Abnormal Recommendations

Hey all! Fall 2016 course listings are going to be released in a few weeks, and isn’t the one question that many students ask, “What class should I definitely take before I graduate?” Today, I have an answer for you. Actually, this is an answer from last semester. 

I took Abnormal Psychology with Ryan Bogdan in the fall, and I can absolutely tell you that it was one of the most interesting classes I’ve ever had. Even from the get-go, you could tell how popular it would be. When I first registered for the class back in spring of my freshman year, my position on the waitlist was around 50, with dozens more behind me. Over the summer, we received periodic email updates on the waitlist situation, and the end result was that the class size grew from 90 seats to over 300. Isn’t that a jump?

Now, typical classes in abnormal psychology can have a delicate issue: many take these classes because they want to learn about the “weird” and “freaky” disorders, a mindset that doesn’t show a lot of respect to individuals with those mental disorders. Professor Bogdan, however, treated the subject with the utmost respect. In fact, in one of the very first lectures, he discussed the presentation of mental illnesses in popular culture and pointed out many inaccuracies in statistics regarding violence and abnormal psychology. He also peppered his lectures with anecdotes from his own research, and you could tell just how enthusiastic he was about the subject.

We covered everything from substance abuse to mood disorders to eating disorders, and I learned not only about the symptoms but also the most effective (and ineffective) treatments, as well as the history and biological basis behind many mental illnesses. For example, did you know that in East Asian populations, many carry the enzymes ADH1B and ALDH2 that facilitate the conversion of alcohol into acetaldehyde and acetaldehyde into acetate, both carcinogens that cause flushing? That sentence doesn’t have to make sense, don’t worry! Essentially, it means that East Asians as a population have a reduced risk for alcoholism. It has been over two months since I finished that class, and I still remember that fact, which should tell you how fascinating I found the subject. 

There were many other perks to the class besides the interesting subject material, of course. Professor Bogdan gave out customized packets of candy before each exam, with each packet containing, for example, gum or Hi-Chew and a short message wishing everyone good luck. He also held info sessions outside of class for psychology majors interested in grad school and research; I did not attend these myself, being just a psych minor, but I saw just how much interest these meetings generated. 

I initially chose Abnormal Psychology because I needed to fulfill some requirements for my minor, but it turned out to be one of the best classes I’ve ever taken. I feel like I’m betraying my major by enjoying this class more than some of my art studios, but it’s true! I’m glad I decided to click that registration button way back in freshman year. Hope you all enjoyed reading my rambling about subjects I like, and I hope I managed to shed some light on a class that’s not as famous (or infamous) as Calc II or Gen Chem!