Psychasthenia

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Definition

"Psychasthenia is a psychological disorder characterized by phobias, obsessions, compulsions, or excessive anxiety. The term is no longer in psychiatric diagnostic use, although it still forms one of the ten clinical subscales of the popular self-report personality inventories MMPI-I and MMPI-II".[1]
"The psychasthenic has insufficient control over their conscious thinking and memory, sometimes wandering aimlessly and/or forgetting what they were doing. Thoughts can be scattered and take significant effort to organize, often resulting in sentences that don't come out as intended, therefore making little sense to others. The constant mental effort and characteristic insomnia induces fatigue, which worsens the condition. Symptoms can possibly be greatly reduced with concentration exercises and therapy, depending on whether the condition is psychological or biological".[2]

Psychasthenia and Technological Connectivity

Connectivity on the internet often leads people into a cognitive state that resembles psychasthenia. During a period of flow characterized by multi-tabbing and multitasking online, users often have "insufficient control over their conscious thinking and memory, sometimes wandering aimlessly and/or forgetting what they were doing". In order to create collected thoughts, the mind must put together the various pieces and memories that are being simultaneously accessed in order to achieve action of cognitive consistency ("thoughts can be scattered and take significant effort to organize") This "constant mental effort and characteristic insomnia induces fatigue, which worsens the condition", and when combined with the constant mental stimulation that the Internet provides, leads to less sleep and less time for mental defragmentation.

Because the materiality of the Internet is invisible to its users, actions that might be considered as mild psychosis can easily occur with Internet users because there is often no material evidence to them. Many people hoard information, compulsively check their Email, and browse many fragmented subjects at once. In reality, these actions would manifest as compusively checking one's physiccal mailbox or P.O. box hundreds of times a day, hoarding non-useful information into rooms, taking millions of pictures and storing them in a back room, and having 200 books open to various pages all at once (multiple browser tabs). Mobile computing has allowed for the mobilization of these obsessions and actions, to where one can check E-mail in line, filling moments of non-action into sites of obsession.

Related Reading

References

  1. Aitken, Paul. MySpace and Legendary Psychasthenia
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychasthenia