June 01, 2007

Virtual Reality Version of Schizophrenia Experience

Both the New York Times and Wired magazine have recently written articles on the Janssen Pharmaceuticals virtual reality schizophrenia experience (which has been around for about a decade) that was recently demonstrated at the American Psychiatric Association meeting in San Diego.

This software program that Janssen provides sounds like it has now been ported to the Apple computer platform and is being offered for broader audience viewing. The software simulates the "positive" symptoms of schizophrenia - the delusions and hallucinations that are commonly experienced by people who develop schizophrenia. The New York Times notes:

The impact of the experience is unsettling. Wearing a headset, you are immersed in a video in which it seems that you walk into a psychiatrist's office and sit in front of his desk.

Once there, you are immediately aware of classical music playing lightly in the background, but it is not clear if it is just Muzak or it is in your head. As the psychiatrist asks you about your weekend, voices denounce him, saying he doesn't really care. To the right, a mouse scurries across the carpet.

Looking back to the doctor, the digital clock on his desk has moved ahead an hour or so. The magazine on the opposite corner says ''Man of the Year,'' but a second later, the headline melts into, ''They're Trying to Poison You.''

A similar system has been developed by Dr. Peter Yellowlees at UC Davis. They have published a paper about their research in this area here.

Read the stories about the Virtual Hallucinations Software:

Virtual Hallucinating Device Drives Police Insane for a Day (Wired)

A Virtual Reality That's Best Escaped (New York Times - free registration required)

Additional Reading:

Simulating Psychosis II: Virtual Unreality

The University Of Jaen Uses Virtual Reality For Hallucinations Treatments

Virtual Reality Treatment for Schizophrenia?

What it's Like to Have Schizophrenia

Accessing Virtual Hallucinations

Schizophrenia in Computer Game


How can you distinguish virtual and non-vitual? Am I the only perceptor in this universe? It's just like being hippies smuggling Haldol on welfare checks.

Posted by: Surakij Riewraeng at June 9, 2007 03:21 AM

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