From the Psychoanalyst's Couch to Social Networks

From the Psychoanalyst's Couch to Social Networks

Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2255-3.ch608
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Given the important role that the psychoanalysis has played in the field of intervention on mental health for many years and the controversial debate that as therapeutical practice has been always originated and recently reactivated, it is of particular interest to discusses the actuality of the SRT fifty years later in the era of social networks. It does so by exploring the dynamics of the interchange between scientific and lay knowledge regarding psychoanalysis, psychiatry and mental health in light of a corpus of spontaneous conversations among Facebook, Twitter and Yahoo! Answers users from France and Italy compiled over a one-year period. The study enlarges psycho-social research on social networks, currently under the hegemony of sociometrics and computer science research. Briefly, in this new communicative scenario the results of our study show how different target groups act new practices, showing their positioning: users act as ‘infomediaries' of expert knowledge, providing informal help and suggestions online; experts open the doors of their “physical rooms” to “cyber rooms”.
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It is important to recall here that the conventional approach of social sciences to the study of SN has been rooted in the field of sociometry since the introduction and diffusion in the late 1960s of such well-known theories as the six degrees of separation and the small world phenomenon (Travers & Milgram, 1969). These theories have influenced generations of social scientists intent on extending mathematical models to the study of social relationships in terms of network theory and relying on concepts such as nodes (individual actors within the network) and ties (relationships between those actors). Social network analysis (SNA) is the modern sociological evolution of this trend (Carrington, Scott & Wasserman, 2005; Scott, 2004). Thanks to the recent affirmation and visibility of the Web, this approach has become hegemonic in the study of SN (Catanese et Al., 2012; De Meo et Al., 2012).

On the one hand, this trend can be seen as the consequence of the increasing interest of social sciences in computationally intense methods with which to analyse and model social phenomena (Williford & Henry, 2012) leading to the reproduction of “’habitual practices’ employed by quantitative researchers using the procedures which they are comfortable and familiar with” (Stoneman, Sturgis & Allum, 2012:854). On the other hand, it is possible to identify a significant lack of theory in the study of “what lies beneath” the massive and multiform production of social interaction in new online communication channels, especially from a semantic perspective (de Rosa, 2012).

Research on SR investigated via interpersonal exchanges on SNS may be a valid response to this theoretical challenge. In fact, in the 1990s, Moscovici (1995; 1997:7) provided an anticipatory proposal; he emphasised the importance of investigating new communication phenomena by studying “how common sense, the language exchanged, groups themselves are shaped in this cyber-communication”.

We accordingly assumed that exploration of the representational fields underlying the ‘social discourse’ would provide track of the new type of common sense emerging from SN, as well as the social positioning of different actors and groups.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Twitter: Free social network and micro-blogging service that gives its users a personal page that can be updated by means of text messages with a maximum length of 140 characters.

Google Advanced Search: The most popular and currently the most used web search engine.

User-Generated Content: Any form of content such as blogs, forums, posts, chats, tweets… created by users of an online system or service, often made available via social media websites.

Social Networks: In the definition of social networks, inter-relationality among diverse social actors, such as individual private users and organizations, is a core element.

Yahoo! Answers: Community-driven question-and-answer (Q&A) site launched by Yahoo! in July 2005.

Facebook: Free social networking service. Activated in 2004, it registered about 100 million users in less than 9 months.

Social Representations: Common sense theories on key aspects of the world that allow individuals and groups to represent it and master it.

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