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PSYCHOANALYSIS AND/OF THE INTERNET

by Robert M. Young

As my title indicates, I want to speak about the relevance of the internet to psychoanalysis and to make some analytic comments on its labour process.

At the most mundane level, there are email forums (sometimes called lists, symposia or conferences) concerned with psychoanalysis, psychotherapy, counselling, group therapy psychoanalysis of organisations, psychological study of the arts, cultural studies, social dreaming, practically any disorder you care to name, e.g., eating disorders, trauma, depression, sexual disorders, substance abuse. In fact, there is an email forum on practically anything you can think of, and if there isn't, you can easily start one. I have one list of lists with over 8000 email forums listed and another with about half that many. There are other lists of lists and directories that I have not seen, but I have recently discovered a site which will search through more than 24,000 lists to find those which cater for any interest you specify.

I have founded two lists and helped with another. One has the title of the annual 'Psychoanalysis and the Public Sphere' conference, has about 240 subscribers and is designed to extend our deliberations throughout the year and to provide a repository for our papers and a space for ongoing discussion of them and other extended pieces which anyone interested in the broader and deeper relations of psychoanalysis wishes to make available for discussion. It is also a place where articles under consideration for Free Associations can be posted for constructive comment prior to revision for publishing in the printed version of the journal. There is a parallel list for the other journal I edit, Science as Culture. That list attracted over three hundred subscribers in the first week after it came on-line at the beginning of November. A related email forum is called Psychoanalytic Studies has about 200 subscribers. It is concerned with the academic, scholarly discussion of psychoanalysis and related psychodynamic approaches. Its primary constituency is the people concerned with the dozen or so academic courses in psychoanalytic studies which have sprung up since the first one at Kent in 1988. It is also designed to cater for the community of scholars concerned with psychoanalytic matters. It is associated with a new journal of the same name which will appear in electronic and print versions. It has already attracted an editorial board of distinguished scholars and one so undistinguished that I have resigned from the board.

Beyond these matters, the internet has hundreds of forums, electronic journals and web sites of interest to people who are concerned with the human sciences and the helping professions. There is a list for every approach, practically every philosopher and philosophical persuasion, including the Frankfurt School, French feminism, Postmodernism, cultural studies. Web sites and electronic journals provide a way of disseminating and debating knowledge which is as cheap as a local phone-call, and revisions are nearly free. You can find and download practically anything, search bibliographies and databases anywhere in the world and often find the writings of great authors or not so great ones gratis. Most classics are there. So, increasingly, are other people's writings. I have about forty articles at my web site, along with about the same number of reading lists on various topics in psychoanalytic theory. People look me up, open the list of writings, click an item, and the article or list is instantly in their computer. They can read it on screen, print it out or throw it away after a glance. If you type into a web search engine the words psychoanalysis and cinema or Barry Richards or Gordon Lawrence, the reply may be 'Nothing found' or 4000 entries. Do you want the first 10?'.

I could go on at considerable length. For example, in addition to the email forums and web sites I have mentioned, there are support groups for any disorder you can imagine, e.g., parents of children with leukaemia, families of substance abusers, all sorts of disabilities. And, notoriously, there are bulletin boards for posting your sexual requirement, thoughts, and fantasies. (I should have mentioned in my exposition of email forums that there are also ones for sexual disorders, discussion of sexual needs and intellectual discussion of sexuality of all sorts.)

When you subscribe or go to any of these sites, you are under no obligation to take part. The bulletin boards have tables of contents, and you only open what interests you. Things posted to the forums go to all subscribers, but you can ignore them, delete them, receive periodic digests or sign off for a time. Most members of forums don't join in the discussions. They are called 'lurkers'. You don't even need to open the letters (called 'postings'). You can archive them or delete them on the spot. I save some of the ongoing discussions (called 'strings') for future perusal. At the moment I have files called 'humanism', 'sexuality', early experience, postmodernism, projective identification, Lacan, Frankfurt School, psychoanalysis, psychoanalysis (nearly exclusive to IPA members), psychotherapy. You can get software which will filter things straight into files or do so after you have had time to check the topics. It's a bit like having a clippings service with the added feature that you can enter into a dialogue with the writer of the clipping if you like.

Beginning next month I will be conducting seminars on psychoanalytic theory to people who will be in the same electronic classroom but sitting at Macs or PCs all round the world. There are other courses in psycho-pharmacology, etc., offered by the Group for the Advancement of Professional Development, in which I am a partner. There are already electronic 'faculty lounges' of psychotherapists meeting every Thursday evening. Very soon these will be complemented by picture contact (the equipment, called 'see you-see me' costs about 100). Beginning next autumn, three of the MA programmes at this centre will be available by distance learning (both print versions and - a year later - internet versions): Psychoanalytic Studies, Psychiatry, Philosophy and Society and Disability Studies. This means that psychiatrists and psychiatric nurses, disabled people or anyone interested who meets the entry requirements can join in these programmes without having to be in Sheffield over the two year programmes. People whose professional or family commitments (or both) prevent them from doing the residential course can earn these degrees, as they have been able to do with Open University and similar programmes for some time. (Herriott-Watt University offers an MA in Business Studies which has 12,000 students.) There are about 875 institutions of higher learning offering internet distance learning degrees of various sorts and there is an internet forum for discussing this work.

The internet makes communication much, much easier. This centre, along with a few other universities, is willing to offer doctorates by distance learning. The students will come to Sheffield for weekend courses three times per year. It is said that complete virtual universities will be on-line very soon, employing eminent scholars and teachers who need not be located anywhere in particular. The faculty, like the students, can be widely dispersed.

I know that some of you will be excited by what I am saying and some will be appalled, some perhaps both. I am more excited than appalled. I was computer phobic until three years ago. I would turn on the Amstrad; it asked the time; I was told I got it wrong, and I would wander off for a few more months before repeating the humiliation. Then, amidst great anxiety, I managed to write most of a book on it. But then Joe Berke said get a Mac, and my life and productivity were transformed. Point and click replaced all those xq back slash asterix typed commands which I could never get right. Microsoft Word allows you to alter and move passages and lots more with great and easily-acquired dexterity. I became a proficient word processor, writer, correspondent and list-maker and storer of information. Then I had a crash, which felt literally like a stroke. Much was not recovered, and what was lost its labels. It was awful. Although it occurred over a year ago I have not completely recovered. I have since bought some software which backs up everything every two days.

The next step was getting onto email. This required a modem. Getting that on line took months, largely because I rarely had the time to hang on long enough to get through to the help line. Then I couldn't get the fax in my computer to work. Then I had no idea how to use email, much less get onto the World Wide Web. All of this took months of despairing and trying again. It is all much easier now, but it still takes time and quite a lot of getting advice from a supplier, a help line, a friend (usually Mark Alexander). If you do not have the luxury of a university connection or also want to be on-line at home, you have to be prepared to persevere and ask foolish questions. I am not a technically proficient person and certainly not a nerd, but I have got through the hurdles and benefit tremendously from my Mac, my modem, email and the web.

It puts me in touch with people and colleagues all over the world. Members of one of my forums are in 29 countries, though, largely of course, in the US and UK. I am in contact with debates with which I would otherwise have no contact (or perhaps no knowledge) by other means, for example about the efficacy of various forms of therapy, about whether or not early experience importantly influences adult behaviour (a question I would have though not worth asking three months ago). I have also got into relationships with decent and thoughtful and, in some instances, profound people which I greatly value. I have been helped and have helped dozens, perhaps hundreds of people. I have gained new contacts and potential students for this centre and new audiences for the journals I edit and have fostered, for Process Press, for Kleinian psychoanalysis, for social constructivism, for trying to build a better world. I am part of a community of enquiring, generous and helpful people across a wide range of disciplines and orientations. You can be, too.

I turn now to the topic of psychoanalysis of the internet. Sherry Turkle wrote a book in 1984 about this entitled The Second Self. I have only lately fathomed that title, but it is true that my computer is a version of me and that it is a self. Without it I am lost, out of touch. When it crashes, as I've said, it is like having a stroke. With it I am rich in communication and knowledge. It is nearly like being omniscient, in the sense that one is a few seconds away from so much information and so much supportive contact, e.g., huge bibliographic databases. I suffer withdrawal symptoms when I go away. I did manage it, though, for periods of weeks during the summer when I was in New York and on holiday in Sheffield and do so every Friday during term. It is also important to make a distinction between the computer and the internet. Turkle was writing about computers before the internet embraced a wide public. I can testify that the computer itself made a large difference to my life. For example, it transformed my chaotic non-filing system into a semblance of order. It also increased my productivity many-fold and led me to do my own correspondence. Getting onto the internet, however, introduced a whole set of new dimensions - the ones I am exploring here. (I gather that Sherry Turkle has also moved on and has written a book about the internet.)

There are also horrid things about communication on the internet, some of which I have experienced, some I have read about. Norman Holland (1995), the moderator of a very interesting email forum on the Psychological Study of the Arts, has written about what he calls 'internet regression'. People are more immediately intimate and more foul-mouthed and unrestrained on the net. There are exchanges called 'flames' where people say things they wouldn't in other media. Flames sometimes consist of sending the offender lots and lots of messages so as to flood his computer. This is a way of chastising someone who has breached what's called 'nettequette' by posting something commercial. Sometimes it involves exceedingly aggressive exchanges out of the blue. I joined a forum about the Philosophy of Literature. Soon there was a posting asking about the mechanism of evil. I offered a quote from Melanie Klein about what she called 'the prototype of all aggressive object relations'. There came back a message from a Toronto science museum manager: 'Gee, Dad, a psychoanalyst. I didn't know there were any of those any more. Can I touch him? Will he get my friend addicted to cocaine?' and so on for a longish posting. In a later exchange involving the Harvard philosopher Willard Quine, he was more succinct: 'Doo doo on Quine.' I eventually posted a commentary on an imagined conversation overheard on a net street corner: 'Let's talk ideas.' 'Right: Plato.' 'Naa, dead.' 'Freud. Naa, junkie.' 'Quine. Doo-doo on Quine.' 'Okay, that's enough culture for today; let's go have a beer.' The germ of truth in this story, aside from my having actually seen all the quotes on the net, is that the threshold for getting on is low, and philistines, bigots and ignoramuses turn up on open forums

But so do admirable autodidacts. I want to quote part of a letter I received last week. I was in correspondence with Harriet Meek, who'd read about the conference on Psychosis in Colchester this coming September sent a paper on the net for the planning committee to consider. We've done so and invited her to give a version it at the conference She also told me about the group on net dynamics and mentioned a subscriber to it who had commented appreciatively on my writings. I wrote to him and asked who he was. He said, 'Harriet and I are both part of NetDynam, a group looking at the dynamics of listserv interaction. She has been dragging me kicking and screaming into the world of Bion, Klein and Freudian psychology. Upon her recommendation I dropped in on your web page and grabbed some papers. I read "Benign and Virulent Projective Identification in Groups and Institution," 'Mental Space in Group Relations," and "Character and Morality." All three were delightfully written and provided me with a sort of down to earth understanding of the relationship between Bion, Klein, groups, and the various non-psychological perspectives on interpersonal dynamics. I intend to drop in on your page for more, and would particularly like to read what you have to say about Darwin.

He continued, 'I am a bit unsure what to say about me. I am currently a warehouseman in Portland, Oregon. I am an alcoholic beginning my fifth year of sobriety. In the past I have been a cartoonist, teacher, bookseller, and even a lawyer, all professions that I was either not very good at or eventually got kicked out of. Now I try to contain my activities to manipulating things rather than people and everyone is much happier as a consequence. I fuss around on the internet and in email groups a fair amount, and have a reasonably comfortable home and family here in Portland.' That made my day. The wall between academia and the wider community simply vanishes, along with the barriers of distance.

On the not so lovely side of net writing, here is a quote offered by Professor Holland. A journalist who had written sympathetically about Bill Gates, the head of Microsoft, received this from a fellow-journalist: 'Crave THIS, asshole Listen, you toadying dipshit scumbag... remove your head from your rectum long enough to look around and notice that real reporters don't fawn over their subjects, pretend that their subjects are making some sort of special contact with them, or, worse, curry favor by TELLING their subjects how great the ass-licking profile is going to turn out and then brag in print about doing it. Forward this to Mom. Copy Tina [the new, much despised new editor of The New Yorker, where the offending article appeared] and tell her the mag is fast turning to compost. One good worm deserves another' (The last phrase is a threat of sending a computer virus to him.) (quoted in Holland, 1995, pp. 1-2). Here is the conclusion of a long flame between two people ostensibly discussing net dynamics. (People often reproduce their correspondent's messages - which are indicated by > signs - and intersperse their comments.)

'> and the floor is now all yours with no further rebuttal from >me....'

'I'm glad you're done. It's nice to know that a self-centred, pompous, arrogant, horse's ass isn't going to have the last word.'

Sometimes this goes on for a long time; then it's called a 'flame war'. I have observed a couple and been in another. It is a much-feared phenomenon, and instructions sent to you when you join a forum often have precise recommendations about how to avoid flame wars. It is sometimes necessary to remove people from the forum (which can prompt another flame war over censorship, which, in one instance I witnessed, can lead the forum leader to resign.) I have heard that lists have closed over this phenomenon of flaming. Then there is 'spamming', the blanket posting of commercial material to lists. This is usually prevented by having lists closed so that only subscribers can post to them, and the forum leader usually has the code for adding and removing subscribers. It is pretty obvious that these group phenomena would repay thinking about in terms of Bion's concept of basic assumption: fight or flight, something which no one has yet done, as far as I know. On the other hand, as I've said, there is now a forum on net dynamics which I have recently joined.

I think one explanation for internet regression is that communication on the net is so immediate that one can react without the sort of delay for pondering associated with letters. There is also an important absence of cues. These are the nuances of communication which occur in modulation and tone of voice on the telephone. For starters, the other person can interrupt or put the phone down, making your continued utterances redundant. On the net you have the advantage of almost immediate communication but without the signals of tonality which convey what is in your interlocutor's mind. Nor can he or she hang up in your face, though I suppose they can bin your next posting without opening it. Curiosity makes this unlikely. An attempt has been made to overcome this with a new language called 'smileys', whereby the keyboard is used to make simple pictures conveying that the writer is smiling, ironic, sorry, glad, kidding and so on (Godin, 1993). Here are some examples:

:-) smiling <G> grinning

;-) winking <J> joking

:-( frowning/sad <L> Laughing

:-& tongue-tied <S> Smiling

:-S incoherent

:-D laughing

:-0 yawning/snoring

:-@ Screaming

:-P sticking tongue out

:'-( crying

:'-) crying for joy

:-> sarcastic

<:-> devilish

0:-) angelic

{} a hug (usually in multiples) {{{{}}}}}

{initials} to hug a specific person

--<--@ a rose

12X--<--@ a dozen roses

This is charming, but I'm a little puzzled that it is felt to be needed, since novelists manage to convey these nuances, but perhaps few netters have those novelistic skills.

Some people positively value the absence of visual and auditory cues and the relative anonymity of communications. I read the following defence of net communication two days ago: 'For me, a pleasure of the Internet is to have some choice and

some control over who I think you see/read. Why on earth should I reveal education, avocation, create an envelope into which to stuff myself? I do that f2f all the time! I very much enjoy watching how I am electronically understood. I like to use a quotation in a .sig to reveal. I was startled the first time a net friend suggested a f2f meeting. It seemed to deny the authenticity of what we had created, not to enhance it....'

Another unusual feature of net dynamics which I have personally experienced to a small extent is heightened sexuality, something you might not anticipate in computer-to-computer communication between intellectuals (though it is notoriously a feature of other parts of the internet, where there are innumerable chat-lines and contact bulletin boards catering for every imaginable taste and fetishism). Holland reports a high incidence of sexual harassment on the net. People make explicit sexual proposals to women they do not know and in forums where this is, to say the least, inappropriate. He tells of a man who temporarily changed his name to that of a woman, received lots of smutty messages, and changed it back, whence they stopped. People who had harassed him and knew that he had changed his gender and changed it back went on writing to him as if nothing untoward had occurred.

I said I had experienced it only to a small extent. I have had no sexually explicit exchanges, but women who I had only just met and only on the net have written to me in very personal terms about their lives, feelings, insecurities, needs and plans. I have found myself replying in the same terms. One explanation is that one is alone in one's study, a safe, intimate space. There are only the screen and the keyboard in the room. Not having to get out an envelope, address and stamp it and take it to a post-box allows one to feel that it's all in the mind. Inhibitions slip away, while fantasised idealisations (and diabolisations) come easily to mind. One man wrote to me at length in utterly intimate and unguarded terms and suggested that he come from America to work with me straightaway.

You might think that it is important to keep these relationships inside the box, so to speak, but I saw something this summer which proves this wrong. In the spring I got into contact with a consortium of about fifty email forums in the mental health field called Inter-Psych. It turned out that it had been founded by a person with a Sheffield University address, so I wrote to him and suggested a meeting. He turned out to be a mature student undergraduate, 35 years old. He was friendly and supportive and gave me the advice and confidence which led to much of what I and a number of my colleagues have done on the net. Some months later it turned out that Inter-Psych was in turmoil over the role of someone who had come in as a volunteer administrator and wormed his way to being in control of the server and much else. My new student friend was trying to stop this and eventually got the usurper voted out of office. Those who lost the vote then mounted a coup, which threatened the whole organisation. It was suggested that interested people should meet in New York, where many would be present anyway for the annual conference of the American Psychological Association. My student friend is a shy person face to face (though not on the net) He approached me and asked me to accompany him to this summit.

What happened there is not the point of my story; there was a major confrontation in which I played a part which pleases me a lot, the good people won, and the organisation is back in the control of the forum leaders. The point of this story, thought, is that until that day I was the only person associated with InterPsych who had met its founder, and almost none of the board or forum leaders had met one other until that point. Indeed, the present chair of the constitutional convention is a professor in Alaska, and she has not met any of us. However, when we came together in the hospitality suite which we were allowed to use at the Sheraton, there were hugs and tears and wonderful, feelings. More recently I met another member of the board - an Oxford psychology research student - who had been central to the conflict mentioned above. He came for a meal; we had a lovely time; I am the only IP person he has ever met The point of this story is that strong bonds had been formed over the net which we confirmed in face to face meetings. On the other hand, one person involved in these deliberations had already drawn the following conclusion about another: 'From my initial e-mail contacts with him I had a strange feeling of communicating with an infobot rather than with a person (I thought after receiving a particularly dry communication from him, "This guy would flunk a 'Turing test"). . . It made me wonder if he had a problem in the schizophrenic spectrum'. He went on to comment on the person in question's internet ambitions and concluded, 'I can be grandiose at times, but I think he has me beat by far.' (In case you don't know what a Turing Test is, it distinguishes whether what's at the other end is a computer or a person.)

This brings me to a painful aspect of the net. We hear a lot about 'nerds' and anoraks and enthusiasm for the net being the post-railway age's equivalent to train-spotting. I think there is some truth in this. In particular, I think that along with the advantages of access and cheapness, there is, for many, the advantage of communication without the gaze. Lest you think I have forgotten my age and am aspiring to the rhetoric of forms of feminist and cultural studies which are beyond my reach, I will reassure you that I am referring to an aspect of the fact that it is all done, for the present, by typing. This, it sees to me, makes it peculiarly attractive to people who split off their emotional parts from their intellectual and imaginative ones, i.e., people with schizoid personalities or tendencies. It also attracts people with grandiosity in their make-up. You can build huge castles in cyberspace without the refractoriness of any concrete (or even much of an economic) reality impinging on you. Moreover, if you can get people to join in your fantasies, you can convert them into successful projects. That is, you can start a magazine or business selling advice or supervision or a network of associated forums, and if people buy and join in, it is real. The thing which distinguishes this from business in the mundane world is that overheads on the net are relatively speaking negligible once you have your computer, a modem, software (mostly free), a connection to the net and the wherewithal to pay your phone bill. (I should mention that in America local phonecalls are free, so on-line time is free.) I think this attracts fantasists and people who are ill at ease with real face to face encounters.

I do not want you to think I think I have got very far with analysing the net. There are problems about frames and boundaries which we have not begun to understand. One can feel oneself moving between grandiosity and claustrophobia, between agoraphobia and the domain of cosy transitional objects. There is also the phenomenon of net addiction - a phrase which is not hyperbole. It refers to something real. I think I have a mild version of it. I keep saying that not much of interest has come in on a given day but can still spend all the time at my disposal on the net. I hope and believe that this will abate, but it has shown no signs of doing so. I am reminded of our family's first television set, a consumer durable we were the last among my parents' friends to acquire. I was an undergraduate, and I could not cease to marvel at the idea of free movies. I still can't. You should see my video cassette collection (or my audio cassette collection, come to that).

The only sense I can make of my own case is that there is some semblance of order on the net, while my study is a mass of unsorted boxes. An increment of effort leads one to feel (probably unrealistically) that an increment of accomplishment has occurred. One also has the feeling of communicating effectively with hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people at once. When I send out an announcement of the new issue of a journal or a conference or something exciting, I can do so to literally thousands of people in a few minutes by posting it to all the groups to which I belong or have access. And, as a publisher who has done admirable things and nearly gone under financially, doing so for the price of a local phone call is delicious. Putting my writings on a web site makes them available to large numbers of people, as well, and some do actually respond. Those who are appreciative seem to have a lower threshold of writing than people who read things in a learned journal or book. It is easy to dash off a note. Everyone is on first name terms. spelling doesn't matter. A quick thought goes out to all those people. It is widespread but ephemeral enough not to have the internal backlash of making a fool of oneself that hard copy publishing and the long period of waiting for proofs and publication can induce.

The other side of the coin is that many people are terribly put off by the very thought of the internet. I have had friends respond as if they were in danger of being dropped into a huge drowning pool, something like a mega-version of the large group at a group relations conference, about which Pierre Turquet wrote in his essay on 'Threats to Identity in the Large Group'. One can feel like a drop in the ocean, disintegrating, an un-person, one among thirty-three million (three million in Britain), growing at a rate of twelve per cent a month. Some respond by becoming inconspicuous (computer or net phobics, 'lurkers'); others, like me, by trying omnipotently to encompass the whole. Far from experiencing it as a potentially collegial community, I have had people say that they could not bear it for so many people have access to the inside of their computer (= head). In anticipation, there is the certainty that one will be overwhelmed. I am not such a person, but I will say that before I got a version of email software which can sort out messages with filters, I had over 12,000 unread and unsorted email messages with the prospect of throwing them away (We are not good at that in the Young family. My sister was a pack-rat; I am merely an inhabitant of large amounts of clutter) or opening and filing them one by one, a procedure I got down to about twenty seconds (i.e., sixty-six hours of filing work). Now they go where I have programmed them to go, but the queue of 12,000 was properly daunting. I have colleagues and friends who could not bear even to hear that story. The truth is that it is creeping up again and currently stands at about 8000 email messages in an old file and a current one has about 2000, but I know I can file or discard them presto with my Eudora Pro software.

Then there is technophobia. I do not think of myself as technologically dextrous. I am forever having to have my hand held and be talked through how to do things on my Mac and on the net. But I have learned to persevere. People are very patient and I have become good at a few things. Others I have not even attempted yet, for example, bulletin boards, moos, movie clips. You could say there is a divide at about the point where one can or cannot learn to program a video recorder. I am well on the competent side of that line but unable to take my motorbike apart, much less program a computer or follow the instructions that come with computer software. I should add that this is quite common, and the instruction books allow for it, and most programs have 'Help' files built in and telephone help lines available, if under-staffed. Then there is the remarkable generosity of others on the net, including especially the people who create the software who usually give their email address and invite you to ask them things and give feedback. There are even forums devoted exclusively to helping people. The man who invented AddMail, the software which transfers messages from my server, Demon, to my Eudora software is a dentist in Romford who has given me several hours of his time.

Of course, Bill Gates and the Mac people will make all this easier and easier and user-friendly (with glitches like Microsoft Windows 95 and fierce competition), just as the Netscape people have produced software that makes web searching a relatively simple task. Before Netscape, the World Wide Web was invented by CERN workers who presciently saw that the end of the Cold War spelled the end of the nuclear physics gravy train. New dimensions of user-friendliness are announced in every issue of the monthly fanzine .Net (pronounced 'dot net'). As I said, I was cured from my info-tech phobia by the Mac, which Joseph Berke persuaded me to buy; it was an almost religious experience.

Indeed, I recently saw an article by Umberto Eco on the net which said (shades of Zamiatin's Fordist dystopia, We) that the world's future will be divided by essentially two religions, one based on the Mac, the other on the PC. Mac people are beneficiaries of a Catholic dispensation, with a programming priesthood forgiving them, smoothing the way and making life bearable. PC people are like Protestant fundamentalists; they quote the Law of the Old Testament and the intricate abominations of Leviticus and are required to work out their own path to God and salvation. Windows is like Anglicanism, putting a forgiving front end on a basically Protestant liturgy.

I feel sure that there is an internet in your future. I believe that it is a boon to humankind and that mental health workers stand to gain tremendously, but so does the rest of culture, something which is increasingly at our fingertips. Unless you are an Adorno and believe that mass culture is a threat and waters down civilization, I suggest you go with it. Creating forums, bulletin boards, web sites and home pages for institutions and individuals is becoming increasingly easy. This raised large questions, among them quality control and commercialism (about which I have essayed elsewhere: Young, 1993, 1995, in press ), but these are problems within an exciting and fundamentally accessible and democratic technology which I believe will fundamentally solve the problems of rising publishing costs and access to knowledge, information and education.

I was told as a child that if God had wanted me to smoke he would have put a chimney in me. I have benefited from an unbroken line of miraculous electronic devices from the telephone and radio and Saturday movie to the wire recorder, electric typewriter, stereo hi-fi, tape recorder, walkman, disc, discman and computer. (One day I intend to write my electronic autobiography. See draft: Young, 1996) I am old enough for ice and milk to have been delivered to my home by horse-drawn carts and for the washing to be done over a wood fire in a cast iron pot in the back yard. Near where I grew up, rural electrification came late, and people who had carried water from a stream and tended wood stoves on which they heated irons which burned their hands and arms - these people named their boys Lyndon after the Congressman who brought electricity to their homes (Caro, 1983). I believe that we will one day look back at the inventor of videotape and cassette noise reduction, Ray Dolby, and the people who brought us computing, the PC and Mac and the net as we do to James Clerk Maxwell and Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Alva Edison. And we will bless the day their ingenuity brought knowledge and communication to all. Now we have to get that electrification and its sequellae to the whole world a political task the solution of which I expect the internet to facilitate.

REFERENCES

Caro, Robert (1983) 'The Sad Irons', in The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Vol. 1, The Path to Power. N. Y. : Knopf, 1983, pp. 502-15

Eco, Umberto

Godin, Seth (1993) The Smiley Dictionary: Cool Things to do with Your Keyboard. Berkeley: Peachpit Press.

Holland, Norman H. (1995) 'The Internet Regression' (internet paper)

Turkle, Sherry (1984) The Second Self: The Computer and the Human Spirit. N.Y.: Simon & Schuster.

Turquet, Pierre (1975) 'Threats to Identity in the Large Group', in L. Kreeger, ed., The Large Group: Dynamics and Therapy. Constable; reprinted Maresfield., pp. 87-144.

Young, Robert M. (1993) 'What Scientists Have to Learn', paper presented to conference on the 'Changing Image of Science: The Role of the Media and Education', sponsored by the British Universities Film and Video Council in association with the Wellcome Trust, at the Wellcome Building, London.

______ (1995) 'A Place for Critique in the Mass Media', paper presented to the programme in Science, Society and the Media at the University of the West of England.

______ (in press) 'We Don't Need Them to Make Culture - or to Share It', Science as Culture.

______ (1996) 'Electronic Autobiography' (draft).

Zamiatin, Eugene (1920) We. N. Y.: Dutton.

This is the expanded text of a talk given to the Ninth Annual conference on Psychoanalysis and the Public Sphere on the theme, 'Recovering a Future', at the University of East London, November 1995. The revised version was presented to the Research Seminar, Centre for Psychotherapeutic Studies, University of Sheffield, 26 January 1996.

The author

Address for correspondence: 26 Freegrove Road, London N7 9RQ

email: robert@rmy1.demon.co.uk

home page: (where my unpublished manuscripts are available for downloading).

6417 words


The Human Nature Review
Ian Pitchford and Robert M. Young - Last updated: 28 May, 2005 02:29 PM

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