Boundaries of Self and Reality Online

Boundaries of Self and Reality Online

Implications of Digitally Constructed Realities

1st Edition - February 15, 2017

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  • Editors: Jayne Gackenbach, Johnathan Bown
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780128041574
  • eBook ISBN: 9780128041741

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As technology continues to rapidly advance, individuals and society are profoundly changed. So too are the tools used to measure this universe and, therefore, our understanding of reality improves. Boundaries of Self and Reality Online examines the idea that technological advances associated with the Internet are moving us in multiple domains toward various "edges." These edges range from self, to society, to relationships, and even to the very nature of reality. Boundaries are dissolving and we are redefining the elements of identity. The book begins with explorations of the digitally constructed self and the relationship between the individual and technological reality. Then, the focus shifts to society at large and includes a contribution from Chinese researchers about the isolated Chinese Internet. The later chapters of the book explore digital reality at large, including discussions on virtual reality, Web consciousness, and digital physics.

Key Features

  • Cyberpsychology architecture
  • Video games as a tool for self-understanding
  • Avatars and the meaning behind them
  • Game transfer phenomena
  • A Jungian perspective on technology
  • Politics of social media
  • The history and science of video game play
  • Transcendent virtual reality experiences
  • The theophoric quality of video games


Researchers and graduate students in psychology, digital humanities, media and communications studies, and sociology who deal with issues of identity

Table of Contents

  • Chapter 1. The Dimensions of Cyberpsychology Architecture

    • The Identity Dimension: Who Am I?
    • The Social Dimension: Who Are We?
    • The Interactive Dimension: How Do I Do This?
    • The Text Dimension: What Is the Word?
    • The Sensory Dimension: How Am I Aware?
    • The Temporal Dimension: What Time Is It?
    • The Reality Dimension: Is This for Real?
    • The Physical Dimension: How Is This Tangible?
    • Applying the Dimensions in the Assessment of an Individual
    • Applying the Dimensions in the Analysis of an Online Environment
    • Applying the Dimensions to Explore Research Concepts
    • Section A. Self Online

    Chapter 2. Understanding the Self Through the Use of Digitally Constructed Realities

    • Emergence of a Self From Presymbolic Consciousness
    • Symbolic Consciousness and the Body
    • Symbols and Psyche
    • User Action in a Digitally Constructed Reality
    • Modeling Behavior From User Action
    • Character Structure
    • Identifying Level of Development
    • Conclusions

    Chapter 3. Flipping Out: Avatars and Identity

    Chapter 4. Avatar Lives: Narratives of Transformation and Identity

    • Introduction
    • Art and Virtual Space
    • The Avatar Construct: Avatar and Identity
    • Art, Virtual Geography, and the Avatar
    • Other Geographies
    • Gender, Biotechnologies, Drifting Bodies
    • Conclusion

    Chapter 5. Internet Use and Self-Development in Chinese Culture

    • Internet Use Behaviors of Chinese Adolescents and College Students
    • Influences of Internet Use on Self-Development of Chinese Adolescents and College Students
    • Conclusion

    Chapter 6. Beyond the Boundaries of the Game: The Interplay Between In-Game Phenomena, Structural Characteristics of Video Games, and Game Transfer Phenomena

    • Game Transfer Phenomena: A Brief Overview
    • In-Game Phenomena Relevant to Game Transfer Phenomena
    • Sensory Perceptual Stimulation
    • High Cognitive Load
    • Dissociative States
    • High Emotional Engagement
    • Conclusion

    Chapter 7. The Self–Other Topology: The Politics of (User) Experience in the Like Economy

    • Consumers, Cannon Fodder, and Social Media
    • The Created Self
    • Mimicry Without (Representational) Mirrors
    • The Politics of Affective Experience
    • Self, Other, and Imitation
    • Radical Relationality
    • Alienation in the Shared Experiences of Social Media
    • Social Media Contagion

    Chapter 8. The Shadow of Technology: Psyche, Self, and Life Online

    • Technology and Its Discontents: Shadow and Technological Pathologies Shadow
    • Shadow of Technology: An Online Life
    • The Wounded Gods and Neuroses
    • The Place of Psyche in a Technological World?
    • Conclusion and Implications

    Section B. Simulation or Reality?

    Chapter 9. The Video Gaming Frontier

    • The Individual
    • Video Game–Based Interventions: Health
    • Video Game–Based Interventions: Education and Training
    • Society and Culture
    • Video Game Culture
    • Social Movements
    • Race
    • Gender
    • eSports
    • Conclusion

    Chapter 10. The Incarnated Gamer: The Theophoric Quality of Games, Gaming, and Gamers

    • Methodology
    • Five Levels of Religion in Video Games
    • A Theology of Culture in a Digital Age
    • The Concepts of Christophorism/Theophorism
    • Four Theological Case Studies
    • Closing Statement

    Chapter 11. Games, Dreams and Consciousness: Absorption and Perception, Cognition, Emotion

    • Perception and Cognition
    • Absorption
    • Consciousness, Games, and Dreams
    • Conclusion

    Chapter 12. Looking for the Ultimate Display: A Brief History of Virtual Reality

    • The Ultimate Display
    • The Ingredients for Presence
    • First Steps in Virtual Reality
    • The Modern Age of Virtual Reality
    • Current Virtual Reality Devices
    • Conclusion

    Chapter 13. Virtual Reality Wave 3

    • The Virtual Environment
    • The WOW Factor
    • Take a Deep Breath
    • Immersion
    • Lucid Dreams and Virtuality
    • Lucid Living
    • Diving Deep
    • Coming Up for Air
    • Synopsis

    Chapter 14. Internet Dreaming—Is the Web Conscious?

    • Introduction
    • Complexity Theory of Consciousness
    • Aspects of Consciousness
    • Intelligence
    • Attention
    • Intention
    • Volition
    • Autonomy
    • Self-awareness and Reflexive Consciousness
    • Dreaming Consciousness
    • Internet Dreaming
    • Machine Dreams as Sleep-Associated Mentation
    • Machine Dreams as Metaphor
    • Machine Dreams as Bizarre Hallucinatory Mentation
    • Dreaming = Rapid Eye Movement Sleep
    • Summary: Aspects of AI Consciousness
    • The Interface
    • Web Consciousness?—Conclusion

    Chapter 15. The Information Age, Virtual Reality, and the Bigger Picture

    • Introduction
    • Virtual Reality and Us: VR Is As Real As Any Reality Can Be
    • The Logic of Virtual Reality
    • Physics, Metaphysics, and the Nature of Consciousness
    • Life in a Virtual Reality Entropy Reduction Trainer
    • Boundaries of Self and Realities Online

Product details

  • No. of pages: 358
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Academic Press 2017
  • Published: February 15, 2017
  • Imprint: Academic Press
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780128041574
  • eBook ISBN: 9780128041741

About the Editors

Jayne Gackenbach

Dr. Gackenbach received her 1978 in Experimental Psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University. She is currently a Professor at MacEwan University. She has taught and done research at the post-secondary level both in the US and in Canada for 40 years.

As well as being a past-president of the International Association for the Study of Dreams, she has numerous professional publications and on dreams and in the last decade on video game play. Dr. Gackenbach is editor of “Sleep and Dreams: A Sourcebook” (1986) for Garland Publishers. She co-edited “Conscious Mind, Sleeping Brain: Perspectives on Lucid Dreaming” (1988) for Plenum Publishers; “Dream Imagery: A Call to Mental Arms” (1991) for Baywood Publishers. Her first authored book is “Control Your Dreams” (1989; 2012) for Harper-Collins. She was invited in 1992 to present her work on lucid dreaming to the Dalai Lama at a conference on sleeping, dreaming, and dying.

Dr. Gackenbach’s interests have shifted to computer-mediated communications. In this regard she has edited a book from Academic Press (1998; 2007), “Psychology and the Internet: Intrapersonal, Interpersonal, and Transpersonal Implications” and co-wrote a book called “cyber.rules” for Norton publishers (2007) with examines healthy and unhealthy internet use.

Dr. Gackenbach’s most recent research interest combines her dream and technology interests examining the dreams of video game players. She has released two related books. One was co-written with her gamer son, Teace Snyder, on the effects of video game play, “Play Reality”. She also has an edited book “Video Game Play and Consciousness” from NOVA publishers. Both books came out in 2012. She has pursued an active research program into gaming and dreams expanding it in recent years to include social media usage. Over her 40 year career she has 54 peer reviewed articles, 31 book chapters and 10 books with two translated into Chinese, one into German and one into Arabic.

The central question that has permeated her work over her 40-year career is, “what is real?” Be it in dreams or in technology, the nature of reality and its phenomenal experience by humans has been a compelling question.

Affiliations and Expertise

MacEwan University, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Johnathan Bown

Johnathan Bown received his M. Ed. in 2015 in Counselling Psychology from The University of Lethbridge. He is currently a practicing psychologist in the Edmonton, Alberta community. He has maintained research-oriented endeavors in the realms of psychology, dreams, and gaming since the beginning of his post-secondary education.

Mr. Bown is registered with the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association as well as the College of Alberta Psychologists. He practices from the Humanistic approach of psychotherapy and promotes a holistic approach to wellbeing. He has published on mindfulness practices in gaming, presence in video gaming, and the incorporation of game content into dreams. In 2015, he published “Video games, nightmares, and emotional processing” in the edited book, Emotions and Technology through Elsevier. Mr. Bown has also presented posters at The Banff Annual Seminal in Cognitive Science (2009) and at Towards a Science of Consciousness (2010). Recently, he has created and facilitated an online workshop for nurses on the topic of sexual addition (2016) through Alberta Society for the Promotion of Sexual Health, as well as presented on similar topics at the Biennial Western Canadian Conference of Sexual Health (2016).

Affiliations and Expertise

Edmonton North Primary Care Network, Edmonton, AB, Canada

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