What Twitter Does To Your Brain

It's not the freak occurrence it might seem, Twitter's co-founder submitting to psychoanalysis before a New York crowd. No, this sort of Jungian free-associating is what microblogging was expressly designed to do.

Shown a picture from psychologist Carl Jung's newly unsealed "Red Book," Twitter chairman Jack Dorsey said, according to the Wall Street Journal, that it "made him think of a map. He talked about his childhood fascination with maps, which eventually spurred him to learn about computer programming so that he could create maps on a computer. He later created a company that dispatched taxis and couriers via the Web." (More in the an excerpt from a WSJ video, above, or full video, below.)

An observer, though, might have thought not of maps but of Twitter. Co-founder Biz Stone has repeatedly said the service's text limits give it "low cognitive load" that "lowers the barrier, and it gets people communicating." Sounds a lot like free association, or the free form journal-ing Jung did in his Red Book. Is Twitter a way to tap the collective unconscious and thus unify humanity? Perhaps.

But the results of micoblogging could be more nefarious. Jung warned that his Red Book scribblings contained an ingredient of insanity:

"The reason... [this] looks very much like a psychosis is that the patient is integrating the same fantasy-material to which the insane person has fallen victim because he cannot integrate it but is swallowed up by it."

Perhaps that's a new slogan for Twitter: It's all good fun until you get "swallowed up by it" and turn psychotic from huffing your own fumes.