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Writing in Search of Knowing

The Broken Psyche: Identity [re]Construction on Instagram

The Broken Psyche: Identity [re]Construction on Instagram


The book analyses the relationship between Instagram and its users. It develops the question of what effect the platform Instagram has on the interaction between the ego and the non-ego of its users and discusses its consequences on the societies they live in.


In the book’s first part, I combine Lacanian and Jungian psychoanalysis with contemporary neuroscience to develop an interdisciplinary understanding of the human psyche. Subsequently, I analyse the impact of Instagram on this architecture. I emphasise the effects of ‘crystallisation’ - the creation of permanent, unchanging, stable, ‚immune‘ images - as a consequence of the ego’s tendency toward tyranny. This tendency to block out the non-ego is amplified by the way users on Instagram interact with each other’s images. Here, I revert to philosophers such as Derrida, Kittler, Baudrillard and Foucault to develop an understanding of the ‘fiduciary‘ relationship between Instagram and its users. I show how Instagram enforces a contingent crystallisation along central axioms (angles, hashtags, filters) which become the pillars of individual and social identity. 


This ahistorical crystallisation opposes the natural development of collective and individual propensities of the psyche based on the dialectic between ego and non-ego. Building on Theweleit’s analysis of Nazi propaganda I show how this turn away from history and the encounter with the non-ego poses a threat to social stability.


In the book's second part, I use Jungian psychoanalysis to outline the conflict between ego and non-ego underlying this interaction. Furthermore, I apply Jung’s and Neumann’s understanding of the subject’s ethical responsibility to encounter the non-ego to the effects of Instagram. On this basis, I discuss how this struggle is paramount to Instagram’s success and effects. I show that the reason for this is the ego’s fear of the introduction of death into its projected permanence and continuity (Hegel’s negation) required in the encounter with the non-ego. This encounter is thus impossible as long as the image on Instagram is the main mode of expressing identity for it blocks any negativity (Barthe’s punctum) from arising. Based on this, I end the book by emphasising the importance of the encounter of negativity in the non-ego to allow the natural unfolding of the ego.


Keywords: Social Media, Psychoanalysis, Ego, Images, Instagram, Influencers, Language, Debt

  • Product details

    Author: Florian Kleinau

    Publisher : Kleinau Publications

    Language:  English

    Paperback : 196

    ISBN-13 : 978-3-9822309-4-8

    Dimensions : 14.8 x 21.0 cm

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