Abnormal Psychology: Great Opportunity to Fulfill a General Education Requirement

Angel Tolstikhina

The upcoming academic year offers a variety of classes, many of which were officially acknowledged as general education credits. Any student can fulfill requirements for their majors while learning interesting topics that are also applicable to their life. One of many, Abnormal Psychology, is worth focusing attention on when enrolling for classes.

Abnormal Psychology (PY 120) gives students an opportunity to dive into the world of mental disorders through lectures, case studies, books and the latest research. The class covers a big scope of topics from anxiety disorders and OCD, personality disorders and schizophrenia, sexual and paraphilic disorders, disorders of childhood and neurocognitive illnesses such as dementia and Alzheimer’s, substance-related addiction disorders and eating disorders, and physical health and stress.

Through the span of the course, students get to define the abnormal behavior and mental illness, its causes, symptoms and treatments mainly through the referral to a biopsychosocial model that teaches the development of the psychological disorder and its maintenance.

At a basic level, the Abnormal Psychology course teaches undergraduates to recognize the symptoms of major mental abnormalities and know the criteria that is needed to be diagnosed with a psychological disorder.

“I don’t know of anyone who isn’t affected by abnormal psychology,” said Angela Duncan, the lecturer for PY 120. “We all have stress in our lives where there have been adjustments, troubles that impact our physical health. I think everybody knows someone who had struggled with anxiety of depression or experienced it themselves.”

PY 120 covers psychological factors that are behavior-related revealed in thinking and acting processes as well as different kinds of therapies to help a person with an abnormal behavior. Students learn that social factors that affect individual development and onset and maintenance of disorders are revealed in the impact of culture, race, economical status and gender.

The class also teaches about biological factors of mental disorders such as genetics and medication. Students practice the application of diagnostic criteria of a biopsychosocial model during case study learning.

“We present students with fictional cases of an individual suffering from a certain disorder and have them apply the knowledge from class based on symptoms, causes and predicting treatment therapies at a very basic level working with treating disorders,” Duncan said.

PY 120 prepares students for various interactions with people who have psychological disorders, but mainly teaches them to address any misconceptions in that regard, thus removing stigmas. Although not a counseling class, the course helps its attendees to reflect on themselves and on society.

“When students come out of this class they have a better understanding of what the abnormal psychology is all about,” Duncan said.

To test the knowledge, the professor has the class fill out a questionnaire at the beginning of the semester and the same one at the end, which shows a transformation in understanding of the course and reveals more accurate perceptions about mental disorders. The class is available face-to-face and online.

“I think at every profession that college students go into, there is going to be questions that come up,” Duncan said. “Having an abnormal psychology course is really helpful in communication and I don’t know of any majors that would not benefit from an abnormal psychology course.”