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Malater, E. (2007). Caught in the Web: Patient, Therapist, E-mail, and the Internet. Psychoanal. Rev., 94(1):151-168.

(2007). Psychoanalytic Review, 94(1):151-168

Caught in the Web: Patient, Therapist, E-mail, and the Internet

Review by:
Evan Malater, LCSW

In the past psychoanalysis would not have been what it was (any more than so many other things) if E-mail, for example, had existed. And in the future it will no longer be what Freud and so many psychotherapists have anticipated now that E-mail, for example, has become possible.

—Jacques Derrida, Archive Fever

In 1876, for the first time, a disembodied voice on a telephone transcended time and space in a way that was once only possible in dreams. Twenty-five years later, the disembodied voice of the therapist, able to transcend time and space through transference, spoke to a patient on a couch of dreams and bodies. Following Derrida's (1995) reasoning, we can say that psychoanalysis was what it was because the telephone existed. Now we are challenged to conceive what psychoanalysis is and what it will become in the world of the Internet.

We might respond by seeking the traces of this technology in patients' lives and by hearing its operations and imprints in patients' dreams. But what does it mean to say that psychoanalysis will no longer be what so many psychotherapists have anticipated?

Derrida (1995) writes, “If the upheavals in progress affected the very structures of the psychic apparatus … it would be a question no longer of simple continuous progress in representation, in the representative value of the model, but rather of an entirely different logic” (p. 15). When new technology changes the experienced boundaries between public and private, when it affects the way our dreams are felt, remembered, and told, something significant has happened.


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