The New Yorker has a short article on psychiatrists showing television sitcoms to schizophrenic patients, and then discussing with them the awkward social situations that are often displayed. There is some evidence that patients can more easily relate to situations they see on television. David Roberts, a second-year clinical-psychology student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was fishing for the finest source of social ineptness available on television, and discovered Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, a show highly admired around here.

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From the article:

So Roberts began showing TV clips during therapy sessions. Soon he had narrowed his selections down to one show: television’s purest expression of social dysfunction, “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” Roberts considers Larry David to be the perfect proxy for a schizophrenic person. “On his way into his dentist’s office, he holds the door open for a woman, and, as a result, she’s seen first,” he said. “He stews, he fumes, he explodes. He’s breaking the social rules that folks with schizophrenia often break.” He went on, “Or the one where Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen invite Larry and his wife to a concert: the night arrives, they don’t call, Larry assumes they don’t like him, then it turns out he got the date wrong. It’s a classic example of a major social cognitive error-jumping to conclusions-that schizophrenic patients are prone to.” As the patients watched David flub situation after situation, they laughed, and they willingly discussed with Roberts how they might behave in the same circumstances. “That bald man made a mountain out of a molehill!” one woman called out during a session…

Larry David, reached on the telephone in California, said that he hadn’t realized how deeply the awkwardness on his show would affect people. “It just deals with how you’re supposed to behave,” he said. “A lot of the time, it’s just me expressing myself freely. I knew that my own mental health was problematic, but should I be worried? I mean, I blow up, too! Is this something undiagnosed? Do I need to see a clinical psychologist?”

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