To kick off the Halloween season, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School at Rutgers will be screening 31 horror movies for its psychiatry students. This comes as an effort to allow the students a chance to study the most terrifying horror movie characters and accompanying mental disorders, reports New Jersey 101.5. The course is being called REDRUM — a title clearly inspired by Stephen King’s infamous novel The Shining, originally published in January of 1977. The novel was adapted to the big screen in 1980 by award winning director Stanley Kubrick.
Students at Rutgers have Psychiatry Professor Anthony Tobia to thank for this unique experience. Speaking with journalists, Professor Tobia stated that although fiction film making does in fact exaggerate events and take many creative liberties, the key concept that he is aiming for in the REDRUM course is in allowing students to pick out various disorders presented on-screen — despite said exaggeration.
“For our residents, the course is actually termed Reviewing Mental Disorders with a Reverent Understanding of the Macabre.”
Professor Tobia also acknowledged that the fictional characters being studied within the horror films to be presented are over the top, and may in fact “even continue the stigma of mental illness.”
However, this issue will be identified throughout the course, and assessed as another way to educate the students at Rutgers on mental health awareness. Being able to identify any actual specific symptoms of particular mental disorders — and to lend those details toward a potential diagnosis — is the ultimate goal, according to the professor.
No statement was made as to the roster of movies being shown throughout the REDRUM course. It seems likely, however, that Rutgers students will be gearing up to share their movie observations on the popular social network, reddit.
This will not be the first time that Professor Tobia has utilized pop culture as a means to educate his students. In fact, Tobia headed a prior course containing what he calls the “Psy-feld curriculum,” based off of NBC’s Seinfeld. Seinfeld is a sitcom written by Larry David, Jerry Seinfeld, and various others which originally aired in 1989. The course allowed students the opportunity to be assigned various episodes for viewing. The goal in Professor Tobia’s “Psy-feld curriculum” was similar to the current REDRUM course. Students were to view these episodes of Seinfeld, and pick out aspects of each character’s personality or behavior which might indicate a disorder of some kind.
When asked about his teaching methods, Tobia elaborated — saying that he believes in showing his students various clinical contexts.
“We take our students outside of the classroom and we put them a different clinical context.”