The Psychodynamics of Social Networking: Connected-up Instantaneous Culture and the Self (The Psychoanalysis and Popular Culture Series) by Aaron Balick

Discussion – Book chapter 1: Psychodynamics

The reasoning behind my choice of choosing this particular book section for discussion, is that it lays the groundwork for my study by introducing the theory of applying psychodynamic principles to the context of taking selfies and social networking.

Author, researcher and lecturer, Aaron Balick uses his own experience as a cultural theorist and psychotherapist to question some of the motives behind social media use by forming an argument around the human persona, the unconscious but essential element as the driving force behind social networking. Balick examines the works of many psychoanalysts to form a theoretical approach beginning with the founders of psychoanalytical practices, who have contributed to new ways of thinking about the human psyche and structures, to make connections that provide the researcher with material for criticism and contribution to further studies.

The processes-oriented approach the author takes, focuses on the individual and the theories in how the object-self / virtual self have become a contemporary mode of expression denoting the need for recognition, and how this may change with the continued rapid development and human adaptability. In addition to the unconscious motives of the human psyche, this study examines the objectified self in the context of the phrase “object relations” where the external world becomes the focus of analytical investigation.

This is vital to my research because without the signified, there would be no signifier, and this is where psychoanalysts seek to understand how the “internal relational world comes to affect the external relational world of the person.” (Balick, 2014) The ideas of prototyping countertransference from clinical studies against the application of social media practice deliberates the psychodynamic processes over several years to form the following theories:

1-      Psychodynamic approach – what’s going on unconsciously
2-      Relational approach – what’s going on inside the subject
3-      And intersubjective approach – what’s going on between (the sharing of subjective states by two or more individuals)

In a larger relational matrix: the true self, the false self, and the persona, Dr. Balick examines one of the most important theories to my MA project as these theories are replicated in online behavior, giving my research a divergent perceptive platform in which to judge the selfie’s behavior, where the false self and the persona seek constant approval from others. Interestingly, the false self’s main structure is to hide and protect the true self, making others think this is the real person, whereas the persona similarly presents an impression or character upon others, concealing the true nature of the individual. This paradigm is in agreement with much of my research on the culture of narcissism and the behavioristics of the selfie generation and will account for many of the complex issues I will face, such as, what is being sought after through social networking and some of the motives such as “likeaholism”.

Much of this study is outside the scope of my project, however, the few models I have chosen to elaborate on, demonstrate the tones in which the object-self operates under, and theorizes the intrapersonal interaction between the signifier and the signified within the context of social networking. This book section theorizes and provides a variety of positions that support the author’s conclusion “that the underlying motivation to relate (online and in “real life”) is the desire for recognition.” (Balick 2014)


Balick, A. (2014) The Psychodynamics of Social Networking: Connected-up Instantaneous Culture and the Self (The Psychoanalysis and Popular Culture Series) London: Karnac Books Ltd.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.