Psychology of Cyberspace - Article Index

Listed below is a list of links to all the articles and pages in the hypertext book (web site) The Psychology of Cyberspace.The articles are arranged chronologically, with the most recently written or revised ones appearing near the top. The most recent date of the article, its version number, and its approximate size are indicated. Unless otherwise stated, the author of the article is John Suler, Ph.D. There also is a subject index and search engine for this book. Links on this page will produce a new window placed on top of this window.

Online Photo-Sharing Communities: Personal Identity and Relationships in Flickr

How people use images, words, and actions to express themselves and establish relationships in flickr, one of the largest online photosharing communities.

Online Therapy and Support Groups Created May 1996; revised August 1998, August 2007- v2.0 (76k) Therapy and support groups are springing up all over the internet. Some are led by professionals, some are grass roots. Online communities also may have therapeutic qualities. This article discusses how such groups are affected by the online disinhibition effect, as well as observations from people who participate in online support groups as a component of the eQuest psycho-educational program.

Second Life, Second Chance Created Jan 2007 - v1.0 (16k) A description of my first impressions while exploring this popular avatar world.

The Psychology of Text Relationships Created Jan 2007 - v1.0 (105k) A comprehensive synthesis of my ideas about online text relationships, with a focus on applications to online psychotherapy and clinical work. An earlier version of this article was published as Suler, J. (2004) The psychology of text relationships. In Online Counseling: A Manual for Mental Health Professionals (R. Kraus, J. Zack, & G. Striker, Eds). London: Elsevier Academic Press.

The First Decade of CyberPsychology Created Aug 2006 - v1.0 (16k) My observations about cyberspace and cyberpsychology on the 10th annivesary of this book.

Media Transitions Created Sept 2005 - v1.0 (40k) This article examines the psychological aspects of making transitions from one computer program or computer-generated environment to another. What motivates people to try something new? What underlying anxieties and rigid "mental sets" hinder them? I also offer suggestions for making media transitions and insights into the behaviors of tech support workers.

The Basic Psychological Features of Cyberspace Created May 1996; revised July 98, Jan 2002, June 05- v2.2 (28k) These features can make online encounters very different than those in the "real" world: reduced sensations, texting, identity flexibility, altered perceptions, equalized status, transcended space, temporal flexibility, social multiplicity, recordability, media disruption . This revision mentions current communication technologies and emphasizes these psychological features as elements of a conceptual model for a psychology of cyberspace.

Adolescents in Cyberspace: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Created June 1998, Revised Feb 2005 - v1.5 (56k) Knowing what makes adolescents tick helps explain what they are doing in cyberspace, and why. A need to achieve, to belong, to experiment with social skills and personal identity - all motivate the cyberteen. Given the dangers and benefits, how should parents be involved - especially if the adolescent becomes "addicted?" This revision of the article includes discussions of adolescents using blogs and IM.

The Final Showdown Between In-Person and Cyberspace Relationships Created May 1997, revised Sept 04 - v2.0 (46k) We develop relationships by hearing, seeing, feeling, intuiting, even smelling and tasting (!) each other. Cyberspace and in-person encounters can be quite different on these dimensions of relating. Those differences have a dramatic effect on friendships and romances. This revision includes minor modifications throughout the article, as well as a new section on defending text and the body.

The Online Disinhibition Effect Created June 2001; revised June 2002, June 2003, May 2004, Aug 2004 - v3.0 (46k) While online some people open up to reveal all sorts of personal feelings and thoughts. Others act out inappropriately in ways they never would in-person. This article explains six factors that contribute to this "disinhibition" effect: dissociative anonymity, invisibility, asynchronicity, solipsistic introjection, dissociative imagination, and minimizing authority, as well as how online disinhibition and suspicion are related to the altering of self-boundary. This revision includes a section about whether the "true self" appears online as a result of disinhibition. An earlier version of this article was published as: Suler, J.R. (2004). The online disinhibition effect. CyberPsychology and Behavior, 7, 321-326.

Psychotherapy in Cyberspace: A 5-Dimension Model of Online and Computer-Mediated Psychotherapy Created May 1999; revised August 2000, Jan 2001, March 2004 - v2.5 (99k) In this article I propose a 5 dimension model of psychotherapies conducted in cyberspace. The 5 dimensional features used to understand psychotherapies are synchronous/asynchronous, text/sensory, imaginary/actual, automated/interpersonal, and invisible/present. This revision of the article discusses newer communication technologies and the participation of clinicians in the design of communication tools. An earlier version of this article was published as: Suler, J.R. (2000). Psychotherapy in cyberspace: A 5-dimension model of online and computer-mediated psychotherapy. CyberPsychology and Behavior, 3, 151-160.

The Future of Online Psychotherapy and Clinical Work Created Aug 2001; revised March 2004 - v1.2 (29k) What lies ahead? In this article I look into my crystal ball and see some important issues surfacing, including specialization, interdisciplinary teams, clinical networks, empowering of the client, automated interventions, and a meta-theory of cybertherapy. This revision of the article mentions newer communication technologies and the participation of clinicians in the design of communication tools. Other versions of this paper were presented at the 2001 Conference of the American Psychological Assocation; and published as: Suler, J.R. (2002). The future of online clinical work. Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies, 4, 265-270.

Personality Types in Cyberspace Created August 1998; revised Jan 2002 & Feb 2004 - v2.5 (16k) Different personality types may have their own unique style of behaving in cyberspace. This article recommends McWilliam's psychoanalytic work on personality types as a guideline for understanding the "person" side of the person/environment interaction. This revision includes a discussion of the oppositional personality.

The Two Paths of Virtual Reality Created Sept 99; revised Feb 2004 - v1.2 (33k) Computer generated environments include true-to-life scenes, as well as highly imaginative scenarios. In the years to come, how will we use these virtual realities? In this article, I speculate about the "body immersion" and "brain stimulated" environments of future VR technology. Perhaps we will even use this technology to understand what "reality" is. This revision of the original 1999 article includes small changes and additions throughout.

Publishing Online: Idea Independence, Interdependence, and the Academic Created Sept 1998; revised Aug 1999, Oct 2003 - v2.0 (60k) Publishing online offers some interesting advantages over hardcopy: hypertext construction, multimedia, interactivity, limitless revivability, and personal independence. Academia needs to develop new methods for evaluating the quality of online publications. This revision includes tune-ups throughout the article, including the addition of ideas about weblogs and RSS, as well as a discussion of the durability of online publications. A hardcopy version of this article appeared as: Suler, J. (1999). Publishing Online. Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies, 1, 373-376.

Presence in Cyberspace Sept 2003 - v1.0 (50k) How do we know we are present in a particular place in cyberspace? How do we know others are present? This article examines the factors contributing to our sense of environmental and interpersonal presence - including sensory stimulation, change, interactivity, and the degree of familiarity.

E-mail Communication and Relationships Created August 1998; revised June 2003 - v1.6 (126k) This comprehensive article examines the unique communication features of e-mail, types of e-mail users, the anatomy of an e-mail message, pacing of messages, e-mail archives, an e-mail make-over, and how relationships evolve via e-mail, including transference reactions and meeting f2f. This is a revision of the original version of the article, and includes new sections on rich text, multimedia enhancements, and e-mail stress, as well as small revisions throughout. A version of this article for clinicians was published as Suler, J.R. (2004). The psychology of text relationships. In: Kraus, R., Zack, J., Stricker, G. (eds.), Online counseling: a handbook for mental health professionals, pp 19-50. London: Elsevier Academic Press.

Extending the Classroom into Cyberspace: The Discussion Board March 2003 - v1.1 (55k) This article discusses the use a discussion board as a supplement to in-person teaching, including how to motivate students to use it, setting rules for participation, techniques for facilitating discussion, the disinhibition effect, and how text communication creates a unique environment that can be effectively integrated into the class. A hardcopy version of this article was published as: Suler, J.R. (2004). The online disinhibition effect. CyberPsychology and Behavior, 7, 397-403.

Defending the In-Box: The Psychology of Coping with Spam Feb 2003 - v1.1 (44k) Spam e-mail violates our personal space. Defending our in-box against these unwanted messages turns into a psychological duel with the spammer. We can create software filters to block them out, or weed them out by hand. As we scan through the messages in our in-box, can we detect the spammers' attempts to trick us into opening them?

eQuest: A Comprehensive Online Program for Self-study and Personal Growth Sept 2002 - v1.0 (32k) eQuest is a comprehensive program of exercises and online activities that assists people in addressing some personal issue that they wish to understand better and perhaps resolve. The eQuest philosophy holds that exploring online resources - and developing an online lifestyle - can enhance personal growth. A version of this article was presented as: Suler, J.R. (2002). eQuest: A Comprehensive Online Program for Self-study and Personal Growth. Conference of the American Psychological Association, Chicago.

Myths and Realities of Online Clinical Work June 2002 - v1.0 (91k) This article by the ISMHO Clinical Case Study Group explores various misconceptions or "myths" about online counseling, psychotherapy, and other types of clinical work. Hardcopy version: Fenichel, M., Suler, J., Azy Barak, Zelvin, E., Jones, G., Munro, K., Meunier, V., & Walker-Schmucker, W. (2002). Myths and Realities of Online Clinical Work. CyberPsychology and Behavior, 481-497.

Conflict in Cyberspace: How to Resolve Conflict Online June 2002 - v1.0 (32k) This article by Kali Munro explains some of the causes of conflict in cyberspace and offers some excellent practical advice about how to resolve such conflicts.

The Online Clinical Case Study Group: An E-mail Model July 2001 - v1.0 (57k) Online peer supervision and case study groups are an effective method for clinicians to share experiences and support each other in their work. This article describes some theoretical and practical ideas about how to set up and manage such a group using an e-mail list. Hardcopy version: Suler, J.R. (2001). The online clinical case study group: An e-mail model. CyberPsychology and Behavior,4, 711-722.

Assessing a Person's Suitability for Online Psychotherapy June 2001 - v1.0 (28k) These guidelines created by the ISMHO Clinical Case Study Group discuss basic issues to consider in determing whether a person could benefit from online psychotherapy. Hardcopy version: The ISMHO Clinical Case Study Group (2001). Assessing a person's suitability for online therapy. CyberPsychology and Behavior,4, 675-680.

Hypotheses about Online Text Relationships Oct 2000 - v1.0 (28k) A list of hypotheses about how and why people communicate via email, chat, and discussion boards using typed text. A version of this article was presented as: Suler, J.R. (2000). Online relationships via text talk. Conference of the Association of Internet Researchers, Lawrence, Kansas.

Psychotherapy and Clinical Work in Cyberspace July 2000 - v1.0 (30k) This page is the introduction and table of contents for the section devoted to psychotherapy and clinical work in cyberspace. It also contains a short introductory essay about the ethical, legal, and practical dilemmas about psychotherapy in cyberspace. Hardcopy version: Suler, J.R. (2001). Psychotherapy and clinical work in cyberspace. Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies, 3, 483-486.

Maximizing the Well-Being of Online Groups: The Clinical Psychologist in Virtual Communities July 2000 - v1.0 (27k) My professional work in cyberspace has mostly involved creating, facilitating, and consulting to various online groups and communities. I consider this work to be a type of online clinical/community psychology. In this article I describe the types of situations that come up in this work. I also offer my Top Ten List of issues to consider when working with online groups. A version of this article was presented as: Suler, J.R. (2000). The Clinical Psychologist in Online Communities. Convention of the New York State Psychological Association, New York.

Report of the ISMHO Online Clinical Case Study Group July 2000 - v1.0 (41k) One of the groups I created and facilitate, along with my colleague Michael Fenichel, is this case study group of the International Society for Mental Health Online. The group is devoted to in-depth discussions of psychotherapy and clinical cases in which the internet played an important role. This report summarizes the process and outcome for the first year of this group - what we called the "Millennium Group." A version of this article was presented as: Suler, J.R. (2000). An online clinical case study group. Convention of the American Psychological Association, Washington, D.C.

Working Hypotheses about Psychotherapy and Clinical Work in Cyberspace July 2000 - v1.0 (27k) This document lists the hypotheses about psychotherapy and clinical work in cyberspace that are being formulated by the ISMHO Clinical Case Study Group. Covering a wide range of theoretical ideas and techniques, it serves as the basis for an evolving, practical model to guide our understanding of how and for whom the various forms of online interventions can be applied most effectively.

Identity Managment in Cyberspace Created May 1996; revised April 2000 - v2.0 (27k) In cyberspace you can alter your style of being just slightly or indulge in wild experiments with your identity. This article examines five factors that determine how people manage their online identities: level of dissociation and integration, positive and negative valence, level of fantasy and reality, level of conscious awareness and control, and the media chosen. Hardcopy version: Suler, J.R. (2002). Identity Management in Cyberspace. Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies, 4, 455-460.

In the Cyberspace Bubble: Full Immersion and f2f Isolation March 2000 - v1.0 (28k) What would happen if a person was locked into an apartment for an extended period of time, with no way of interacting with the world except via the internet? This article examines a possible research design for studying this full cyberspace immersion and f2f isolation.

Ethics in Cyberspace Research Feb 2000 - v1.0 (20k) This article applies the Ethical Standards of the American Psychological Association to research in cyberspace. Because cyberspace alters the temporal, spatial, and sensory components of human interaction, it requires a unique interpretation of such standards - particularly in the case of naturalistic studies. Informed consent, the right to privacy, and the researcher's contribution to the people being studied are all important issues.

Bringing Online and Offline Living Together: The Integration Principle Jan 2000 - v1.0 (20k) Integrating one's online identity and lifestyle with one's offline identity and lifestyle can lead to psychological growth. In this article, I discuss this "integration principle" and ways to bring one's in-person and cyberspace worlds together.

Extending a Work Group into Cyberspace Jan 2000 - v1.0 (27k) This article discusses how an in-person work group can be extended into cyberspace by creating an e-mail list for the group. It explores some practical suggestions for setting up the list, the benefits of an ongoing virtual meeting, and how using the list will change the communication style and interpersonal dynamics of the group.

Human Becomes Electric: Networks as Mind and Self Created May 1996; revised Feb 1999, Jan 2000 - v2.0 (14k) The internet resembles the human mind and collective human consciousness. Perhaps it is an independent mind or self! Where do we drawn the line between human and machine? Can we discover the True Self in cyberspace?

Intensive Case Studies in Cyberspace and the Evolution of Digital Life Forms Created May 1996; revised Jan 2000 - v1.5 (9k) In-depth case studies can lead to a comprehensive, holistic understanding of the new life forms that are evolving in cyberspace. Hardcopy version: Suler, J.R. (2000). Case studies and the evolution of digital life forms. CyberPsychology and Behavior,3, 219-220.

Cyberspace Humor Oct 1999 - v1.2 (34k) A sample of cartoons and jokes about cyberspace. Is it just silly fun, or does this humor reveal something about our culture as well as our underlying anxieties about computers and the internet?

Internet Addiction in a Nutshell Oct 1999 - v1.0 (8k) For an article he was writing, Howard Rheingold asked about my opinion on the media's coverage of internet addiction. Making my reply as concise as possible, which he requested, was an intriguing challenge. Unfortunately, the editorial process of the zine trimmed my statement to something much more concise than I intended.

Computerized Psychotherapy Aug 1999 - v1.0 (52k) Can a computer conduct psychotherapy all by itself? In this article I compare the human therapist to the cybershrink, hypothesize about the types of psychotherapy a computer might be able to handle, and describe the results of a project in which my students interacted with the "Eliza" program. The finale is my speculation about the modules that might go into the ultimate computerized psychotherapy program.

One of Us: Participant Observation Research at the Palace Created August 1996; revised July 1999 - v1.5 (52k) I firmly believe in participant-observation research as a method to understand a cyberspace social phenomenon "from the inside." This article gives a detailed account of the stages and techniques involved in my work/play within the Palace multimedia chat community.

Avatar Psychotherapy June 1999 - v1.0 (20k) This article discusses the possibility of an "avatar psychotherapy" in which the client and therapist enact imaginary scenarios with avatars in a virtual environment for the purpose of exploring and altering the various aspects of the client's sense of self.

Internet Demographics 1998 Created May 1999; revised May 2005 - v1.1 (28k) Some statistics about the gender, age, education, income, race, and geographic location of people on the internet. What do those statistics say about cyberspace?

Cyberspace as Dream World: Illusion and Reality at the "Palace" Created July 96; revised April 1999 - v1.2 (80k) The experience of the Palace multimedia chat community in many respects resembles a dreamlike state of consciousness. This article also explores the meanings of dreams that members have about Palace.

Do Boys Just Wanna Have Fun?: Gender-Switching in Cyberspace Created May 96; revised May 1997, Feb 1999, April 1999 - v2.5 (23k) Why do people switch their gender in cyberspace? Is it possible to detect someone who is faking his gender? Hardcopy version: Suler, J.R. (in press). Do boys and girls just wanna have fun? In Gender Communication (by A. Kunkel). Kendall/Hunt Publishing.

The Psychology of Avatars and Graphical Space in Multimedia Chat Communities (or... How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Palace Props) Created May 1996; revised June 1996, Jan 1997, July 1997, Feb 1999, April 1999 - v2.7 (110k) A comprehensive study of visual chat environments - how people use avatars to express themselves and interact with others, types of avatars, avatar collections, deviant avatar behavior, avatar evolution, and the psychological effect of graphical backgrounds. Hardcopy version: Suler, J.R. (2001). The psychology of avatars and graphical space in multimedia chat communities. In Chat Communication, Michael Beiswenger (ed.), pp. 305-344. Ibidem, Stuttgart, Germany.

Overview and Guided Tour First created March 1999 - revised with each new article (35k) An overview of The Psychology of Cyberspace, with links to all of the articles in the book.

To Get What You Need: Healthy and Pathological Internet Use March 1999 - v1.0 (48k) An analysis of the factors for evaluating healthy versus pathological internet use, and the various psychological needs addressed by cyberspace (needs for sex, belonging, relationships, mastery and achievement, altered consciousness, self-actualization, transcendence). Hardcopy version: Suler, J.R. (1999) To get what you need: Healthy and pathological internet use. CyberPsychology and Behavior, 2, 385-394.

Cyberspace as a Psychological Space Created May 1996; revised Aug 1998, March 1999 - v1.7 (8k) People experience cyberspace realms as psychological spaces with meaning and purpose, as an intermediate psychological zone between self and other, and even as an extension of their own minds.

Computer and Cyberspace Addiction Created Aug 1996; revised Aug 1998, March 1999 - v1.8 (23k) A discussion of the controversy over whether computer and cyberspace addictions are unique or "true" addictions, the possible criteria for defining such addictions, and the "integration principle" for evaluating pathological internet use. Hardcopy version: Suler, J. (2004). Computer and cyberspace addiction. International Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies, 1, 359-362.

Internet Addiction Support Group: Is There Truth in Jest? Created August 1996; revised March 1998 - v2.0 (13k) Ivan Goldberg's criteria for defining pathological computer use and his announcement of a support group.... which he intended as a joke.

Nacey's Avatar Collection Feb 1999 - v1.0 (12k) This is a subsection of the long article on the psychology of avatars and graphical space. Here Nacey shows and explains to us a few of the avatars from her personal collection.

Y2K: Apocalyptic Thinking and the Tragic Flaw Feb 1999 - v1.0 (20k) Anxiety about the Y2K bug fuels some social movements as well as the personal insecurities of some individuals. It stems from fears about the unknown, interdependence, helplessness, and death - and reminds us of the tragic flaw that is human fallacy.

The Geezer Brigade: Steps in Studying an Online Group Jan 1999 - v1.0 (41k) A study of The Geezer Brigade - a group of online seniors who prefer to think of themselves as feisty codgers rather than "seniors." The article also explores the various steps in studying an online group, including the analysis of its leaders, membership, philosophy, history, and communication infrastructure.

Unique Groups in Cyberspace Created May 1996; revised January 1999 - v1.2 (5k) A short ditty about how cyberspace offers the opportunity for unique groups to form - some good, some not.

Online Lingo: Language at "The Palace" Created May 1996; revised Jan 1997, Jan 1999 - v1.7 (25k) Online groups develop their own vocabulary that makes communication more efficient and bolsters the group's sense of identity. This article defines some of the words commonly found in the Palace chat communities.

Making Virtual Communities Work Created January 1996; revised October 1998 - v1.5 (10k) Some technical and social guidelines to follow in order to create an online community that will thrive. Most important is the "integration principle."

Mom, Dad, Computer: Transference Reactions to Computers Created May 1996; revised March 1998 - v1.5 (31k) People may not even realize it, but they may be reacting to their computer as if it is their mother, father, or sibling. This article explores the various twists and turns in people's transference reactions to computers and cyberspace.

Games Avatars Play: Entertaining and Educational Games Using Avatars Nov 1997 - v1.0 (23k) Avatars are the visual images people use to represent themselves in multimedia chat communities. Some of these games are purely fun. Others are excellent tools for exploring personal identity and online relationships.

A simple decision-making method for e-mail groups Nov 1997 - v1.0 (10k) Ever been on a mailing list that was trying to make a decision about something? Then you may appreciate this structured method for discussing and voting on an issue.

TextTalk: Psychological Dynamics of Online Synchronous Conversations in Text-Driven Chat Environments Oct 1997 - v1.0 (50k) The text-only conversation of chat rooms seems chaotic at first. Later, you realize there is a unique method to the madness of "text talk." It is an art form.

The Bad Boys of Cyberspace: Deviant Behavior in Online Multimedia Communities and Strategies for Managing it Sept 1997 - v1.1 (275k) The anonymity of cyberspace unleashes all sorts of misbehavior in people, ranging from inappropriate language to pedophilia. This long article explains the cultural and psychological dimensions of online deviance, catalogs the various types of deviant behavior in the Palace multimedia chat community, and discusses the various automated and interpersonal techniques for managing the misbehavior. Hardcopy version: Suler, J.R. and Phillips, W. (1998). The Bad Boys of Cyberspace: Deviant Behavior in Multimedia Chat Communities. CyberPsychology and Behavior, 1, 275-294.

From ASCII to Holodecks: Cyberpsychology of an Online Multimedia Community (summary of the Palace Study) Aug 1997 - v1.0 (25k) If you want a quick and concise summary of my research on the Palace chat community, this is it. A version of this article was presented as: Suler, J.R. (1997). From ASCII to Holodecks: Psychology of an Online Multimedia Community. Presenation at the Convention of the American Psychological Association, Chicago.

Legnek's Avatar Collection July 1997 - v1.0 (8k) This is a subsection of the long article on the psychology of avatars and graphical space. Here Legnek shows and explains to us a few of the avatars from his personal collection.

The Black Hole of Cyberspace May 1997 - v1.0 (8k) The internet is supposed to respond to us. But sometimes it doesn't. When we receive no reply (especially to an e-mail message), that black hole can draw out of us all sorts of anxieties and insecurities.

How many mail list subscribers does it take to change a light bulb? (author unknown) May 1997 - v1.0 (7k) If you've ever participated on an e-mail list that was trying to reach a decision about something, you'll appreciate this humorous piece.

The Other Worlds (how Palace compares to other chat communities) May 1997 - v1.0 (32k) The Palace multimedia chat community is one among many major online communities. In this article, experienced users compare the Palace software and people to those of other worlds. One person focuses on deviant behavior in Worlds Away.

Cold Turkey: Messages from an Ex-Palace "Addict" April 1997 - v1.0 (15k) Many members of the Palace chat community talk and joke about being "addicted." A few members take the issue seriously and decide that it's time to "quit the habit." In these e-mails I received, one such member describes why and how he stopped cold turkey.

Knowledge, Power, Wisdom... and your very own asterisk: Wizards at the "Palace" April 1997 - v1.0 (88k) Wizards are the members of the Palace chat community who host, educate, and police the population. This article describes what it's like being a wizard; their special powers, privileges, and perks; different types of wizards; and how users become wizards.

Communicative Subtlety in Multimedia Chat: How many ways can you say "Hi" at the Palace? March 1997 - v1.0 (16k) Very simple keyboard characters and graphics can add much depth and subtlety to the basic act of saying "hello" in a multimedia chat encounter.

From Conception to Toddlerhood: A History of the First Year (or so) of The Palace Jan 1997 - v1.0 (103k) A detailed account of what life was like in the "good old days" of the Palace multimedia chat community called "Main." I describe some important historical moments, including how the once small community grappled with the influx of many new users.

Cyberspace Romances (interview) Dec 1996 - v1.0 (9k) In this Interview with Jean-Francois Perreault of Branchez-vous! I talk about the causes, benefits, and pitfalls of cyberspace romances.

Internet Addiction (interview) Nov 1996 - v1.0 (14k) In this Interview with Morris Jones of Internet Australasia magazine , I respond to his questions about my article on Computer and Cyberspace Addictions.

Why is This Thing Eating My Life? (Computer and Cyberspace Addiction at the "Palace") Created May 1996; revised June & Aug 1996 - v2.0 (32k) This article - the first cyberspace piece I wrote - applies Maslow"s hierarchy of needs in understanding why people become so enthusiastically involved in the Palace multimedia chat community.

On Being a God: An Interview with Jim Bumgardner In my e-mail interview with Jim, he describes the early stages of his developing the Palace multimedia chat software and his impressions of the pioneering community that evolved when Palace first went online. June 1996 - v1.0 (45k)

That's Me All Over: An Analysis of a Personal Avatar Collection May 1996 - v1.0 (11k) In the spirit of participant-observer research, I analyze my own collection of avatars that I have worn in the Palace multimedia chat community.

Unique Roles in Cyberspace May 1996 - v1.0 (5k) Cyberspace allows people to pursue roles that may not exist in the "real" world.

Transient and Long Term Online Relationships May 1996 - v1.0 (5k) The interactive power of the internet gives everyone an opportunity to meet people - sometimes in transient encounters, sometimes in long term friendships and romances.

Transference Among People Online May 1996 - v1.0 (4k) A short description of how people"s past relationships lead them to misperceive each other online (transference). See the "Mom, Dad, Computer" article for a more in-depth analysis of transference reactions.

Applying Social-Psychology to Online Groups and Communities May 1996 - v1.0 (7k) A short piece about how the principles of in-person social psychology can be applied to online groups. However, new theories may need to be developed to explain some of the unique aspects of online behavior.

The Natural Life Cycle of Mailing Lists (by Kat Nagel) May 1996 - v1.0 (7k) A concise, insightful list of the 6 developmental stages of mailing lists, beginning with "enthusiasm" and ending with (ideally) "maturity."

Internet Addiction Questionnaire Created May 1996; revised April 1999 - v1.2 (7k) An internet addiction questionnaire created by two German students that was posted to the Psychology of the Internet mailing list in July 1996. It"s a good example of how researchers are tackling this controversial issue.

A Comparison of Online, E-Mail, and In-Person Self-Help Groups Using Adult Children of Alcoholics as a Model (by Wende Phillips) Jan 1996 - v1.0 (70k) One of my former students describes her research project on online ACOA groups. She talks about some of the basic communication features of chat and e-mail support groups, and compares these online groups to in-person groups.

The Internet Regression (by Norman Holland) Jan 1996 - v1.0 (45k) This is one of the earliest articles to be written about how the anonymity of cyberspace invites people to regress - usually by becoming hostile or extremely benevolent. Holland also explores the various sexual and parental fantasies that computers stir up in their users.

Review of "The Internet Regression" Jan 1996 - v1.0 (6k) My two cents on Norman Holland"s intriguing article "The Internet Regression."

Other Pages in The Psychology of Cyberspace:

The Psychology of Cyberspace Home Page (table of contents)

Life at the Palace: A Cyberpsychology Case Study (table of contents for the Palace Study subsection)

Subject Index

Comments from Readers

John Suler's Speaking and Workshop Topics

John Suler's Bio Page

Copyright Notice

Search Engine for The Psychology of Cyberspace

What will happen when the clock strikes Will elevators stop dead between floors, power plants shut down, and airplanes fall out of the sky? Will the internet and communication infrastructures crash? Will the world's economy collapse as the vast network of banking computers spin out of control, throwing the whole world itself into chaos? Some people think so. As you read this, they are stockpiling food and supplies in anticipation of a society so crippled by the Y2K bug that it will crumble into anarchy. They truly believe The End is near. Others are not so extreme in their fears, but still expect some major mishaps once the clock strikes the new millennium. Make sure you have good hardcopy records of all your finances. And don't fly on January 1. In some cases apocalyptic thinking is part of a social movement. History is filled with examples of small cults and larger religious and quasi-religious groups that predicted the end of the world. In many cases they borrowed the apocalyptic mind set from the world of Christianity, where some fundamentalists devoutly point to the end of the world as prophetized in the Book of Revelations. The belief system of many modern cults and spiritual groups is a hodgepodge conglomeration of ideas from religion, philosophy, psychology, the occult, and science. It's the injection of those "scientific" ideas into their ideology that justifies it, that makes it seem rational, logical, indisputable. The Y2K dilemma is the perfect technological spice to throw into that ideological soup in order to make it palatable to those who have doubts, and raise the fever of those who already believe. If computer people are worried about the Millennium Bug, then it must be scientifically valid to panic about it, right? Fundamentalist and survivalist groups that promote apocalyptic visions also benefit from the scientism of Y2K fright. It's a very handy tool in proselytizing. "Join us now, before it's too late." Even if there was no Y2K problem, we would still see these End of the World predictions popping up here and there across the world. A new millennium is approaching. It's a big milestone. Some think the LAST milestone. Y2K simply amplifies the trepidation. For individuals who are wrought with anxiety about Y2K, it's not so much a social movement that sweeps them up, but rather an internal dynamic. Some unfortunate people grew up in a family or an environment marked by extreme unpredictability or unexpected trauma. Worry, suspicion, or even outright paranoia about what lies around the next bend has been burned into their psyche. Often in their lives they become preoccupied with anxious anticipation of cataclysm. For some, Y2K looms before them as a seemingly real omen of upcoming disaster. Exactly what calamity it will bring, no one knows for sure. But it will be calamity. It's well know that one component of depression is the tendency to engage in the style of faulty thinking called "catastrophizing" - i.e., predicting and anticipating crisis, often based on little or no evidence. In some cases, Y2K anxiety may be an expression of this cognitive distortion associated with depression. There are a variety of facets to catastrophic thinking and its close relative, apocalyptic thinking. We see these same facets in Y2K anxiety, with a technological spin. For example: A fear of helplessness and loss of control- Computers are supposed to help us manage our lives and society, but if the Y2K bug prevails, computers will bring about the end of our control over civilization. It's a bit of a paradox. A fear of The End - Y2K is all about time, and time is supposed to march inevitably forward. But when we reach major temporal milestones, the fear that time may end wells up. Our biological nature demands that we humans expire. Awareness of death is existentially wired into us. A FEAR of death is wired into us, and Y2K stirs it up. It is a symbolic death, at the hands of our machines. Will our machines die with us? Who will outlast whom? Apple's HAL 9000 commercial that aired during the Superbowl played up on this fear of the Y2K bug as the omen of The End. It raised the question, "who will survive it?" A fear of change and the unknown - If it isn't the end, then it's a change to something new, something radically different. It's a step into the unknown, which is threatening, dangerous. The New Millennium moves towards us at a time in human history when computers are rapidly altering our lives. Where will they take us? The Y2K bug is a shocking reminder that we don't know. Perhaps only the most fit will survive the change. A fear of interdependence - The survivalist's apocalyptic thinking has its roots in a fear of dependence. Other people and society cannot be trusted to protect and take care of you. You have to rely on yourself, even isolate yourself. Computer networks are the antithesis of this concept because they are intrinsically interdependent. As such, the Y2K Bug is the survivalist's worst nightmare. Even if you take care of your own machine, you cannot account for other machines that may interact with yours. The Millennium Bug confirms the survivalist's belief that trusting and relying on others will lead to your own downfall. A fear of retribution - The apocalypse is not simply the end. It's payback time, the moment of judgment and retribution. The Millennium Bug warns us not to take too much pride in this massive computerized world that we have built. We think we are in control, that technology has brought us closer to perfection, mastery, and a divine-like state of knowledge. But like the Titanic, our glorious achievement can fail miserably. It can turn on us. The Tower of Babel can collapse. We will be punished for our hubris. In what becomes a Revenge of the Machines, our own creation can retaliate against its creator. The Y2K bug reminds me of the concept of the tragic flaw in classic Greek literature. The hero has a weakness - a secret, hidden vulnerability that he himself may not realize, an Achilles heel. At the peak of his triumph, it comes back to haunt him. It triggers his downfall. In their quest for speed and efficiency, computer programmers of the 60s and 70s failed to predict the possibility that their simplified technique for encoding time could eventually lead to a total breakdown, the collapse of all speed and efficiency. Time would come back to punish them for the flawed representation of time that they built into their machines. Those machines are but an extension, a reflection of their creators - flawed, imperfect, and often unaware of their imperfection. And Y2K is the wake-up call. It's the reminder that the computers we created - that we ourselves - are not invulnerable. By our very nature, we make mistakes. Y2K anxiety is the anxious realization that despite our best, heroic efforts, we can screw up big time. In this article I've been tossing around terms like "phobia" and "paranoia" in order to emphasize the problematic side of Y2K thinking. A phobia is an unrealistic, irrational, exaggerated fear. But is the anxiety about the Millennium bug totally unjustified? Some say that just because you're paranoid, it doesn't mean that people aren't out to get you. Speaking for myself, I seriously doubt that civilization is going to collapse after New Years Eve 1999.... but I don't plan to be on any planes on January 1 either.