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Friday, December 10, 2010


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Rowan Derryth

"Summarizing Mr. Hooker's argument very very roughly, post-modernists believe that categories such as gender and sexual orientation are artificially imposed social constructs. So in theory, a virtual world like Second Life which allows people to play with and defy those categories should lead to wild identity experimentation. Instead, Robert notes, the overwhelming majority of SL users cling to their identities, and their avatars are typically just idealized versions of their pre-existing, pre-categorized selves."

If this summation is correct (and I do plan to go read the original), then his argument is flawed. If this is true, then the majority of users are simply recreating the artificially imposed identity to which they have already bought in, thus reinforcing (not undermining) this theory. The idea that identities are artificially imposed relates to them being a social construct, not physiologically innate. The same social construct obviously carries into SL because we bring it with us. Those who experiment with identity do so in a conscious, deliberate way, re-crafting their own construct, and making a fractured culture. What could be more PoMo than that?!

(And btw, I'm more a semiologist and normally like to kick PoMo where it counts.)

Ignatius Onomatopoeia

I look forward to reading the original. I suffered through the Theory Wars in English in the late 80s...it was a first-rate disaster for the profession and for the Humanities in general, even though I do really like Baudrillard's idea about the hyperreal and how we come to prefer simulation for authenticity.

Since we are fessing up: for the record, I'm a Space-Race-Era Late Modernist Empire Builder with Neo-Luddite tendencies, still searching in vain for the Platonic Essence of Fun. Preferably in my flying car.

We are too much in the infancy of VW technology to make anything but the most contingent and provisional claims about what users/players/residents might do with identity-play.

As for the PoMo claim that gender is an artificially imposed social construct: yeah, right. If we mean "gender roles," you bet. But biology is biology. Cells and hormones do not give a fig for social constructivist epistemology.

In virtual worlds you can switch gender anytime, but IRL, barring an expensive series of operations, changing gender is none too easy.

Despite the old saying, clothes don't make the man (or woman).

Elrik Merlin

Yes, but… However well or badly we separate our virtual world life and experience from RL, the former is still derived from the latter. However free we are to express ourselves in a virtual world, we won't outrun the influence of RL society and culture – it has an enormous influence not simply on how we express ourselves but it also provides the "ruts" in which our wheels of thought travel.

And anyway, largely speaking, we do not care to outrun it. For most people, leaving social conditioning entirely behind when moving between physical and virtual worlds is not what we desire

Not only that, we are generally not entering a virtual world to achieve complete separation from social conditioning and society at large. Rather, we are adding to the latter with the help of friends, colleagues and contacts who are also real people around the world who we happen seldom to have met in the flesh.

I'm with Rowan on this one.

Dirk Grantly

I have always been a fan of modernism (so much so I nearly crashed my PhD defense when I claimed to be a modernist and not a post-modernist), and as a practising Freudian (clinically and theoretically) I am pleased to be introduced to someone's thinking that reflects this. Fkeiger's "Is Oedipus Online?" explores this tension between pomo and analytic thought in the virtual context as well. For me, with primarily a clinical bent, I think that SL (and the whole of the internet) reflects the unconscious readily (basic drives represented throughout the sims - sex being the biggie) and SL might provide a way to explore the unconscious using a simple TP instead of free association.

Dirk Grantly

(Sorry - the reference should be "Fleiger", she's at Rutgers.

soror nishi

Yukk, yukk, yukk.

Miso Susanowa

"They are incomplete because they do not cover a human's need to form a unified, integrated identity. That is why I have found myself returning to Freud and the Psychoanalytic approach"

Therein is where I have a problem, as a Jungian who recognizes the multiplicity of personas and the illusion of integration most often characterized by the statement "I..." It is difficult to be free of many archetypes simply because they have thousands of years of cultural and psychological weight behind them. It will only be after some time (perhaps a generation, maybe less this time) for experiments on self-image and projection start to affect consciousness and action (although you can already see the seeds of this in the "happening world" since the internet generation has matured and grown.

I highly recommend Donna Haraway's for an interesting and still valid exercise in post-modern internet possibilities in these areas of thought.

cube inada

theater and cinema 2.0

"our heroes have always been cowboys...."

the rest is meta crap and book deals.... which is why we all have MIPS.

Hiro Pendragon

I haven't studied postmodernism through the sociology lens, but the whole endless-remix culture is a clear child of postmodernism. If that doesn't describe Second Life, virtual worlds, and social media in a nutshell, I don't know what does.

But I think a psychologist would be able to answer Mr. Hooker. No one is "born" tabula rasa in Second Life; people come with preconceived schema and thus it's to be expected that people will continue forward with the contexts that they've already had established for decades.

As for your summary, "Most people don't actually want a real second life."

I can only ask: I understand that some people want the utopian tech-hippie transhuman escapism, but do you honestly believe that more than a small percentage of people really want a "second life" (lowercase) in Second Life? I think people may want to escape, but in the same way they go to the movies, a book, or to chat rooms to escape.

Michael "Crash" Adams

I've marveled for years at what people will do in Secondlife. I came to secondlife in 2004 as an aspiring game designer looking for a decent game engine. I put all of my real life information on my profile and let people call me by my real name if they chose. Also my avatar sort of reflects the game I ended up building so I could better fit into the environment I had built for myself and my customers though I never got into "roleplaying"

I'm pretty proud of who I am in real life and never felt the need to hide behind an internet persona but most if not all of my players have some sort of "character" they pretend to be...a lot of times not even human.

One example of this "second life" "character" people use is the fact that a lot of people use their avatars names on professional blogs, twitter accounts, forum avatars etc, it becomes them. I myself use "crashadams" as sort of a half in half out "persona" but this also helps me as a game designer seem more interesting haha.

Rusalka Writer

Wow, we finally found the last human being on Earth to cite Freud! Amazing!


Is post-modernism really what we want, anyway? What about celebrating who we were born as, male or female, poor or rich, and living our real lives to their fullest? Second Life is technologically amazing and I can see why game designers and thousands of others appreciate it so much, but what about taking a step back? I made a music video with four classmates about this for a class project: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kuroCE-NP-Y.


The comments on Robert's blog indicate the biggest challenge for Second Life. How to overcome the perception that Second Life is for people who are suffering from some deficiency in their life.

I can't tell how many times I've read people saying that they used SL when they were depressed or couldn't find a partner and now that they are happy and they've lost interest in SL. This is understandable if that is the basis that some people come into SL. However, there are many people, like myself, who use SL regularly not to make up for any deficiency but purely for fun and learning.

I was recently in a tiny Caribbean Island with some of the best beaches in the world, and guess what, I went to the beach, went for walks, went to bars, hung out with a friend and I WAS ALSO ON SL. Because SL is a part of real life. It is a tool that people can use in a variety of ways for entertainment, learning and to enhance the life experience. The creative aspect of SL appeals to me most. It's really great to be able to create your own digital world, which requires a lot of planning and creativity, and sometimes lots of money.

You could spend hours reading on my sim, which has objects which give you notecards about people and specific events, and objects which take you to different websites or videos.

The world needs to know about the many ways that SL can be used, and that it is not just someone looking to escape from reality. That's why I really dislike Maninmals.

Emperor Norton

Robert of the AOL name @ "My hunch is that from what I have seen in Second Life,"

Personal experience presented as science. Since that is about the polar opposite of what science is supposed to be in my humble layman opinion I think Robert here is overstating his conclusion.

Arcadia Codesmith

Some people can't or don't want to shake off the labels slapped on them by society, and that's fine, as long as they're not wasting my time and their breath trying to convince me that their arbitrary labels are grounded in immutable natural law.

Ann Otoole InSL

I don't have any problems with an identity in SL.

Discard your delusions. Be yourself. Or be an actor playing a role. Or both. Just don't confuse the two. Or 4. or dozen or more. (how some people manage dozens of RP actors is mind boggling).

Someone asked me what omg and tyvm meant yesterday. I find that more interesting that there are people logging on that are still totally ignorant of the acronyms of the internet culture.

Robert Hooker (the ugly guy up above here)

Just to be clear, I do NOT gender essentialist, and never have been. The part of post-modernism I see not happening in Second Life is the belief that people can easily move from identity and life narrative back and forth or hold multiple "identities" via different media. The entire Turkle idea of looking through different windows to different selves.

Its about the personal relationship to the self, which I have come to conclude is a central singular theme in human like. All the feedback is great, I think I need to make my idea much clearer. Thank you.


This is a fascinating discussion. I never really got into the post-modern thought, and consider myself a post-post-modern thinker.

Second life gives us an opportunity to experiment with identity, and we often do using role-playing.

But in the course of role playing experimentation, we may go to extremes sometimes, but eventually we fall back to what is most comfortable, often learning about ourselves as we go.

Over the years, I have developed an online persona that is very rich and detailed. Sometimes I think of her and I as one in the same, sometimes she's a character I like to play, and sometimes we are separate personas that hang out.

This very weird (to the outside observer) relationship has driven a lot of introspective analysis into the nature of identity. The biggest lesson I have learned in SL, is that I am not alone.

My own intellectual philosophical analysis of the situation has forced me to conclude what every western philosopher for the last 2400 years have concluded: Plato was right!

Hiro Pendragon

I wanted to reply to some of the other comments here - a lot of astute points:

@Rowan, Elrik: agree

@Dirk: Obviously I think virtual worlds are more than conscious exploration of dream-space, but certainly that seems to be a fun and reasonable use. What would Jung think? :)

@Miso: Agree with your premise about the difficulty of shedding archetypes. Your estimation about a generation or more being needed to "affect actions" - are you writing of a sociological level, or personal? I have read and heard many personal accounts of how virtual worlds have transformed people's behavior in the physical world in deep, meaningful ways. (Obvious example: talk to John "Pathfinder" Lester about his earliest work with SL.)

@Crash: Yeah, you and I use our avatar names basically as nicknames for those of us who know us in the virtual world space.

@Machine When I first learned about postmodernism, it never sat well with me. After many, many conversations with wiser philosophers and some interesting choices of reading material, I believe there's a resurgence of humanism reappearing, which is basically what you're saying: embracing what we are and what technology can do for us, rather than having technology supplement us. I think maybe that's why Jung was brought up by Miso, and implied by Dirk. I think Hegel's thoughts on technology apply, as well.

@Emporer: I read right over that. Nice catch, and I agree.

@Arcadia, Ann: Agree


humanism never went away.... it just got "pre-empted".:)

back to the show.

actors.... remove the funny wigs and makeup, and go home for a bit.

Robert Hooker (the ugly guy up above here)

I would point out that my little presentation is about something beyond just the assumption of identity. It is true that Second Life would, at first glance, seem to support the post-modern concept of a human able to take on different identities depending on the context of discourse and culture they are in.

This is how I read Turkle "Identity in the age of the Internet" Turkle argues, as I read, that we are taking things through windows on interface value. Baudrillard makes the case even more forcefully. The interfaces are making our identities at a kind of surface or simulation level. We are the media.

There is no question that this is possible, but where I have returned to Freud, Lacan and Zizeck is in the energy that makes people construct fairly constant structures.

I think these patterns are like movies or dreams and not really revolutionary at all, but reflections of our fantasy life which is present in our day to day life. Fantasy forming art is as old as culture and I think SL can be understood in time tested theories rather than demanding something post-human or radically new.

Over time I have rejected the idea that virtual reality will change us, and come to see that the law RL/SL holds very deeply, everything in SL is a reflection of some need or desire left by the failures of RL. In SL we seek to complete that which we find we can't complete in RL.

Sure some people go to SL to hear lectures, or build things, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. But the repeated participation involving relationships and cyber sexuality to me can only be seen as reflecting a "missing" part of the Real, and is best viewed as a kind of dream.

This is really an extremely academic debate and its good to see people interested. I, as I say in my blog, have changed sides on this debate via years of observation and research. Though I call it a hunch I can back up my conclusions at this point with 10,000s of images taken from SL and a number of case studies. I don't like the term science in dealing with the formation of subjectivity, but it is a bit more on my part than just an opinion.

If anyone was interested I would be happy to explain further on YouTube.

Robert Hooker (the ugly guy up above here)

@Rusalka a Google search on Freud returned for me 17,700,000 search results. Admittedly this is only about half of what Paris Hilton gets, but not a bat amount of attention. And when you factor in followers of Freud like Lacan (2 million) and Zizeck (1,200,000) you have an lot of people in the past ten years writing and speaking about Freud.

He is still on of the most important thinkers of all times. Him and Marx essentially invented Modernist thinking about humanity.

Hamlet Au

"However free we are to express ourselves in a virtual world, we won't outrun the influence of RL society and culture – it has an enormous influence not simply on how we express ourselves but it also provides the 'ruts' in which our wheels of thought travel."

Robert can probably speak to this argument better than me, but here's the thing: Second Life has been around for 7 YEARS. The hardcore userbase is in-world 20-40 hours a week, more than they watch TV, read magazines, browse the general Internet, etc. Yet despite being immersed in a medium where identity formation is up for grabs and mutable, the overwhelming majority basically adhere to traditional identity archetypes, such as gender and sexual orientation, etc. If post-modernism is correct, surely we'd see *some* trend toward more identity morphing, at least among the hardcore. But for the most part, that doesn't seem to be the case.

I guess one response is to say, "Well, RL society and culture is too powerful an influence to escape in just 7 years." Maybe. But at that point, we're dealing with a non-falsifiable assertion that's more like an article of faith, than a hypothesis up for empirical review.

Robert Hooker (the ugly guy up above here)

@Hamlet Au This static identity was precisely the thing that got me thinking about applying psychoanalysis to Second Life. I noticed not only a tendency to not experiment with gender or racial identity, but an obvious trend in the other direction, that people obtained hyper-gender, more male or female conformity to our cultural model than would ever be possible in RL.

What we see is repeated patterns, the same dramas over and over again. Before I even land in a place I have a rough estimate of the kind of gender avatars that will be there.

The "compulsion" around identity formation screams Freudian/Lacan to me and I started to read and listen to Zizeck's theory on cyberspace and fantasy.

It is must belief that the best way to understand this is as a repetitive re-enactment of something that is missing in RL. That people, unconsciously for the most part, are seeking to return something they feel has either been taken from them, or failed to come about in RL.

SL is sometimes like the child who wants to hear the same bed time story every night. Generally adults don't like to see the same thing over and over again, with some exceptions. Adults will listen to the same music, or watch the same pornographic movie over and over again. I would argue because these speak to the pursuit of psychological fantasy and wholeness.


"It is must belief that the best way to understand this is as a repetitive re-enactment of something that is missing in RL. That people, unconsciously for the most part, are seeking to return something they feel has either been taken from them, or failed to come about in RL.

Yep, Plato. My theory is that all philosophical discussions end up agreeing with either Plato or Aristotle.

Second Life is a technology enhanced representation of the ideal world. The avatars we create, the characters we play, are our imagined ideal versions of ourselves. Some people like to mirror the real world, and some like to fantasize. Because we often do not have a clear picture of what our ideal self or our ideal world is, we do a lot of experimenting, pushing things to the extreme.

Doreen Garrigus

Hamlet, I'm not sure that seven years at an intermittent thirty hours a week in adulthood even puts a dent in thirty years at an unrelieved one hundred sixty eight hours a week, beginning at birth. Do 10K hours overcome 260K hours? I'm not saying that Robert is wrong---just that we don't have the data yet.

Eh, but what do I know? Half the time, I'm a hamster.

Robert Hooker (the ugly guy up above here)

@ArianeB Well with your view I am actually Aristotle and not Plato. I see the ideal world of Second Life as product of banal reality. Plato would have argued they were the product of Ideal Forms best represented in mathematic or logic. All Freudians are followers, in the big picture, of Aristotle.


"Generally adults don't like to see the same thing over and over again, with some exceptions"

LOL. what rock youve been under? seriously... what "adult" means should first be agreed upon.. but after that. its certainly appears to be the opposite assertion thats been true.

CyFishy Traveler

What about the folks who DO take on alternate genders, identities, etc. in SL? They might not be the 'vast majority' but they most definitely exist and I'd suspect that they're probably that much more passionate about SL precisely because it's the one venue where they can explore the possibilities of self.

As a genderbendy holder of multiple identities, I'm a touch insulted at being overlooked like this.

Robert Hooker (the ugly guy up above here)

@c3 one of the hallmarks of childhood is a repetitiveness, parents are often surprised how many times children can watch the same movie or have the same book read to them. With a few market exceptions adults generally get bored with the same media presentation. How many movies have you seen more than 5 times? I have a DVD of Ghost in the Shell, it is one of my favorite movies, I could watch it every day if I wanted to, but I "get bored", in the study of human behavior repetitive similar activity points to issues or failures in the fantasy world, issues the subject is trying to resolves. As in Freud's case study of Little Hans, who re-enacted this the trauma of his mother's leaving over and over again until he could master it.

@CyFishy Traveler people who do experiment with their genders are extremely interesting and I go out of my way to meet these people and have joined a number of their groups.

And yes they go to Second Life because the technology supports this very thing. And for some the promise of Haraway's Cyborgs holds. But as you said, they are a not the "vast majority", in fact they are the tiny minority. Almost an "exception that proves the rule."

I look at them and wonder why they are not more. Why is there so much repetition of dramas, structures and styles, specifically in a culture that values innovation and development so much?

Robert Hooker (the ugly guy up above here)

@Garrigus one of the things we should learn from the rise and fall of Communism and Fascism is that humans can take on and alter their identity radially and suddenly if the psychological conditions are correct. People can change over night.

CyFishy Traveler

I look at them and wonder why they are not more.

Because SL doesn't exist in a vacuum. Societal expectations and prejudices don't magically vanish when one sits down at a keyboard. People who don't match their virtual identities to their physical ones get yelled at, shunned and griefed quite regularly. (If you think genderbenders have it bad, talk to any furry about the crap they have to put up with.)

The only thing the rise and fall of Communism and Fascism proves to me is that people will do what they have to in order to survive. Changing one's external actions to avoid negative consequences doesn't mean that one's internal sense of self is subject to the same mutability.

Arcadia Codesmith

We speak of Second Life as a blank slate, but when we first got the slate it already had indications of what it was and who we should be within it.

Our avatars were all human. We had binary gender. The sliders could create some pretty bizarre examples of humanity, we could create non-human costumes, but underneath the attachments we were all had the same mesh.

We had land. The land was standard earth terrain in recognizable forms. The land could be 'bought' and 'owned'.

We had teleport hubs. They looked like standard terrestrial environs. The Lindens gave out free starter homes and other gadgets, and the vast bulk of them corresponded to normal modern or historical items.

We had a currency, and a remarkable incentive (real $$$ value) to acquire that currency by the most efficient means possible -- which in nearly all cases meant catering almost exclusively to 'mainstream' tastes.

Almost every assumption that went into the creation of this world was firmly grounded in a narrow, prosaic vision of what the world would be used for.

And this being the case, the cause for wonder is not that so few use these tools to explore and expand their personal identity. The wonder is that given all the built-in assumptions to the contrary, so many DO.

Doreen Garrigus

Robert, I think what I'm saying is that the psychological conditions have not actually been altered. They still have to log out and go back to the real world for the other 138 hours a week. When people change suddenly, overnight, it is because their entire life condition changes suddenly, overnight.

Robert Hooker (the ugly guy up above here)

@Doreen Garrigus

Certainly the continual pressure of RL was always going to play a role in SL, the issue is how would that role be felt. I had imagined that SL might be constructed as an alternative to RL, and for some people that is true. But overall SL is a collective fantasy space were the conflicts and absences of RL are re-enacted.

Robert Hooker (the ugly guy up above here)

Thanks everyone for the feedback. Sociologists are used to working in a environment of overwhelming collective indifference to their work and this much feedback is a kind of feeding frenzy for a scholar.

John Lopez

Hmmm, I must be an odd bug out. While I'm travelling through SL with my RL-wife, we both have avatars that are idealized versions of ourselves (my head was scanned in, so I look very much myself).

On the other hand, when I'm on my own I tend to use one of Yoa Ogee's abstract avatars. Perhaps it is the fact my favorite part of SL is the art (including abstract art), but I find blending in to the artistic landscape fun. Nobody seems to mind either (people will hold a conversation with a mist of swirling lines or an energy swirling orb without even commenting on it...)

Robert Hooker (the ugly guy up above here)

@John Lopez

I find that just walking through SL people don't make negative statements about any of my more abstract avatars. So for just "hanging out" and attending talks or art shows there is no social pressure not to be as strange as the technology supports. I even have an avatar as a swarm of butterflies and Eric Cartman.

But when I started getting more involved with certain communities, go to the same places often or hanging out in area, I did notice peer pressure.

The most noted peer pressure I experienced was in 2006 when I used an out of the box avatar that I had just sculpted myself. First people made comments about the hair until I got some hair, then was the clothing, then it was the skin until a friend actually got me some skins. It was like being in High School again.

But I suspect that was a community desire to move beyond an initial stage, the pressure was to have a more advanced avatar as part of a hope that SL would really take off.

Since that time I have taken on many forms and have not encountered enough peer pressure to really notice. I think the peer pressure argument is, as it always is, incomplete. You have to ask "why do some people cave in to peer pressures while others don't?"

Extropia DaSilva

What about the folks who DO take on alternate genders, identities, etc. in SL?<

I think trying AN alternate identity is quite popular, but it seems very rare to find a person who changes avatars like you would change clothes. I did have one friend who never seemed to appear as the same avatar twice, but I have met precious few like her. In my experience, most people find a look that appeals to them, and they settle down with it, keeping their avatar essentially the same and maybe just changing hairstyle every now and then. This seems to contradict Sherry Turkle's notion of cycling through many identities.


@Machine, thank you for your insights! I shared them on my blog: http://tinyurl.com/toeachtheirown

Robert Hooker (the ugly guy up above here)

@Extropia DaSilva

My conclusion is that even though people certainly can go through identities and many do, and a large percentage just dump all identities in SL and stop going; most players who are "fixed" in the simulation for a while are enamored by a fantasy structure that in invested in a certain avatar/SIM/group/activity pattern or Drama.

I think if you go see the movie Vertigo you get a good picture of how Second Life works, on how fantasy takes over the real for people.

But also how a sudden revelation of insight can smash the emotional energy inserted in to the avatar.

Arcadian Vanalten

Freud? Seriously? Wow. That's like flat earth theory. Serious credibility loss there; psychoanalytic theory by and large collapsed 50 yrs ago. The concept of the ego defense mechanisms are the only part of that entire train wreck of a theory to stand the test of time and clinical efficacy. I teach it in college as part of our history, but I've never met anyone (at least, anyone under 70 who've kept up their CEU's) who actually practices it clinically. Discussions of Id, Ego, Superego, and the phallic stage complexes make for interesting and entertaining literary debate points, but in anything pretending to actual current social science dialoge? Really? Sorry, but if you're billing it real sociological research, you WILL be held to the same standard we'd use for any other peer-reviewed paper you'd see in the journals.

Cognitive theory has a far better objective efficacy, and it's based on actual established empirical research. The plural of "anecdote" is not and never has been "data." It would also lend itself better to actual valid sociological research. If I get time, I'll check out the link to the published paper. It'll be interesting to see what the empirical data is behind this and how it was analyzed to support his findings.

Arcadian Vanalten

Oh. Never mind. I see. It's not an actual peer-reviewed paper, nor is it particularly rooted in social science. It's an anectodally derived series of personal observations by a philosopher rather than actual social science. A perfectly valid endeavor, and not without merit, but let's call it what it is.

The lead-in had me anticipating an actual empirically researched academic paper. This is just a blog post. That's the equivalent of an op-ed piece and isn't held to quite the same standard. NVM.

Robert Hooker (the ugly guy up above here)

@Arcadian Vanalten

3 years ago I was assigned to look at this very issue of post-modernity vs. psychoanalysis. At first I laughed at the idea of Freud as well, but doing the research I was impressed by just how little I knew about that tradition.

Frankly until some other tradition has a theory about how personal conflict and fantasy results in Culture I will be happy to read it. Social theory of Culture is still dominated by Freud and Marx, and they remain the two great thinker son Social Theory yet.

The psychoanalytic tradition starting from Freud and going through Lacan and other, currently most verbally represented by Zizeck is still a very strong basis of Social Theory. Currently Lacan's evolution of the theory is perhaps the most popular. The theory has evolved a great deal in 100 years and I would suggest reading Zizeck's current work rather than pointing to Freud's initial concepts, none of which have ever been proven or disproven; but may not be utterly up to date.

The core problem with using only cognitive-behavior is the same a post-modernism. You have no theory of where the motive is coming form.

In fact I have to say in Critical Theory and the study of culture and art I am not even familiar with any cognitive approach. Its more of a treatment approach.

When someone builds a fantasy space, or falls in to a repeated set of stylistic gestures or dramas, it is often very hard to see how this is all internal cognitive mapping towards a goal.

Cognitive-behavioral work, which I have over 25 years of exposure to, works great in educational, work and therapy situations; but comes to some real limits in certain areas like mental illness, dreams, cultural artistic practice, and compulsions. Cognitive approach has had to tend to rely on medical treatment for massive areas of human conduct and their theorists have more and more embraced sociobiology because of the lack clear theories for such things as sexual attraction or other social pattern.

Perhaps most limiting of Cognitive-Behavioral theory, for all its rigor, is the lack of a theory of Fantasy. Once I saw how SL was a space of Fantasy it became very difficult to apply behavior approaches to it.

Arcadian Vanalten

Meh. I still stand by my point. This is an intellectual exercise in sophistry at best, but far from empirical research. And note that I'm not slamming that; I had a great time doing a paper a good 15 years or so ago about the hypothetical long term consequences of emotional repression in Jedi Knights from a rational-emotive perspective. I'm just saying it's not research.

The difference is, one can tie any number of philosophical arguments together and claim a lot of things, but that doesn't mean any of the claims have any substance to them. You have an interesting START for a hypothesis, but you need to make it testable, then go forth and get some research to back it up. Otherwise, it's just mental masturbation.

I'm not sure you understand Cognitive Theory, or Cognitive Behavioral Theory, which are not the same thing, but I would have anticipated that you would have loved the schema formation aspects of it. Schema theory as a subset dovetail rather better with the direction your ideas seem to be flowing, but whatever works for you *shrugs*.

I'm curious about your claim that CBT isn't effective for mental illness, since that's where the most supportive research for its efficacy comes from. It actually equals or exceeds psychopharmacology and is used as a primary treatment for Major Depressive Disorder rather than being relegated to adjunct care options (and I say this as a full-time clinician involved directly in the diagnostics and treatment of major psychopathology. I'm the clinical director for a string of psychiatric clinics specializing in the treatment of the more severe cases; academia and Second Life are where I go to blow off steam after a day of wading through tough cases, directly myself and also in supervision of other clinicians).

The biopsychosocial model stands apart from CBT, although CBT does play nicely with it. Genetics and nurture have long been known to be covariables; the debate in the last 15 years is simply a question of proportions. We have psychiatrists involved to hit those cases where meds are simply required; psychosis in particular is neuropsychiatric in nature, and if you DON'T bring in medical aid, you have a big malpractice suit waiting to happen.

Arcadian Vanalten

And I'm sure by now, Hamlet's desperate to wrench his blog back away from this discourse, LOL. Best of luck with your efforts :D

Robert Hooker (the ugly guy up above here)

Well I am sure Halmet is delighted to be the site f real engagement and discussion.

And yes, when I said that in to my YouTube over a month back, and wrote off a quick blog post on it I was not also composing a finished PhD or research document.

I have grasped for some way to apply cognitive models to understanding why certain people spend hours and hours transfixed by an illusion. I am not sure what the cognitive theory would be to account for adults falling in to a fantasy world they know to be entirely false, and yet then becoming obsessed to the point of being in love or other elements of radical Drama only to suddenly awake from it.

I found Cognitive approaches to culture have the same limitations as post-modern, they tend just to justify implied ideological assumptions without having the tools to question them. I am deeply troubled by the repeated calls to ban this content or restrict this other artistic content on the strange concept that the only function a cultural production can have is to model for the viewer.

Freud's theory in its essential form has long been re-worked and one can be inspired by psychoanalytic work without embracing every feature of his theory. I have been reading Zizeck's work on film lately and as for his currency he is the only academic I have ever seen who can fill a theater of 3,000 seats without a problem.

My own re-discovery of Psychoanalysis was itself an unintended accident, kind of like Second Life itself something I found myself doing without ever really wanting it.

But presently I can't find any solid theory that connects the emotional conflicts of the person as creator and audience to the piece of work. Nor can I find any other theory that accounts for the obsessional nature of periods of play I have seen people take in SL.

Perhaps the main exception would be builders. But for the housewife or disabled person spending hour after hour in a Gorian or Jazz bar there really deserves to be some account for fantasy and meaning.

Well I guess you get I stand by my youTube. If you would care to have a youTube on youTube debate I would be more than happy. Its pretty easy to do.

Robert Hooker (the ugly guy up above here)

Oh and a YouTube on YouTube debate would be a lot of fun and might generate some publicity for both of us.

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Wagner James Au
Wagner James "Hamlet" Au
Dutchie Summer Special
Nylon Pinkney Outfitters in SL
my site ... ... ...

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