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Suler, J. (2017). Psychoanalytic Cyberpsychology. Int. J. Appl. Psychoanal. Stud., 14(1):97-102.
(2017). International Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies, 14(1):97-102
Contemporary Media Forum
In my chapter for the Textbook of Applied Psychoanalysis(Akhtar & Twemlow, in press) and in Psychology of the Digital Age: Humans Become Electric(Suler, 2016), I highlight the need for a psychoanalytic cyberpsychology. It is an approach that helps reveal how we experience digital environments and what we can do to improve our well-being as the forces of technology loom large in all our lives. In those publications, I discuss the Eight Dimensions of Cyberpsychology Architecture as a conceptual framework for understanding the psychological impact of any digital environment, for designing online therapeutic interventions, and for working with individuals to assess and improve their digital lifestyles.
The basic premise of Cyberpsychology Architecture is that cyberspace is psychological space, a projection of the individual and collective human mind. Both consciously and unconsciously we perceive this realm on the other side of our screen portals as an extension of our psyches. Early psychoanalytic studies identified how this online world entails a blurring of the boundary between mind space and machine space (Suler, 1996; Turkle, 1995). Mediated by computers, we experience ourselves as existing within an intermediate zone between self and other. From the perspective of psychoanalytic theory, this space can be conceptualized as an intersubjective or interpersonal field, a transitional or transformational space, a territory that is part me, part other, and that provides a venue for self expression, interpersonal discovery, play, creativity, and, unfortunately, the acting out of psychopathology. The design of different computer-generated spaces shapes the projected manifestation and interaction between self and other, hence determining the psychological impact of those relationships.
Psychoanalytic cyberpsychology examines the psychological architecture of digital spaces according to eight different dimensions. Each one reflects computer-generated aspects of how a particular online environment operates, as well as how the human mind itself works. Different environments - such as email, social media, video-conferencing, games, and avatar worlds - combine the different dimensions with varying emphasis.
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