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University of Rhode Island — Psychology
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PSY 254 - Behavior Problems and Personality Disorders
Course Information

Professor: Dr. Shanette Harris, Ph.D. and Dr. Mark Robbins, Ph.D.
Semester: Fall, Spring
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: PSY 113

Catalog Description: Evaluation of the more serious behavioral disorders as found in the major forms of character disorders, psychoneuroses, and psychoses. Theories of causation, development and effects of anxiety and defense mechanisms, and interpretation of symptoms and methods of treatment.

Course Goals & Outcomes

By the end of the semester students will be able to:

  • Understand the fundamental concepts from several general perspectives (models, paradigms) which are used to analyze abnormal behavior
  • Become familiar with several major "types" or diagnostic categories of abnormal behavior including:
    • Symptoms associated with these disorders (diagnosis)
    • Theories about the development of such disorders (etiology)
  • Gain an appreciation of the scientific study of abnormal behavior and how empirical evidence is used to increase our understanding of diagnosis, etiology and treatment
  • Examine human differences
  • Read complex texts
  • Write effectively
Course Syllabus

This course requires the student to be an active participant in learning. Pedagogical methods include lecture, discussion, audiovisuals, class presentations, group exercises and activities. Students must demonstrate their theoretical knowledge of the content via the course exams and quizzes.

Class Topics:

  • Introduction to Abnormal Psychology
  • Assessment/Classification/ Introduction to DSM-IV Models of Abnormal Behavior
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Stress Disorders
  • Mood Disorders
  • Sexual Disorders
  • Dissociative & Somatoform Disorders
  • Personality Disorders
  • Schizophrenia
  • Eating Disorders
About The Professor

Dr. Shanette Harris is a Professor in the Department of Psychology and a Clinical Psychologist who teaches PSY 254 both fall and spring semesters. Her research interests focus on the psychology of diversity and multiculturalism including race/ethnicity, gender, social class, and sexual orientation. Current research relates to eating disorders and disturbances, violence as a health issue, and cultural variation in health behavior.

Dr. Mark Robbins is a Professor in the Department of Psychology and a Clinical Psychologist. He teaches an honors version of this course in spring semesters (PSY 254H). His research interests focus on health promotion, disease prevention and decision-making particularly for planned change at both the individual level and on a population basis.

In addition, sections of this course are offered by multiple other instructors; please refer to the URI Course Schedule.

Reasons To Take This Course

Health psychology focuses on how biological, psychological and social factors affect health and illness. Health psychologists focus on healthy behavior change and the prevention of diseases and illnesses. This is an important class for a student interested in the health/medical field. This course is designated to meet the Topics requirement for psychology majors. Psychology majors are required to take 3 topics courses.

Cool Links
  • This website provides short video vignettes on various behavior problems and personality disorders.
  • This website is a beginnerís guide to understanding abnormal psychology.