Dr.John Suler first described this effect of on -line interactions in 2004 .

It is a tendency in all persons interacting in virtual reality to be more revealing of their thoughts emotions and experiences than when they meet in person in the actual physical world. Disinhibition can be benign helping people to discover them selves as less anxious of criticism when on-line , hence enjoying their self expression and creativity. Especially women who feel sexually objectified constantly and interpret it as negative , definitely will enjoy text based interactions where they can assert their intellectual prowess or ” Mind over Matter ” experience.

There is toxic disinhibition where there is blind cathrasis , fruitless repetition compulsion, flaming ( Using hate language) and status seeking by following some one more popular than one self hoping to get there through this association . Cyber harassment , cyber stalking , Cyber bullying can happen in a subtle manner. And Phantom emotions can develop towards some one you have never met, by giving them a voice, a face, an imaginary presence and losses can be devastating.

Why does this happen on-line ?

  1. Dissociative anonymity – It is truly hard to trace the person , it is easy to quit as and when a person wishes to do so. And we all have a persona that we project to the world and an inner self that is never expressed. I have observed this in many forms of art , the boldest writer is often a very self effacing , tongue tied person ! And one who often spoke of peace is sometimes easily angered on -line. Especially in very repressive cultures it may help the individual to voice their utmost honest voice , and help them integrate their suppressed self and expressed self .
  2. Invisibility – There are no facial , voice cues to check our behavior.
  3. Asynchronicity -We do not get immediate response , hence can get submerged in one sided communication , with out appropriate responses to stop us or intimidate us.
  4. Solipsistic Introjection- We can imagine our own projections in others and react to broken or unaccepted aspects of our selves , thinking it to be in the other.
  5. Minimization of staus or Maximization of status- It is easy to hide one’s rank on line, people judge you by the apparels, position, power in reality , in cyber space it can be hidden or misrepresented. People who are truly shy or suffer from bahavioral inhibition , in social situations , may be in powerful positions , yet hide it since they want simple and free interactions with out bias.

All are equal here , except may be one with thousand followers with out real friends.  In conclusion , it is important to be just your self ,on -line or off line  and not succumb to the disinhibition in any negative sense. 

{Author has conducted a study on 780 students of various colleges  on internet addiction and found one of the reasons for addiction in new users is social anxiety and on line disinhibition}




  1. I have learned to be more confident in almost all situations and via all media, not effortlessly, sometimes embodying fake it till you make it stance, so I don’t understand how it can be a good way to live life that a person can be expressive only online or via text messages but is absolutely quiet during face to face encounters. My partner was, or maybe still is, like that. In fact, his weakness is online chatting and flirting, hopefully without reaching cybersex, although I will not be surprised. It must be sad. I used to feel bad about it thinking it has something to do with me until I found a trail of the “crime” from before we met. I think it’s like an illness and I don’t know if it can be cured as it is behavioral and changing attitudes and behaviors in adulthood becomes trickier.


  2. Cyber chat or Communication Addiction Disorder ( CAD) has therapy centres. It does occur as compulsive-impulsive spectrum disorder. Help is available for the same. Thank you for the comment.
    Self discovery / self actualization can occur in any medium pursued with honesty , those who use this medium to cheat or hide from them selves , will cause much harm to self and others.
    There is nothing wrong with any medium , it depends on the users. New users are vulnerable , irrespective of age / culture for disinhibition.


  3. A very interesting post. The point you make about people online being able to interact without bias resonates with me. Years ago during early internet days, I was doing some research in a community of older people, many of whom made an effort to be computer literate despite advancing years. The comment often made was online communication wasn’t subject to ageism because unless they gave their age away, no one was the wiser.


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