SO327 Sociology Mental Health Illness

for F2Z 2011

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SO 327 Sociology Mental Health Illness


F2Z 2011 ML


Vallie, Michelle Q.


Adjunct Faculty


Master's degree in Human Services
Master's degree in Counseling Psychology
Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Office Location


Office Hours


Daytime Phone


Other Phone



Semester Dates

October 17 - December 11

Class Days


Class Time

5:00 - 7:30 PM



Credit Hours


Gallagher, B.  (2011). The sociology of mental illness. (5th ed.). Cornwall-on-Hudson, NY: Sloan Publishing.

Textbooks can be purchased through the MBS bookstore

Textbooks can be purchased through the Parkville Bookstore

Additional Resources:

American Psychiatric Association (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. (4th Ed. Text Revision). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
Horwitz, A. (2003). Creating mental illness. Chicago, IL: Univeristy of Chicago Press.
Leff, J. (2001). The unbalanced mind. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.
Schaler, J.A. (2004). Szasz under fire: The psychiatric abolitionist faces his critics. Chicago, IL: Open Court Publishers.

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Course Description:
SO 327 Sociology of Mental Health and Illness: Cross-cultural social history and analysis of mental health professional and psychiatric diagnoses, and an analysis of the politics and social control related to the labeling of mental illnesses. Topics include institutional and informal care-giving, effects of mental illness on family and friends, homelessness, and substance abuse, effects of current mental health policies and trends, medicalization of deviance, and a social epidemiology of mental illness.

Educational Philosophy:

The teacher/facilitator's philosophy is based on the concept of active learning and building of essential critical thinking skills
through large and small group discussion, relevant and multiple perspective readings/research, examinations, and writing.
The teacher/facilitator will attempt to engage each learner to expand his or her own assumptions, biases, and knowledge base. Exploration of various ideas is strongly encouraged.

  Instructor Learning Outcomes

  1. Be able to identify the major theories and research related to mental health and mental illness in various social, political, and environmental contexts.
  2. Demonstrate the ability to identify the nature of mental health services, theories of diagnosis, etiology, and treatment
  3. Demonstrate the ability to identify the psychosocial perspectives of the psychiatric patient historically and in modern society.
Class Assessment:
A total of 1000 points may be attained in this course: One midterm, one final exam, and three reflection papers, with the option of writing summaries/evaluations for extra credit points.



Exams: There will be a midterm exam worth 200 points and a comprehensive final exam worth 200 points. (Total 400 points).  

Reflection Papers: There will be 3 reflection papers due, each reflection paper will be at least two pages in length  (2-3 pages on average) and will include students' personal reflections on the topics covered within each section of the course. In addition, students will obtain at least one outside reference source in addition to the textbook to discuss issues related to the topic and to support your particular stance/opinion. Please keep in mind, this is an opportunity for you, the student, to provide your own opinion/perspectives on topics and in addition, to utilize other sources to buttress your perspective or perhaps, if you do find a source that contradicts your perspective, you may still defend your position/perspective within the paper. Reference page and in-text citations should be in APA style/format. Each reflection paper is worth 200 points for a total of 600 points.
1) First reflection paper related to the topic of the theories of mental illness (you may refer to the first section in the text, "Mental illness and social forces"). Please choose one topic within this section on which to reflect and find at least one outside source (e.g. peer reviewed journal article) to support, discuss, and evaluate the topic. For example, you may want to discuss the persuasiveness of the medical model of mental illness. Thus, your paper will include a summary of how the medical model is defined, your personal perspective on this model, and resource material that may support or contradict such a model.
2) Second reflection paper will be related to the topic of the social epidemiology of mental illness (you may refer to the third section in the text with same title. Please choose one topic within this section on which to reflect and find at least one outside source to support, discuss, and evaluate the topic.
3) Third reflection paper related will be related to the topic mental disorders-prevalence, symptoms, and causes (you may refer to the second section of the text.) As with the previous two reflection papers, please choose one topic within this section on which to reflect and find at least one outside source to support, discuss, and evaluate the topic.

Extra Credit Reports:  You have the opportunity to earn extra credit by selecting an article related to any aspect of the Sociology of Mental Illness. You will hand in a two page summary of the article to the instructor. This summary is double spaced, 12 font. It can include a general summary of the article as well as your thoughts and critique of the article. Each report you complete will be worth up to 50 bonus points.   Maximum number of extra credit reports that may be completed is two. You can turn these in at any time during the semester, but any of these papers must be turned in by November 30th.

Late Submission of Course Materials:
If you receive prior permission from the instructor to turn the assignment late you will receive a 5% deduction per day past the deadline. Please contact the instructor in regard to work demands and work scheduling that may impact exam and paper deadlines.

Classroom Rules of Conduct:

While the atmosphere of the class is designed to be relaxed, we will engage in controversial discussions from time to time. Be mindful and respectful of the diversity that exists within the class.

Course Topic/Dates/Assignments:

Week 1:
Overview of syllabus/expectations
Part One: Mental Illness and Social Forces
Begin reading Chapters 1 and 2
We will discuss the concept of mental illness and the current theories.
Week 2:
Continue with Part One: Mental Illness and Social Forces
Continue reading Chapters 1 and 2/Start reading Chapter 3
We will discuss the social constructionist approach
Definitions of mental health
Psychiatry, insanity, and the law
Week 3
Begin to discuss Chapter 3/Begin Reading Chapters 9 and 10 (3rd section of text)
Social stress theories that impact mental illness
Labeling theory
Social Learning Theory
Psychoanalytic Theory
 1st Reflection Paper due

Week 4
Continue to discussing Chapter 3/Discuss Chapters 9 and 10
Gender, marital status, family relationships, religion, ethnicity/race, culture as issues in the
context of mental illness, disorders, prevalence, perspectives

Week 5
Begin Reading Chapters 4 and 5
Discussion of Prevalence, symptoms, and causes of mental disorders
  2nd Reflection Paper due
Week 6
Continuation of Chapters 4 and 5/Begin reading Chapter 5
Discussion of Prevalence, symptoms, and causes of mental disorders
Mood disorders/Anxiety disorders
Week 7
Read Chapter 6/Begin reading Chapter 12
Understanding Personality Disorders
Discuss Chapter 12
Discuss the mental health patient and current mental health systems designed to aid patients: inpatient/outpatient, de-institutionalization
 3rd Reflection paper due
Week 8
Finish discussing current trends within the mental health system, DSM-V, barriers, controversies
Review for Final

Academic Honesty:
Academic integrity is the foundation of the academic community. Because each student has the primary responsibility for being academically honest, students are advised to read and understand all sections of this policy relating to standards of conduct and academic life. Park University students and faculty members are encouraged to take advantage of the University resources available for learning about academic honesty ( or Park University 2011-2012 Undergraduate Catalog Page 93

Plagiarism involves the use of quotations without quotation marks, the use of quotations without indication of the source, the use of another's idea without acknowledging the source, the submission of a paper, laboratory report, project, or class assignment (any portion of such) prepared by another person, or incorrect paraphrasing. from Park University 2011-2012 Undergraduate Catalog Page 93

Attendance Policy:
Instructors are required to maintain attendance records and to report absences via the online attendance reporting system.

  1. The instructor may excuse absences for valid reasons, but missed work must be made up within the semester/term of enrollment.
  2. Work missed through unexcused absences must also be made up within the semester/term of enrollment, but unexcused absences may carry further penalties.
  3. In the event of two consecutive weeks of unexcused absences in a semester/term of enrollment, the student will be administratively withdrawn, resulting in a grade of "F".
  4. A "Contract for Incomplete" will not be issued to a student who has unexcused or excessive absences recorded for a course.
  5. Students receiving Military Tuition Assistance or Veterans Administration educational benefits must not exceed three unexcused absences in the semester/term of enrollment. Excessive absences will be reported to the appropriate agency and may result in a monetary penalty to the student.
  6. Report of a "F" grade (attendance or academic) resulting from excessive absence for those students who are receiving financial assistance from agencies not mentioned in item 5 above will be reported to the appropriate agency.

Park University 2011-2012 Undergraduate Catalog Page 96

Disability Guidelines:
Park University is committed to meeting the needs of all students that meet the criteria for special assistance. These guidelines are designed to supply directions to students concerning the information necessary to accomplish this goal. It is Park University's policy to comply fully with federal and state law, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, regarding students with disabilities. In the case of any inconsistency between these guidelines and federal and/or state law, the provisions of the law will apply. Additional information concerning Park University's policies and procedures related to disability can be found on the Park University web page: .

The History of Mental Illness: From "Skull Drills" to "Happy Pills"

New trends in the sociology of mental illness

Categorical vs. dimensional diagnoses

Nosological issues in diagnosis for the DSM-V


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Last Updated:9/22/2011 10:14:54 AM