Dr. John Casada, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychology
BS, 1984 Abilene Christian University
MS, 1985 Abilene Christian University
PhD, 1992 University of Texas Health Sciences Center
MD, 1992 University of Texas Health Sciences Center
Having been a student and now a professor at ACU, what advantages or unique abilities do you think ACU psychology graduates obtain from their education and other experiences?
I think that ACU students get an excellent, broad liberal arts education. This encourages them to integrate their specific area of study into their worldview and their daily lives as well as providing them with the tools needed to continue learning after graduation. The fact that this occurs in a situation that stresses spiritual growth as well yields students who are not only well informed but thoughtful, curious, and caring.
What is an average class like?
My classes vary with the students. I try to engage classes in critical thinking about the topics we cover. If possible, I want lecture time to be a conversation instead of a recitation of isolated facts. Even more, because the topic is psychology, I want to work with students to understand that we are studying real lives and the experiences of actual people.
How do you help students learn material?
I am open to any way of helping students learn material. I have an open offer to any students in my classes to let me know what they need in order to understand and remember the material we cover. I have lectures for those who need to hear material. I use instructional coloring books for those who like to visualize and draw concepts. There are writing assignments for extra credit that allow students to apply their new-found knowledge in creative ways.
What do you expect from students?
During their time in my classes, I expect students to show they have matured as scholars. some enter my classes as mature scholars and some enter having never been held responsible for their own education or having participated in group scholarly activities. Over the course of my classes, I hope to see that they grow in knowledge, responsibility, professionalism, and commitment to Christ.
What is your teaching philosophy?
My purpose in class is not to teach facts; it is to teach students how to think. I know that some in class will learn only enough facts to pass tests, but the mature scholars will learn how psychological facts relate to one another. Then, they will see psychology in their non-psychology classes. Eventually, they will see psychology everywhere and will use their understanding of psychology to reach out to others and enrich their own lives and the lives of those around them. My job in class (and out of class) is to model this kind of learning for my students.
What strengths do you bring to the department?
My background is very different from the other psychology faculty at ACU. I became interested in mental health issues relatively late in my training. I hope that my training and experience as a biologist and psychiatrist complements the strengths of the other faculty. I also hope that my focus on the brain and the body as important parts of the human experience arouses the interests of students and broadens their views of how psychology affects our lives.
What are your areas of scholarship experience?
I have conducted animal research on the neuroscience of stress. This led me to a career in psychiatry and a period of time studying post-traumatic stress disorder and substance use disorder. In addition to my research history, I have taught psychotherapy and supervised psychiatry residents learning psychotherapy.
What are your research interests?
My most recent research examined the behavioral problems encountered by people with post-traumatic stress disorder, especially alcohol and sedative use disorders. Currently, I am analyzing data from these studies that were performed in San Antonio. Since coming to Abilene, I have become interested in using games and game theory to assess how personality affects various behaviors, such as aggression.
What are you published works?
I have published articles on the psychophysiology of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the behavioral effects of monetary rewards in PTSD, medical therapies for PTSD, and the neurophysiological basis of the stress response.