And I thought all of those years I spent watching "Seinfeld" in the '90s, and then binge-watching them again a decade later, were a waste of time. Turns out, I could have been working towards a degree in psychology.
According to a professor at Rutgers University, there is so much to learn about mental health issues from the characters on "Seinfeld" that he turned binge-watching it into a college course. Anthony Tobia, an associate psychology professor at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, created the course, aptly called "Psy-feld," to teach his third- and fourth-year medical students about psychological disorders. Tobia has even created a massive database detailing the relevance to his teaching of all 180 episodes.
"You have a very diverse group of personality traits that are maladaptive on the individual level,” Tobia told NJ.com. “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.”
Tobia has also written an academic paper about five of Elaine's boyfriends explaining how the men display core character traits of delusional disorder.
As for Tobia's students, they seem to appreciate the pop culture reference.
One student told NJ news that watching "Seinfeld" gives her more practical and relatable examples than any textbook could.
And while he is surely a fan of the iconic show, this isn't the only instance in which Tobia uses current media to get his point across to students. He uses a similar model in a monthly elective he teaches in which the students watch the Coen brothers' 1996 film "Fargo" and live-tweet the characters' potential disorders at the bottom of the screen.
Next up, Tobia is talking to his chairman about a course in which students live tweet discussions while watching other must-see-TV from home. Because, let's face it, when it comes to bizarre human behavior, late night TV is a treasure trove.
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