The definition of what is a mental disorder is very complex and there is no universal agreement about it. Abnormal Psychology is concerned with the elements that influ­ence mental health and its disorders across the individual life span. It considers the implication of a broad variety of aspects in life that can be combined in a complex way to promote and maintain mental health, or to contribute for the settlement of a mental disorder.

Taking as basic principle the importance of the bio-psycho-social approach of the hu­man being, the primary objective of this Abnormal Psychology course is to explore the main subjects of the field, and to help students to become familiar with its vocabulary, key concepts, theories and research findings. Another objective of the course is to promote the development of critical thinking in the field, and to prepare the students to be cautious and analytical consumers of information on matters related to mental health and its disorders. A third goal of the course is that students can understand better the risks of certain factors for the promotion and maintenance of people's mental health and well-being, and this knowledge can favor the achievement and preservation of their own wellness, as well as the wellness of others related to them privately or professionally.

Some questions to be addressed in the course are the following: What does it mean to have mental health? How can someone develop a mental disorder? How common are mental disorders? What are the most important historical developments in the mental health field? What are the contemporary views concerning abnormal behaviors? Which are the factors related to the development of mental disorders? How do psychological factors relate to health and disease? How culture and gender related to mental health and mental disorders? What are infancy, childhood, adolescence and adulthood most common mental disorders? What are the risks and prognostic factors of the different mental disorders? What are the diagnostic criteria, features, development and course of the most prevalent mental disorders? How do we do a psychological assessment concerning a person’s mental functioning? How do we treat mental disorders? What is psychotherapy and to whom it applies?

This course will include different methods of teaching, combining interactive lectures, videos and other audiovisual means, exercises, participation in interviews and experiments, including presentations, discussions, and essay-writing.