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Bayles, M. (2012). Is Physical Proximity Essential to the Psychoanalytic Process? An Exploration Through the Lens of Skype?. Psychoanal. Dial., 22(5):569-585.

(2012). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 22(5):569-585

Is Physical Proximity Essential to the Psychoanalytic Process? An Exploration Through the Lens of Skype?

Mary Bayles, C.S.W.

The focus of this paper is to raise questions about the essential elements of the analytic process and whether they can be met when we move to technological modalities like Skype or the telephone. To the extent that therapeutic action is grounded in implicit, procedural, nonverbal communication the entire body is implicated in the analytic dialogue. To varying degrees technological modalities limit access to the information communicated via the body. Even when the Skype web-cam offers visual access to our patients, I argue that the quality and impact of information communicated between the various sense modalities, both intrapersonally and interpersonally, will be dampened, thereby compromising the quality of information exchanged in the nonverbal domain. Philosopher Shaun Gallagher (2005) argued that due to the cross-modal linkage between the visual and proprioceptive senses, when we see someone we “see” them with our whole brain, including the extended nervous system. That is, we use our whole body “to see” the person with whom we are in dialogue. As psychoanalysis increasingly engages technology we need to consider the repercussions of how limitations to information communicated by the body in the nonverbal domain influence the analytic dialogue.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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