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Guidelines for Personal Observation Paper

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

psychologist.

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 psychologist.
 
Evaluation Criteria Points Assigned Your Score
Summary of patient blogs/communications. Did the student identify issues relevant to the specific disorder?   25  
Personal Impact. Did the student identify the ways that the persons have been impacted/affected by the disorder?   20  
Diagnostic Criteria: Did the student accurately compare the patients’ symptoms with the DSM criteria for the chosen disorder?   28  
Social Reactions: Did the student identify and discuss how other people responded to the patients and their behaviors?   20  
Assumptions and Evaluation: Did the student identify his/her own personal assumptions and explain what he/she learned in this experience?   20  
Mechanics: Did the student follow the assignment guidelines, and use correct grammar, punctuation, etc and APA citation guidelines?   15  
                                                                                                                Total: 128  

The paper should be written in Word or Rich Text format and you should follow all APA format guidelines for citations, page setup and your References page. You do not have to have an Abstract for this paper, but you will need a Title and References page.

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