Abnormal Psychology


PSYC 435 Abnormal Psychology

Guidelines for Personal Observation Paper

"Lurking" is an information technology term referring to passively observing others' electronic comments. Your

assignment will be to search out and observe specific blogs and postings by persons who have mental health-related

diagnoses (you will choose ONE category of disorders to follow – i.e. depression, OCD, Schizophrenia, etc). You

will follow their comments and postings over the course of the semester, learning about their specific disorders (i.e.

mood, anxiety, psychotic, substance abuse, personality disorders, etc) and how those disorders affect their emotions,

relationships, academic/occupational performance, etc.

You will NOT identify yourselves to the people you observe, nor will you post your own comments to these sites.

At the end of your observation period you will write a 10-12 page paper documenting what you learned about this

particular disorder and the people who suffer from it. This is not a traditional research paper per se, but you will need

to do some research concerning the nature of the disorder you are following and compare the symptoms described in

the electronic posts to the diagnostic criteria and characteristics of the disorder as described by clinical and research

sources. Sources of these personal accounts of struggles with mental health issues might include:

Personal blogs about an individual's mental health issues

Discussion forums (designed to support people with particular disorders)

Official advocacy sites/groups supporting particular disorders that provide caregivers' perspectives


Format for the Paper

The paper will be in narrative form and should cover the following content areas:

A summary of the sites/people you observed and the types of information they shared

Your impressions of the personal impact the disorder had on the individuals observed

An understanding of the symptoms and components of the disorder (how did this compare with DSM and

clinical criteria?)

How other people (family members, friends, strangers, caregivers, etc) responded to these persons

Assumptions you had made about people with these kinds of disorders and how those assumptions/attitudes

have changed over the semester

An overall evaluation of what you learned and how this experience could affect your future practice as a


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