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A Basic Theory of NeuropsychoanalysisA Cursing Brain?A Dream of Undying FameA Map of the MindAfter LacanAgainst AdaptationAgainst FreudAn Anatomy of AddictionAnalytic FreudAndré Green at the Squiggle FoundationAnger, Madness, and the DaimonicAnna FreudAnna Freud: A BiographyApproaching PsychoanalysisAttachment and PsychoanalysisBadiouBecoming a SubjectBefore ForgivingBerlin PsychoanalyticBetween Emotion and CognitionBeyond GenderBeyond SexualityBeyond the Pleasure PrincipleBiology of FreedomBoundaries and Boundary Violations in PsychoanalysisBuilding on BionCare of the PsycheCarl JungCassandra's DaughterCherishmentConfusion of TonguesContemporary Psychoanalysis and the Legacy of the Third ReichCrucial Choices, Crucial ChangesCulture and Conflict in Child and Adolescent Mental HealthDarwin's WormsDesert Islands and Other Texts (1953-1974)Dispatches from the Freud WarsDoes the Woman Exist?Doing Psychoanalysis in TehranDreaming and Other Involuntary MentationDreaming by the BookEnergy 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In MALE FEMALE e-mail: The Struggle for Relatedness in a Paranoid Society, Michael Civin evaluates computer-mediated communication in terms of psychoanalytic theory. By providing summaries of clinical scenarios and by discussing individuals' experiences of their "paranoid orientation toward life in our society" (6), he explores various contexts in which the computer facilitates paranoid withdrawal but also functions to enable people to adapt new relational techniques.
Civin seeks to discover whether cyberspace holds psychological benefit and seeks also to reveal the nature of relatedness among people and the objects, namely computers, in their environments. Throughout the text, computer jargon is used and psychology references are made, but these are explained clearly enough in explanatory endnotes. What's missing upon completion of the book, however, are coherent conclusions and well-developed argumentation that leads from his initial queries to these conclusions. Objectives are set forth in the preface, but the six chapters do not elucidate them; several thought-provoking threads are bared, but they are not woven together with any committed integrity. For example, psychological benefits of cyberspace are demonstrated only in the context of specific cases. In the preface, Civin teases the reader with an interesting proposition: human interaction with computers may prompt a "shift in the meaning of 'relationship'" (xii). At the end of six chapters, however, it is disappointing that this idea is not an inference that he consistently or convincingly draws throughout his text with any compositional vigor.
Additionally, extracts from pieces by T.S. Eliot and William Shakespeare introduce several of Civin's chapters. These poetic inclusions are esoteric at best, however, and provide no substantive contribution to his exploration of human psychology or human relatedness. Also seemingly irrelevant to the objectives Civin mentions in his preface is this book's title: MALE FEMALE e-mail. There is no significant development of any themes on gender that would warrant such a suggestive label.
Despite these shortcomings, though, the book does raise provocative questions about how individuals become motivated to pursue web-based relationships with others over e-mail and in chat rooms. Civin's perspective is astutely clinical, and is exemplified by his insightful commentaries on his patients' anticipation of and anxiety over their web-based relationships. However, the book is largely dissatisfying due to the absence of any well-formulated conclusions to which the initial interesting lines of inquiry could have led. Christy Rentmeester is a graduate student in philosophy at Michigan State University and has recently completed a degree in Bioethics at the Medical College of Wisconsin. Her interests are in the study of narrative ethics, especially related to medical and mental health care decision-making and methods educating health professionals.
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