Dear Jean and all,
Thank you so much for your thoughtful paper presenting the position of IAJS as a Jungian orientated community linked together through the internet. It seems to me that the proliferation of on-line groups is linked to a wider cultural development of us existing now in cyberspace as well as in our physical environments. This double life has tantilising possibilities but as you mention embroils us in the danger of overstepping our boundaries and entering into deep space, a no-man’s land of unlimited possibilities, but one which can bear no relation to an earthbound reality.
It is not just organisations such as ours that are caught up in cyberspace frontiers and influenced by their positive and negative effect. This month’s edition of The Journal of Analytical Psychology Vol. 60, Nr. 2 has published three thought-provoking clinical papers on the developmental significance of virtual realities and cyberspace, particularly in adolescence. I think some of their observations can also be applied to adult use of internet facilities. The first article by Marcia Rytovaara entitled ‘Demons, voices and virtual realities in adolescence’ stresses that cyberspace and the virtual world can offer a mediated ‘play space’ for multiple identities in the service of development (Balick, 2014) as well as providing a necessary psychic retreat that allows for later explorations and developmental resolutions ( Steiner, 2011). She argues that social networking offers forms of vitality, a love of life and action which can in the right dosage transform feelings of deadness and disconnectedness. I agree with that assessment.
The second paper by Anja Weisel ‘Virtual reality and the psyche’ disagrees with Plassmann’s (2010) view that virtual objects take the place of primary objects. Weisel stresses that the attachment power of virtual objects and web-site interactions lies not just in their ‘object use’ ability to facilitate a sense of continuity and stability without the need for separation, but also functions as a kind of creative, symbolic transformational or transitional object where that possibility with real outer objects was/is lacking.
The third paper by Robert Tyminski ‘Lost in (cyber)space,’ similar to Rytovaara’s view, emphasises how internet space encourages a multiplicity of selves. Its immediacy and disinhibiting effect, though, can result in more personal disclosure than we intend. Tyminski also warns of the danger of ‘magical thinking’ as a kind of grandiosity which flattens cognitive thinking by overtaking reality thinking. Additionally, he sees the use of cyberspace as a desperate attempt to blot out the pain of what was missed emotionally growing up, in terms of developing the necessary social skills and relational intimacy. Tyminski is open to the possibility that internet interaction may serve to rewire and repair deeply damaged relationship patterns whereby we are able to develop new psychological ‘skins.’
Taking all these possibilities into account offered by cyberspace interaction which I think, on balance, are creative rather than destructive, it is important that IAJS maintains its grounded, reality-testing principles with good administrative procedures.
We can still have our feet on the ground as well as our heads in cyberspace! As Michael Glock so eloquently expresses, we are the ‘overreachers’ using internet facilities as our ‘modern fire’ but we must make sure that we map out sufficiently our new directions..
With warm wishes to all,