Aaron Neiman

Stanford University

Aaron Neiman

A Funny Thing Happened Logging Into the Forum: Therapy without Therapists in the Internet Age

My ethnographic research examines electronic metal health programs in Australia, which call into question the necessity of the professionally trained human psychotherapist. I undertook ten months of participant-observation as a volunteer “Community Champion” on the Beyond Blue Forums, the nation’s largest online peer support mental health service, responding to hundreds of posts from distressed Australians, attending team meetings, and interviewing my fellow Champions. I noted the way in which the site’s users function as an unpaid, nonprofessional mental health workforce on behalf of the state and ask how they relate to similar publicly funded projects that seek to bring therapy without therapists to the masses. I also documented the specific affordances of the backend website infrastructure, considering how the unique format of the anonymous, moderated, asynchronous chat forum presents an alternative vision of talk therapy.

Main Research Topics

  • Automation and digitization of mental health treatments
  • New popular discourses seeking to normalize mental illness
  • The politics of psychology and psychiatry
  • The anthropology of science, medicine, and technology

Curriculum Vitae

2021-2022: Instructor, Stanford University & Fellow, Stanford Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity

2018: Visiting researcher, Black Dog Institute, University of New South Wales, Sydney

2017: Visiting researcher, St. Patrick’s University Hospital, Trinity College, Dublin

2016-2018: Predoctoral fellow in genomics at the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics

Lectures and Publications

Gallagher, B., Neiman, A., Slattery, M., & McLoughlin, D. (2021). Online news media reporting of ketamine as a treatment for depression from 2000 to 2017. Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine, 1-9. doi:10.1017/ipm.2021.47

“Automated CBT and the Therapeutic (D)alliance in Australia” Somatosphere. “Mapping Algorithmic Assumptions” with commentary from Emily Martin. September 2021.

“Have Some Mental Health: The Black Summer Bushfires, COVID-19, and the Governance of Psychic Retreat,” part of edited series for Anthropology and Environment Society’s Engagement blog with commentary from Adriana Petryna, May 2020.

Aaron Neiman

Stanford University

Fellow at CAIS from July 2022 to October 2022