Mythology & Mental Illness


The Greek tragedy of the Athenian hero and the half man – half bull monster is the setting for two projects aimed at improving teaching and clinical performance.

THESEUS is a Best Practice at Rutgers-RWJMS that aims to enhance residents’ teaching of medical students. Our project complies with the ACGME Core Competencies including practice-based learning and improvement: facilitation of medical student learning and education, and builds on evidence-based data that teaching efforts improve by using a contingency of rewards. In THESEUS, we set up our system of rewards in a fantasy football format, and our Novel Fantasy League (NFL) runs throughout the academic year.

The MINOTAUR, or Medication Interaction Online Tutorial: with Acronyms to improve User Retention, is an on-line, evidence-based clinical reference for medication interactions. Through the use of acronyms and visual mnemonics, users of MINOTAUR demonstrated greater retention when compared to those who referenced other on-line websites. Check out MINOTAUR project »


We’ve Organized a didactic for Residents to learn Psychiatry’s Historical Evolution Utilizing a Scavenger hunt (ORPHEUS). Course content taken from PowerPoint presentations was transferred to 15 scrolls, each of which summarizes an era in psychiatry from the times of Hippocrates to modern day genomics. The scrolls are hidden on the Piscataway and Busch campuses of Rutgers University where residents participate in a biennial scavenger hunt to achieve course objectives.

Our course that provides an overview of the Psychotic Disorders takes its name from the spirit of expediency, the means of accomplishing or providing. POROS accomplishes its core objective through discussion of Rod Serling’s classic TV series, the Twilight Zone.

In the Division of Psychosomatic Medicine at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, our pre-rounds are called Psi-feld, where we discuss the psychopathology demonstrated in Larry David’s syndicated situational comedy (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

According to Norse mythology, Valkyries or “swan maidens” wore garments made of swan feathers that allowed them to fly, carrying off the slain warriors to Valhalla. Like these bird goddesses, we’ve developed several courses that have incorporated Twitter in creating novel interactive didactics.

To review board-relevant material during their Psychiatry clerkship, RWJMS students are offered a weekly movie to watch from the comfort of their home while faculty and housestaff tweet their ideas about the portrayal of psychopathology depicted in the selected film.
LAMPEDO is a collaborative project between RWJMS and the Center of Alcohol Studies (CAS) at Rutgers University. LAMPEDO is a movie seminar series that provides professional development by reviewing mental diseases that commonly co-occur with alcohol and other substance use disorders. Reviews are designed around viewing a movie with a live Twitter feed to provide real-time review.

FIDLER MD (“FIDLER”) is a 1-credit elective held monthly in our large lecture hall that allows an interactive forum to review mental disorders. Students in attendance are encouraged to tweet questions and comments during the show that appear as a live feed at the bottom of the screen. Faculty and staff address questions, resulting in a running, pedagogical dialogue that transforms the movie into a unique educational experience. If you’re interested in seeing this year’s FIDLER schedule or joining the cast, just click on the image of the crab (the constellation Cancer is our logo).

What can follow the performance of our university’s favorite crab, FIDLER? When we thought to expand FIDLER, we looked to the stars for inspiration. Since Artan (Leo) follows Cancer in the zodiac, it only made sense that ARTAN be the next project we unearthed.

ARTANE applies the curriculum of FIDLER to residents in training in other departments including neurology, internal medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, emergency and family medicine. With 2-5% of the questions on their certifying exams pertaining to psychiatry, ARTAN provides board review to non-psychiatry residents by watching movies with a live Twitter feed.

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