Policing cyberspace, policing the psyche

9142440097?profile=originalI was recently referred by a client to a year-old New York Times article about images and the Internet. The article, “Policing the Web’s Lurid Precincts” by Brad Stone, specifically deals with how repeatedly viewing “depraved” images affects people hired to review content.

Patricia Laperal, a psychologist hired to study effects of images on “content reviewers,” told the Times the results of her research

Ms. Laperal… reached some unsettling conclusions in her interviews with content moderators. She said they were likely to become depressed or angry, have trouble forming relationships and suffer from decreased sexual appetites. Small percentages said they had reacted to unpleasant images by vomiting or crying.

“The images interfere with their thinking processes. It messes up the way you react to your partner,” Ms. Laperal said. “If you work with garbage, you will get dirty.”

I find it intriguing that we virtually take for granted that graphic, taboo images can negatively affect a person.  We do this to the sometimes absurd extent that the simplest erotic imagery is regarded as dangerous or immoral by many in our culture.

But, if we assert that images can have negative impact, why are so many of us disinclined to acknowledge that images can also have very positive, even therapeutic, effects? Even those most personal images, our dreams, have been dismissed by many as meaningless. (Happily, though, neuroscience is  overruling that “modern” view.)

(Please continue reading on my blog, Sacred Disorder.)