Before the pandemic and the closure of schools, I was clinically working with 4 to 12 year-old children mostly at their school environment. After the government’s decision to close the educational establishments, I saw myself obliged to begin online therapy sessions using electronic devices. Lacanian psychoanalysis implies the use of the body of the analyst as an instrument for the analysand to construct semblants of object a(s). I found myself with the question, how to interact analytically if my presence became filtered by screens and microphones, especially with children and adolescents who demanded the use of games and physical engagement during their sessions?

Watching the youth’s use of online games, including their creation of avatars as new modalities of ego images, I decided to learn about some of these electronic resources to interact with them while having our voices connected during their sessions. I learned how to play Minecraft and Roblox.

Gustavo Dessal in a conference given to the ICLO-NLS on May 23, titled Neither Angels nor Demons: Psychoanalysis and Technology, commented that different from Science which postulates the parameters of universal subject, technologies were interested in the individualities. They try to capture something of subjects’ different modalities of jouissance, translating them into mathematics by the use of algorithms. These resources, according to Dessal, could have such a great level of efficacy similar to a promise of a second life as religion postulated in the past.

While joining some of my young patients into their favorite online games, I could investigate how their modalities of jouissance were implied in the choice of a particular game and the way they play it. It is important to mention that none of them presented gaming addiction, and that they were able to move from a game to another and eventually stop using this tool in later sessions.

With a 12 year-old autistic child, we played Minecraft survival mode. He’s a skilled player and invited me a couple times to his Minecraft house. We simultaneously exchanged objects while playing. He mentioned during the game that he never expelled anyone from his world and did not like when advanced players were not able to welcome new ones. I recognized his ability to apply social skills by creating a social bound with players. This skill could not be largely explored in a face to face session.

Another 11 year-old analysand who presented a conflicted relationship with the mother, ending up by living with the father due to the mother’s outrages, chose to play Adopt Me in the Roblox game application. First, I recognized the title of the game of her choice related to the conflictual maternal relationship. Secondly, I acknowledged her desire to take care of me and our pets in the game. She was in charge of feeding us, taking the pets to the doctor, driving everyone to different places. In one session, I mentioned her maternal role in the game and something in the transference changed. She decided to stop playing this online game and preferred to make slimes during her sessions, showing me the different colors and textures of her slime productions through the use of the camera.

Dessal also mentioned that speaking-beings are consumers of metaphors[1]. Even before the pandemic, analysts could experience the massive use of online games by children and adolescents to make friends, invent new attachment styles or use them auto-erotically. My interventions with these patients were to engage them to speak while playing. I learned only the basics of the games once my intention was not to compete with them. Otherwise, I let my avatars to be guided to their game lands and once there, let them make use of my digital presence, while my voice reflected the encounters in these imaginary worlds.

As everything that we do in psychoanalysis, we investigate the outcomes, case by case, without the belief that we are creating a scientific method that deals with the universalization of the being. Nevertheless, as practitioners of Lacanian psychoanalysis, we have to work with the demands and resources of our era and be open to the development of new modalities of jouissance that translate the impossibilities of the Real[2].



[1] DESSAL, Gustavo. Neither Angels nor Demons : Psychoanalysis and Technology. Webinar organised by ICLO-NLS, Ireland. May 20, 2020.

[2] MILLER, J.A. & JAANUS, M., Editors. Culture/Clinic, Issue 1, We’re all mad here. University of Minnesota Press. 2013.