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Testing for neurosis

Jerry Seinfeld is known to be a very neurotic guy.
August 25, 2009, 3:57pm

Jerry Seinfeld is known to be a very neurotic guy. But is he really? Or is he just a regular guy being exposed to inhumane conditions? To find out the answer I tried a couple of his hang-ups on a bunch of unsuspecting, regular, un-neurotic people in my presence.

Experiment: Close-talking

Seinfeld hates it when people stand very close to his face while talking. Is close-talking actually socially acceptable, or would anybody in the same situation react as strongly?

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Subject number 1
As I stood very close to her and talked, she'd take a step back now and again. And I would follow. She drew her shoulders up a bit (it looked a little defensive). I think she made less eye contact than normal, but this could be a placebo effect. She ended the conversation by telling me about how she needed to powder her nose.
I’d say the whole encounter lasted five minutes.

Subject number 2

I think he thought I wanted to have sex with him. He seemed quite unhappy about this and casually mentioned that he was gay three times. I still don't know if he was. He looked maybe 66% gay.

Subject number 3

This time I was getting more hardcore, getting right up in her face, and after only a couple of seconds the subject diffused the situation by deciding to sit down. It was a smart move but I wasn't going to give up that easy. I moved even closer and leaned forward a bit. That’s when she decided to go to the bathroom. I outsmarted that as well and waited for her outside the toilet. When she got out she looked seriously uncomfortable, as if she were desperately running through all the possible excuses in her head to get the hell away from me. She didn't seem to find one for quite a while. Then suddenly she lit up, and said that she needed to have a private talk with the host of the party.

Conclusion

Everyone was more or less freaked out by this one. No one said anything officially, but their body language came in loud and clear. I would almost say that Seinfeld’s reaction was understated, actually less neurotic then the subjects in my focus group. This gives him 1 out of 5 Neurotic Points.

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Experiment: Dipping mystery objects in the toilet

Due to a long story that unfolds in the “Pothole” episode, Seinfeld's girlfriend lets him know that she dipped something in his apartment in the toilet and then put it back in its place. Seinfeld throws out everything in the apartment because of this. Is this normal behavior? Let's find out!

Subject number 1

I told my one night stand that I dipped something in his place in the toilet. He asked me why. I said because. Then he asked about my age. I told him how old I am and he replied that I acted like a baby. I answered that I got that way from him asking me the first question. And that was about it. He didn't even try to find out which object took the dunking.

Subject number 2

When I told my mum I gave one of her possessions an immersion in the toilet she looked at me and asked if this was one of those jokes that are supposed to be jokes but no one really gets. I said no. She said oh.

She didn't take any action whatsoever.

Subject number 3

My friend got angry right away. She shouted, “Why do you always have to be so over the top?” I said I didn’t know. She went on about this for a while but she never made any effort to find out which object it was (if she would have spent half the time she spent talking about the insecurities caused by my absent father on finding out which object it was, she would have known in like a minute). Then she made me do the dishes.

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Conclusion

Toilet dipping is not something I would recommend if you're interested in coming off as not-psycho. Still, it didn’t have as many neurotic effects as I'd expected. I mean, if you really want to dip something you can totally get away with it without losing too many friends or potential shags. None of the subjects were even close to Seinfeld’s reaction, which gives him 4.5 Neurotic Points out of 5.

Experiment: Peculiar food habits

In the “Engagement” episode, Seinfeld dumps a girl for eating peas one by one. Now it's up to me to find out how regular people react to unconventional pea eating.

Subject(s) number 1

I was at a BBQ with a bunch of acquaintances. It all started out promising with one person commenting on me bringing peas to a BBQ. I thought that if someone cared about the peas being there in the first place someone must care about how they were to be consumed. One guy looked at my peas and looked at me and made a face that made me think he was going to say something that was hard to say. He didn't say it though.

Subject number 2

My dinner date looked at me funny. I asked why he was looking at me like that, and he asked me why I desperately had to go to a restaurant that served peas if I didn’t even like peas. I told him that I love peas and wondered why he thought that I didn't. He made a sound like “pah” and that was the end of the discussion.

Subject number 3

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I have this friend who always comments on everything that I do. I actually find it adorable and it’s perfect for situations like this. I invited him for dinner. Conditions were perfect. It was just that he didn't say a thing about my peas. I felt a bit like no one was giving a shit about me or about what or how I ate.

Conclusion
Neurotically eating peas gave me actual neurosis. The closest I got to a reaction was a fake I'm-going-to-say-something-look. Since I consider dumping as a solution to a problem to be quite dramatic, I give Seinfeld 5 out of 5 Neurotic Points for this.

Experiment: “That's funny”

Seinfeld meets this girl who doesn't laugh. Instead she says, “That's funny,” whenever he tells a joke. This freaks him out. This experiment is about interacting with people without laughing.

Subject number 1

First he looked like he was going to have a nervous breakdown but then he started to laugh (slightly uncontrollably). Then he went to the other side of the room. It seemed as if I was bringing more happiness than nervousness into the world.

Subject number 2

This girl didn't tell any jokes ever, so for the first 20 minutes I was convinced that I was totally wasting my time. But then, out of the blue, she told this long urban myth tale and expected me to laugh at the end. I didn't, but I assured her that it was funny. She smiled sweetly and went to get a drink.

Subject number 3

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I was getting the hang of it (it's kind of like one of those don't-say-yes-or-no-games). With my new skills I decided to try this off on somebody I knew a little bit more. It didn’t take long before she asked me what drugs I was on. I said none, and she made this joke about a drug that was the exact opposite to weed and would make you not laugh for an entire evening. I said, “That's funny,” even though it wasn't really, and I probably wouldn't have laughed even if I wasn't experimenting. She laughed a bit. I remained serious and then she asked me if I was depressed. She ended up buying me tiramisu-flavored ice cream to cure what she felt was my broken heart.

Conclusion

Not laughing turns you into a social cripple, no matter how much you guarantee people they're funny. Hence, Seinfeld gains 0 out of 5 Neurotic Points for this one.

Experiment: Talking about yourself in the third person

A guy at Seinfeld’s gym refers to himself in third person all the time. Seinfeld finds it unbearable. Now we'll see what it does to normal people. My name is Josefin, by the way.

Subject number 1

This guy didn't seem to notice. In fact, he didn't seem to notice anything that I was saying. He was probably concentrating on what he was going to say. Afterwards he told me this story about how he once turned down the singer from the Swedish pop band Lambretta. I told him that Josefin thinks that's really cool and he gave me the happiest smile ever and nodded.

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Subject number 2

I was shopping for a bra. I told the lady that Josefin likes red better than pink but she doesn't mind a slight hint of pink. She caught my drift right away and asked what size Josefin was. It all went just fine until I left (when the counter-ladies gave me accusing looks). But it might have been because I'd been talking so much about what Josefin likes and dislikes that I forgot to buy something. Here I was starting to really enjoy referring to myself in third person. I didn't care about the looks people gave me because I’d started pretending I was slightly retarded and therefore not physically and mentally able to give a toss about people's thoughts.

Subject number 3

I talked to a girl at a party about the likes and dislikes of Josefin (once you get into it it's hard to stop). She asked me who Josefin was. I chuckled in a superior way and pointed to my chest. She aha'd me back and then I decided to make it more of a conversation. I told her that Josefin would like to know what she does for a living. She told me that she's a florist and then she asked me why I called myself Josefin. I informed her that my parents had given the name to me and that I didn't intend to change it. Then I chuckled superiorly again (not sure why) and she smiled. She left for the toilet. I think my experiments would be a lot easier to follow through if it wasn't for everyone’s bladder issues.

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Conclusion

It seems most people are medium bothered by having people around them refer to themselves in the third person. Seinfeld, on the other hand, got more than medium bothered which gives him 3 out of 5 Neurotic Points.

Experiment: Moving too fast

Asking people to help you move has always been a sensitive matter. Especially to Seinfeld, and especially if it’s Keith Hernandez doing the asking (as you can see in the episode entitled “The Boyfriend”). Below you’ll find me asking people who I don't know if they could give me a hand the following Sunday (I was moving).

Subject numbers 1-4

The first person I asked just said, “No I'm busy.” So did subjects 2, 3 and 4, that's why they're all bunched up together in this section. None of them seemed too thrilled by all the free pizza I was promising them.

Subject number 5

She said yes and smiled innocently. I think she's one of those people who don’t really exist. You know one of those who never really had a problem with their mother and likes vacuuming as much as one should logically dislike it. When I called her that particular Sunday she asked me if she should bring some homemade pizza. She didn't really but she had a certain unsquashable spirit. I don't know if she counts.

Subject number 6

He asked me exactly how much pizza there was going to be. I said that I'd be providing one pizza per capita and he told me that it was obviously a joke and that he'd love to help. Only he didn't show up. And he stopped answering my calls too.

Conclusion

Asking people to help you move doesn't seem so upsetting. People just say no and that’s that (apart from that one girl who doesn’t count). I think the main reason the subjects didn’t react that neurotic to the experiment was that there was a really easy way to get out of the situation, it’s not like I knew them in the first place, so they don’t have to worry about me being pissed. Point-wise this test was the hardest to judge so I decided to make it a 2.5 out of 5.

Final conclusion

Seinfeld's final neurotic score is 16 out of 30. This means Seinfeld is no more than one point above your average neurotic. Sorry.