Understanding digital relationships with smartphones: A psychoanalytic perspective

Hinchliffe, David Robert Benn (2019) Understanding digital relationships with smartphones: A psychoanalytic perspective. Professional Doctorate thesis, Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust/University of Essex. Full text available

PDF (Hinchliffe (Understanding))
Hinchliffe - Understanding.pdf - Published Version

Download (2MB) | Preview


With the latest data informing us that 78% of UK adults now own a smartphone and that most young people report accessing digital media through a smartphone themselves it is evident that the smartphone as a digital device has become a ubiquitous everyday object. With the rate of growth of digital technologies, it is difficult to research the impact of smartphones on our way of relating to ourselves and others without a constant feeling of playing catch-up. The author uses a mixed methodology design to gain a better understanding of the nature of the human-smartphone relationship which might allow us to think more about what underpins our relationship with digital media rather than how we use it at any given point in time. This paper reviews the literature from both non-psychoanalytic and psychoanalytic perspectives to explore the more unconscious aspects of the relationship that are being actively engaged. The author then undertakes a short autoethnographic study of his own relationship with his smartphone and conducts a focus group of training child psychotherapist to gather personal experience of the human-smartphone relationship and the implications of how the presence of the smartphone in the consulting room impacts upon the practice of child and adolescent psychoanalytic psychotherapy. Findings suggest that all smartphone users, children and adults, are being encouraged to develop an unconscious intimate attachment with the smartphone which is reflective of the mother-infant relationship and it proposes that the smartphone is experienced as a digital pseudo-breast which is designed to not be given up.

Item Type: Thesis (Professional Doctorate)
Additional Information: Thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust and the University of East London for the degree of Professional Doctorate in Child and Adolescent Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Professional Doctorate in Child and Adolescent Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, University of East London, Smartphones, Psychoanalysis, Human-Smartphone Relationship, Mother-infant Dyad, Autoethnography, Focus Group, Digital Relationships, Digital Breast
Subjects: Children, Young People and Developmental Pyschology > Child Psychotherapy
Children, Young People and Developmental Pyschology > Adolescents - Psychotherapy
Psychological Therapies, Psychiatry, Counselling > Psychoanalysis
Research, Tests, Assessments > Psychotherapy Research
Department/People: Children, Young Adult and Family Services
URI: https://repository.tavistockandportman.ac.uk/id/eprint/2737

Actions (Library Staff login required)

View Item View Item