Psychosomatic Processes:-- Psychology 394V

Spring, 2007 – Tentative Syllabus


Instructor: James W. Pennebaker

Office: 4.212 Seay

Phone: 232-2781


Office hours:  After class or by appointment

Class website:



Reading to be completed by that day

Jan 16

Snow day.  Go ahead and take the day off.

Jan 18

Introduction and overview

Jan 23

Cacioppo, J.T. & Berntson, G.G. (2007).  The brain, homeostasis, and health: Balancing demands of the internal and external milieu.  In H. Friedman and R. Silver (Eds), Foundations of health psychology (pp 73-91). New York: Oxford University Press. pdf

Optional background reading to refresh your knowledge of neurons, the nervous system, and the brain, from J. Kalat’s (1996) Introductory Psychology text.  pdf

Jan 25

Kemeny, M.E. (2007).  Psychoneuroimmunology. In H. Friedman and R. Silver (Eds), Foundations of health psychology (pp 92-116). New York: Oxford University Press. pdf

Cohen, S., Tyrrell, D.A.J., & Smith, A.P. (1991).  Psychological stress and susceptibility to the common cold.  The New England Journal of Medicine, 325, 606-612. pdf

Jan 30

Sapolsky, R.M.  (2004).  Why zebras don’t get ulcers: A guide to stress, stress-related diseases, and coping.  New York: W.H. Freeman. 

Feb 1

Guest Speaker:  Bob Josephs.  Topic:  Testosterone and all that that it implies..

Morgan, C.A., Southwick, S., Hazlett, G., Rasmusson, A., Hoyt, G., Zimolo, Z., & Charney, D.  (2004). Relationships Among Plasma Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate and Cortisol Levels, Symptoms of Dissociation, and Objective Performance in Humans Exposed to Acute Stress.  Archives of General Psychiatry, 61, 819-825. pdf

Feb 6

Taylor, S.E., Klein, L.C., Lewis, B.P., Gruenewald, T.L., Gurung, R.A., & Updegraff, J.A. (2000). Biobehavioral responses to stress in females: Tend-and-befriend, not fight-or-flight. Psychological Review, 107, 411-429. pdf

Feb 8

TEST 1.  You will want to click on the TEST 1 link and then SAVE the document to your own computer. If you have technical problems, call me at 232-2781.  When finished, email the test to me at

Feb 13

Carver, C.S. (2007).  Stress, coping, and health.  In H. Friedman and R. Silver (Eds), Foundations of health psychology (pp 117-144). New York: Oxford University Press. pdf

Feb 15

Guest speaker: Josh Holahan.  Topic:  Stress, coping, and social support.

Holahan, C.J., Moos, R.H., Holahan, C.K., & Brennan, P.L. (1997).  Social context, coping strategies, and depressive symptoms: An expanded model with cardiac patients.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72, 918-928.  pdf

Holahan, C.J., Moos, R.H., & Bonin, L. (1997).  Social support, coping, and psychological adjustment: A resources model.  In G.R. Pierce, B. Lakey, I.G. Sarason, & B.R. Sarason (Eds.), Sourcebook of social support (pps 169-186).  New York: Plenum. pdf

Feb 20

James, W. (1890).  The emotions.  The principles of psychology, vol 2.  New York: Henry Holt, pages 442-485. pdf

Schachter, S. & Singer, J.E.  (1962).  Cognitive, social, and physiological determinants of emotional state.  Psychological Review, 69, 379-399. pdf

Feb 22

Alexander, F.  (1950).  Psychosomatic medicine (chapter 8).  NY: Norton. pdf

Feb 27

Pennebaker, J.W.  (2000).  Psychological factors influencing the reporting of physical symptoms.  In A.A. Stone, J.S. Turkkan, C.A. Bachrach, J.B. Jobe, H.S. Kurtzman, and V.S. Cain (Eds),   The science of self-report:  Implications for research and practice (pp 299-316).  Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum Publishers. pdf

Mar 1

Watson, D. & Pennebaker, J.W.  (1989).  Health complaints, stress, and distress: Exploring the central role of negative affectivity. Psychological Review, 96, 234-254. pdf

Idler, E.L.  (1992).  Self-assessed health and mortality: A review of studies.  In S. Maes, H. Leventhal, and M. Johnston (Eds.), International review of health psychology (pp 33-54). London: Wiley. pdf

Mar 6

Taylor, S.E. & Brown, J.D.  (1988).  Illusion and well-being: A social psychological perspective on mental health.  Psychological Bulletin, 103, 193-210. pdf

Mar 8

TEST 2.  Please save this document as a word file using the last two digits of your UTEID.  Email the test back to me when you are finished:

Mar 20

Wortman, C.B. & Boerner, K. (2007).  Beyond the myths of coping with loss: Prevailing assumptions versus scientific evidence.  In H. Friedman and R. Silver (Eds), Foundations of health psychology (pp 285-324). New York: Oxford University Press. pdf

Mar 22

Silver, R. C., Holman, E. A., McIntosh, D. N., Poulin, M., & Gil-Rivas, V.  (2002). Nationwide longitudinal study of psychological responses to September 11.  JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, 288, 1235-1244. pdf

Pennebaker, J.W. & Harber, K.D.  (1993).  A social stage model of collective coping:  The Persian Gulf War and other natural disasters.  Journal of Social Issues, 49, 125-145. pdf

Mar 27

Guest speaker: Chris Beevers

Caspi, A., Sugden, K., Moffitt, T.E., Taylor, A., Craig, I.W., et al (2003). Influence of life stress on depression: Moderation by a polymorphism in the 5-HTT gene.  Science, 301, 386-389. pdf

Hariri, A.R. & Holmes, A. (2006).  Genetics of emotional regulation: The role of the serotonin transporter in neural function.  Trends in Cognitive Science, 10, 182-191. pdf

Mar 29

Bonanno, G. A. (2004).  Loss, trauma, and human resilience: Have we underestimated the human capacity to thrive after extremely aversive events?  American Psychologist, 59, 20-28. pdf

Fredrickson, B.L.  (2001). The role of positive emotions in positive psychology: The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions.  American Psychologist, 56, 218-226. pdf

Apr 3

Guest speaker: Rich Slatcher.

Gallo, L.C., & Matthews, K.A. (2006).  Asolescents’ attachment orientation influences ambulatory blood pressure responses to everyday social interactions.  Psychosomatic Medicine, 68, 253-261. pdf

Kiecolt-Glaser, J.K. & Newton, T.L. (2001).  Marriage and health: His and hers.  Psychological Bulletin, 127, 472-503. pdf

Apr 5

TEST 3.  You know the routine.  Please save this document as a word file using the last two digits of your UTEID.  Email the test back to me when you are finished:

Apr 10

Pennebaker, J.W.  (1989).  Confession, inhibition, and disease.  In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology, vol 22 (pp 211-244).  New York: Academic Press. pdf

April 12

Silver, R.C., Boon, C., & Stones, M.H.  (1983).  Searching for meaning in misfortune: Making sense of incest.  Journal of Social Issues, 39, 81-102. pdf

Sloan, D.M. & Marx, B.P. (2004)  Taking pen to hand: Evaluating theories underlying the written disclosure paradigm. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 11, 121-137. pdf

April 17

Kirsch, I., & Lynn, S.J.  (1999).  Automaticity in clinical psychology.  American Psychologist, 54, 504-515. pdf

Hrobjartsson, A. & Gotzsche, P.C. (2001).  Is the placebo powerless? An analysis of clinical trials comparing placebos with no treatment.  New England Journal of Medicine, 344, 1594-1602. pdf

April 19

Guest lecture: Alexa K. Stuifbergen  Topic:  Health within illness

Stuifbergen, A.K., & Rogers, S. (1997).  Health promotion: An essential component of rehabilitation for persons with chronic disabling conditions.  Advances in Nursing Science, 19, 1-20.  pdf

April 24

Rimé, B.  (1995).  Mental rumination, social sharing, and the recovery from emotional exposure.  In J. Pennebaker (Ed), Emotion, disclosure, and health (pp 271-292).  Washington, DC: APA. pdf

Minuchin, S., Baker, L., Rosman, B.L., Liebman, R., Milman, L, & Todd, T.C.  (1975).  A conceptual model of psychosomatic illness in children.  Archives of General Psychiatry, 32, 1031-1038. pdf

April 26

Guest lecture: Audrey Burnam, Rand Corporation.

Kaplan, R.M. (2007).  Uncertainty, variability, and resource allocation in the health care decision process.  In H. Friedman and R. Silver (Eds), Foundations of health psychology (pp 358-383). New York: Oxford University Press. pdf

May 1

Discussion Day.

Power, C., Hypponen, E., & Smith, G.D. (2005).  Socioeconomic position in childhood and early adult life and risk of mortality: A prospective study of the mothers of the 1958 British birth cohort.  American Journal of Public Health, 95, 1396-1402. pdf

May 3

TEST 4.  Please save this document as a word file using the last two digits of your UTEID.  Call if you have any questions: 232-2781. Email the test back to me when you are finished:



Course Grade

            Each exam will be comprised of essay and short answer questions that require you to integrate information.  All tests are cumulative.  Because your lowest exam counts only 10% of your final grade (and, in theory, you can drop it), no makeup exams will be given.  Your final grade will be determined in the following way:


Lowest of the four tests                         =  10%

Three highest tests @25% each            =  75%

Participation                                         =  15%



Want to see some old tests?  Here are some from about 10 years ago:


Old Test 1

Old Test 2

Old Test 3

Old Test 4