Essay Questions: ABNORMAL BEHAVIOR (psy-215)  Spring, 2012


Three essay questions can be found below. The student is required to complete only two of the three essays. The essays are to be submitted one at a time on the dates indicated in the SCHEDULE to be found in the course outline (syllabus).  The two essays may be submitted in any order.  The total number of pages for the two completed essays must be at least 6 (or 1500 words since it is generally true that each double spaced typewritten page contains about 250 words). It is entirely at the student’s discretion how to divide the required minimal number of pages between the two essays. Each essay is graded separately and each essay will determine 10% of the student’s final grade

NOTE: there will be a 5% penalty for EACH class period of delay in submitting the essays, AND if either essay is not submitted by the next to the last class, the student will receive a grade of “F” for the course.  Answering more than two essays shall NOT afford the student the opportunity to earn "extra credit."  The first essay will be returned to the student one week before the date the second essay is due; the second essay will be returned on the next to the last class meeting.

This assignment MUST BE SUBMITTED IN TYPEWRITTEN OR PRINTED FORM in a 10 or 11 font, double spaced. Use complete sentences; do NOT use bullet lists. Use only one side of a page; make sure your name is on EACH page; use a single staple in the upper left hand corner; do not use a document jacket of any kind.  

In this assignment the student is expected to demonstrate an understanding of the subject matter of the essay question as well as an ability to communicate this understanding to a reader.  The essay MUST be entirely the student's own work.  If the student uses the work of other authors to support their premises, all such references must be footnoted, and direct quotes placed within quotation marks. Using the internet as a source is acceptable. PLAGIARISM WILL CAUSE NO CREDIT TO BE GIVEN FOR THIS ASSIGNMENT, and in addition may endanger the student’s enrollment at the college. Overuse of quotations will cause the grade for this assignment to be reduced. This assignment will be graded primarily on its content; however, organization, spelling and grammatical structure will also be taken into account, and work not meeting a second year college level of ability will be awarded a minimal grade.

WITH THE PRIOR PERMISSION OF THE INSTRUCTOR either of these essay assignments may be submitted via e-mail. Essays submitted via e-mail will be graded and returned via e-mail.


1.       At present the classification system most often used to diagnose mental disorders in the United States is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association – Fourth Edition, Text Revised.  Describe the history of this system and briefly explain how it has differed from publication to publication; describe the editions that have been used in the past, including the years in which the prior editions were published.  List the countries in the world that this system is employed.  Describe diagnostic systems that may have been utilized prior to the invention of this system,  even in other parts of the world.  Why is this system important? Analyze both its benefits and its drawbacks. When is the next edition due, and what differences can we expect to see?


2.       In recent times the internet has evolved as an important force in the field of mental health/abnormal psychology. Describe the various ways that this is true, providing specific examples. Examine the specific ways in which this is a positive and/or a negative influence from the point of view of both mental health clinicians and their clients/patients.  Decide if, on balance, you find the influence of the internet in mental health as a beneficial or a destructive influence, and defend your position. Examine how this influence may evolve in the future.


3.       Of all the diagnostic categories in the DSM-IV-TR, the Personality Disorders are probably the most controversial. Describe the general features of the personality disorders and explain how they are currently organized. How does this differ from the way they were organized in the past and how are they expected to change in the DSM-5?  Summarize the basic competing rationales that are at the heart of the controversy in this category of disorders.