Digital Desire and the Online Imposter: Catfishing

December 4, 2018 8pm

Danielle Knafo, PhD • Presenter

David Lichtenstein, PhD • Discussant

Desire and perversion have evolved in our era of the internet, robots, mechanical thinking, and social isolation. Danielle Knafo, author of The Age of Perversion: Desire and Technology in Psychoanalysis and Culture (2017), writes: “Freud considered the unconscious a site of repressed wishes and desires whose influence extends to the farthest reach of conscious life. Today, such desires find new expression on the internet, which allows anonymity and accessibility. Replacing ‘real world’ skins with digital ones, users create virtual personas to promote their secret passions. The virtual space of consciousness is well matched to the virtual space of the web, though sexual and social enactments within the latter can have dangerous real world consequences. Examining the darker side of the marriage between desire and communication technology, focused through the phenomenon of ‘catfishing,’ this presentation raises questions about the nature of the human self, love, transference, and the role they play in deception. Understanding how patients use the internet provides access to their unconscious desires.”

Danielle Knafo, PhD

is a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst. She is a professor in the Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program at LIU-Post. She is also faculty and supervisor at NYU’s Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis. Dr. Knafo has written and lectured extensively on a variety of topics, including unconscious fantasies, creativity, gender, sexuality, and perversion, psychosis, and technology. Her most recent books are Dancing with the Unconscious: The Art of Psychoanalysis and the Psychoanalysis of Art, The Age of Perversion: Desire and Technology in Psychoanalysis and Culture, and Sex, Drugs, and Creativity: Searching for Magic in a Disenchanted World. Dr. Knafo maintains a private practice in Manhattan and Great Neck, NY.

David Lichtenstein, PhD

is a psychoanalyst in private practice in New York City and a member of the faculty at CUNY Graduate Center, the New School University, a co-founder, faculty member. He is the editor of Division/Review: A Quarterly Psychoanalytic Forum, author of numerous articles and book chapters and the co-editor of The “Lacan Tradition”, published by Karnac.