Virtual Reality Therapy Could Help Severe Paranoia

Facing your persecutory delusions through a headset

Imagine being able to face your greatest fear in a totally safe, controlled environment. Now that might be a reality.

An Oxford study of treatment for extreme paranoia is using virtual reality headsets to treat patients. Just a fraction of the population experiences this level of paranoia, and it’s often associated with mental disorders like schizophrenia. For sufferers, stepping onto a crowded train might be a terrifying experience. Facing it in a comfortable room, on a headset, is a lot more palatable.

VR is also getting attention for just the opposite kind of content: horror games. Apparently the immersion works both ways: it can reassure the paranoid and frighten the brave. Let’s just hope no one ever mixes the two programs up…

[Oxford University]