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Psychoanalysis On and Off the Couch

Apr 16, 2023

"They interviewed more than 6,000 American parents and their children from ages eight to thirteen. They wanted to identify what the perception and realities were of the parents' use of technology. It is important to know that about one-third of the children said that their parents spent equal or less time with them than in using their devices. Over half of the children felt that their parents check their devices too often and complained that their parents allow themselves to be distracted by the devices during conversation, something that made a third of them feel unimportant. Many parents too, when asked about their device usage, agreed that it was too frequent and many parents also worried about how this looked to the younger generation. Almost a third concluded that they did not set a good example for their children with their internet devices." 


Episode Description: We begin by distinguishing adult addiction to pornography from the situation of childhood overstimulation. Central to the child's experience of being able to psychically metabolize pornographic images is the presence of an adult who is able to recognize "the importance of his presence for the child, the value of their mutual contact so that they can together confront difficult questions and dilemmas." Indeed, Franco and Andrea define the traumatic aspect of pornography for children to be the lack of contact with an object, "a lack that renders impossible the working through of the [pornographic] solicitations." We discuss the three models that characterize parents' rule setting for their children - digital orphans, exiles and heirs - and we also address the meaning to the children of their parents' own dissociative over-involvement in screen watching. They end on an optimistic note finding that "we can view technological experiences as an opportunity to elaborate and construct shared meanings."


Our Guests:


Franco D’Alberton, Ph.D. is a psychologist and child and adolescent psychoanalyst, full member and training analyst of the Italian Psychoanalytic Society (SPI/IPA). He worked in NHS services first as a psychologist in the field of child mental health then as consultant in Psychology at the Pediatric Department of S.Orsola University Hospital in Bologna (Italy). Initially focused on adults training in clinical psychology and psychotherapy, he has increasingly turned to children and adolescents and to family problems. He is currently working in private practice.


Andrea Scardovi MD, PHD, is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, and full member of the Italian Psychoanalytic Society (SPI/IPA). He worked in NHS services and at Bologna University, where for many years taught courses on communicative elements of psychotherapy. He developed a training method to improve interview skills of General Practitioners, which was adopted in various Italian regions. He has been a member of the editorial board of the Italian Journal of Psychoanalysis. He is currently working in private practice.


Linked Episode: Episode 103: Addictive Pornography: Psychoanalytic Considerations with Claudia Spadazzi, MD and Jose Zusman, MD – IPA Off the Couch


Recommended Readings:


Balint, M. (1969) Trauma and Object Relationship. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 50:429-435


Benjamin, J., Atlas, G. (2015). The “Too Muchness” of Excitement: Sexuality in Light of Excess, Attachment, and Affect Regulation. Int. J. Psychoanal, 96(1):39-63.


Freud, S. (1895). Project for a Scientific Psychology. S. E., 1:281-391.


Freud, S. (1908). On the Sexual Theories of Children. S. E., 9:205-226.


Freud, S. (1924). The economic problem of masochism. In S. E., Vol. XIX, 155–70. London: Hogarth Press.


Dodes L. (2019) A general psychoanalytic theory of addiction. In: Savelle-Rocklin, Salman Akhtar, ed., Beyond the Primal Addiction. Food, Sex, Gambling, Internet, Shopping, and Work. Routledge, London.


Gilmore, K. (2017). Development in digital age. Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 70(1):82-90.


Green, A. (2000) Time and Psychoanalysis: Some Contradictory Aspects. London: Free Association Books, 2002, 95-96.


Lemma A., Caparrotta L. (2014). Psychoanalysis in the Technoculture Era. London: Routledge.


Marzi, A. (2013). Introduction. In Marzi, A. (ed.), Psychoanalysis, Identity, and the Internet: Explorations into Cyberspace. London: Karnac, 2016,XXXIII-L.


Tylim, I. (2017). Revisiting adolescents’ narcissism in the age of cyberspace. Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 70(1):130-134.


Zusman J.A. (2021) Between Dependency and Addiction. Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 74(1): 280-293.