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Psychopathology is a fourteen week course in the spring semester of the M2 year. It begins with an exploration of the definition of mental illness, its classification, and its evaluation. Major conceptual models for understanding mental illness are considered, beginning with the psychodynamic. Other models are introduced and elaborated later and periodically throughout the course. It surveys major diagnostic conditions found in the DSM, beginning with personality disorders and ending with common disorders having their onset in infancy and childhood. Phenomenology, diagnostic criteria, etiology, course, and treatment interventions are considered for each disorder.
Two themes run throughout this course. They have application beyond the specialty of psychiatry. The biopsychosocial model provides a comprehensive, multi-perspective, and holistic way of understanding the person and his illness. While especially applicable to patients with psychiatric disorders (since these necessarily have to do with the mind, the brain, and the social environment), it can be and ideally is used by all physicians in understanding their patients and illness behavior. Transference and countertransference concepts are developed and applied throughout the course to enable students to recognize and understand the seemingly irrational transactions that can occur between patients and physicians.