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The Self Online. Overview of John Suler’s The Psychology of Cyberspace. Disinhibition Effect. Benign Disinhibition Toxic Disinhibition. Dissociative Anonymity. You Don’t Know Me – or not my real name

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The self online

The Self Online

Overview of John Suler’s The Psychology of Cyberspace

Disinhibition effect
Disinhibition Effect

  • Benign Disinhibition

  • Toxic Disinhibition

Dissociative anonymity
Dissociative Anonymity

  • You Don’t Know Me – or not my real name

    They don't have to own their behavior by acknowledging it within the full context of who they "really" are. When acting out hostile feelings, the person doesn't have to take responsibility for those actions.” Suler


You Can’t See Me

Goes hand in hand with anonymity

No visual cues of body language

No worries about how you look

Built in opportunity to avert your eyes


  • See You Later

    No need to immediately respond


    Emotional “hit and run”

Solipisstic introjection
Solipisstic Introjection

  • It’s All in My Head

    • No face to face cues

    • The online companion becomes part of the person’s mind –”as if inserted or introjected into one’s psyche”

    • We impose our own ideas of their voice and image

    • Almost a character we have created

    • In the imagination we can say and do whatever we want and this can be interwoven with our online lives

Dissociative imagination
Dissociative Imagination

  • It’s Just a Game

    • Combining solipsistic introjection with the “escapability of the online world = magnifies disinhibition

    • They split or dissociate online fiction with offline fact

    • Online life is a game with rules and norms that do not apply to everyday living

Minimizing authority
Minimizing Authority

  • We Are All Equals

    • There is no hierarchy

    • The CEO and the company’s cleaner begin on a level playing field

    • Good writing, compelling ideas and technology know-how creates a peer to peer relationship

Personality variables
Personality Variables

  • We are all different

    • How we express ourselves in the physical world will often be magnified in an online world

The true self
The True Self

  • Does the Online Environment bring out the true self?

  • Freed on societal norms, restrictions and cultural restraints

  • Why is that personae “truer” than the spontaneous one we could meet at the bus stop?

  • Each media allows for a particular expression of self that differs from other media

Self boundaries
Self Boundaries

  • People are also guarded, leery of who can see or know what

  • This both an open and guarded self creates a disinhibition/inhibition polarity or Self Boundary: a sense of what is me and what is not me

Within the transitional space of online communication, the psyches of self and other feel like they might be overlapping. We allow the hidden self to surface because we no longer experience it as a purely inner self; but at the same time we also sense, sometimes vaguely and sometimes distinctly, the intrusion of an unknown other into our private world, which results in suspicion, anxiety, and the need to defend our exposed and vulnerable intrapsychic territory.”