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Abnormal Psychology

Course CodeBPS307
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Study abnormal psychology for a greater understanding of mental health problems and their treatment

Learn more about the human mind and how it works. 

  • Learn about the criteria for determining mental disorders.
  • Be able to identify a range of psychological disorders.
  • Understand the causes of disorders.
  • Develop your knowledge to enable you to determine courses of treatment for different disorders.
  • Learn about mood, anxiety, and drug disorders as well as psychotic, gender, food, and personality disorders.
  • Learn from knowledgeable expert tutors with real-world experience.


This course is of interest to anyone working with people, for example,

  • Support Workers.
  • Foster Carers.
  • Teachers.
  • Parents.
  • Children and Family Workers.
  • Educational staff.
  • Writers.
  • Counsellors.
  • Mental Health Staff.
  • Law Enforcement Staff.

Study and gain knowledge for  your career and professional development.



Lesson Structure

There are 11 lessons in this course:

  1. Lesson 1. Disorders Usually First Diagnosed in Infancy
    • Criteria for Determining Abnormality
    • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
    • Childhood Disorders.
    • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
    • Conduct Disorder.
    • Mental Retardation.
    • Asperger's Disorder.
    • Stereotypic Movement Disorder.
    • Normal Functioning.
    • Depression in Childhood.
    • Anxiety Disorders.
    • Types of Therapy: Alderian, Behaviourism, Existential, Gestalt, Person Centred Therapy, Psycho analysis, Rational Emotive, Reality Therapy, Transactional.
  2. Lesson 2. Delirium, Dementia, Amnesic and Other Cognitive Disorders
    • Types of Cognitive Disorders.
    • Delirium.
    • Dementia.
    • Types of Dementia.
    • Alzheimer's Disease.
    • Comparing Dementia and Delirium.
    • Amnesia.
    • Cognitive Disorder NOS.
    • Pseudo Dementia.
    • Research Methods in Biopsychology.
  3. Lesson 3. Substance-Related Disorders
    • Scope and nature of Substance Abuse.
    • Reasons for Using Drugs.
    • Substance Dependence.
    • Intoxication and Withdrawal.
    • Alcohol Dependence and DT's.
    • Substance Dependence.
    • Substance Abuse.
    • Drug Misuse.
    • Classes of Drugs.
    • Amphetamines.
    • Cocaine.
    • Crack.
    • Opium and Heroin.
    • LSD.
    • Other Drugs, Steroids, Ritalin, Inhalants, etc.
    • Risks with Specific Drugs.
    • Older Adults Susceptible to Prescription Misuse.
  4. Lesson 4. Schizophrenia and Other Psychotic Disorders
    • Scope and Nature.
    • Psychosis.
    • Treating Psychosis.
    • Schizoaffective Disorders.
    • Delusional (Paranoid) Disorders.
    • Onset of Schizophrenia.
    • Symptoms of Schizophrenia.
    • Treating Schizophrenia.
    • Schizophrenia and Violence.
    • Biology of Schizophrenia.
    • Antipsychotic Medications.
    • Psychosocial Treatments.
    • Role of the Patients Support System.
  5. Lesson 5. Mood Disorders
    • Depressive Disorders.
    • Determining Type of Depression.
    • Unipolar Disorders and Bipolar Disorders.
    • Risk Factors for Depression.
    • Men and Depression.
    • Diagnostic Evaluation and Treatment.
    • Types of Treatment.
  6. Lesson 6. Anxiety Disorders
    • Scope and Nature.
    • Anxiety Symptoms.
    • Generalised Anxiety Disorders.
    • Phobic Anxiety Disorders.
    • Panic Disorder.
    • Treatments: Intervention, Drugs, etc.
    • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
  7. Lesson 7. Somatoform, Factitious, and Dissociative Disorders
    • Somatisation Disorder.
    • Conversion Disorder.
    • Pain Disorder.
    • Hypochondriasis.
    • Body Dysymorphic Disorder.
    • Factitios Disorders: Types, Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis.
    • Munchausen's Syndrome.
    • Disconnective Disorders.
    • Psychogenic Amnesia.
    • Psychogenic Fugue.
    • Disconnective Identity Disorder.
    • Depersonalisation Disorder.
  8. Lesson 8. Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders
    • Scope and Nature.
    • Hypoactive Sexual Disorder.
    • Sexual Aversion.
    • Female Sexual Arousal Disorder.
    • Male Erectile Disorder.
    • Female and Male Orgasmic Disorders.
    • Premature Ejaculation.
    • Dispareunia.
    • Vaginismus.
    • Secondary Sexual Dysfunction.
    • Paraphilia.
    • Paedophilia.
    • Gender Identity Disorder (Transexualism).
  9. Lesson 9. Eating and Sleep Disorders
    • Scope and nature of Eating Disorders.
    • Anorexia Nervosa.
    • Bulimia.
    • Binge Eating Disorder.
    • Treatment Strategies.
    • Research Findings and Directions.
    • Sleep Disorders: Scope and Nature.
    • Treatments for Sleep Apnoea.
    • Prognosis for Sleep Apnoea.
  10. Lesson 10. Impulse-Control Disorders, Adjustment Disorder
    • Symptoms of Adjustment Disorders.
    • Risk Factors for Adjustment Disorders.
    • Impulse Control Disorders.
    • Intermittent Explosive Disorder.
    • Kleptomania.
    • Pyromania.
    • Pathological Gambling.
    • Trichotillomania.
    • Compulsive Skin Picking.
  11. Lesson 11. Personality Disorders
    • Scope and Nature of Personality Disorders.
    • Antisocial Personality Disorder.
    • Avoidant Personality Disorder.
    • Dependent Personality Disorder.
    • Histrionic Personality Disorder.
    • Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
    • Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder.
    • Paranoid Personality Disorder.
    • Schizoid Personality Disorder.
    • Borderline Personality Disorder: Symptoms, Treatment, Research, etc.

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Determine what is abnormal behaviour.
  • Identify disorders first prevalent under 18 years of age.
  • Compare and contrast delirium and dementia and other cognitive disorders.
  • Distinguish between substance abuse disorders and substance dependence disorders.
  • Differentiate between psychotic disorders.
  • Distinguish between Unipolar disorders and Bipolar disorders.
  • Describe different types of Anxiety Disorders.
  • Distinguish between Somatoform and Dissociative Disorders.
  • Discuss Gender Identity Disorder, Paraphilias and Sexual Dysfunction.
  • Identify Eating Disorders and Sleep Disorders.
  • Distinguish between Impulse Control Disorders and Adjustment disorders.
  • Distinguish between different types of Personality Disorder.

What You Will Do

  • Identify disorders first prevalent under 18 years of age.
  • Describe how you would diagnose a case of suspected Autism in a child of 4 years of age.
  • Compare and contrast delirium and dementia.
  • Do an internet search for images of PET scans and MRI of brains affected by delirium or dementia include the images an essay discussing these disorders.
  • Distinguish between substance abuse disorders and substance dependence disorders.
  • Differentiate between psychotic disorders.
  • Describe briefly the subtypes of Schizophrenia.
  • Distinguish between Unipolar disorders and Bipolar disorders.
  • Outline a cognitive model of depression.
  • Describe different types of Anxiety Disorders.
  • Distinguish between Somatoform and Dissociative Disorders.
  • Explain the primary criticisms of dissociative identity disorder.
  • Provide a diagnosis of a case study and justify your diagnosis.
  • Discuss Gender Identity Disorder, Paraphilias and Sexual Dysfunction.
  • Explain what distinguishes a preference of sexual act or object as a paraphilia.
  • Identify Eating Disorders and Sleep Disorders.
  • Explain how eating disorders develop.
  • Distinguish between Impulse Control Disorders and Adjustment disorders.
  • Develop a diagnostic table for impulse control disorders.
  • Distinguish between different types of Personality Disorder.
  • Differentiate between Narcissistic and Histrionic personality disorders.

Cognitive Disorders are an Example of Abnormal Psychology

The cognitive disorders include dementia, delirium and amnesia. The major feature of this class of disorders is a significant impairment of cognition or memory that represents a marked deterioration from a previous level of functioning. Cognitive disorders occur most often in the elderly. Because the average ages of people in most western societies are increasing, these disorders assume ever-increasing importance. Delirium, dementia, amnestic and other cognitive disorders result from demonstrable abnormalities in brain structure and function.  Whilst cognitive abilities are usually disrupted, it is also possible that there is disruption to behavioural and emotional processes or indeed that the latter are the only manifestation.
There are 3 main categories of disorder:
Delirium - This is acute generalised cognitive decline in attention and cognitive capabilities. It may be caused physical or mental illness. It involves an impairment or alteration of consciousness. Causes of delirium may include:
  • malnutrition
  • Drug intoxication
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Thyroid dysfunction
  • Following seizure or head trauma
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Brain damage.
Dementia - This is chronic generalised cognitive impairment, which is usually selective to begin with and then becomes generalised. Dementia is not a disease as such; but a combination of two or more cognitive impairments. Unlike delirium, dementia doesn't involve alteration to consciousness (except in the case of dementia with Lewy bodies). Sufferers can still exhibit accompanying delirium. 
Specific syndromes - Other syndromes may include amnestic syndrome and focal cerebral syndromes.    
Amnestic disorders are a group of disorders involving loss of memories previous established, loss of the ability to create new memories or loss of the ability to learn new information.  Amnestic disorders occur when there is impairment to memory, but no delirium or dementia present.  Amnestic disorders manifest with the person having difficulty in remembering past events or forming new memories, but are able to talk coherently and also appropriately.  It is also characterized by a drastic decline in memory functioning that is not connected with states of the above delirium or dementia.  
Cognitive Disorder NOS (not otherwise specified) is diagnosed when a patient has a syndrome of cognitive impairment that does not meet the criteria for delirium, dementia or amnestic disorders. They are often due to a specific medical condition and/or a pharmacological reaction.  It is also similar to telling someone that their car has a problem that cannot be otherwise specified.  It is a very tricky diagnosis that most mental health professionals use when there is no other choice for diagnosis.  
Spotting Dementia and Other Conditions are the subject of increasing research, carried out by doctors to be able to detect dementia at early stages.  For example, doctors in America have used brain scans to distinguish between those with Alzheimer’s disease and those with vascular dementia, which is caused by poor blood flow to the brain.  Until this scan was developed, both groups of patients would have tended to be treated together and some may not have received the care they required. However, whilst neither of these conditions can be reversed, if they had vascular dementia, something could be done to prevent further damage to the patient.  Doctors can use MRI scans (magnetic resonance imaging) to create 3-D images of the person’s brain. Another technique is MRS (magnetic resonance spectroscopy) which looks at chemical activity in key areas of the brain.


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Meet some of our academics

Lyn QuirkM.Prof.Ed.; Adv.Dip.Compl.Med (Naturopathy); Adv.Dip.Sports Therapy Over 30 years as Health Club Manager, Fitness Professional, Teacher, Coach and Business manager in health, fitness and leisure industries. As business owner and former department head for TAFE, she brings a wealth of skills and experience to her role as a tutor for ACS.
Tracey JonesWidely published author, Psychologist, Manager and Lecturer. Over 10 years working with ACS and 25 years of industry experience. Qualifications include: B.Sc. (Hons) (Psychology), M.Soc.Sc (social work), Dip. SW (social work), PGCE (Education), PGD (Learning Disability Studies).
Gavin ColePsychologist, Educator, Author, Psychotherapist. B.Sc., Psych.Cert., M. Psych. Cert.Garden Design, MACA Gavin is both a highly experienced Psychologist and tutor. Gavin has over 25 years experience in the Psychology industry, and has been working with ACS since 2001. He has worked in both Australia and England, and has been involved in writing numerous books and courses in Psychology and Counselling

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Counselling HandbookFull of interesting case studies, this ebook is a wonderful introduction to the complex world of the human psyche. Chapters include: Using Counselling, Seeing Behind the Mask, Emotions and Attitudes, Communicating Better, Theory vs Practice, Diffusing Difficult Situations and Golden Rules for Counselors. 43 pages
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