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Dini, K. (2009). Internet Interaction: The Effects on Patients' Lives and Analytic Process. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 57(4):979-988.

(2009). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 57(4):979-988

Panel Report

Internet Interaction: The Effects on Patients' Lives and Analytic Process

Kourosh Dini

The internet's growth and its interactions with the mind are coming into analytic focus as individuals find psychological uses for this new tool while simultaneously adapting to its functions. Understanding these dynamics, their impact on the analytic dyad, and the resulting new positions of the psychoanalyst is of increasing importance as the internet's existence integrates further into our culture and our individual lives.

The human mind creates words, symbols, and images embodying emotions, thoughts, and a vast culture of relations within the self and with others. Psychoanalytic methods of accessing the mind, of working with and in it, have traditionally been based on language—a manifestation of many, many years of an evolving human culture. But the human mind has also created, and continues to create, other tools that evolve over time. The internet is a recent example whose pervasive reach has fostered and facilitated new modes of communication. Accommodating words typed or spoken, uttered in private or in groups, the new cyberspace is a place where communication and technology have merged more than ever before. This evolving interface between language and technology has given us new modes of functioning and interacting that may provide a place for the growth of new mechanisms of thought and representations of self.

Although our offices, with some exceptions, are kept separate from the “virtual” worlds of the internet, our patients have begun exploring and sharing their lives within the abstract expanses provided by these technologies. The pace of technological development has only been growing lately, perhaps exponentially.

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