Brian A. Sharpless

Associate professor

Areas of Focus: Psychopathology (esp unusual and rare psychological disorders)Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

Phone: 703-526-5833



  • Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, Pennsylvania State University
  • M.A., Philosophy, Pennsylvania State University
  • M.S., Clinical Psychology, Pennsylvania State University


Brian Sharpless, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology at the American School of Professional Psychology (ASPP) at Argosy University, Northern Virginia. He completed his internship (Pennsylvania Hospital), a post-doctoral clinical fellowship (Pennsylvania Hospital) and post-doctoral research fellowship (Center for Psychotherapy Research) at the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to his position at ASPP,Northern Virginia he was on faculty at Pennsylvania State University and Washington State University and was recently made a teaching fellow of the American Psychoanalytic Association’s Teachers Academy. At ASPP, Northern Virginia Dr. Sharpless primarily teaches History and Systems, Psychodynamic Theory and Therapy, and Advanced Psychopathology.

Dr. Sharpless has broad research, teaching, and clinical interests in psychopathology and psychotherapy. He has published over 30 articles and chapters on common and lesser-known disorders (e.g., exploding head syndrome), psychodynamic therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, professional issues, and the history/philosophy of clinical psychology. His first book, Sleep Paralysis: Historical Psychological, and Medical Perspectives, co-authored with Dr. Karl Doghramji, was recently released by Oxford University Press. His first edited book with the same press, Unusual and Rare Psychological Disorders, is forthcoming. Dr. Sharpless has presented his work at national and international professional conferences and been interviewed for various TV, radio, and print outlets (e.g., National Geographic, Huffington Post, New York Magazine, the BBC).


  • Psychopathology (esp. unusual and rare psychological disorders)
  • Psychodynamic Psychotherapy
  • Professional Issues in Clinical Psychology (e.g., therapist competence, the EPPP)
  • The History and Philosophy of Clinical Psychology


  • American Psychological Association

Selected Publications

  • Sharpless, B. A. (in press). Unusual and rare psychological disorders. Oxford University Press.
  • Goadsby, P., & Sharpless, B.A. (in press). Exploding head syndrome, snapping of the brain, or episodic cranial sensory shock? Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry.
  • Sharpless, B.A., & Grom, J.L. (in press). Isolated sleep paralysis: Fear, prevention, and disruption. Behavioral Sleep Medicine.
  • Sharpless, B. A., & Doghramji, K. (2015). Sleep paralysis: Historical, psychological, and medical perspectives. Oxford University Press.
  • Milrod, B., Chambless, D.L., Gallop, R., Busch, F., Schwalberg, M., McCarthy, K.S., Gross, C., Sharpless, B.A., Kunik, L., Leon, A.C., & Barber, J.P. (in press). Psychotherapies for panic disorder: A tale of two sites. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.
  • Sharpless, B.A. (2015). Exploding head syndrome is common in college students. Journal of Sleep Research, 24(4), 447-449.
  • Barber, J. P., & Sharpless, B. A. (2015). On the future of psychodynamic therapy research, Psychotherapy Research, 25(3), 309-320.
  • Sharpless, B.A. (2014). Exploding head syndrome. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 18(6), 489-493.
  • Sharpless, B. A., & Barber, J. P. (2013). Predictors of program performance on the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP). Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 44(4), 208-217.
  • Sharpless, B. A., (2013). Kierkegaard’s conception of psychology. Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, 33(2), 90-106.

Selected Lectures

  • Panelist and Discussant, Rodney Ascher’s The Nightmare, with Rodney Ascher, James Underdown, and Forrest Borie, the Steve Allen Theater and the Center for Inquiry, Hollywood, CA, September 9th, 2015.
  • Public Lecture, Scary Happenings in the Night: Sleep Paralysis, Exploding Head Syndrome, and their Associations with Anomalous Beliefs, Skeptics in the Pub, Stoke-on-Trent, UK, June 10th, 2015
  • Interview, the Skeptics Society’s Skeptic Magazine Podcast: Monster Talk: The Science Show About Monsters, Episode 99: Let’s Get Something off our Chest, June 3rd, 2015
  • Interview, KABC radio (Los Angeles), Dr. Drew Midday Show, Sleep Paralysis and Exploding Head Syndrome, March 31st, 2015
  • Interview, National Geographic, The Secret History of UFOs (sleep paralysis segment), Original Airdate August 8th, 2012,

Selected Presentations

  • Sharpless, B.A. (2016, February). Do we REALLY need psychodynamic therapies in 2016? Paper presented at the Psychotherapy Training Program, Department of Clinical Neuroscience, the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.
  • Doghramji, K., & Sharpless, B.A. (2015, August). Isolated sleep paralysis. In. B.A. Sharpless (Chair), Strange Happenings in the Night: The Phenomenology and Treatment of Parasomnias. Symposium conducted at the 123rd annual convention of the American Psychological Association, Toronto, Canada.
  • Sharpless, B.A., Tse, J., & Ajeto, D. (2014, August). Changes in clinical and counseling psychology programs over time: Students, faculty, and outcomes. Paper presented at the 122nd annual meeting for the American Psychological Association, Washington, DC.
  • Sharpless. B.A. (2014, June). Exploding head syndrome. Colloquium at the Department of Psychology, Goldsmith’s University of London, Greenwich, London, UK.
  • Sharpless, B.A., & Barber, J.P. (2013, July). Predictors of program performance on the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP). Paper presented at the 121st annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, Honolulu, Hawaii.

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