1st Edition

Digital Media as Ambient Therapy The Ecological Self between Resonance and Alienation

By Francis Russell Copyright 2024

    Digital Media as Ambient Therapy explores the ways “mental illness” can emerge from our relationships (with ourselves, others, and the world), to address the concern around what kind of relationality is conducive for “mental health” and what role digital technologies can play in fostering such relationality.

    Exploring the rise of ambient—that is to say, ubiquitous, surrounding, and environmental—technologies and their impact on our understanding of “mental health,” sanity, and therapy, this book critically examines the work of influential contemporary social theorists such as Hartmut Rosa and investigates case studies that reveal new modes of digitally mediated intimacy and attention, such as ASMR and QAnon. It also poses the question of what “mental health” and “mental illness” mean for subjects increasingly faced with a maddening sense of interconnectedness.

    This book offers new perspectives for academics and postgraduates interested in critical discussions of alienation, digital technology, and contemporary social theory.


    Chapter 1: From “Mental Illness” to “Environmental Illness”

    Chapter 2: Mute Instruments and Resonant Relations

    Chapter 3: The Agonies of Freedom and Control

    Chapter 4: QAnon: From the Resonant to the Digitally Sublime  



    Francis Russell is an independent researcher and a trade union official based in Boorloo (Perth), Western Australia. He worked as a lecturer in cultural studies for over a decade, and is one of the founders of the School of Critical Arts, an independent organisation for the study of philosophy and contemporary art. He is the author of numerous peer-reviewed articles on the relationship between alienation, “mental illness,” and neoliberalism. Along with artist David Attwood he co-edited the book The Art of Laziness: Contemporary Art and Post-Work Politics.