Fundamentals of Psychological Disorders – 3rd edition

Reviewed by Emily Abel, Visiting Assistant Professor, Wabash College on 11/7/22

Comprehensiveness rating: 4 see less

This text included all of the major psychological disorders, though was missing some that I plan to discuss (neurodevelopmental disorders, sleep-wake disorders). Some of these are included in their childhood disorders book, though I would like to see at least a discussion of autism spectrum disorder in the newest edition of this book, since it is so relevant to daily life and functioning in adulthood. I also think a greater discussion of developmental psychopathology in the introductory chapters would be helpful in future editions.

Content Accuracy rating: 5

I did not find any factual inaccuracies while reviewing this book. I found it to be an accurate reflection of the DSM-5 and relevent recent research studies.

Relevance/Longevity rating: 4

This book is updated to reflect the most recent research and version of the DSM. Some prevalence estimates may need to be updated periodically (before the next update to the DSM) as they tend to change for some disorders over time.

Clarity rating: 4

This book is particularrly well written for an undergraduate audience. I found the modules to be clear and concise (a good length for each section that will hold student attention well).

Consistency rating: 5

I liked the parallel structure of the each module (to include the clinical presentation, epidemiology, comorbidity, etiology, and treatment of each disorder). This was consistent across all modules.

Modularity rating: 5

The book is broken down into modules that are based on the broader set of disorders (e.g., Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders) in the DSM-5.

Organization/Structure/Flow rating: 5

This book is well organized both in terms of using modules, and within modules (headings and consisent structure of modules across the book).

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Interface rating: 5

Interface is easy to use. The links and table of contents all work nicely to jump to individual modules/sections and outside sources.

Grammatical Errors rating: 5

I did not notice any major grammatical errors throughout the text.

Cultural Relevance rating: 5

The examples and descriptions I looked at while reviewing the book all appeared to be culturally appropriate. However, I will be sure to look at this element closely when incorporating the textbook this spring. I will also solicit feedback from my students about this aspect of the text.


I am considering using this textbook (or at least portions of the book) for my spring undergraduate course in Abnormal Psychology. Overall, I found it to be well-organized, well-written, and easy to navigate (in addition to a good length in terms of holding student attention). I particularly liked the consistent outline of each module to include the clinical presentation, epidemiology, comorbidity, etiology, and treatment of each disorder. I think this parallel structure would be helpful to students in understanding the key components of each diagnosis we discuss in class. I also liked the inclusion of ‘Learning Outcomes’ and ‘Key Takeaways’ that can help instructors tie the text to lecture content and activities. Within many modules, the authors also include resources where students can find additional information on that topic (e.g., the National Eating Disorders website). I found these resources to be particularly helpful because students can follow the link directly from the online textbook or PDF, and it’s not another thing I need to add to the slides for class. I typically like to give students these additional resources as we never have time to cover everything in as much depth as I would ideally like. I do think this text includes the most common psychological disorders, and the ones that students are often most excited to learn about (e.g., personality disorders). However, it is also missing others from the DSM-5 that I do plan to cover, including neurodevelopmental disorders and sleep-wake disorders. This is not necessarily a negative thing, as many courses do not include these sections. However, I will need to supplement with other materials if I choose to fully adopt this book as my primary text. Below are a few other thoughts I had while reviewing the book: 1) As with most Abnormal Psychology textbooks, this book is focused on understanding how disorders present in adulthood. As a developmental scientist, I do plan to focus a bit more of the progression of these disorders across the lifespan than is done in the book (e.g., how do features of depression change from childhood to adulthood). However, the same authors do have another excellent open text that is specifically focused on behavioral disorders of childhood that I can and will likely easily integrate in my course to address this issue. Their childhood book also does include information on some neurodevelopmental disorders, which I mentioned are missing from the current book. It’s important to note that these are critical to discuss in adulthood as they are not just childhood disorders.

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2) I quite like the intro chapter and how it introduces students to important methods, types of professionals (e.g., clinical psychologist, psychiatrist), and professional societies and journals. These are all things I planned to incorporate in my course. My only comment with the two opening sections is that I would have liked to see a more explicit discussion of the developmental psychopathology theory (e.g., work by Dante Cicchetti) included in the models of abnormal psychology. I think discussing the transactional model could also be helpful, but the developmental psychopathology theory is critical to understanding abnormal psychology and is something I will incorporate in my course.

3) It is a great text for students who are interested in understanding how specific disorders are diagnosed and treated and would be great intro information for students who want to pursue clinical careers. I do think I will need to supplement to make the content a bit more applied and community focused for my purposes, though that is not a criticism of this text, but rather something I would be personally looking for in a text directly tailored to my course.

Overall, I think this textbook would be great for an introductory course in abnormal psychology and will also be useful as an open educational resource in my spring course. As I mentioned above, I will likely combine with their open textbook on childhood disorders to emphasize how disorders change across the life course. I appreciate the easy-to-use organization of the book, and I will plan to report back on what my students think after their experiences this spring.