General News — 08 January 2015

A group of US medical students has analysed the mental health of the characters in Seinfeld, uncovering a raft of problems from signs of obsessive compulsive disorder to schizoid traits. Homework for students at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Jersey consists of watching episodes of Seinfeld twice a week before dissecting the characters’ psychopathologies in a series of classes dubbed “Psy-feld”.     Psy-feld is the brainchild of associate professor of psychiatry Anthony Tobia, who has explained his approach in a paper published in the journal Academic Psychiatry. “You have a very diverse group of personality traits that are maladaptive on the individual level,” Tobia told “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.”

Seinfeld’s “neat freak” tendencies are well known. The show’s chief protagonist once refused to a kiss a girl who’d brushed her teeth with a toothbrush that had fallen in the toilet. On another occasion he threw out a belt after it touched a urinal.

Meanwhile, Jerry’s nemesis, the vindictive Newman, is “very sick” according to Tobia. “Newman’s sense of self, his meaning in life, is to ensure that he frustrates Jerry,” Tobia told “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.” For the 150 students a year who take Tobia’s class, Seinfeld is a genuine educational tool. “It just gives you a more solid picture of the pathology rather than just giving you words,” said third-year student Marlene Wang. This article first appeared Sydney Morning Herald  5 January 2015. Photo Source: Sydney Morning Herald


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