"The explosion of the personality into multiple internet selves has opened up many people, including myself, to a lot of heartache. Self-dissipation becomes self-dissatisfaction. I spent years scattering myself into personality fragments on many different websites until I couldn't locate my whole self anywhere. These personality fragments became deeply embedded into distant servers. I felt that my persona had expanded out beyond my reach or control. The internet can contain that expanded personality, but that personality belongs to the internet and is not a part of your own body. You cannot possibly be ready to back up who you are on the internet with your own body because that internet self is not your body - its the internet's body. It takes work to accept that your personality is actually your own body. It takes language, all your senses, the repeated use of conceptual tools, teachers, rituals, failures, and some serious discipline to grow the self that is limited to your body. With any growth comes the possibility of dysfunction through dissipation. Our challenge today is to gather up those internet fragments and align them into a whole individual."
~ Kev Bewersdorf (http://extinct.ly/participants/#kev-bewersdorf)
The psychologist Carl Rogers, one of the founders of humanistic psychology, was known for differentiating between the “real” self and the “ideal” self. The real self, he believed, represented our true and inherent nature. Only when that self is out of sync with others’ expectations of us—our parents when we’re young and eventually our peers—do we develop an “ideal” self, i.e. the person we want to be or wish we were. Rogers believed that our perception of the gap between our real selves and ideal selves can measure our general wellbeing. When the gap is big, we experience what he called “incongruence,” a distressing state that can lead to a false and unsatisfying life. When the gap is small we experience “congruence,” and can thus live authentically and genuinely. This is just a clinical way of explaining something we take for obvious, but we tend to place a lot of emphasis on closing the gap by inching closer to our ideal selves, rather than simply changing our ideals. But of course we can do that, either by lowering our standards or, more interestingly, swapping out our standards completely.
3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, ‘ecstasy’) is used recreationally to improve mood and sociability, and has generated clinical interest as a possible adjunct to psychotherapy. One way that MDMA may produce positive ‘prosocial’ effects is by changing responses to emotional stimuli, especially stimuli with social content. Here, we examined for the first time how MDMA affects subjective responses to positive, negative and neutral emotional pictures with and without social content. We hypothesized that MDMA would dose-dependently increase reactivity to positive emotional stimuli and dampen reactivity to negative stimuli, and that these effects would be most pronounced for pictures with people in them. The data were obtained from two studies using similar designs with healthy occasional MDMA users (total N = 101). During each session, participants received MDMA (0, 0.75 and 1.5 mg/kg oral), and then rated their positive and negative responses to standardized positive, negative and neutral pictures with and without social content. MDMA increased positive ratings of positive social pictures, but reduced positive ratings of non-social positive pictures. We speculate this ‘socially selective’ effect contributes to the prosocial effects of MDMA by increasing the comparative value of social contact and closeness with others. This effect may also contribute to its attractiveness to recreational users.