that particular topic. Therefore, I encourage you to attend these things if that is possible for you. I will also cover the material in the lecture so that you will be prepared for the exam. However, you should know that learning about something through experience is usually more effective than learning by hearing about it.


The following schedule is offered as a general guide to the course. It is organized in terms of subject areas more than dates and is flexible, not fixed. In other words, the pace at which we move through material may vary slightly and alter the sample schedule. It is a good idea, a very good idea, to keep your reading ahead of the lecture: at least be familiar with the material ahead of time.

WEEK 1: Chapter 1: Abnormal Behavior in Historical Context

WEEK 2: Chapter 2: An Integrative Approach to Psychopathology

WEEK 3: Chapter 3 Clinical Assessment, Diagnosis, and Research

WEEK 4: Chapter 14: Mental Health Services: Legal and Ethical Issues. (Out of text order)

WEEK 5: Introduction to Clinical Phenomena (Not in text)

----- TEST-1 -----

WEEK 6: Chapter 4. Anxiety, Trauma, and Stressor-Related and Obsessive-Compulsive Related Disorders.

WEEK 7: Chapter 5. Somatic Symptom and Related Disorders and Dissociative Disorders.

WEEK 8: Chapter 6: Mood Disorders and Suicide

WEEK 9: Chapter 7: Eating and Sleeping Disorders

WEEK 10: Chapter 8: Physical Disorders and Health Psychology

----- TEST-2 -----

WEEK 11: Chapter 9: Sexual Dysfunctions, Paraphilic Disorders and Gender Dysphoria

WEEK 12: Chapter 10: Substance-Related, Addictive and Impulse-Control Disorders

WEEK 13: Chapter 11: Personality Disorders

WEEK 14: Chapter 12: Schizophrenia Spectrum and Other Psychotic Disorders

WEEK 15: Chapter 13: Neurodevelopmental Disorders and . Neurocognitive Disorders Note: Papers due for those who are doing them.

Week 16: Final Exam

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