Every Monday and Thursday, third- and fourth-year medical students in a New Brunswick, New Jersey hospital’s psychiatric rotation are assigned to watch a syndicated episode of “Seinfeld,” NJ.com writes today.
Anthony Tobia, an associate professor of psychiatry at Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, created the teaching tool to help medical students recognize psychiatric indicators.
Tobia is so sold on the concept he’s created a database of every “Seinfeld” episode and its teaching points. All 180 episodes and nearly every character in the series can be used for Psy-feld, he said.
For instance, five of Elaine’s boyfriends are the topic of an academic paper Tobia penned explaining how the men display core character traits that match the themes of delusional disorder.
Other characters, like Jerry’s foil, Newman, are “very sick,” Tobia said.
“Newman’s sense of self, his meaning in life, is to ensure that he frustrates Jerry,” Tobia said. “We actually have talked about Newman in that context and related him to Erik in ‘The Phantom of the Opera.’ The Phantom, while he starts out as being the tutor to the Prima Donna, actually has his life change and he is bent on revenge and that becomes who he is… and that’s Newman.”
“You start watching and you’re like, ‘What is going on with George?’” one student said.
Another said she’s getting more practical information out of watching Seinfeld than she is out of textbooks on psychiatry.