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Schizophrenia (Coursera)

The main goal of this class are to gain an introductory exposure to the nature of the psychiatric disorder known as schizophrenia as revealed by the scientific method. We will discuss a broad range of findings from the scientific investigation of biological and psychological factors related to schizophrenia and its treatment.

More specifically we will learn about:

(1) key symptomatic features through discussion and enactments of interviews with actors portraying many of the cardinal features of the illness,

(2) what brain imaging studies (MRI and fMRI) and neurochemistry have taught us about the neuroscience of the disorder,

(3) scientific psychological data and theories concerning cognition, emotion and behavior in schizophrenia, and

(4) current, evidence-based somatic and psychosocial approaches to treatment.

A brief historical overview of the recent emergence of the psychiatric category of schizophrenia will be presented as well.

Who is this class for: This course is aimed at mental health professionals, social workers, nurses and researchers/scholars who want to gain exposure to the scientific literature on schizophrenia as well as some of the history on the emergence of the disorder as a category. It is NOT intended for people seeking help or treatment for their own psychotic symptoms.



An Introduction to the Disorder

The first module is focused on introducing key symptom characteristics of the psychiatric diagnosis known as schizophrenia, and describes current thinking around potential causes and biological correlates of the disorder.


Symptom Assessment and History

The second module is focused on a continuing exploration of symptoms in the disorder through simulated client-clinician interactions. Lectures in this unit also focus on the history of the treatment of schizophrenia in Western culture.

Graded: Midterm Exam


Neuroanatomy and Neuroimaging

In the third module we begin to discuss the neurochemistry of the disorder as well as common manifestations of those diagnosed with schizophrenia on structural and functional brain MRI scans. First, though, we look at two more client-clinician simulations to explore symptoms and recovery.


Psychological Science

In the fourth module we discuss common cognitive deficits, disruptions in social cognition and cognitive models of the disorder.



In the fifth module we discuss approaches to treatment with a focus on both pharmacologic and psychosocial approaches.

Graded: Final Exam