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Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute & Society

Psychoanalysis and Cyberspace: Reality, Virtual Reality and the Denial of Reality

Patricia L. Gibbs, Ph.D.
Lecturer, Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute

Discussant:  Bernadette Kovach, Ph.D.
Graduate, Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute

Saturday, October 30, 2010
2:00 - 4:00 PM
2 CME and CE Credit Hours

New Location:  Depression Center, Rachel Upjohn Building, 4250 Plymouth Road, Ann Arbor (south-east corner of Plymouth and Earhart Road on the U-M Health System's East Medical Campus, just east of US-23)

The Internet is now used as a major vehicle to establish and negotiate social relationships. For some, computer and Internet use consumes daily life, with virtual experience largely replacing direct interpersonal interaction. The psychoanalyses of patients shaped by heavy Internet/computer use will be examined. Schizoid characteristics are posited to influence these individuals to avoid the affective immediacy of the transference while escaping into Cyberspace. The patients' insistence upon the primacy of virtual reality highlights several concerns. Are relationships on the Internet real? Is the "as-if nature" of the transference real for the patient? Is it the analyst's or patient's prerogative to be the arbiter of reality and define the omnipotent denial of it? Clinical material will show the way reality is experienced, defended against, and interpreted in these analyses.  The author concludes that Internet/computer use for patients in these analyses provided a therapeutic containing function which will be considered in terms of what she calls "Ordinary Everyday Psychosis."

After attending this presentation, participants should be able to:

1. Identify the basic schizoid characteristics of patients who avoid face-to-face affective interaction, apply the identification of these characteristics to the impact they have on the development of the transference, and evaluate the way the transference affects the patient's experience of reality in analytic work.

2. Justify psychoanalytic technique based upon the identification of the patient's transference, and implement interpretations aimed to prevent the patient's regression to a defensive reliance on the omnipotent denial of reality.

3. Identify the features of an "Ordinary Everyday Psychosis," and evaluate the therapeutic and analytic merit of this process in patients struggling to distinguish reality from virtual reality.

About the presenter:
Patricia L. Gibbs, Ph.D., is a psychoanalyst practicing in Dearborn, Michigan. She is a Faculty Member and Lecturer at the Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute and an Adjunct Faculty Member at Lawrence Technological University. Dr. Gibbs is a supervisor in the Ph.D. Clinical Psychology Program at the University of Detroit Mercy.  She is the Michigan Chapter Head of the International Society for the Psychological Treatments of the Schizophrenias and other Psychoses - United States Chapter (ISPS-US). She has several publications.