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Lemma, A. (2010). An Order of Pure Decision: Growing up in a Virtual World and the Adolescent's Experience of Being-in-A-Body. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 58(4):691-714.

(2010). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 58(4):691-714

An Order of Pure Decision: Growing up in a Virtual World and the Adolescent's Experience of Being-in-A-Body

Alessandra Lemma

Technological advances and the dominant values of contemporary culture make it possible and acceptable to alter, extend, or altogether bypass the body and its functions in actuality and in virtual space. This has contributed to a split between the body and the self, leading to a disembodied subjectivity that may encourage a neglect of the body's unconscious meaning for the individual. Due to the psychic requirement during adolescence to accommodate the reality of the changing body, some vulnerable adolescents are especially primed for the seductions of virtual space—a “space” that is nowadays not only culturally sanctioned, but also idealized. The use of cyberspace can become a psychic refuge from the challenge of integrating the reality and meaning of the sexual body into the image of the self. Two case examples illustrate how for some vulnerable adolescents it is through the use of cyberspace that confusion about the real body can be denied or disavowed; for them the integrity of the self is sustained through pseudorepresentations of the body defensively experienced in terms of “play” rather than pathology.

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