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Anthony Tobia’s Favorite horror movie is the brilliant. It’s so rich, he says Reverse, that he would like to give a lesson on this film alone. Ideally, for him, the course would start on July 4 – the date of the Overlook Hotel ball – and end on October 30, the day the Torrance family would move in.

Tobia is not a professor of film, but of psychiatry at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in Rutgers. Kubrick’s classic is just one of 31 horror films he uses as a fictional case study for his medical students to diagnose and treat patients like Jack Torrance.

This program, The 31 Knights of Halloween, has an entertaining hook but serves a dual purpose of making these students better doctors.

What is happening – For each day in October, Tobia assigns his students a horror movie to watch and analyze from a psychiatric perspective. Any depiction of human behavior, Tobia says, can help teach typical and atypical aspects of psychiatric health.

“Psychiatry is very lucky like that,” he says. “Surgeons, endocrinologists cannot do that. The film must be about a surgery or something surgical for a surgeon to use for educational purposes. This is not the case in psychiatry. All films examine human behavior, and therefore all films can be used to teach aspects of human behavior and psychiatry.

Together they discuss their visceral reactions as well as their thoughts from a psychiatric perspective. Meanwhile, everyone is posting thoughts and comments on a public sub-Reddit.

“It’s there for the community,” says Tobia Reverse“for the general public who wants to have their questions answered [on] mental health aspects, or maybe just read it for fun.

The program included Saw, Shutter Island, Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream, Halloweenand other classics.

How science plays a role — By watching these violently outlandish films, medical students practice identifying symptoms of psychiatric disorders in the DSM-V. Jason Voorhees becomes a patient, and these students are tasked with understanding how his actions inform their diagnosis.

even the movie Cloverfield in which an alien decimates Manhattan becomes fodder. “This monster is an alien life form that is a baby,” Tobia explains. “All he does is want to find his mother. All of a sudden, you might just feel the collective change of heart when we discuss issues that are consistent with illnesses such as separation anxiety disorder.

It may seem like an overkill to look into the psychiatric illnesses of a fictional alien monster, but perhaps it helps students overcome the stigma of people with psychiatric disorders, those who are often viewed as monsters or aliens.

One consequence of the flood of horror movies, Tobia says, is desensitization. For future doctors, it can go both ways. Whereas Seen will probably never be comfortable for anyone to watch, exposure to these films can prepare these medical students for a myriad of scenarios they may one day face (as well as a good number that they hopefully will -the, never, like Cloverfield).

He also likes to surprise his students with what he calls conspiracy theories. These are the assumptions of Tobia and other fans that exist outside of the movie. He suggests, for example, that Jack Torrance came to the Overlook Hotel in the brilliant while on medication, and he draws plausible evidence from the film.

Why is it important – As students practice identifying symptoms and coming up with diagnoses, Tobia hopes this exercise will foster empathy in future doctors.

When watching horror films, the viewer often identifies – consciously or unconsciously – with the victim who fights his way to the end (or not), beating Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers. By desensitizing them, he hopes to increase their ability to understand a fundamentally different perspective.

“One of the ways to desensitize is to make a conscious effort to see the movie through the other person’s eyes,” says Tobia. “While it’s initially uncomfortable, the fact that it feels contrived because you’re making a conscious effort – ‘I wonder what they’re thinking now, I wonder how it must feel to them’ – can teach the empathy.”

He points out that this growth almost never comes naturally, which is why this course is unique. For a group of friends watching a horror movie, the discussion is unlikely to turn to empathy with Jigsaw. Also, horror movies are meant to induce fear and anxiety in viewers. These feelings are not always pleasant and can sometimes trigger unwanted memories or experiences. Tobia provides a curated support space where her students can talk about their discomfort – or choose not to watch a movie if they wish.

Even for those who will never become doctors, the act of empathy with an alien or a ghost, in addition to feeling this intense fear, can be cathartic and de-stigmatizing. Horror movies portray the darker parts of the human condition, the parts that most people never act on, and give the viewer permission to engage. Tobia goes further and urges his students to go so far as to sympathize with this darkness.

“There are certain things that, when no one is around and there are no consequences, may have crept into your awareness that our brain suppresses or suppresses for a good reason,” Tobia says. . “But it’s a safe space to explore them and it could be quite fun. To see an aspect of yourself, your subconscious that has been repressed now literally projected.

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