Member since: 1994
Occupation: Associate psychology professor, New Jersey City University
A prolific writer: In addition to teaching four classes a semester, Getzfeld is a writer. So far he's written two abnormal psychology textbooks. A third, "Abnormal Psychology" (McGraw-Hill, 2011), is in press.
Favorite disorders: Getzfeld most enjoys lecturing and writing about bulimia, anorexia and schizophrenia because of their complex causes. They're also among the toughest disorders to treat. "There's a bit of a masochist in me," he says. "I tell my students, 'If you want to keep your sanity, go with anxiety disorders. They generally respond well to treatment.'"
Superhero psychology: Getzfeld recently wrote a chapter for "The Psychology of Superheroes: An Unauthorized Exploration" (BenBella Books, 2008). "In a lot of ways, these superheroes are adults who have never really grown up," he says. Their need to right wrongs and fight bad guys may belie low self-esteem and unresolved childhood issues. "They have to keep proving themselves, again and again," he notes. Spider-Man is a particularly compelling superhero, says Getzfeld, because Peter Parker faces problems that many young men can identify with, "unlike Clark Kent, who had almost a perfect life, or Bruce Wayne, who was usually miserable." In his clinical psychology classes, Getzfeld often uses these and other fictional characters, including Sesame Street's Elmo, to illustrate psychological principals. Elmo, says Getzfeld, is a typical 3- to 4-year-old: "wide-eyed, innocent and has few troubles in the world."
Past careers: In college, Getzfeld interned on Wall Street at the brokerage firm L.F. Rothschild, Unterberg, Towbin. He started as a messenger and worked his way up to the dividends office. Though life in the financial district was exciting, he quickly realized that he'd rather help people with their problems than with their money. "It was a whirlwind kind of environment where a lot of money could be lost or made in a single day," he recalls. "These days, of course, it's more often lost than made."
Hobbies: Getzfeld, who performed magic shows at children's parties as a teenager, recently dusted off his trick card deck to entertain his 7-year-old daughter, Anya. A budding magician herself, Anya celebrated her latest birthday at a Manhattan magic shop—a perfect party location, says Getzfeld. "Eighteen 7-year-olds in a small apartment? They would trash the place!"