The SUNY New Paltz Department of Psychology is changing the name of PSY231 from “Abnormal Psychology” to “Psychopathology and Mental Distress.” The change takes effect starting with the Summer 2023 semester.
Why the name change? The term “abnormal psychology” is increasingly considered pejorative and stigmatizing, as evidenced by the fact that the Journal of Abnormal Psychology changed its name in 2021 to the Journal of Psychopathology and Clinical Science. You can read the journal’s explanation for their name change here.
In light of this, the Department of Psychology is updating the name of PSY231 to “Psychopathology and Mental Distress.” The new name reflects evolving attitudes in the field of psychology about accepted terminology for people experiencing mental health issues. The term “mental distress” is a broad one that refers to any form of cognitive and emotional upset (regardless of cause). “Psychopathology” is a term that assumes such upset is caused by a dysfunction in the individual. The slightly revised course description reads as follows:
PSY231 Psychopathology and Mental Distress
Perspectives on psychopathology and mental distress are examined. Reviews issues related to defining, diagnosing, and researching mental disorder, while also introducing biological, psychological, and sociocultural approaches to treatment and remediation.
Importantly, the content and focus of the class are not changing at all. The title change simply mirrors shifts in professional terminology occurring in the field.
As a final note, psychology majors and minors need not worry: Regardless of whether you took the class under the old or revised course name, it remains (and continues to count as) one of the core classes.