Season four of Stranger Things deals with a lot of heavy topics like trauma, death, and whatever squelching is. The show does a decent job at letting fans know that it’s OK to feel depressed after witnessing your step-brother be possessed and killed by a demonic being, and now med students will be able to learn from that experience.
Dr. Anthony Tobia of Rutgers Medical School explained that he integrates pop culture into his lessons so that his students will be more engaged. “95% of students, are engaged through discussions like this. I find something they’re interested in. I meet them there. And then I introduce psychiatry within that interest,” he told My Central Jersey. What better way to get people interested than watching a group of quirky kids investigating a portal to another worth in rural Indiana?
The professor will use the most recent season of Stranger Things to help lead discussions about mental health and psychiatry. “Stranger Things is very Stephen King-ish,” Dr. Tobia said. “It identifies a vulnerable cohort or population – children. It delves into the subjective experience of psychosis (unreality) versus dissociation. As soon as you open that door, you can go in any direction you want.”
Dr. Tobia has taught the same course before by using horror movies and even episodes of Seinfeld. “Whether it’s a film, whether it’s Stranger Things, your mind subconsciously identifies with aspects of that character good and or bad. To identify those feelings in oneself, ushered with a relationship forged with a fictional character, there is a window of opportunity for individuals to identify and therefore take action in their own lives,” he said.
Social media users can follow along with the course and even be a part of the conversation on Twitter. “If you just push play on your TV at 8 p.m. and follow us on Twitter, you’re automatically part of the discussion,” the professor explained, noting that the hashtag will be #RWJstrangerthings. Everyone is welcome to be involved, not just prospective doctors or Upside Down demons!