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Stanford psychiatrist explores how people's online personas affect their real-world lives

In case you missed it over the holiday weekend, the San Jose Mercury News ran a feature on Virtually You: The Dangerous Powers of the E-Personality, a new book from Stanford psychiatrist Elias Aboujaoude, MD. Aboujaoude's research focuses on compulsive disorders, including Internet addiction and its prevalence; he told writer Lisa Krieger that his work made him want to understand what it means "at the level of our identity, our psychology, to spend as much time (online) as we do."

The book, Krieger explains, draws from Aboujaoude's clinical work and personal experience and includes stories of "lives ruined by online infidelity, debt and compulsive shopping." It also "asserts that our online traits are unconsciously being imported into our offline lives:"

We're all susceptible, he believes. "It's very common, although every one of us falls on a different part of the spectrum," he says. "There is a myth out there that you can spend a lot of time online, then act like a model of perfect behavior when you log off. We're not that good at compartmentalizing."


"The World Wide Web has become a playground for the id," he writes. "Online, we are free to express negative passions and urges, with little fear of retribution, by the superego or any other authority - and no clear moral boundaries to help rein us in."

Photo by TheOnlyAnla

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