Psychology 451, Abnormal Psychology Seminar,

Fall Quarter, 2009


Professor:        Ronald Kleinknecht

Office:             Department of Psychology,  AI 186

Office Hours:   1:00 – 2:30 Tuesday and Thursday

Class room:     AI 194

Phone:             650-3944


Web page:


Prerequisites: Students in this class must have had both Psy  210-250, 303, and Psy 351 and earned a C- or better.  The course is an advanced study in abnormal psychology.

Course Purposes and Goals:

The goals of this seminar are to examine in depth, selected mental disorders including their description, etiologies, consequences, treatments, and how these specific disorders affect and/or are affected by physical conditions and disorders. As part of this examination of links between physical and mental disorders we will examine the various psychological, emotional, and physical systems and mechanisms that mediate psychological and physical conditions.

The seminar goal then is to understand how mental, emotional, and physiologic processes are really part of single system that is the human body.  Causal mechanisms of disorders can go either direction: what we refer to as mental or emotional (e.g. anxiety/depression) to physical (hives, irritable Bowel) or physical (virus) to mental – emotional (schizophrenia).


Each student will conduct a literature review and provide oral, in class reports as well as a final written paper that will include:

1.      In-depth analysis of  a chosen psychological disorders and how it causes or affects and/or is affected by a physical disorder. Or a physical Disorder that causes or affects a DSM-type mental disorder.

2.      Understanding and description of the mechanisms by which our physical bodies can affect our mental and emotional states and how our mental/emotional states can affect us physically.

3.      Exploration of unanswered questions about  these mechanisms and outline a research project that might give us a greater understanding

4.      In so doing, you will understand  and report on the mechanisms by which mental or behavioral disorders can affect our physical health and well being


Course Structure and Policies:

            Attendance & Participation: attendance is required as is active participation and discussion and contributions to the class. Excuses for Swine flu will be accepted from the Student Health Center or a private physician. Make up will be handled on a case by case basis.

            Presentations and written Final Paper: There will two or three short in-class presentations of your work as the course proceeds culminating in a final presentation to the class and a written paper that will constitute your final report.

Policy on plagiarism: Any evidence that the work you report or turn in is not solely your own production will result in a failing grade.



-          10 % class participation over all

-         20% in class initial presentations

-          30% final presentation

-          40% final paper



Class Schedule


24        Introduction and overview of class and assignment:

29        The Nature of Diagnosis and Mechanisms of psychological disorder causing or impacting physical disorder and physical disorder causing or impacting psychological disorder.


 1        Example: Blood, Injury, Injection Phobia

6          Dr. Mahoney - stepping stones project and Patient activation

8          Psychological consequences of Cancer diagnosis and treatment - Dr. Ian Thompson

12        Dr. Jeff Steger, Chronic Pain and Psychological Disorder 

15       Class topics – brief reports on direction (5 - 10 min.)

20        Guest 0r (my report on immune system conference)

22       Dr. James Harle: Children’s Mental and physical health

27       Immune System

29      project consultations


            3.      In class review and compare two related papers on your topic (5 min.)

            5       Stepping Stone follow up

            10     Blood, Injection, Injury Phobia

            12     BII con't


19.  Final presentations

24. Final presentation

26. (Thanksgiving)


            1. Final presentation

            3. Final presentation and Class evaluation

(Final Papers due at beginning of class)

            9. 1:00 - 3:00 Final Exam time:  Finish presentations



Final Paper structure:

·         Pose your research question: “How does X cause, contribute, lead to… Y”

·         The Disorder:

a.      Describe essential features of the disorder

                                                                                      i.      Epidemiology,

                                                                                    ii.      Review and evaluate theories of etiology

·         What physical disorder/s or conditions have been shown to be a function, in whole or in part of the mental disorder?

a.      Review literature and evaluate it.

·         What treatments are effective for this disorder?

a.      Review critique and evaluate the treatment literature quality. How solid is the research?

·         Design a study to address questions that remain to be explored concerning the relationship between the psychological and physical conditions?



Grades will then be assigned according to the following scheme:


93 – 100% = A                    73 – 76% = C

90 – 92% =   A-                   70 – 72% = C-

87 – 89% =   B+                  67 – 69% = D+

83 – 86% =   B                     60 – 66% = D

80 – 82% =   B-            Below 60% = F

77 – 79% =   C+