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Sand, S. (2007). Future Considerations: Interactive Identities and the Interactive Self. Psychoanal. Rev., 94(1):83-97.

(2007). Psychoanalytic Review, 94(1):83-97

Future Considerations: Interactive Identities and the Interactive Self

Shara Sand, PsyD

I am frequently reminded of Bob Dylan's 1964 song “The Times They Are A-Changing” whenever I have a patient born after 1980 or a conversation with my six-year-old son. At times the world they exist in seems so different from my own. Recently a blank MS Word document was up on my computer monitor and my son asked, “What's that?” I replied, “A piece of paper.” He looked at me totally perplexed, as if I had lost my mind. In that moment, I realized my answer reflected what the screen represented to me, rather than what it was, which was a blank document on my computer desktop. It does not become paper, a page, until printed. For me, the boundary was blurred: The desktop was the paper; for my son, the desktop and the page would always be distinctly different. The object being represented had shifted, and we had a different frame of reference. He will never know a world without computers, whereas life before computers may become a reference point for those of us born in the first six decades of the twentieth century. In speaking with my patients who are in their teens and twenties, I see the paradigm shift in action, the different relationships constructed through different mediums. There are multiple possibilities of self, as well as instant access to others, never being out of touch-yet at times communication exists in a distant, abstract space, rather than a tangible space.

My interest in the emerging phenomenon of computer-driven identities is fueled by my clinical work. My patients introduced me to avenues and realms of being that I had not previously considered. I was learning about a world I was not a part of, and hearing a language I did not speak.

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