Interview Preparation and Discussion

Refer to the Course Project Overview in Module 1. Module 1 Overview (1 of 3)

  • Identify DSM-IV-TR diagnostic categories and distinguish between diagnostic and commonly used terminology.

In Module 1, the focus is on providing a “big picture” of what constitutes abnormal psychology. The term abnormal psychology appears self-explanatory, but in practice, it is difficult to define or differentiate from normality. Complicating this definition even further is the fact that what is considered “normal” in one context is “abnormal” in others.

Would you consider it normal to see someone walking completely naked down the street where you live? This would certainly attract attention from onlookers and probably the police. Would your determination of whether or not public nudity constitutes abnormal behavior be different if this individual is walking along a posted-nude beach? Context is clearly important in defining abnormal.

Another important consideration in determining abnormality is culture. The belief that you see your dead relatives around you might be considered a delusion or visual hallucination, but may be a completely “normal” belief among certain religious or cultural groups. We must not jump to conclusions without carefully considering all variables that may be important in assessing whether a given behavior is abnormal.

In this course, we discuss categories and examples of mental illnesses. These are classified under the definition of abnormal or maladaptive behavior. However, there is often no “bright-line test” to determine whether a behavior is simply odd or constitutes a mental illness. Most maladaptive behaviors fall on a continuum with “normal” behaviors.

Consider fears, for example. Most of us can think of something that we are afraid of – perhaps spiders or snakes, heights, or the dark. Fears are certainly considered “normal.” In Module 2,we will consider phobias as examples of mental illness. A phobia is a pronounced, unreasonable, and excessive fear which results in an individual avoiding the fear-causing stimulus. It interferes with the sufferer’s life whenever a chance exposure occurs.


Early in the course, you have selected a mental disorder to work on for your course project. In Module 3, as part of your course project, you will conduct field research on the practice related to your selected disorder. To gather information for your field research, you will interview a mental health professional to learn about the practice related to the disorder. In this assignment, you will prepare for the interview.

  • Write ten interview questions that will bring out the information you need.
  • Formulate questions that ensure an appropriate understanding of the disorder. These questions should assist in differentiating the chosen disorder from those found within and outside its parent category.

Ensure that the person you interview has a background in the disorder you are studying.

By Thursday, June 19, 2014, post your questions to the appropriate Discussion Area.

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