Ammerman Campus



COURSE TITLE: Abnormal Psychology   (Section CRN 20056)        Spring, 2012

INSTRUCTOR: Richard H. Morse, MSW     Rm 230     Catalog no.: PSY 215-100


TEXTBOOK: Comer, Ronald J.   Abnormal Psychology (7th Ed.). Worth Publishers: New York, NY (2010)


ISBN-10: 1-4292-1631-X
ISBN-13: 978-1-4292-1631-9


Occasional Reference: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders

(4th Ed.) Text Revised. American Psychiatric Association: Washington, DC (2000)     (This is the “DSM-IV-TR”)




1. By relying on the student's knowledge of psychology gained in an introductory course, to explore fully the concept of behavior which is abnormal.


2. To distinguish amongst abnormal behaviors which are harmless and  those which may be harmful to oneself or others.


3. To familiarize the student with various theories of human development, and to link the basic tenets of each body of theory to its explanation of abnormal behavior and specific approach to therapy.


4. To explore principles of scientific experimentation in psychology and provide an understanding of how its discoveries have been applied to better understanding and treating mental illness.


5. To provide the student with an awareness of the history of abnormal behavior and the response to it from various cultures and societies throughout history.


6. To describe the history of institutionalization as a response to abnormal behavior and to explore some of the public policy implications of institutionalization.


7. To familiarize the student with the standard method of classifying behavioral disorders devised by the American Psychological Association in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.


8. To acquaint the student with basic ethical and legal issues inherent in society's attempts to respond to abnormal behavior.






The course material will be presented primarily in the form of lectures which will cover the textbook, other readings and examples from the instructor's as well as the students' experiences.  Students are encouraged to ask questions, to engage in discussions of pertinent issues and to relate the course material to life experiences.


It should be understood that, though the student is responsible for information presented in the text, the textbook serves as a guide for the course.  Information presented in the lectures may range beyond that presented in the text, or it may be presented from a point of view which differs from that of the text's author.  The instructor may also choose to place a greater or lesser emphasis in certain areas of the course than does the textbook.  The student is responsible for ALL information presented during the course.





Students are expected to attend all classes and to attend on time. The first two absences will not endanger the student's standing in class or final grade.  However, the third absence shall cause the student to lose two of the five points awarded in advance for class participation (a loss of 2 of the 5 percentage points in the computation of the final grade - see "FINAL GRADE").  The fourth absence will result in the removal of the remaining three points for class participation. The fifth absence will ordinarily cause the student to be dropped from the course, though exceptions may be made due to special circumstances such as extended illness.  In this situation the student may be required to verify the circumstances. Students dropped due to absences prior to March 22, 2012, will receive a "W" for the course; after this date students will receive an "F," unless they have received permission to withdraw.


Excessive tardiness may also endanger the student's standing in the class.


Students who sleep in class or indulge in audible side conversations may be asked to leave, and will be counted as absent for that date.  Such behavior may cause the loss of the student’s 5% for class participation, even if the student is not asked to leave class or has no taken excessive absences.





At the conclusion of this course the student should be able to:


1.  Provide an operational definition of psychology.


2.  Summarize the history of psychology and demonstrate an understanding of its place amongst the social and health sciences.


3.  Define the concept of "abnormal behavior" and elaborate on the difficulties encountered in attempting to formulate a universally acceptable definition of it.


4.  Identify the important theorists in psychology, describe their theories and explain the importance of these theories.


5.  Recognize the essential points of principle on which the major theoretical approaches agree and disagree.


6.  Understand how each theoretical approach defines abnormal behavior.


7.  Explain the relationship between each theoretical approach and its concept of diagnosis and treatment of mental/behavioral disorders.


8.  Understand the "scientific method" and describe various research methods utilized in studying abnormal behavior.


9.  Trace the history of institutionalization in western culture and cite the underlying factors which have caused changes in institutional methods.


10. Know how statistical methods are used to display research findings and to arrange the results of standardized tests.


11. List the various types of professionals who perform psychotherapy and differentiate their training, therapeutic methods and licensing requirements.


12. Describe how the DSM-III(R) classifies behavioral disorders.


13. Classify various drugs and explain how they affect human behavior.


14. Explain the difference between psychotic and neurotic behavior.


15. List the various categories of personality disorders.


16. Summarize legal and ethical issues involved in society's response to abnormal behavior.


17. To recognize popular misconceptions about mental and behavioral disorders and cite instances where these misconceptions are reinforced through communications media and popular mythology.





How well the above objectives are achieved will be measured by the following:



QUIZZES, to be given in class (see “CLASS SCHEDULE”) a total of three times during the semester.  Each quiz will consist of twenty (20) short answer or objective questions which will be based exclusively on the textbook’s website.  At the conclusion of the course only the two highest grade quizzes will be counted toward the determination of the student’s final grade.  Each of the highest two quizzes will count for ten percent (10%) of the student’s final grade for the course.  No provision will be made for a student to make up a quiz missed due to absence or tardiness. In this event the missed quiz will count as one of the student’s dropped quizzes.  Please note that students who expect to be excused from the final exam MUST PERFORM AT 90% OR BETTER ON ALL THREE QUIZZES, even though one will be dropped when computing the final grade.



A MIDTERM EXAMINATION, to be given in class (see "SCHEDULE" for date).  The exam will commence promptly at the beginning of the class session and the student may take as long as the entire class period to complete it. The midterm examination will consist of 100 multiple choice questions.  Each question will be worth one point.  The exam itself will determine twenty-five percent (25%) of the student's final grade.



A FINAL EXAMINATION, to be given in class on the last day the class meets (see SCHEDULE for date).  This exam will commence promptly at the beginning of the class session, and the student may take up to the entire class period to complete it.  After the student has completed the exam it should be submitted to the instructor and the student should leave the room. If time permits the exam will be graded and students will be informed of their grade and, if necessary, assisted in computing their final grade.  Once the student has submitted the exam it will not be returned until after the final grade is submitted to the Registrar and the student has provided a stamped, self-addressed envelope.  This exam will cover all material in the textbook (whether or not covered in class lectures) and all lecture material; however, approximately 75% to 80% of the questions will deal with material presented AFTER the midterm exam.  The final exam will consist of 100 multiple choice questions.  Each question will be worth one point and the entire exam will count toward thirty percent (30%) of the student's final grade for the course.






NOTE: A comprehensive semester review and final exam preparation is scheduled for May 10, 2012.  However, if lectures covering the entire subject matter of the course are incomplete by this date, completion of the lectures will take priority.


TWO ESSAY ASSIGNMENTS, which will be POSTED ON THE Instructor’s web site (  Three essay questions will be posed.  The student is required to respond to two of the three essays. The essays may be submitted in any order, provided that one is submitted on the first essay due date and the other is handed in on the second essay due date (see Course Schedule for exact dates).  Each essay will determine 10 percent of the student’s final grade, for a total of 20% of the final grade. The total number of pages for the two essays combined must be at least six pages (typically each typed page contains 250 words).  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.  It should also be noted in advance that 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 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.  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.





The student's final grade for the course will be determined as follows:


          MIDTERM EXAM (March 20, 2012).  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   25%

          FINAL EXAM (May 15, 2012) .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   30%

          ESSAYS (First due 2/28; Second due 4/19).  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    20%

          QUIZZES (2 BEST OF 3 @ 10% - 2/09; 3/29; 5/10) .  .  .  .   20%



                                                                               TOTAL .  .  .  .  .100%



NOTE: Those students who:


     1. Attend ALL classes

     2. Hand in all work on time

     3. Attain a 90% or better on ALL THREE quizzes, the midterm

          exam and the two essays


shall be excused from the final exam and awarded an "A" for the course.  All

these requirements must be met without exception.  Eligible students will be

informed during the class prior to the date of the final exam.






The following is an attempt to answer the questions most often asked by my students.


THE CURVE.  When test results arranged on a graph do not resemble a bell or normal curve, or in one which is "too far" in one direction or the other, it usually indicates that the test is not valid or reliable, or that the instructor has strayed too far from the subject during lectures.  Since the student will be exposed to all test question used in the course prior to examinations, I do not ordinarily curve examination grades. Since no system is perfect I do not absolutely rule out the use of a curve in special circumstances.  However, this will probably not benefit anyone more than three or four points at the most.


RETURN OF MATERIALS.  This should not be a problem for those who hand in assignments on time, since material will be returned to you in class.  If you wish to have your graded final exam returned to you, you must supply me with a stamped, self-addressed envelope at the last class. If a stamped, self-addressed envelope is not provided, your final exam will be discarded at the beginning of the next semester. This, of course, does not affect your grade in any way.


MISSED EXAMS.  I do not give make up exams.  In rare cases (for example a documented severe illness or hospitalization) I may count either the midterm or the final twice.  However, the circumstances would have to be exceptional and the student would have to have demonstrated reliability in other areas of the course.  Missed quizzes will count as zeros (remember that the lowest grade on the quizzes is dropped).  If you miss a class, be sure to find out if you also missed a quiz.


SPECIAL SERVICES.  If you are working with Student Special Services you should have been provided with a memo outlining the special conditions or circumstances you are entitled to receive. YOU MUST PRESENT ME WITH A COPY OF THIS NOTIFICATION no later than our second class meeting. If one of the conditions listed is taking quizzes or exams at the Special Services Offices, YOU are responsible for making the necessary appointment to take the exam or quiz. After you have made such an arrangement, please advise me.  I should receive word from Special Services that you have made the appointment.


ASSISTANCE.  If you are having trouble in this course, please speak to me about it.  You are not imposing on me if you approach me during break or before or after class.  If I do not have time I will gladly make an appointment.  You may also reach me by phone at (631)779-3201, or by e-mail at If you are considering dropping the course, speak with me first; I will provide you with an honest but friendly assessment of your chances for passing the course, and, if appropriate, I will offer suggestions concerning your study habits.


EXTRA CREDIT. So-called "extra credit" assignments will only be considered when it appears likely, after the midterm exam has been graded, that the student will receive a "D+" or less for the course. The student must request the assignment.  If the student is  eligible, the assignment will be given and collected immediately prior to the final exam.  It will only be graded in the event that the student's computed final grade is "D+" or less. If it has been satisfactorily completed, the student's grade will be upgraded to nothing higher than a "C."


OOPS.  If I make an error correcting exams, computing averages or awarding curve points, don’t  suffer in silence.  Let me know and I will correct the records.  Don't be embarrassed if its only one point - I would insist on your correcting it if our roles were reversed.  However, if you have made an erasure or a cross-out-and-correct on a test I will not adjust for that question unless you have asked me to initial it DURING the test.


SUBMISSION OF FINAL GRADES.  I will submit your grades within twenty-four hours of the final exam.  Any written assignments not submitted by that time will result in your receiving either a “W” (Withdrawn) or an “F” for the course. Barring extraordinary conditions, a grade of  INCOMPLETE  (which may be turned into an "F" on your transcript in the future) will NOT be considered.  Numeric grades translate to letter grades as follows:

                                    A  =  90 or greater                C  =  70.0 to 74.9

                                    B+ = 85.0 to 89.9                 D+ = 65.0 to 69.9

                                    B  =  80.0 to 84.9                 D  =  60.0 to 64.9

                                    C+ = 75.0 to 79.9                 F   =  Below 60




DATE           SUBJECT OF LECTURE                                                           CHAPTERS


01/24/12       Introduction; Description of Course Requirements;

                     Definition of Abnormal Psychology                                                              


01/26/12       Historical perspective                                                                               1


01/31/12       Research Methods                                                                                   2


02/02/12       Models of Abnormality                                                                              3


02/07/12       Clinical Assessment, Diagnosis & Treatment                                         4


02/09/12       Clinical Assessment, Diagnosis & Treatment    (continued)                   4


02/14/12       Anxiety Disorders                                                                                      5

                     FIRST QUIZ  (COVERS CHAPTERS 1 THROUGH 5)


02/16/12       Anxiety Disorders; Stress Disorders                                                       5,6                                                                                    


02/21/12       Somatoform & Dissociative Disorders                                                    7


02/23/12       Mood Disorders                                                                                        8


02/28/12       Mood Disorders (continued)                                                                     8

                     FIRST ESSAY DUE   (returned on April 19 – 5% penalty per class late.)                                        


03/01/12      Treatments for Mood Disorders                                                                 9


03/06/12      NO CLASS  - Professional Development Day


03/08/12      Treatments for Mood Disorders; Suicide                                                9,10


03/13/12      Suicide                                                                                                      10


03/15/12      Review; Prepare for Midterm Exam



NOTE:  March 22, 2012, is the last day to withdraw from classes without academic penalty.


03/22/12      Eating Disorders                                                                                      11


03/27/12      Substance Related Disorders                                                                 12


03/29/12      Sexual Disorders; Gender Identity Disorder                                            13

                    SECOND QUIZ  (Covers Chapters 6 through 12)


04/03/12      NO CLASS  -  SPRING BREAK


04/05/12      NO CLASS  -  SPRING BREAK


04/10/12      Schizophrenia                                                                                          14                                                 


04/12/12      Schizophrenia                                                                                          14

                    First Essay Returned


04/17/12      Treatment for Schizophrenia & Severe Mental Disorders                       15


04/19/12      Treatment…(continued); Personality Disorders                                   15, 16

                    SECOND ESSAY DUE (returned May 10 – 5% penalty per class late)


04/24/12       Personality Disorders  (continued)                                                         16


04/26/12       Disorders of Childhood and Adolescence                                              17

                     Essay or Special Assignment Due


05/01/12       Disorders of Childhood and Adolescence                                              17


05/03/12       Disorders of Aging and Cognition                                                           18


05/08/12       Law, Society & the Mental Health Profession                                         19



                     Prepare for Final Exam

                     Second Essay Returned


05/15/12       FINAL EXAMINATION


NOTE:  Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, May 16,17, and 19, 2012  are scheduled as make-up days in the event that day or evenings classes are cancelled by the SCCC Administration during the Spring, 2012, semester.  In such event, missing these days WILL COUNT as an absence.




Text: Comer, Ronald J. ABNORMAL PSYCHOLOGY (7th Ed.). Worth Publishers, New York (2010)


1. In the box labeled “address” in your Web browser, type the exact address: (or click on it if you are reading this on my web site)  and then click on “go”  (if the site does not appear within a few seconds or a minute, or if you receive an error message, check that you have typed these letters exactly as they appear above).


2. Read the instructions where it says “Welcome to Your Student Center!”  Then, in the box to the left of the instructions, put the cursor on the scrollbar and move down to the part that says, “I am not registered, sign me up as…” and then click on “student”.


3. Now go back to the larger box to the right where is says, “Dear Student…” and fill in all the boxes, making sure your spelling is correct.  You will then be asked for your e-mail address. Where it asks for a password, don’t use your e-mail password, instead invent a password to be used on this site exclusively.  Be sure to use this e-m ail address and password each time you sign on. You will be asked if you wish to have your grades sent to your instructor. You may opt out of this if you wish, but if you do not, use my personal e-mail address (as provided elsewhere in this syllabus), not my college e-mail address.


4. You will now be registered for the publisher’s website.  Sign off, and immediately sign back on (this step may not be necessary depending on your operating system), logging on in the box to the left using your full e-mail address and the password that you have invented for this site. (You may also want to go to the top of your browser and click on “Favorites.”  A menu will appear that includes “Add to Favorites” – click on this.  From now on when you want to go to the website you merely click on favorites and then the website and you will be there instantly.)


5. You will see a listing of the textbook chapters.  To study a chapter, first click on it. (Note: this site is occasionally maddeningly slow.  Don’t go crazy clicking everything – you’ll only make things worse.  If an unreasonable period of time passes, click the back button and start over.)  Once you have clicked on a chapter, you will find a set of very helpful study aids: a list of learning objectives for the chapter, crossword puzzles, etc.  Play with these to learn how they can help you.


6. IMPORTANT: two areas will require your careful and definite attention: the quiz questions and the flashcards.  If you go to the menu item “Quizzes” for each chapter you will see two submenus: “Quiz 1” and ”Quiz 2.”  All the questions given in the three quizzes during the semester will be taken, word for word, from “Quiz 1” (NOT “Quiz 2”).  After you take the test for practice, click on submit.  The correct answers will be provided. (Again be prepared for this to take some time.) You should keep taking the test over and over, preferably at different times, until you get them all correct.  Be careful, because the answers may be scrambled each time the test is taken or when they are transcribed into the printed quiz that you will take in class.  “Quiz 2” may be used to study for the midterm and final exams, but these exact questions will never appear on any of the three quizzes.


The second important section, flashcards, allows you to take a flashcard test for the chapter.  ALL of the marginal definitions in the text book (placed in red headlines in the tan margins of the pages) are included in the flashcards. Some students find that copying the flashcards by hand onto 3” X 5” cards helps them “crystallize” their memory of the definition.  These cards can then be used with family, friends or a study group, or anywhere to perform a quick review.







My web site can be reached at  For the sake of convenience you should add this site to your “Favorites” on your web browser.  You should consult this website at least weekly.  General information and announcements can be found by clicking on the bar that is labelled "Abnormal Psychology" on the Welcome page.  Menu bars for various aspects of the course will be found.  Clicking on the menu items will bring you to practice tests, important documents, links to various websites.  Items can be printed out or “cut and pasted” into a word processor.   


The website contains materials that I previously printed and handed out in class, current items in the news that relate to the course, and hints and help for the midterm and final exams, suggestions for more effective studying and other items that may be relevant during the semester. 


The preparation materials for the midterm and the final are particularly important.  These “practice questions” should be printed from MY web site once per week and used for practice.  On the “Schedule” you will see dates that will be used to prepare for the midterm and the final.  You should bring your accumulated print-outs to class on these dates (the practice exam materials will not be distributed by the instructor).  The practice test questions are listed by chapter (1 through 10 for the midterm and 11 through 19 for the final).  You are guaranteed that ALL the questions used on the midterm and the final are contained in these practice questions.  The practice questions do NOT include answers or a key.  Instead you will find a number in parentheses at the beginning of the question – that is the page number in the textbook where the answer to that questions can be found.


However, I will e-mail you the answer keys for the practice questions if you send me an e-mail (to either or to  with your proposed answers to the chapter practice questions.  You must ask for the answer keys on a one-chapter-at-a-time basis within the schedule listed in the button labelled “To Obtain Answer Keys” in the web site.  If you request before or after the listed time window your request will be ignored.