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Parker, I. (2007). Psychoanalytic Cyberspace, Beyond Psychology. Psychoanal. Rev., 94(1):63-82.

(2007). Psychoanalytic Review, 94(1):63-82

Psychoanalytic Cyberspace, Beyond Psychology

Ian Parker, Ph.D.

The “Ask a Psychoanalyst” section of the American Psychoanalytic Association (APA) web site lists the following on its list of “frequently asked questions” (FAQ): “Can I do a psychoanalytical treatment through e-mail? Do you know of any recognized psychoanalyst or organization that would?” (FAQ 12, directed to the chair of the AA Committee on Public Information). The answer was forthright: “I do not know of any psychoanalyst or psychoanalytic organization which sponsors or approves of online treatment.”

Psychoanalysis is a theory and practice of speech, and the “talking cure” for the first century of psychoanalytic treatment required that the analyst be co-present to an analysand invited to follow the rule of free association. The necessary (and impossible) task of putting everything that comes to mind, however ridiculous or unpleasant, into words is embedded in a particular theory of representation and the insistence that talking to another person under transference is qualitatively different from writing things down. The process of sending queries to a psychoanalyst by e-mail in order to solicit written interpretations would seem anathema to psychoanalysis. The increasing volume of traffic through cyberspace-a constellation of environments for contemporary subjectivity that includes virtual reality, chat rooms and Web surfing-poses challenges to the very nature of psychoanalytic practice.

This paper examines the way cyberspace has emerged as a new anthropological space, and how this space throws everyday commonsensical images of individual psychology into question.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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