Scarlet Knight Shyamalan

Welcome to our webpage dedicated to the works of writer-director M. Night Shyamalan and the role his films play in teaching the topic of psychiatry. At Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, we’ve created a course within our REDRUMTM (Reviewing Mental Disorders with a Reverent Understanding of the Macabre) curriculum that teaches psychopathology through selected films of M. Night Shyamalan. Click on a movie below for an overview of its synopsis and how the plot can be transformed into a fictional case of mental illness.


Scarlet Knight Shyamalan
Film Year Topic
The Sixth Sense 1999 Somatic Symptom Disorders
Unbreakable 2000 Psychotic Disorders
Signs 2002 Sleep Disorders
The Village 2004 Mood Disorders
The Visit 2008 Delirium and Dementia1
Devil 2010 Personality Disorders
Split 2016 Dissociative Disorders
1. Renamed Major Neurocognitive Disorder


The medical opinions expressed on this website are not necessarily shared by the writer-director and constitute fair use. Users are strongly encouraged to use our material for teaching purposes only so as not to promote the stigma of mental illness. Any similarity to any person living or dead is merely coincidental. Copyright © 2018 All Rights Reserved.

Death Zone, Nepal

Destination 17: Death Zone, Nepal

The Tourism Ministry of Nepal recently (2014) announced that the flow of expedition teams on Mount Everest would only be allowed in May when the weather is favorable for the climb above 26,240 ft. Climbers refer to this section as the ‘death zone’ because of the hostile conditions and the fact that there is little chance of rescue.

Related Film: Devil’s Pass (2013)


Devil’s Pass is a 2013 science fiction horror film shot in the style of found footage set to the Dyatlov Pass incident: the unsolved deaths of nine hikers in the Ural Mountains (Russia) in February 1959.

Holly and Jensen lead 5 Oregon college students to find out what happened to 9 hikers who mysteriously died in the Dyatlov Pass incident. After Holly hears howling at their camp site, the group finds footprints in the snow that lead Jensen to claim they are being hunted by the yeti, thus merging the hostile conditions that confer little chance of rescue with the abdominal cryptid.

How it relates to the field of psychiatry

The yeti is a cryptid; an animal whose existence or survival is disputed or unsubstantiated. While Holly and Jensen believe they’ve come into contact with the yeti while exploring the Ural Mountains in Russia, the creature is said to inhabit the Himalaya Mountains in Nepal.

The French anthropologist, Claude Lévi-Strauss, identified myths as a type of speech through which a language could be discovered. He is renowned for his structuralist theory of mythology which attempted to explain how fantastical tales could be so similar across cultures. Urban legends are cautionary tales of contemporary folklore that identify taboos represented in all cultures that capture four common themes: a) misunderstandings, b) poetic justice, c) business rip-offs, and d) revenge. Urban legends are a large part of popular culture and often speak to the fears, anxieties, and biases of a culture such as that of the Sherpa. In doing so, folkloric tales provide insight into the moral fabric of the culture. The creation of the yeti for example may be the Nepalese means to rationalize the misunderstandings (e.g. missing persons) associated with the Death Zone.

Anthony Tobia, MD, Copyright © 2018 Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. All rights reserved.

The Building in Alexandria, Egypt

Destination 15: The Building in Alexandria, Egypt


It is said that the Building in Alexandria was cursed during construction and that is why supernatural happenings occur there. It is also said that there was once a cop was burnt in the building while he was attempting to prove to the residents that nothing resides in the building. Nobody really knows the true story, but what we do know is that disembodied screams are often heard from inside at night.

Related Film: The Mummy (1932, 1999)


The 1999 film, The Mummy, a remake of the 1932 film of the same name, tells the story of Imhotep, a high priest of Pharaoh Seti I, who witnesses his love and Pharaoh’s mistress, Ancksu-Namun, commit suicide to protect him after they are caught having an affair. Imhotep, while trying to revive her (an act considered heinous by the high priests) is sentenced to be mummified alive. In addition to this death, a curse was placed on him, stating that if anyone finds and opens the chest containing the Book of the Dead, death will come quickly to them by the hand of the undead. After two teams of adventurers find both the chest and the coffin of Imhotep, the mummy is awakened and journeys to fulfill the curse. Meanwhile, he believes that one of the adventurers, Evelyn, is a possible reincarnation of his love and tries to sacrifice her to finally revive Anck-su-Namun. The adventurers must then find a way to defeat Imhotep before he kills Evelyn and destroys the world.

How the movie relates to the field of psychiatry

The concept of the mummy, first introduced in the novel The Jewel of Seven Stars, provides an interesting perspective of psychotic disorders, which is on full display in the 1999 version of the film. Guarding the tomb where the chest and Imhotep’s coffin lay is a group called the Medjai. This group exemplifies the concept of the culture-bound syndrome, as they not only believe wholeheartedly in the curse but also in their role in preventing Imhotep’s revival. The psychosis extends to the group of adventurers who, although the curse never names Imhotep as the “undead” who will enact the curse, strongly believe he is. Reading from the Book of the Dead, the adventurers begin to hallucinate that Imhotep has awakened and is attacking Egypt with the 10 plagues, beginning with turning a fountain water into blood. Throughout the film, their hallucination that Imhotep is taking the body parts of others to regenerate himself, such as the eyes and tongue from one adventurer, is called Cotard syndrome.

The 1932 version of the film also manifests dissociative disorders, particularly Dissociative Identity Disorder. Both the characters of Evelyn (in the 1999 film version) and Helen (1932) are believed by Imhotep to be the current reincarnation of Anck-su-Namun. Despite Evelyn maintaining her identity, Helen manifests an altered, distinct personality state when she exclaims that Anck-su-Namun’s life is inside her and “is fighting for life.” While taking on the personality of Anck-su-Namun, Helen is unable to remember aspects of her life (e.g. taking care of her dog or how she is unaware of how she returned home). While this may be attributed to delirium (her physician claims she is suffering from exhaustion), Helen is seen awakening and taking on the personality and regalia of Anck-su-Namun despite having been treated for exhaustion, thus suggesting a primary mental disorder of Dissociative Identity Disorder.

Marez Megalla, Anthony Tobia, MD, Copyright © 2018 Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. All rights reserved.

Intro to RWJ C/L


This page is dedicated to first-year Psychiatry residents at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School who are rotating in the Division of Consultation Psychiatry. Your Consultation-Liaison (C/L) experience will be at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, NJ. You will be assigned to one of two teams (blue or red) staffed by RWJMS teaching faculty certified by the Boards of Psychiatry & Neurology and Psychosomatic Medicine. Objectives for the rotation will be reached in two phases.

Phase 1: The resident will demonstrate competency in the subspecialty of Consultation Psychiatry

During this initial phase, residents will carry a case load of 2-3 patients and report directly to the service attending. Their performance demonstrated pre-rounding, presenting, and treatment planning will be evaluated and documented on resident logs. When the resident log is completed, residents will progress to the level of a “macromanager.”

Phase 2

Residents’ primary responsibilities at this phase will be to supervise students from Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and the Earnest Mario School of Pharmacy. You will “direct” your own team of learners who provide clinical care to the infirmed at the Cancer Institute of NJ, Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital, and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. For more details about your specific responsibilities, refer to the orientation packet you’ll receive at the commencement of the rotation.

Your Clinical Day

PsyfeldTM: 9:00-9:30

Your clinical day will begin with a “show didactic about nothing.” In our PsyfeldTM course, students and residents will discuss a selected Seinfeld episode through a psychiatrist’s lens. Our fictional case discussions not only reach stated goals and objectives but are also broadcasted live on social media and have been the platform for publications in peer-reviewed journals.

Psychiatry residents’ responsibilities include participation in the discussion of psychiatric topics highlighted in the selected Seinfeld episodes.

Morning Rounds: 9:30-12:00

Morning rounds are focused on patient follow-ups and are a combination of traditional bedside rounds, The One Minute Preceptor, and Psychiatry Review through Axis (PRAXIS) assessment.

While Psychiatry residents fill the learner roll in PRAXIS (you’ll be part of a team competing for points), they take on the “teacher” role and run The One Minute Preceptor. For a primer on these microskills of clinical teaching, please click here.

Lunch: 12:00-12:30

FilmulationTM: 12:30-1:30

Our FilmulationTM didactic is a condensed version of our Psychiatry residents’ psychopathology curriculum named Reviewing Mental Disorders with a Reverent Understanding of the Macabre (REDRUMTM) where students and residents discuss selected films through a psychiatrist’s lens. Our fictional case discussions not only reach stated goals and objectives but are also broadcasted live on social media and have been the platform for publications in peer-reviewed journals.

Psychiatry residents’ responsibilities include participation in the discussion of psychiatric topics highlighted in the selected films.

Case Presentations: 1:30-2:30

Throughout the morning, students provide initial psychiatric evaluations when they’re finished presenting their follow-ups. Students will present their patients in the conference room in Suite 2200 as part of a multi-disciplinary case conference.

Residents are responsible to assure the efficient flow of patient care with the primary goal to have students prepared to present their new patient evaluations.

Afternoon Rounds: 2:30-4:30

Following case presentations, our treatment team will go back into the hospital to round on the new consults.

Residents’ responsibilities will include ensuring the effortless flow of communication with the primary teams in conveying our recommendations.

CAB Fare Rounds

Time permitting, students and residents retreat to the CAB Fare Café to discuss assigned films in an open forum that allows for an exchange of ideas about a “deep dive” into what the film “is really about.” Assigned movies will be tweeted at least 48 hours in advance using the hashtag #CABFareRounds.

Psychiatry residents’ responsibilities include participation in the discussion of psychiatric topics highlighted in the selected films.

Kawah Ijen, Indonesia

Destination 18: Kawah Ijen, Indonesia

Kawah Ijen is an active volcano in Indonesia. Miners scale the 8,660ft Kawah Ijen volcano up to the crater, then down to the shore of a huge crater lake of sulfuric acid where they retrieve heavy chunks of pure sulfur. Active volcanoes in Indonesia have long been part of our world folkloric history.

Related Novel: Frankenstein (June 1816)


In April 1815, another volcano on an Indonesian island exploded. With an estimated 25 cubic miles of Mt. Tambora’s debris ejected into the stratosphere, it was the largest eruption in the last 10,000 years. The stratospheric cloud that stretched around the earth lead to unprecedented climate change in many parts of the world.

As depicted in the movie, Gothic (1986), Mary Godwin, Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, Claire Clairmont, and a young physician named John William Polidori rented a villa in Cologny, Switzerland in 1816. As a result of the seismic activity from Mount Tambora, an “incessant rain” confined the group in the house for days which spawned discussions on varied topics including galvanism and the reanimation of dead matter. The company also amused themselves by reading German ghost stories, prompting Byron to suggest they each write their own supernatural tale. Shortly after, the iconic monsters from Frankenstein (Shelly) and The Vampyre, a Tale (Polidori) were conceived.

202 years ago on June 6, 1816, Mary Shelley had a waking dream of her creation: Frankenstein’s monster. A biographical analysis of Mary Shelley frames Frankenstein as a work of sublimation, with each character representing a major archetype of the author’s collective unconscious (Table 1). The supernatural tale may be referenced by course directors in psychology and psychiatry to introduce psychodynamic theories of personality.

Table 1. Characters in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein representing archetypes of Jung’s Collective Unconscious

Character Jungian Archetype Description
Frankenstein’s Monster Shadow The Shadow houses our most base and primal instincts like an author’s desire to kill her father/creator.
Robert Walton (narrator) Self Representing the unification of the conscious and unconscious, the Self is represented by Walton, the narrator of the story.
The Syzygy (divine couple): Victor & Elizabeth
Viktor Frankenstein Animus The Animus is the male image in the female (Shelley’s) psyche. For the female author, Victor plays a more prominent role than Elizabeth.
Elizabeth Lavenza Anima The Anima is a feminine image in the male psyche and is the weaker character for the female author.



Lore, podcast,

Psychiatry taught through the lens of film and natural history,

Anthony Tobia, MD. Copyright © 2018 Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. All rights reserved.