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#Future Tech

Virtual Reality Packs a Solid Cure to Paranoia

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Virtual reality has been blamed way too many times for acting as a perfect foil against reality.   Often, it has been quoted as people’s escape route into the world that does not and may never exist. However, in what can be a perfect example of the potential of virtual reality being put to the use of humanity, scientists and psychologists have been exploring ways of dealing with phobias and paranoia through virtual reality.

In the last two decades, virtual reality has been used to treat conditions like autism, PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) depression, anxiety among other conditions. In the recent times, significant experiments have been conducted to conclude VR (virtual reality) can be successfully used among patients of paranoia.

In this study that was published in British Journal of Psychiatry, the experiment that was conducted by a team from Oxford University could, most conclusively, state VR could be the most effective method of treatment to alleviate the symptoms of paranoia. Persons living with paranoia usually experience persecutory delusions that cannot be effectively treated with medicines or clinical intervention since the problem is beyond a physical condition.

Patients of a variety paranoia resort to safety-seeking behavior during the early phase of the problem setting in, without being able to understand whether they actually faced a threat or not. But, by way of avoiding situations that they feel threatened about, individuals come to believe escaping the space and time is the only solution that helps them. By the time they realize paranoia being a condition of their mind and is caused by psychological, semi-physical and perceptual differences in reality and imagination, the problem would have turned into a full-blown disorder that has no tangible cure with medication.

During the experiment that showed highly effective results of treating paranoia using virtual reality, about 30 patients were put through a behavioural test which placed them in real life social environment that would trigger off the fear or paranoia in them. Then they were put through a session of VR, designed to treat this disorder, and the patients were asked to mark the progress.

Depending on the feedback that was given by the patients, there was enough data to conclude there was a marked difference in their perception of threat/paranoia in the simulated situations that was created through VR. Repeatedly going through those situations strengthens the patient’s ability to deal with the reality, over the persecutory fear that one is experiencing.

Can VR completely replace the conventional mode of treatment that has existed so far? At the preliminary stage of VR being used to treat the fears or paranoia, the results definitely look promising. But, VR replacing the combined approach of existing therapies has to be explored before being put to practice. The only hitch right now which is going to be a major hindrance in using VR is the high quality equipment that the mode of treatment requires.

It is indeed an exciting time to explore the possibilities VR can present in making the human existence better.