In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Abnormal Psychology

  • Introduction
  • Reference Works
  • Textbooks
  • Scientific Journals
  • History of the Understanding and Treatment of Mental Illness
  • Modern Conceptions of Mental Illness
  • Research Methods
  • Assessment, Classification, and Diagnosis

Psychology Abnormal Psychology
Robin Cautin
  • LAST REVIEWED: 07 May 2019
  • LAST MODIFIED: 29 November 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199828340-0001


Abnormal psychology is the subdiscipline of psychology concerned with aberrant behavior—its clinical description, etiology, developmental course, assessment, and treatment. Throughout history there have been different approaches to managing abnormal behavior, which itself has been variously conceived. Historically, supernatural explanations of mental illness predominated, but today they have been supplanted by biological and psychological paradigms. Abnormal behavior is most often understood by invoking multiple theoretical perspectives, recognizing that behavior is influenced by numerous factors and cannot readily be reduced to a single level of analysis. This bibliography contains a section on the History of Understanding and Treatment of Mental Illness, which is followed by a section on Modern Conceptions of Mental Illness. The remaining sections address general Reference Works, Textbooks, Scientific Journals, Research Methods, and issues of assessment and diagnosis (in the section Assessment, Classification and Diagnosis).

Reference Works

The selections in this section are a sampling of a vast number of extant reference works related to abnormal psychology: The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (see American Psychiatric Association 2000) is the official psychiatric nomenclature of the American Psychiatric Association. Antony and Barlow 2002 is a handbook of assessment and treatment planning for a range of psychological disorders, and Barlow 2008 describes state-of-the-science treatment guidelines for all of the major adult psychological disorders.

  • American Psychiatric Association. 2000. Diagnostic and statistical manual. 4th ed., text revision. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.

    This is the most recent iteration of the official psychiatric nomenclature of the American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic criteria for each disorder are listed, along with clinically and statistically descriptive information.

  • Antony, Martin M., and David H. Barlow. 2002. Handbook of assessment and treatment planning for psychological disorders. New York: Guilford.

    The first section of this reference work provides overviews of diagnostic interviews and of brief screening instruments. The second section of the work consists of thirteen chapters, each of which discusses assessment strategies for particular disorders, including panic disorder and agoraphobia, generalized anxiety disorder, obesity and eating disorders, schizophrenia, substance use disorders, personality disorders, and depression. Practical recommendations are given to connect assessment to treatment.

  • Barlow, David H. 2008. Clinical handbook of psychological disorders: A step-by-step treatment manual. 4th ed. New York: Guilford.

    This volume provides cutting-edge treatment guidelines for all of the major adult psychological disorders, including depression, schizophrenia, eating disorders, panic disorder with agoraphobia, and posttraumatic stress disorder. Contributing authors provide the conceptual and empirical background for the specific treatment guidelines provided. They describe the essential details and practicalities of evidence-based interventions, making use of clinical examples throughout the chapters.

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