A Little Bit About Me
Class Information
Psy 208 Syllabus
Psy 136 Syllabus
Psy 101 Syllabus
Psy 200 Syllabus
Psy 215 Syllabus
ORI 100 Syllabus
PSY 215 ALP Syllabus
PSY 136 ALP Syllabus
PSY 204 Syllabus

Montgomery Community College – West Campus

PSY 215 Abnormal Psychology

Section HW – 3 Credits – Fall 2005

Tuesday & Thursday 8:00 a.m. – 9:35 a.m. Room 218



Instructor:                Mr. Francis P. O’Neill M.A.

Office:                        West 140 - C  

Phone:                      610-718-1842

Email:                        foneill@mc3.edu (best method of communication)

Office Hours:           By appointment

Class Room:           West 218

Prerequisite:            None - Suggested: English 101 & Psychology 101




A. Required Text:                                       Abnormal Psychology, an Integrative Approach fourth edition, 2005, David H. Barlow & V. Mark Durand Thompson/Wadsworth Publishing

B. Supplementary Reading Material:    Provided by instructor

C. In Class Video:                                      Films and video tapes provided by instructor

D. Movie for Assignment:                        Supplied by student independent from the classroom setting.


Biology, behavior and environment interact in complex ways to produce what is defined as abnormal. Historical material, pertinent research and relevant case studies provide an understanding of abnormal psychology and its impact on all of us.


This course is designed to foster knowledge and attitudes which will assist the student in understanding and to know the scholarship developed within the discipline.



Students are Responsible for the Following:

Course Competencies & Objectives
Upon completion of this course, the student should be able to:

A.     Explain the current and historical perspectives of abnormal behavior.

B.     Describe the various biological, psychosocial and sociocultural factors in the etiology of mental disorders.

C.    Define the various classifications of mental disorders.

D.    Identify the various therapies used to treat mental disorders.

Participation and Attendance: So that you can get the most out of the class you need to be present for the majority of the sessions. It is also important to interact in the classroom discussions and exercises. Most formal learning will come from the classroom interaction. All extra credit test questions will be taken from classroom lecture material!

After 6 absences you will drop one letter grade 2 more absences (total 8 absences) and you will receive an “F” grade for this class.

Excessive lateness/tardiness is to be avoided, but it’s better to be late than absent. If you are late, after roll is taken, you need to see the instructor immediately after class to be counted as being present for class. 3 times late equals one absence.

Official Withdraw from Class:

1.      Students can withdraw from class up to one week after mid-semester with a formal withdraw application. Grade will then be a “W”. Last date to withdraw without a signature from the instructor Tuesday, October 25th  2005

2.      After this time a withdraw with a “W” is at the discretion of the instructor. The instructor must sign off for a class withdraw at this point. Last date to withdraw with a signature from the instructor Tuesday, December 13th 2005 (take note the instructor is not on campus after the last day of classes, plan ahead if you wish to withdraw from class)

3.      Failure to attend a class may lead to a grade of an “F”, it will not constitute an automatic withdraw from class.



Grading will be as follows:


A = 90 – 100+           D = 60 – 69

B = 80 – 89                F  = 0 – 59

C = 70 – 79

Grades will be based on the final grade breakdown. There will NOT BE A CLASS CURVE. This means that everyone can get an "A".

No “I" (incomplete) grades will be submitted for this course. It is paramount that all test and assignments be completed before the course ending date. No exceptions unless there is a medical emergency!

Exams: There will be 3 major exams and one final (the final will carry double the weight of the exams) each exam will consist of multiple choice, true false and essay questions with the possibility of extra credit questions added at the end of the test. If a student misses an exam the possibility of a make-up is strictly on the basis of a medical or other serious reason at the discretion of the instructor. A test can not be taken after a week from the original testing date, if at all. The final must be taken on the day of the final or before, no make up test will be granted for the final exam.




  1. 3 exams worth 100 points each (extra credit poss.)             300+pts
  2. Class participation                                                                         100 pts
  3. Life Review Assignment and Presentation                             100 pts
  4. Movie Assignment #1                                                                    100 pts
  5. Final Exam                                                                                       200 pts


All points will be added up and divided by 8


Grades will be based on the final grade breakdown. There will NOT BE A CURVE. This means that everyone has the possibility of getting an "A".


No “I" (incomplete) grades will be submitted for this course. It is paramount that all test and assignments be completed before the course ending date. No exceptions unless there is a medical emergency!


Other Information


Reading: It is VERY important that you complete the reading for each day on the course schedule BEFORE you come to class that day. The most important goal for the class is for you to have fun while learning about psychology. But to do this, you’ll have to stay on top of the reading (and there’s a lot). Take note that class lectures will not reiterate the text book, but will be used to enhance the selections read.

Student Conduct:

1. Academic integrity is expected. Cheating in any form is unacceptable, and will be dealt with per college policy. There will be no individual or group warnings.
2. Classroom behaviors that are encouraged: Asking questions, answering instructor’s questions, discussion of topics between students before the entire class, and the participation in structured learning activities.
3. Classroom behaviors that are discouraged: Two way conversation between students during lectures or class discussions and leaving the classroom before the instructor dismisses the class.
4. Respect for all the class is paramount. Anything less is unacceptable.

Class Cancellation Policy:


If there is inclement weather please check the college web site and/or call the campus at 610-718-1800 and listen to the message. Also the school codes are 395 for day and 2395 for the evening division. Also please refer to the campus calendar for days off and breaks in the class schedule.


Important Dates for Papers, Tests and Days Off:

9/1       First Day of Class

9/29     Exam #1 Chapters 1, 2 & 3

10/25   Exam #2 Chapters 5, 6, 7 & 8

11/15   Exam #3 Chapters 10, 11 & 12

11/24   No Class – Thanksgiving Holiday

11/29   Movie Paper Due

12/8     Last Class

12/8     Last day all papers will be accepted for credit

12/20   Final - Last Chapters 10:15am – 12:15pm Classroom 218


The instructor reserves the right to make any content or rescheduling revisions as deemed appropriate or necessary.  

Students with Disabilities Policy:

Students with disabilities may be eligible for accommodations in this course. Contact the director of services for students with disabilities in the counseling center, College Hall, at 215-642-6575/6577 for more information. At West Campus, contact the director of student affairs, 610-718-1839

Assignment Submission Guide Lines:


All papers assignments handed in must be typed!


Spelling, grammar and sentence structure must be correct.


Page layout should be 12 pitch font, Times New Roman or Arial, double spaced with a one inch margin on the top and bottom and on the sides. You are to hand in TWO copies of each assignment.


Format: Information on the cover page should include your name, The assignment (“movie assignment 1” etc.), date the paper is handed in, class (Psy 215 Spring 2005), instructor’s name (Frank O’Neill), movie chosen (or other needed info). Centered under this should be a title of the assignment ex. Unfaithful - Wife exhibits classic signs of guilt but… or The Shining – Here’s Johnny! Have fun with this assignment!


All footnotes are to be APA style please remember to cite all referenced material!

Missed Deadlines:
Any material turned in late will subject to a reduction in points. 5 point reduction for every class late. Items not turned in by the last date due will be counted as a zero.

Online Help:

You can access the text books information, this syllabus and the class schedule through BlackBoard: www.mc3.edu All grades and info pertaining to the course will be posted on Blackboard. Slides used in class are also posted in the documents sections. 

The text Books web site is: http://psychology.wadsworth.com/barlow_durand4e/

2. Life Review Assignment and Presentation: Psychological Challenges of a Public Figure:


Choose a mental disorder explain this disorder and then relate it to a person who is in the public eye (or was) past or present and describe the mental challenges that they face. This is to be a medium length paper about 5 pages in length. Take some time and research the person and the disorder they have. You may NOT choose John Nash.


Present this to the class in a ten to fifteen minute presentation. Paper and presentation should include:


  1. Introduction of the mental disorder you have chosen.
  2. Brief info as to who the person is and why he/she is famous (a paragraph or two). Site sources APA style.
  3. List the psychological affliction(s) or diagnosis; give back up to support this position. List the symptoms. All in paragraph form. Not in listing form.
  4. Go into detail as to how they deal with this problem and the problems it causes them. 
  5. Give a conclusion as to how this person deals with the public knowledge of their illness and what steps they take to control it. Also include if these steps are positive or negative to the persons well being.
  6. Most important: what did you learn from this person and how do you think you would react or handle this disorder? List what you know of this disorder.


For the presentation you may work with one other person in the class and present together. The paper should follow the same guidelines as stated in the syllabus. If it’s a joint presentation the grade for the paper and presentation will be the same for both persons involved. You must be ready for questions about the person at the end of the presentation. Presentation made the week of topic chosen.



John Nash – Genius mathematician, schizophrenia, teaching in a university

Sylvia Plath – Poet, Major Depressive Disorder with suicidal ideations.

Jim Carry – Actor, Major Depression, uses comedy and work to fend off affliction.

Carrie Fisher – Actress, Bi-Polar Disorder, Funds research into this area, etc…


Movie & Reading Assignment

·         Write a medium length paper 1500 – 2500+ words (about 6+ pages) It is to be a critique of the movie A Beautiful Mind (2001) (PG-13). NOT a review. I want your reactions to the film’s characters. You must include the following:

1.      Was the main person/character John Nash a hero?

2.      What was the motivation of this person? What factors made him/her a hero or an anti hero?

3.      Was Russell Crowe’s character convincing as to the part or personality he was trying to convey? Why or why not?

4.      What psychological factors created the conflict? Why is this a movie that a psychology student should see?

5.      Include your reaction to his wife and how she dealt with John’s illness.

6.      Diagnose the character of John Nash in two ways:

o       Take into account or make believe that you know nothing about John Nash or his mental state before viewing the film. Take what you know from the text book and follow the next two steps.

o       First: what symptoms does he elicit in the beginning of the film (Enters Harvard, working towards something “No one else has done before”?) How would you diagnose him at this point from what you know from the text?

o       Second: what symptoms does he elicit towards the middle and the end of the film? (Runs into his house to protect his wife from the Russian’s and he see the doctor his wife sends him to) How would you diagnose him at this point from what you know from the text?


Part 2


Read handout pages 488 – 489 The World Around Us Section include the information found in this short section with what you saw in the movie. Also do some research as to who John Nash is and what he was really like and include it. You must site 2 separate sources other than the text and movie.


What new information did you learn from this assignment? Read other accounts as to how schizophrenia affects the lives of people? Why could John Nash “make it” and others do not?


Movie List


1 A Beautiful Mind (2001) (PG-13) No violence etc. (Movie Assignment #1)

Russell Crowe hits just the right constrained note as John Forbes Nash Jr., the brilliant theorist who gamely grappled with his own paranoid schizophrenia and was eventually awarded the Nobel Prize for economics 40 years after being diagnosed. Best Supporting Actress Oscar-winner Jennifer Connelly matches Crowe every step of the way as Forbes's long-suffering wife. Other Oscars include Best Picture and Director for Ron Howard.