Psy. 425 Spring 2016 Maria Hess PhD, MFT

Office Hours: Stevenson 3083. Tuesdays 11:00-12:45, Wednesdays 11:45 – 12:15 Contact Information: SSU: 664-2413. Private office: 824 – 9902.



“The wholeness of the body is organic meaning that if one part of the body suffers the whole body suffers. The same is true of the psyche or personality. If a portion of our true nature is denied, we suffer throughout.”

-  John Sanford

Course Description: In this course we will study the broad spectrum of mental and behavioral disorders. Emphasis will be placed on mental health assessment and etiology of dis-ease using Object Relations Theory, lecture, guest speakers, discussion, contemporary videos, and the DSM5.

Course Goals: The broader goals for this class are that you as a student will:

* Develop a basic understanding of several emotional disturbances and their


* Experience working in small groups to enhance learning.

* Develop a working relationship with the DSM 5 as a diagnostic tool.

* Learn the importance of culture and diversity in assessment.

* Gain experience with compassion, identifying and assessing various mental


* Examine what constitutes mental health.

* Relax and have fun learning interesting stuff.

Course Objectives: By the end of the course you should be able to:

1. Describe different theories and concepts about the development and course of

abnormal behavior.

2. Use the coding system of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.

3. Diagnose psychological disorders from case studies (films).

4. Synthesize culturally contextual factors with diagnostic assessment.

5. Define concepts and terms that represent the shared language of

mental health practice.

6. Demonstrate interactive competence with the use of the Mental Status Exam.

Classroom Environment: Unless exempted by signed documentation from Student Disability Services, the use of a laptop is prohibited. Please turn off your cell phones and any other digital assists. Text messaging, answering cell phones, or other electronic distractions are not acceptable in class and will not be tolerated. You are welcome to bring drinks, but eating is not appreciated in the classroom. Please inform the instructor if you plan to audio record. No video recording or picture taking allowed.

Grading: You will be graded on an A-F basis, with no incompletes. Grades are based on:

(1) In-class review (15 reviews at 2 points each) 30 pts

(2) Cumulative course review 25 pts

(3) Case presentation paper 35 pts.

(4) Video and MSE assessment 10 pts.

Total points = 100


#1. Weekly In-class Review: Students are to do the assigned reading, watch the assigned videos and be prepared for in-class examination and amplification of the material. The modality of these weekly reviews will vary; sometimes they will be written questions, other times a facilitated debate or discussion. The reviews will focus on in-class material. (15 reviews at 2 pts. each)

#2. Cumulative Class Review: This cumulative review will include brief essay questions requiring your theoretical comprehension, understanding of definitions, core concepts and terms, and ability to elucidate using psychological thinking, You will receive a study guide. May 10 (25 pts.)

#3. The Case Presentation Paper is the cumulative work for the semester. The student is invited to: Take an adult person you are fascinated by; someone from history, a fictional character, an athlete, a performer, yourself, or a client, and present them two ways: (1) Subjectively- so the reader may have a sense of the person from the inside. What is it like to be them? (2) Objectively- a clinical presentation of the same person. Include and present identifying data, dynamic formulation and DSM 5 diagnosis.

An important aspect of this assignment is how you show your understanding of the clinical concepts by using citations to reference the course material that supports your learning. You may reference the professor only if the reference comes from lecture alone, theoretical referencing must come from primary or secondary sources.

Most students are challenged by this assignment, as it demands an integration of clinical, academic and personal understanding. You are welcome to make an appointment with the instructor if you have questions or concerns.

It is highly recommended that you do not wait until the last minute to attempt this project. It will command some effort on your part! The quality of writing is included in the overall grading of your work. Please use the Writing Center to address some of the concerns you may have regarding your writing skills. Due: Apr. 26th, 8 - 10 pages, hard copy, proof read, double-spaced, include citations and references, no more than 2 web-based citations, use APA format. (35 pts.)


#4 Video and MSE assessment: Watch the assigned video. Each student should download a MSE worksheet from my home and complete one for each of the five video clients we assess. No late worksheets will be accepted Due: at onset of class on the same date as video. (5 videos w/ MSE. 2 pts each.)

Attendance and Participation: Since participation in assessment and learning groups is such an integral part of this experience, your attendance plays an important role in your learning. In addition, I do not lecture off of your reading material making the in-class information, once missed, difficult to recapture. Students are responsible for retrieving the content of a missed class.

Absences, tardies and early departures will affect your grade. This is an upper division, MA preparatory course and students are expected to come to class prepared. Each student is expected to do the reading and view the assigned video by the date indicated on the syllabus.

Required Texts:

Fundamentals of Abnormal Psychology. (8th Ed.) Ronald Comer

All required and recommended texts are available on-line at Amazon,,, at SSU bookstore and Northlight Books across from campus.

The handouts for this class are available on my homepage: Handouts are also available at the reserve desk in the library.

* The ease of your learning will be greatly enhanced by doing the assigned

reading. I will occasionally send you articles, or youtube videos to inform, or

inspire you.

Strongly Recommended Texts:

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Of Mental Disorders, Fifth Ed.

American Psychiatric Association. (DSM)

Toxic Psychiatry Peter Briggin

Self and Others N. Gregory Hamilton

Trauma and Recovery Judith Herman

Oneness and Separateness. Louise Kaplan

Drama of the Gifted Child Alice Miller

Object Relations and Self Psychology Michael St. Clair

Your Body Keeps the Score. Bessel Van Der Kolk

Anatomy of an Epidemic Robert Whitaker

Reading and Video Schedule: Include in your reading the corollary text in the DSM. All assessment videos are available at Amazon, Netflix, SSU media center, or other media vendors.

All on-line videos are to be viewed by the date indicated below. Watch them before class so you can participate in our discussions.

A disclaimer:

"The California Faculty Association is in the midst of a difficult contract dispute withmanagement. It is possible that the faculty union will call a strike or other work stoppage thisterm. I will inform the class as soon as possible of any disruption to our class meeting schedule."

Wk 1.Jan 26 Introductions; Syllabus as container.

Discussion/ lecture: What is Abnormal Behavior?

On Suffering.

2.Feb 2 Comer: Ch.1- 2 History and Approach

Handout: The Dictionary of Disorder.

Discussion/lecture: Remedy, Cure, Healing. Intuition,

Perception, & Guessing. Good Belly.

On-Line video: Elyn Saks; A tale of mental illness from the


3. 9 Comer: Ch. 3 - 4 Models and Clinical Assessment

DSM introduction

Handout: Scars that Don’t Heal.

On-line video: Dr. Brene Brown. The power of vulnerability at

4. 16 Comer: Ch. 5 Disorders of Trauma and Stress.

Handout: Theory of parent-infant relationship.

On-line video: Dr. Gabor Mate Wholeness and Health or Disease,

ADD, Addiction, Violence

Adverse Childhood Experiences

5. 23 Comer: Ch.14-15 Schizophrenia

Handout: Out of the Ashes.

6. Mar 1 Comer: Ch.16 Personality Disorders

Handout: The Narcissistic Parent.

On-line video: Dr. Brene Brown. Listening to Shame

In- class assessment: Ordinary People (Beth)

7. 8 Comer: Ch.12 Substance Use and Addictive Disorders

In-class assessment: This Boy’s Life (Dwight)

8. 15 Spring Break!

9. 22 Comer: Ch. 8 - 10 Mood Disorders and Suicide

On-line article at Antidepressant Depression

by Robert Whitaker

Handouts: Meds Alone Couldn’t Bring Robert Back

Suicide Notes

In-class assessment: Lars and the Real Girl (Lars).

10. 29 Comer: Ch.11 Eating Disorders

11. Apr 5 Comer: Ch. 6 Anxiety Disorders

Handout: How Therapy Helps

In-class assessment: Reign Over Me (Charlie).

12. 12 Comer: Ch. 7 Disorders featuring Somatic Symptoms

Mental Health Services: Legal and Ethical Issues.

In-class assessment: American History X (Derek)

13. 19 Comer: Ch. 17 Disorders of Childhood and Adolescence

14. 26 Comer: Ch.18 Disorders of Aging and Cognition

In-class assessment: Memento (Leonard)

On-line video: Jill Bolte Taylor’s Stoke of Insight. Jill Bolte


Case Presentation Papers Due

15. May 3 Comer: Ch.13 Sexual and Gender Identity D/O

Guest Speaker: Sarah Marshall

16. 10 Cumulative Review

17. 17 Final meeting: 2 – 3:50 Finish up and good-byes.

Academic Integrity: It is the responsibility of each student to be apprised of the requirements of the psychology department and university regarding academic honesty. You are expected to know what constitutes plagiarism. The parameters are outlined in your student handbook and online at

Access for Students with Disabilities: Students with disabilities who require classroom accommodations should meet with me (within the first 2 weeks of class) during my office hours to make these arrangements. Please bring accommodations authorization from the Disability Resource Center with you.

Disruptive Student Policy: Students should familiarize themselves with the Disruptive Student Policy A code of conduct in the classroom is necessary for respectful discourse, safety

is required for sharing, and learning. Emotional terrorism, hate mongering, or other behaviors of intimidation will not be tolerated, and policy will be enforced.