How Seinfeld Is Teaching Psychiatry to Medical Students

Professor has trainees offer psychiatric evaluations of characters
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jan 3, 2015 1:03 PM CST
The 'Seinfeld' cast reunites on 'Curb Your Enthusiasm.'   (AP Photo/HBO, Doug Hyun)

(Newser) – Sure, it's no Sesame Street, but it turns out Seinfeld can be very educational. Its characters show signs of a range of psychiatric problems, and it's up to Rutgers medical students to diagnose them. Twice a week, professor Anthony Tobia has his students—who number about 150 a year—watch the show's TBS reruns. The next day, they come in and discuss the mental health issues they witnessed, reports. In the show, "you have a very diverse group of personality traits that are maladaptive on the individual level," Tobia says.

"When you get these friends together, the dynamic is such that it literally creates a plot: Jerry’s obsessive-compulsive traits combined with Kramer’s schizoid traits, with Elaine’s inability to forge meaningful relationships and with George being egocentric." He calls the training "Psy-feld," and he's already written a paper on five of Elaine's boyfriends. He's even got a database of every single episode and its relevance to his teaching. "It’s anything but a show about nothing," Tobia tells CBS New York. "it’s a show about a pretty significant amount of psychiatry." If Seinfeld isn't your thing, perhaps you'd prefer an academic journal on Bruce Springsteen, or a course on Miley Cyrus.

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