PSY250 - Abnormal Psychology

Spring 2015

Dr. Elizabeth A. Meadows


Course Syllabus

Companion Website (MyPsychLab) for Your Textbook

(MyPsychLab requires access code purchased with new textbook or from publisher)


Subject pool:  To participate in the subject pool for extra credit,  please go to; your login name and password are emailed to your cmich email address at the beginning of the semester.  See syllabus section on research credit for more details.  If you have additional questions about using the subject pool, you can contact the subject pool coordinator at  


Lecture Overheads

Study Guides for Exams

Study Hints

Advice from your fellow students:

    Past Students Speak on Getting Help Early On

    Advice from Fall2010 students on how to do well in this class.

    Advice from Spring2011 students on how to do well in this class.

    Fall2011 students talk about what they'd do differently if they were retaking the class.

Practice Questions

PsychLog Guidelines

    Sample PsychLogs
Writing Resources



Links Related to Class Material *

For textbook-provided links related to each chapter, see the section of "web links" listed under resources of each chapter on your student companion website. 

Behavior Online "the gathering place for Mental Health and Applied Behavioral Science Professionals."  Includes a bunch of discussions that vary widely in quality, editorials, other resources, etc.


Chapter 1:  Abnormal Psychology: Historical and Modern Perspectives
For an overview of the history of abnormal psychology, check out this chronology of noteworthy events in American psychology, which includes most of the highpoints (and lowpoints) of abnormal psych history also.

For more on exorcisms, including the recognition that they were not limited as a treatment technique to only years past, you can see the homepage of "Wanda Pratnicka, Exorcist and Psychotherapist."  Have fun.

An in-depth look at the "twitching teenagers" in upstate NY, that includes both their stories and a lot of good background info on hysteria and conversion disorder.

For a much racier history of hysteria and its treatment than we cover in class, here's Female Hysteria and the Sex Toys Used to Treat It.

I debated a bit where to include this one, because it's on research, and on medication treatment, and on various other things, but in the end I decided the intro chapter made the most sense so a, you'd see it early on if you were looking at these, and b, because this quote, "Also, knowing how a drug works in the brain doesn’t necessarily reveal the cause of the illness. For example, just because an S.S.R.I. antidepressant increases serotonin in the brain and improves mood, that does not mean that serotonin deficiency is the cause of the disease; many depressed patients get better with medications that have no effect on serotonin." is such an important point to get as we begin talking about various etiological factors:  A Dry Pipeline for Psychiatric Drugs.

For more about biological views:
The Whole Brain Atlas is a site not specifically related to psychopathology, but with lots of information about the structures and functions of the brain.

The American Psychiatric Association is certainly not exclusively biologically/medically oriented, but you will find more biologically oriented information here.

In our very own department, the Brain Research and Integrative Neuroscience (BRAIN) Center is an active center for all sorts of brain stuff.

This demonstration shows normal between-neuron transmission and reuptake, lessened transmission in someone depressed, and reuptake inhibition in someone on SSRIs.

An example of the role of brain functioning in psychological problems, in this case, hoarding.

A fun list of Stuff about Genetics you were taught wrong.  (Although as I note in class quite often, yes, we too are oversimplifying quite a bit in this class, and most things we'll talk about are far more complex than this survey course will include.)


For more about psychoanalytic views:
The American Psychoanalytic Association has a brief description called About Psychoanalysis.  Alternatively, you can read Freud's entire Interpretation of Dreams and/or  The Origin and Development of Psychoanalysis.  NOT brief.   

Although we don't really cover Jung in this class, you can find out more on your own by going to the website for the C.G. Jung Institute.


For more about behavioral, cognitive, and cognitive-behavioral views:
You can read the original article describing the Little Albert study here,  or by going to the library and getting: Watson, John B. & Rayner, Rosalie. (1920). Conditioned emotional reactions. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 3, 1-14. (You can get many other full original articles online at Classics in the History of Psychology; another related example is Skinner's paper describing how he got pigeons to act superstitious:  Skinner, B.F. (1948).  Superstition in the pigeon.  Journal of Experimental Psychology, 38, 168-172.)

Here's the Little Albert video clip shown in class (I found it on youtube only with subtitles, but I wanted it to be from the same video I show...)  But here's some more recently learned background to this study that I find both saddening and horrifying.  (Your text also talks a bit about ethical issues in this study; this article makes it clear they were even worse than we'd known.)

For more information on positive reinforcement, as well as some "self-instructional exercises" that show how some behaviors can be positive reinforcers in some situations but not others, go here for a site developed by Dr. Lyle Grant at Athabasca University.

Do you want to apply what you're learning? There are lots of animal training websites you can use as a starting point.  An Animal Trainer's Introduction to Classical and Operant Conditioning does a really nice job reviewing the basic concepts in both conditioning processes, and giving lots of examples of how they explain various animal behaviors, and how you can use them to get the behaviors you want.  If you google "dog training operant conditioning" you'll see the one above, as well as a number of others that also explain basic operant conditioning principles and how to use them in training.

There are a number of websites for various providers of cognitive-behavior therapy, often including great descriptions of what this therapy looks like.  One example is the San Francisco Bay Area Center for Cognitive TherapyThe Beck Institute for Cognitive Therapy and Research website is similar, but especially notable because the Beck Institute was founded by Dr. Aaron T. Beck, the man who developed cognitive therapy.  There is also the homepage for the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, which doesn't have as much general information but does provide resources on this topic.

A youtube video of Albert Ellis in the Gloria series of different treatment approaches.  The first seven minutes are Ellis explaining his theory and what RET is, and at around minute 7, he begins demonstrating the method with Gloria.  This continues in several other clips:  2, 3, and 4. (These seem to be offline right now, but I'm keeping this here as that's happened temporarily before.)

Speaking of cognitive distortions:  one reason you may think you've studied enough, only to do poorly on an exam, along with a related set of videos on studying (linked from article also).


For more about humanistic views:

Here is the homepage for the Association for Humanistic Psychology; it includes basic information on theories of humanistic psychology as well as various resources related to this field.

Carl Rogers in the Gloria series, demonstrating humanistic therapy, continued in 2, 3, 4.

Fritz Perls in the Gloria series, demonstrating Gestalt therapy, continued in 2, 3. (Also not available at the moment.  But the Rogers one still is...)


Chapter 2:  Research Methods in Abnormal Psychology

Your brain is primed to reach false conclusions.  Includes the story I'll tell later in the semester in discussing vaccines and autism, as well as other useful examples and explanation of this sort of thing.

Statistics on the Web : Includes links to various organizations, consulting groups, publishers and educational resources, but of particular note are the online stats texts and web courses and links to statistics discussion groups.   Or, if you're in the middle of a project already and want a quick guide to which statistics to choose, go to Selecting Statistics, a program that asks you questions like number of dependent and independent variables, and tells you what you should use.

And now that you have those parts down, learn about  Pitfalls of Data Analysis (subtitled "How to Avoid Lies and Damned Lies").

For a fun look at using the scientific method, check out  The T.W.I.N.K.I.E.S. Project

James Randi has a foundation offering one million dollars to anyone who can support claims of supernatural or paranormal or extrasensory abilities via a controlled test of these abilities.  So far, as he noted in the video seen in class, no one has claimed the money.  Here's a great video clip where he discusses, very entertainingly, how and why people are so easily fooled, in which he also "takes a fatal dose of homeopathic sleeping pills onstage."  Fun fun fun.

Another source of information on skepticism, pseudoscience, etc is the Skeptics Society and Skeptic Magazine.

A related kind of site is Quackwatch, where you can find tons of info on all sorts of "quack" claims and the scientific evaluations thereof.

And finally, Emily Rosa, the girl in the video we watch in class, is an adult now, and is featured in a Penn and Teller show on "new-age medicine."  It's not really a class-friendly video due to the language used, so I'll just link to it:  it's in three different segments on Youtube.  The segment on Therapeutic Touch is at about minute 8 of part 2, continuing in part 3, which also shows additional clips of Emily's original research study.  The other sections are pretty interesting too, for additional examples of pseudoscience and sham treatments and all, along with, in Part 1 (at 4.38), someone repeating the importance of "belief" that the touch therapists in our class video emphasized:  "For those that don't believe, nothing is possible; for those that do believe, all things are possible."  It's a great example of why critical thinking is so important, I think.

P&T Part 1

P&T Part 2

P&T Part 3


(The clips above are still removed for copyright issues, but you can search on Penn and Teller and find briefer clips.  Here's one. It's the same show, so the same non-class-friendly language issues remain...)

In class, we talk about the importance of evaluating information, and how to draw conclusions from a range of research findings that show mixed results.  Here's an article in the Times on antipsychotic drugs that illustrates a bit why some of this is important, especially the idea of examining whether information is coming from someone with a vested interest in that information.  It's not the only, or even the best, example of this idea, but I read it today and thought I'd post it for you.

Symphony of Science is a project focusing on the importance of scientific reasoning and skepticism through music.  They have a bunch of music videos that are sort of cool if you like this sort of thing.  One is "Wave of Reason," with a number of quotes I like a lot (eg, "if you teach a man to reason, he'll think for a lifetime.").

This article in Brain,Child Magazine has a really great easy-to-read description of many of the issues we talk about in this class, in discussing how many of the headlines we read in magazines and newspapers about research reports aren't really accurate research findings.  (The prompt for it is a study showing that teenagers who describe their parents as warm and nurturing, and who monitored them more carefully, are less likely to drink heavily than teens who don't describe their parents that way.)  It focuses a lot on correlation vs causation, and how we can be misled by a lack of critical thinking when we read such stories.  It's also a great example of how you can see the topics we cover in class in play outside of class, as you look for in your psychlogs.

Science:  if eight-year-olds can do it, you can too.  (Really, go read this.  It's heartwarming and inspiring and also really cool.)

I really liked this brief essay on breaking down one's problem-solving strategies.  It's a good example of the kinds of informal uses of the scientific method people use all the time, and also a great example of how to think about what you do, or what you might do, when faced with a problem that needs solving.

I also liked this article:  "Do you suffer from decision fatigue?"  It does a nice job of showing some examples of programmatic research (developing, testing, and revising hypotheses over multiple studies).  It also provides an excellent rationale for the importance of eating candy.  :)

Yet another example of how you don't need to be a formally trained scientist to do scientific research:  Online Gamers Crack AIDS Enzyme Puzzle

Correlation does not equal causation.

And for more on why that is, some additional examples of what it would mean if correlation DID equal causation.  And yet another one, on living longer.

Another great example of why clinical outcome stories are important, despite the power of anecdotes:  the story of Avastin.

This lifehacker article is geared mostly at stuff you read on the internet, but is a great outline in general (although I really hate the title) for how to find the info you need to make well reasoned conclusions:  How to Determine If a Controversial Statement is Scientifically True

And when firewalking does go wrong, it's still not because you didn't focus your mind enough...

Yet another example of the importance of critical thinking.

Doing Science.

This NYTimes article, "Our Imaginary Weight Problem," does a nice job discussing some of the issues we talk about in class re the difficulties in drawing conclusions from correlational studies.  The whole thing is interesting in general, but the part I'm talking about starts at paragraph 7, "In reality, of course, it would be nonsensical to tell so-called normal-weight people to try to become heavier to lower their mortality risk." (But if you don't read the first six paragraphs, it won't make as much sense, nor be as interesting...)

Here's a graphic that shows some steps for critical thinking.

Every baby knows the scientific method.  (Note that I'm just posting this for the graphic, not for the buying-stuff aspect...)

One of the funniest twitter feeds ever, at least to those in academia:  #overlyhonestmethods .  Bunches of these have been reprinted all over the place - here's one of "75 of the best #overlyhonestmethods."

Still more on the importance of critical thinking:  Do YOU think dihydrogen monoxide, a chemical you encounter on a daily basis with almost no oversight at all, should be banned?

A nice set of Guidelines for Evaluating Scientific Studies - some easy questions to ask as you read them (and a great basis for writing extra credit journal reviews, if you take that option).

One of many helpful comparisons of science vs pseudoscience.

You know that whole thing about how McDonalds hamburgers don't rot when left out on the counter, and are therefore clearly fake food?  Not that I'm suggesting they're health food or anything, but here's a great example of the importance of a control group.

From Scientific American, the very important point that group studies don't say anything about any one individual. 

As with the Wrong Genetics piece earlier in these links, yes, I include an oversimplified version of the scientific method also.  But I hope that in the further discussion of all of this you all also get the fuller picture. Just to underscore that:  How Science Works.

How to read and understand a scientific paper.  Great suggestions both in general, and especially if you plan to choose the article-review option for extra credit in this class!


Chapter 3:  Assessment and Diagnosis
There's a section of the American Psychiatric Association (the organization that publishes the DSM) website on the DSM.

The study we talk about in class about the pseudopatients is:  Rosenhan, D. L. (1973). On being sane in insane places. Science, 179, 250-258.  I found an unofficial version online at, or you can use the psychology databases on FirstSearch, where you can also find a number of critiques of the study.

In class, we discuss various diagnoses that have been included or excluded over the years as the political/social/cultural climate has changed.  As the various committees and workgroups move forward in developing the DSM-V, there are many people focusing on the removal of gender identity disorder as a diagnosis, and much controversy just over who gets to be on, or chair, these committees, so it's a great example of a lot of the issues we discuss in class.  For more on this, see the GID Reform Advocates site.

Another example of things that influence what gets included in (or excluded from) the DSM is discussed in this article on the impact of the pharmaceutical industry.

We also discuss a number of advantages and disadvantages of classification.  For a wonderful cartoon on this subject, click here.

 Niko's proposed Test Links :  I don't know who Niko is, other than someone with clearly a little too much time on his hands, but he's compiled a bunch of IQ tests.  I am NOT recommending this for any sort of valid testing (especially since I haven't looked at most of them in detail), but thought you might find it interesting.

A nice look at some of the decision-making that goes into DSM revisions, in this case, regarding autism and autism spectrum disorders such as Asperger's.

Another article on proposed DSM revisions, this time focusing primarily on including bereavement within depression, but also talking a bit more about the DSM-5 revision process itself.

An interesting first-person account of issues in diagnosis:  I Had Asperger Syndrome. Briefly.

A brief YahooNews piece on possible revisions in Alzheimer's diagnosis.

Ayelet Waldman's story of how she was first diagnosed with bipolar II disorder, then with premenstrual dysphoric disorder instead. 

A cautionary tale about some of the dangers of improper assessment, as related to ADHD and its treatment.


Chapter 4:  Anxiety Disorders
The  Anxiety Disorders Association of America is an organization for both mental health professionals and for people in general with (or interested in) anxiety disorders.

The Trauma and Anxiety Disorders Clinic that I run here at CMU offers clinical services to both campus and community members; we also conduct research on the nature and treatment of anxiety disorders.

The group I worked with before coming to CMU, the Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety is a large research clinic focusing on PTSD as well as other anxiety disorders; their webpage has some information about these disorders and their treatments.  The center I worked in for my graduate training (although again, at a different institution then) is The Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders - this is where the intensive exposure therapy for agoraphobia that was on the 20/20 video was conducted.  The National Center for PTSD is a consortium with branches in several VA hospitals, and is one of the biggest groups conducting PTSD research.

Although we focused on PTSD as an outcome of rape in this section, since this was the chapter on anxiety disorders, there's a lot more information out there on rape and other related problems.  The U.S. Department of Justice has a Violence Against Women Office that includes resources such as hotlines as well as a lot of information on research being done in this area.

 National Anxiety Disorders Screening Day is held in May each year - sponsored by the organization described below under eating disorders.  Go to this website to find a screening site near you.

From the NY Times "Patient Voices" series, six individuals speak about their experiences with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

VH1 ran a great series called The OCD Project, wherein Dr David Tolin (who also worked at the CTSA, link above)treated six people with OCD using exposure plus response prevention.  It was really well done, and while his treatment was obviously a bit more elaborate than is common (most of us don't have access to closed down psychiatric hospitals for our exposures, for example!), it was a really good portrayal of what this treatment looks like, including the careful monitoring of progress using psychometrically sound measures.  You can watch the full episodes online, as well as read follow-up interviews with Dr. Tolin (click on "blog").

Jersey Shore:  Raising awareness of mental health problems.  And the launch of Vinny's new campaign to help raise awareness of and provide help for those with anxiety/stress problems.

A single session of exposure therapy for phobia not only successfully treats the phobia, but also leads to visible brain changes.

An important reminder of why we need to consider circumstances and not just symptoms when diagnosing GAD (in the case of this study specifically, but the issue is critical across the board for diagnosis overall).

The AboutFace project of the DVA:  "Learn about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from the veterans who live with it every day.  Hear their stories.  Find out how treatment turned their lives around."  The treatments being used in the VA system are the same ones you learn about in class, and in the case of Prolonged Exposure, the same treatment we offer in the TADC on campus.  In fact, most of my graduate students go on to work in PTSD units in VA hospitals.


Chapter 5:  Dissociative Disorders
The article Sybil—The Making of a Disease: An Interview with Dr. Herbert Spiegel from the New York Review of Books, describes some ways in which probably the most famous case of Multiple Personality Disorder/Dissociative Identity Disorder may have not have been all it was suggested to be. You can read the beginning here for free, but will need to pay a small fee for the full interview (or you can google the title of the article to find unauthorized versions for free).

A related article, in The New Yorker, is on creating MPD/DID; the article is apparently now the first chapter of a book, and is excerpted here:

Trauma has been linked to a number of different types of disorders.  Within the anxiety disorders, it is most clearly linked to PTSD, but also to phobias, for example.  However, it is generally considered a primary etiological factor in dissociative disorders.  The  International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies includes a number of people particularly interested in dissociative disorders; the The International Society for the Study of Dissociation (a group I personally don't recommend putting too much stock in...) is a related organization, focusing specifically on these problems.   David Baldwin's Trauma Information Pages are a large collection of trauma-related resources.  As always, however, be critical when evaluating information you find; this is especially true in the field of trauma, however, as it seems to attract a number of somewhat more flaky people whose science is not quite up to current standards!

Chapter 6:  Mood Disorders

Here's information on a recent study showing that Exercise may be just as effective as medication for treating major depression . (Okay - that one moved and I haven't found it again, but here's an easy-to-read article on it: that should stay in one place.

The  National Mental Illness Screening Project mentioned earlier also has a  Depression Screening Day .  The CMU Counseling Center often participates in this screening day, as do a number of other nearby locations.

Interested in Learned Helplessness theory?  There's an email discussion list you can join; for more information, go to The Learned Helplessness Home Page.

For information on suicide and suicide hotline resources, go to Dr. John Grohol's Mental Health Page.  

An article in New York Magazine shows some of the more recent ways that bipolar disorder is being discussed:

Kay Redfield Jamison, a psychiatist who has bipolar disorder, has written about her experiences extensively (if you search for her on, you'll see a number of books focusing on various aspects of bipolar disorder).    She was interviewed for the NPR show "This I Believe," which can be found at - links to some other stories on her are found at the bottom of that page also. 

Students often ask how they might best help friends/relatives who are depressed, or who have other psychological problems.  The organization Families for Depression Awareness has many resources on this, and while I'm not endorsing the the organization or the information they provide specifically, it does appear to be a helpful site.

From the NY Times "Patient Voices" series, nine individuals speak about their experiences with bipolar disorder.

Claire Danes' character, Carrie, on Showtime's Homeland has bipolar disorder.  Here's the sister of one of the writers, talking about her own experience with bipolar disorder and how it helps to inform the show's writers.

The 60 Minutes report on whether antidepressant responses are really mostly placebo effects for mild/moderate depression.  Very nicely done, not only for the antidepressant info, but also for some of the basics of placebo effects, research methodology and statistics, and some other things.  There's an additional video on how placebo effects work from 60 Minutes Overtime.

Might we finally be learning why ECT works?

A really fascinating article that describes the changes in what we know about what causes depression, and various ways of treating it, over time.  Does a great job of showing not only the information on depression specifically, but also a bit of the scientific process more generally.

You know how we talked about the importance of exercise in treating depression?  Here are a bunch of other positive effects of exercise, along with some info on possible mechanisms of action.

An interesting opinion piece on the fear of passing on depression to one's children.  (And the Dr. Klitzman quoted?  Was my childhood next-door neighbor...)  In addition to the personal musings, includes some useful info on what heritability/genetics actually means.

Dr. Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, whose work on rumination and its impact on gender differences in depression we discuss in class, passed away recently (at only 53).  Here is her obituary in the NY Times, which provides a nice overview of her work and why it matters, as well as a bit about her life.



Chapter 7:  Eating Disorders
The  National Mental Illness Screening Project organizes screening days for several types of problems.  The  Eating Disorders Screening Day will be held in February - you can find the nearest site here, as well as information on eating disorders.

The University of Pennsylvania's Weight and Eating Disorders Program is a premier research clinic in this area.

In class we talked briefly about how eating disorders are now on the rise for men as well as for women.   The Hard Body Sell is an article describing increasing body dysphoria among men.  The article appeared in Mother Jones, and is obviously not an academic article, but provides an interesting analysis of how some of these body/weight/shape issues are becoming more problematic for men now.

The New York Times has a photo/video presentation of eight people with eating disorders, discussing their experiences.  I've not had a chance to watch it yet, but wanted to link to it before I forgot.

This collection of vintage weight-gain ads is a great example of how standards for beauty change over time.

In class, we discuss the use of hospitalization for eating disorders, especially with regard to careful refeeding for those very underweight.  Here's a newspaper article discussing the pros and cons of the slower refeeding approach that's been used more commonly, vs a more rapid approach.

Is distorted perception of one's weight/shape more common than we'd thought?

"Binge eating among men steps out of the shadows." A nice overview of the problem and its treatment, and some of the issues men face in recognizing and getting help for problems more often seen in women.


Chapter 8:  Gender and Sexual Disorders
Much of what we know about normal sexuality as well as about sexual disorders is a result of Kinsey's studies.  For more information, try the Kinsey Institute .

The case of John/Joan was the subject of a Rolling Stone article by John Colapinto, who later wrote a book on the topic, As Nature Made Him.  The RS article can be found at, and the book at any major bookstore.  Sadly, David Reimer (the real Joan/John) committed suicide in 2004.

An article in the NY Times Magazine describes the rise in transgendered kids in women's colleges particularly, but also with a good exploration of some of the issues of transgenderism in general.  And as noted in Chapter 3, there's also the GID Reform Advocates site, which provides a very specific viewpoint of some of these issues.

The Nov 2008 issue of Atlantic Monthly had an article on transgendered children, which is pretty fascinating to read I think.

The Modern Love column of the NY Times had an interesting story written by a woman as her husband had surgery to become a woman.

A good basic description of how classification of sex is not as easy as it seems is found in this article on sex-classification for athletes.

A moving story about a family with identical twin boys, except that one of them is a girl.

A brief story about the film Orgasm Inc, and why it got made.

A cute, easy-to-read graphic outlining the distinctions amongst gender identity, gender expression, biological sex, and sexual orientation. (Alternate location)

One part of a video on transgendered children undergoing sex-reassignment.  What's nice is that you get to hear from the kids themselves.  The pronoun use by the narrator is a bit confusing, in that usually, we use the pronouns of what people feel they are, not what their bodies are, and the kids and their parents do that while the narrator doesn't, but I'm sure you'll work it out.  Also, not all the segments are online (copyright infringement, apparently), but my guess is they will come and go.  Here's a different video that doesn't come in segments, and includes an interview with a slightly older (teenage) girl, who is supposedly the youngest child to have undergone sex-reassignment.  (I have no way of knowing if that's true, though, and I doubt others do, since both medical and psychological interventions are private unless people choose to go public with them...)

And more on transgendered children:  Why Parents of Transgender Children Are Faced with a Difficult Decision.  There's some great description from both the children and the parents about what some of the issues are, especially with regard to things like puberty blockers.

What's So Bad about a Boy Who Wants to Wear a Dress?  A NYTimes Magazine article about gender-nonconforming kids, some of whom may be transgendered, some of whom probably aren't, and what they and their parents face.

Also in the Times, an article on vaginal pain that is a bit more exclusively medically focused than I'd prefer, but which has some useful info nonetheless.


Chapter 9:  Substance Use Disorders
 National Alcohol Screening Day is held in April.  Find a local screening site here.

Chapter 10:  Schizophrenia and Other Psychotic Disroders
The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill is one of the primary advocacy and informational organizations for people with schizophrenia.

In general the atypical antipsychotic drugs have been seen as having fewer side effects than the typical ones.  But a newly released study in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests both typical and atypical antipsychotics lead to increased risk of sudden cardiac death.

A really interesting look at how one person views his symptoms of psychosis, and some things he's done with them.

A new study shows cannabidiol (a substance in marijuana) outperformed antipsychotic meds pretty dramatically in treating schizophrenia, including the negative symptoms, and with few side effects.

Cognitive therapy for schizophrenia.

From the New York Times:  Successful and Schizophrenic.

Just a small thing, but I read it as I was preparing for class and thought I'd share:  Odd Hallucination: Woman Hears Forgotten Songs 

Chapter 11:  Personality Disorders
To find out more about Dialectical Behavior Therapy, go to Behavioral Tech, a company focused on training clinicians in DBT and providing resources on this treatment and on the problems associated with borderline personality disorder, or to Dr. Linehan's clinic website, Behavioral Research and Therapy Clinics, at the University of Washington.  You can also watch Dr Linehan describing the development of this treatment, as well as demonstrating some of the methods used, in a series of videos on youtube.

This past summer, Dr. Linehan discussed her own experiences of being suicidal and psychiatrically hospitalized, in an article in the Times that got international attention.  She also discusses why she's now opening up about this history, and how it influenced her professional work.

Can you call a 9-year-old a psychopath?  (Sort of fits both here, where we discuss ASPD and psychopathy, but also in disorders of childhood.  But better here I think, and besides, I have fewer links here...)

Chicago Bears receiver Brandon Marshall talks about his experiences with Borderline Personality Disorder and the foundation he created, Project Borderline.


Chapter 12:  Disorders of Childhood and Adolescence
For a ton of information on learning disabilities (and some on ADHD), see LD Online.

In class, we discuss some of the controversy surrounding the diagnosis of ADHD and its treatment by Ritalin.  Here's a column by George Will that appeared in the Washington Post addressing this issue:  Boys Will Be Boys (it's not available at the Washington Post site anymore, but I found this one...).

Another controversy in this chapter is the use of Facilitated Communication.  For a more detailed discussion of this method, please see  FACILITATED COMMUNICATION: MENTAL MIRACLE OR SLEIGHT OF HAND? in  the Skeptic vol. 2, no. 3, 1994, pp. 68-76. In addition to reading this for info on FC itself, you might also read it as a primer on evaluating any other technique or treatment touted as a miracle cure...   (That particular article seems to have been taken down so they can sell it; while I'm tracking it down, here's a different one on a related topic: - you can also do a news search on the Free Press to read about our very recent case of abuse allegations (leading to an arrest and trial!) stemming from FC, which was finally tossed out in court after it became clear that the facilitator, not the child, was the one communicating...)

Dr. Larissa Niec in our psychology department runs a Parent-Child Interaction Therapy Clinic for children with externalizing behavior problems; as do the other specialty clinics, the PCIT clinic includes both clinical work and research, and there are opportunities for interested students to become involved in the research being done on children with behavior problems.

There are many clips on youtube about various parent management training programs.  This one is a bit long (start at around the one minute mark if you want to skip the miscellaneous scenes from a conference...), but is useful in showing Alan Kazdin, one of the foremost experts in treatment of childhood behavior problems, discussing what works and what doesn't, what's normal developmentally, etc.  A shorter clip shows Dr. Kazdin just describing three main components of effective parenting (from his book on parenting defiant kids).

Temple Grandin, the woman with autism discussed in class, has been on NPR several times.  Here's a snippet of text in which she describes how her brain works, with links to some of her other interviews.  A longer story was featured on This American Life, and can be found at (this has links to the audio clip and text).

Dr. Grandin's mother recently wrote a book called A Thorn in My Pocket, which the Free Press describes as "advice for raising special needs children," although I would think that some of it would also include her own experiences raising Temple Grandin, which the Freep article describes at in their article on the mother (Eustacia Cutler) and her book.  And there's now an HBO movie about Dr. Grandin, with a companion website providing info and extras.

For a teacher's perspective, here's a column from the NYTimes on echolalia in kids with autism, and how these kids use memorized phrases as a step in meaningful communication.  The author also has a personal blog on her experiences as a special ed teacher.

Here's a newspaper article about Dr. Paul Offit, author of "Autism's False Prophets," which discusses some of the same issues we discuss briefly in class on etiology and treatment of autism.

From the NY Times "Patient Voices" series, six individuals speak about their experiences with ADHD.

There's currently much discussion regarding the diagnosis of Asperger's Disorder, and whether it should remain distinct from autism.  The NY Times covered this recently in an article called "A Vanishing Diagnosis for Asperger's Syndrome," and in a perfectly timed op-ed for our class, Simon Baron-Cohen (Sacha's cousin), one of the foremost researchers in the area of autism, discussed why he thinks that's a premature move.

And in a very timely example of why we discussed facilitated communication in class despite its total lack of validity, one column discussing FC and the man in the coma.  (Scott Lilienfeld, btw, writes a regular column (of this is one installment) for Psychology Today that is generally on topics of interest to my classes...)  James Randi, referred to in Chapter 4 links above, also addressed this story.  For a more detailed example of the dangers of using invalid treatments, see the Free Press series on the case of a man accused of abusing his child based on her "facilitated" statements.  Interestingly, this series also makes clear that it is important for providers/schools/etc to stand firm on not using such interventions *even when* individuals or families insist on them, a point that goes back to our discussions in the beginning of the semester on the importance of empiricism.

Ivar Lovaas, whose autism treatments we discuss in class, passed away recently; his obituary describes both his work and others' reactions to it.

A video clip illustrating the use of Lovaas' methods to teach language.

NYTimes:  The Upside of Dyslexia

A new study showing how access to early intervention can be so vitally important for kids with autism.

So, apparently the old psychoanalytic theories of autism haven't quite disappeared as much as we talk about in class - they seem to be alive and well in France still.

In this class, we generally talk about autism as a psychological disorder.  That's not the only way of looking at it though.  And relatedly, here's an article on The Autism Advantage.

Videos and readings on effective treatments for a wide range of childhood disorders.

New research showing that Some with Autism Diagnosis Can Overcome Symptoms.

I put this article about the dangers of inappropriate ADHD treatment above, in the section on diagnosis, also, but wanted to make sure people could find it here too.

Will DSM-5's new criteria lead to even more diagnoses of ADHD?

A very sweet story about an eight-year-old describing her brother and his autism to her class:  He Has Autism.

Chapter 13:  Aging and Cognitive Disorders

The film we watch in class, "Complaints of a Dutiful Daughter," was shown as part of the POV series on PBS in 1995, and in another series more recently.  You can find out more about the film (including how to buy your own copy) and the filmmaker, Deborah Hoffman, at

The New York Times Magazine had an article on the importance of autopsies in which the lead was a story about a woman who had died, presumably of Alzheimers; the autopsy, however, revealed she had had multi-infarct dementia instead.  The first few paragraphs do a nice job of illustrating some of what we've talked about regarding the diagnosis of Alzheimers.  (You may need to register to read the story, but it's free.)

New research shows that difficulty managing finances may be one of the earliest signs of Alzheimers.

South Korea apparently has this neat initiative in which large numbers of people, including kids, are trained to recognize Alzheimer's (including activities in which they experience some of the symptoms themselves, as in the David Garcia project) and to help those who are already showing symptoms.

The "Diagnosis" column in the NY Times included a great example of the "this is what happens when you get old" problem we talk about in this chapter.

Local Morning Sun columnist Les Rosan wrote a short column about his father-in-law, who has Alzheimer's.

A new study shows that CBT for anxiety, while still effective for older adults, may not work as well as it does in younger adults, or it may just take longer.

Although in this class we don't get into the other forms of dementia beyond the fact that they exist, you may find this article on frontotemporal dementias interesting, especially as both the symptoms and the age of onset (and thus, the others' affected as well, such as spouse vs children) are different.

A great article from the Free Press about misdiagnoses of Alzheimer's.

How do you live knowing you might have an Alzheimer's gene?


Chapter 14:  Health Psychology
The Society of Behavioral Medicine is one of the primary professional organizations in the field of health psych, and there is also a Health Psychology Division of the American Psychological Association.

From the NY Times "Patient Voices" series, six individuals speak about their experiences with HIV/AIDS.

From the NY Times "Patient Voices" series, six individuals speak about their experiences with diabetes.

Chapter 15:  Abnormal Psychology: Legal, Ethical and Professional Issues
For links to various ethical codes and related pages, go to the page for my graduate seminar in ethics.


Keep Watching This Space.....  I'll keep adding related links as I come across them and as I have time to make updates.

In the meantime, if you have any sites you think should be added, or any questions or comments, please email: meado1ea @

 This page was last updated on 04/18/15 .

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