Mediated psychotherapy, transitional space and cybernetic capitalism

  • John Farnsworth Otago University
Keywords: digital; capitalism; Winnicott; Stiegler; cybernetic; transitional object; boundary object.

Abstract

My focus is on how psychoanalysis and digital worlds influence each other: how they shape and comprehend each other through the human, the posthuman, various new digital processes and cybernetic agents. Together, they create entanglements of consciousness, affect and unconscious processes that are intricate and wide-ranging. They are intricate, too, by interweaving with psychoanalytic theory, illustrated here through the concept of transitional space. They also interweave with a rich body of contemporary social theory and I draw on Bernard Stiegler’s work to show how these extensive bodies of psychotherapy and critical theory relate in important ways to each other. Critical theory is often sensitised to psychoanalysis, but it is also highly critical of the way digital capitalism constructs new cybernetic worlds, the “psychopathologies of cognitive capitalism”, as Neidich (2017) terms it. Patricia Clough (2018) describes these developments as “the user unconscious”, the other- than-human agencies increasingly at work beyond and below the threshold of human consciousness. I emphasise that practitioners cannot avoid these developments, and I conclude by asking how, as psychotherapists in democratic societies, we best engage effectively and critically with them.

E arotahia ana e au te pēhea o te awenga i waenga o te wetewetenga hinengaro me te ao matihiko; pēhea tā rāua hanga, mōhio hoki i a rāua anō mai i te ira tangata, te tangata pohewa, ngā tepe matihiko hou me ngā tūāhua kaiwhakahaere kōtuitui. Piritahi ka puta ake he whīwhinga mauri ora, he ngau me ngā hātepe mauri moe tino uaua tino whānui nei. Ka uaua ake anō hoki ki te rarangahia atu ki te ariā wetewetenga hinengaro, e whakaahuahia ake ana e te ariā atea tauwhirowhiro. Ka taki hono atu anō hoki ki te rahi o ngā ariā hapori o ēnei rā ā ka toro atu au ki ngā mahi a Penara Hiekere kia kitea ai he pēhea te hononga o ngā huihuinga whakaoranga hinengaro matawhānui nei me te ariā wetewetenga ki a rāua anō. I te nuinga o te wā kua taunga kē te ariā matapaki ki te wetewetenga hinengaro, engari e kaha ana ki te whakahāwea i te āhua whakahou mahi ao kōtuitui a te haupū rawa matihiko, arā e ai ki te kī a Nitiki (2017), “ ngā arakauwaka haupū rawa”. Ko tā Paterehia Karawhe (2018) whakaahua i ēnei whanekenga ko te “kaimahi hinengaro moe”, ko ērā atu i te ira tangata kaiwhakahaere e rahi haere ake ana te mahi i tua atu i raro iho o te pito hinegaro ira tangata. E whakahau ana au kāre e taea e ngā kaiwhakaharatau te karo i ēnei whanaketanga, ā, i te mutungā ko taku matapaki ki a tātau ngā kaiwhakaora hinengaro i roto i tēnei hāpori manapori he aha te huarahi pai, te huarahi whai hua hai hīkoitahitanga mā tātau.

Author Biography

John Farnsworth, Otago University

John Farnsworth has written extensively across a variety of fields including psychotherapy, social science and new technologies. He works as a psychotherapist in private practice in Dunedin and also holds an Associate position in Otago University’s Media, Film and Communications programme.

Published
2022-07-30
How to Cite
Farnsworth, J. (2022). Mediated psychotherapy, transitional space and cybernetic capitalism. Ata: Journal of Psychotherapy Aotearoa New Zealand, 26(1), 53-71. https://doi.org/10.9791/ajpanz.2022.04