Friday, February 18, 2011

Dr. Elias Aboujaoude, psychiatrist at Stanford University, director of the school's Impulse Control Disorder Clinic and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Clinic, and the author of Virtually You: The Dangerous Powers of the E-Personality, looks at the disturbing effects that the internet has had on his Silicon Valley patients.


Elias Aboujaoude

Comments [20]

JP from LES

When people feel they can speak freely in an egalitarian manner deference to authority and social norms goes out the window. I don't see that as negative. Nearly everything interesting in 20th Century American culture came from a lack of deference to authority and willingness to violate social norms. 21st Century culture is happening online to a significant degree. It's more freewheeling than Jack Kerouac, rock and roll, R. Crumb and Howard Stern rolled into one.

All of the behaviors the Doctor describes as negative are only such if one's goal is to live a well-adjusted, inoffensive middle class life - not everyone's goal. Even many who live it welcome the opportunity to rip it's values and social norms to shreds online - the more clever, cruel, obscene and outrageous, the better. Counterculture becomes culture. This is nothing new. I refuse to see it as a negative thing.

Feb. 18 2011 11:36 AM
Edward from NJ

@Matt R from Brooklyn, in the interview Dr. Aboujaoude mentioned high rates of impulsive purchases as part of the problem. I wonder if that extends to his book. :)

Feb. 18 2011 11:26 AM
Edward from NJ

When Dr. Aboujaoude points to the 2009 town hall screamers as a example of online incivility spreading to the real world, he may be confusing cause and effect. Yes, those people may have been inspired by youtube, but they were behaving that way to *create* their own youtube clips. Would they have behaved that way if there weren't cameras present? Perhaps this nuance is addressed in the book.

Feb. 18 2011 11:24 AM

Anna from New York. Thank you! You are right-on.

Anyway, I remember lots of uncivil behaviour before every home had a computer. This is NOT a new "problem". I'm pretty sure there will be a DSM code for this "personality disorder" before we know it.

Feb. 18 2011 11:19 AM
freestuffffff from downtown manhattan

Balderdash. Where is the research for this? A kid got his PhD in 1998 and presumes to be an authority on the world's experience based his rarefied anecdotal evidence. The web has become the proverbial writing on the wall, keeping "authorities" honest. No wonder WNYC and NPR in general always treat the web with condescension.

Feb. 18 2011 11:09 AM
Matt R from Brooklyn

I just purchased this book. Thank you for the interview!

Feb. 18 2011 11:04 AM
Tara from Manhattan

I’d rather live in a civil society than a virtual “Lord of the Flies” world. Not that it should be one extreme or an overly politically-correct world either.

Feb. 18 2011 11:03 AM
Fafa from Harlemworld

ANNA, I think you're right on. Upholders and perpetuators of unfair/ unjust systems that have negative existential effects are forever pining about "tone"...But here, I thought the guest was addressing civility of behavior, beyond "ettiquette"...

Feb. 18 2011 11:01 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

I totally disagree that violent video games leads to real world violence. I remember back the 1950s, when it was being said that violent, horrific comic books, and rock 'n roll were fueling juvenile delinquency (as it used to be called). It was nonsense then, and nonsense now about videogames or horror flics.

Feb. 18 2011 11:00 AM
Liam from East Elmhurst

We can always hope for a boomerang effect.
Maybe, they will pick up a book of poetry between texting.
They might grow a bit.

Feb. 18 2011 10:59 AM
ellen from Manhattan

Compulsive behavior is what I relate to and the disappearance of stratification-- My nice doctor offered himself online to his patients and I found it was harder and harder for me to observe boundaries until I really did cross over.

Feb. 18 2011 10:58 AM
Unknown Writer from Ct.

I made the mistake of posting a photo of a gun and musings of suicidal ideation in the context of a Reality TV show pitch about people who want to kill themselves on FB
Some little known friend over reacted and the State Police were at my door trying to lure me outside, where I new they probably would of arrested Me. I stayed in my home, they finally went away after they spoke to my brother who lived 1.5 hours away and promised to spend the night with me !

So it appears Free Speech and real or perceived concern for some ones health conflict ?
BUT Perhaps in that scenario a paramedic or Dr should of been sent, I am fine Go Away Now !

Feb. 18 2011 10:58 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

The human race is getting stupider.

Feb. 18 2011 10:57 AM
Megan from Brooklyn

I feel like Twitter and Facebook bring out overly sunny observations/comments by users, and that difficult issues can be easily overlooked and ignored. Can the speaker address this?

Feb. 18 2011 10:56 AM
Fafa from Harlemworld

Fundamental point seems to be that there's too little consideration of the consequences - good, bad or indifferent - of the seismic changes society is undergoing. We need more of this discourse. And face-to-face, perhaps...

Feb. 18 2011 10:56 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

I also believe that this ability to vent and rant online mght actually defuse real-world rage to a certain extent. I think it can work both ways.

Feb. 18 2011 10:55 AM
Gaetano Catelli

to caller Jim: re: comparison with ancient Rome: imo, "gay marriage" is not "near the beginning of the end"; rather, it's near the end of the end.

Feb. 18 2011 10:55 AM
Liam from East Elmhurst

Self-absorbed while crossing the Grand Concourse, Queens Blvd, or any other major thoroughfare.
"Yo, (foul-disgusting stupid moronic word to be inserted here), did you here the new rap song?"

God, to think these people will inherit what's left!

Feb. 18 2011 10:54 AM
anna from new york

I am really, really, really tired of this nonsense. People, including geeks, work 60-70 hours a week in constant terror and fear of losing a job, health care and home; children are left unattended; parents died alone, but our tenured privileged babble about civility.
We need a radical restructuring of this barbaric society into something civilised and civility will follow.

Feb. 18 2011 10:52 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

I think the anonymity and/or invisibility in the virtual, online world brings out people's true personalities, thoughts and feelings, and I see this as a good thing. People are not inhibited by "political correctness" or politeness, and so are able to show their true face, and bare their true souls. And it isn't always pretty, but at least it is HONEST! And that is what I prefer, though not necessarily in the "real" world.

Feb. 18 2011 10:52 AM

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