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Proposed Section, Division 39 - Psychoanalysis and Technology

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Welcome to the online petition for a proposed new section in Division 39. We expect it will be numbered “Section X” and called “Psychoanalysis and Technology.” Our proposed Mission Statement is below. We hope you’ll read it and then consider signing the petition thereby indicating your intention to join the new section should it form (and please use the “Comments” section to say whether or not you are a member of Division 39). But first we want to answer an important introductory question.

Why now?

We believe the time is ripe for creating this section and want to describe some of the main reasons why we believe this to be the case. But we do not expect this to be a comprehensive account. You may have other reasons why creating such a section now is timely. Please know we strive to be inclusive of different points of view. In fact, making space for the full range of topic-specific perspectives is central to the mission of the proposed section.

First, psychoanalytically-informed attention to the issue of technology changing self-experience and relationships is accelerating. This can be seen in study groups forming, books and articles being written, and presentations delivered. Plus, training programs are starting to offer courses, organizations are hosting online discussions, and graduate students are doing research and preparing dissertations. It really seems that now is the right time to create a place where ideas and resources can be shared, results discussed and knowledge gained. And a new section in Division 39 seems an especially useful place for this to happen.

Second, the psychological consequences of technology use–both gains and losses—are increasingly capturing public attention. You can see it in recent books, for example, by Sherry Turkle or Nicholas Carr; in popular entertainment like Black Mirror dramatizing the perils of technology to powerful effect; and throughout the blogosphere. At the same time, patients are describing problems with technology, such as the common complaint that one or one’s intimates are somehow “addicted” to their screens. Both patients and clinicians are becoming increasingly aware that screens are changing family life and relationships. There is an urgent need for informed psychoanalytic contributions to the emerging public debate about these issues. The proposed section will take seriously the need for public mental-health activism that protects core psychoanalytic values of intimacy, relatedness and reflection.

Third, there needs to be a place to thoughtfully consider technology-mediated and technologically-assisted psychoanalytic care. The section organizers value the never-ending dynamic relationship between procedural knowledge and both reflective self-awareness and theory development. The proposed section will endeavor to be a place for understanding what we’re doing while also putting what we know and understand into practice. Technology and treatment issues are increasingly present in the pages of the popular press, the professional literature and the blogosphere. Further contributing to a sense of urgency that led to proposing this section is accelerating entrepreneurial and investment activity focussed on, using the language of the techno-preneur, “disrupting the mental health space.” The section will endeavor to be a place where patient care comes before corporate profit and professional ethics are given the respect it deserves.

We hope you will signal your intention to join what we hope will be “Section X: Psychoanalysis and Technology” by signing this petition as is required by the Division procedures. Should we collect the requisite number of signatures, which we have been told is 150, we will contact everyone who signed to let you know we can move ahead. We will also contact the signatories with a draft of the proposed Section’s By-Laws which need to be submitted to the Division Board along with the petition and the Mission Statement below. We thank you for your support.

Mission Statement: Section X (Psychoanalysis and Technology)

Section X, Psychoanalysis and Technology, is open to all interested in the intersections of psychoanalysis and ever-expanding technoculture. It seeks to enrich psychoanalytic theory, research and clinical practice and combine it with scholarship from other fields studying the human consequences of technology. Our mission will be both to deepen psychoanalytic knowledge about the use of technology and to create opportunities to share that knowledge within the field, with other scholarly and clinical communities, and with the general public.

Members share a belief that psychoanalysis has tremendous promise for a bright future in technoculture. We can thrive, and help others thrive, by continuing to privilege and model intimacy, relatedness and reflection. But techno-culture also presents peril. Uncritical technology-use threatens to compromise those very same capacities. We believe the best way to support promise and prevent peril is by studying accelerating technology use and by actively supporting developments that nurture rather than erode those fundamental human values at the core of the psychoanalytic tradition. As such, our mission includes scholarship, education and activism.

We encourage membership from across the spectrum of technological experience. We aim to include graduate students and ECPs who may have come of age using technology as well as mid-career and senior members who are the last generation to straddle the pre-digital and digital worlds. All perspectives are needed and welcome.

Core Organizing Committee

(affiliations are for purposes of identification only)

—Todd Essig, Ph.D, William Alanson White Institute

—Leora Trub, Ph.D, Associate Professor, Pace University

—Danielle Magaldi, Ph.D, Associate Professor, City University of New York; Candidate, NYU Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis

—Gillian Isaacs Russell, Ph.D, International Psychoanalytical Association; Author of Screen Relations: The Limits of Computer-Mediated Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy

Initial Signatories

Scott Pytluk, Ph.D, ABPP, Illinois School of Professional Psychology

Nancy McWilliams, Ph.D, ABPP, Rutgers Graduate School of Applied & Professional Psychology

Sherry Turkle, Ph.D, Professor, MIT; Affiliate member, Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute

Elliot L. Jurist, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Psychology, The City College of New York

Paul Wachtel, Ph.D, Doctoral program in clinical psychology, City College of CUNY; Division 39 Member and Fellow

Stephen Hartman, Ph.D, Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California

Danny Gensler, Ph.D, William Alanson White Institute

Noa Ashman, MSW, Washington School of Psychiatry

Shara Sand, Psy.D., Director of Counseling, Manhattan School of Music

Lewis Aron, Ph.D., NYU Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis

Joyce Slochower, Ph.D., NYU Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis

Laurel Silber, Psy.D., Institute for Relational Psychoanalysis of Philadelphia

Jill Bellinson, Ph.D., William Alanson White Institute

Barbara Nusbaum, Ph.D., NYU Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis

Andrew Eig, Ph.D., The Derner Institute for Advanced Psychological Studies at Adelphi University

Debra Neumann, Ph.D., Training and Supervising Analyst Contemporary Freudian Society Washington DC

Jonathan Shedler, Ph.D.

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