The Machine Moves: Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Computer Mediation in the Psychoanalytic Frame

Maclaurin, Bede
Tudor, Keith
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Master of Psychotherapy
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Auckland University of Technology

Computer-mediated communication is increasingly ubiquitous and pervasive in modern relationships. Although mediation in psychoanalysis, for instance through letter writing or telephone calls, is not new, the level of accessibility, among other possibilities, provided by the use of computer mediation through video-calls in psychoanalysis is unprecedented, and has led, in recent decades, to increased discussion among psychoanalytic clinical theorists around the application of video-calls in psychoanalytic treatment. Such application is a radical variation from psychoanalytic tradition regarding the psychoanalytic frame. In this hermeneutic literature review, I explore the perspectives of psychoanalytic clinical theorists on computer-mediated communication in the psychoanalytic frame with respect to the conceptualisation of the psychoanalytic frame itself; the prospect of radical change in tradition; the effects on embodied intersubjectivity of computer mediation; and some ethical concerns, including co-creation and negotiation of the frame, and the impacts on the security of the setting. In the process, I make some recommendations as to how this change might be responded to by psychoanalysts and psychodynamic psychotherapists, namely through responsiveness to variation in the frame reinforced through familiarity and literacy with computer-mediated communication and its interaction with the psychoanalytic frame itself.

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