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Medicine Technology

Inside the Mind of a Schizophrenic Through Virtual Reality 93

blottsie writes Viscira produces videos and technology simulations for the healthcare industry, and the project I tested called "Mindscape" was created for a pharmaceutical company that wanted to give potential clients insight into what some schizophrenic patients might feel like in a real-life scenario. Unlike audio tests or videos that show you a first-person perspective of schizophrenic experiences, Viscira's demonstration uses the Oculus Rift headset and is entirely immersive. You can look around at each individual's face, and up and down the hallway. Walk through the elevator, and hear voices that appear to be coming from both strangers and your own head.
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Inside the Mind of a Schizophrenic Through Virtual Reality

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  • Impossible (Score:3, Informative)

    by BarbaraHudson ( 3785311 ) <barbarahudson@gm a i l.com> on Monday February 16, 2015 @12:06PM (#49067525) Journal

    No matter how hard you try, you cannot "get into the mind" of a schizophrenic. Even with the Oculus Rift.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      True, but short of inducing schizophrenia and then being able to cure it instantly, this might be close enough.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Timothy Leary and other researchers used LSD when it was still legal, to induce temporary psychosis in themselves and other clinicians.

        They did so to better understand the mindscape of psychotic patients. A schizophrenic is not psychotic all the time, but the brain's full tilt mode is reportedly really close to what can be achieved by consumption of LSD. Recreational consumers of LSD call this state a bad trip.

        Sadly, since LSD is one of the "bad" drugs that needs to have "war" waged against it, clinical exp

      • Re:Impossible (Score:5, Informative)

        by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Monday February 16, 2015 @01:58PM (#49068285)

        True, but short of inducing schizophrenia and then being able to cure it instantly, this might be close enough.

        Indeed. Just because the simulation is imperfect, that doesn't make it worthless. Schizophrenia affects more than two million Americans. It is the most common permanently debilitating mental disorder. The cost in treatment, foregone income, etc. is over $100B annually in America. It is a leading contributor to homelessness, criminality, and other social disorders. But is also deeply misunderstood. Many people confuse it with split personality disorder, which is unrelated and rare.

        So why does the average person need to understand schizophrenia? Because they can vote. Many of our policies toward homelessness and crime, are politically popular but totally misguided. Homeless is not caused by "lack of houses", and homeless shelters don't work well with disruptive people that shout back at the voices in their head. Our prisons are filled with people being "punished" who see no connection between their actions and the consequences.

        I had a cousin which schizophrenia. He told me that the best way to understand it was to think about waking from a vivid dream. For about 10 seconds, you are confused about what was the dream and what is reality. Then your mind clears, and you realize that the dream made no sense whatsoever, and it seems crazy that your mind ever considered it to be real. Except if you have schizophrenia, your mind doesn't clear, and the crazy dreams don't go away when you wake up. My cousin committed suicide when he was 29.

        • Just because the simulation is imperfect, that doesn't make it worthless. Schizophrenia affects more than two million Americans. It is the most common permanently debilitating mental disorder.

          But putting out a 'schizophrenia simulator' that emphasizes perceptual hallucinations completely glosses over that mental disorders alter the processing of thoughts. There's no way to communicate the subjective experience of reality, and emphasizing the visual and auditory aspects risks turning a serious disorder into a fun-house ride. It suggests that you can just learn which experiences are real and filter out that which is not.

          Another example: it's quite common for people with stroke to draw clocks wit

    • Re:Impossible (Score:4, Insightful)

      by tnk1 ( 899206 ) on Monday February 16, 2015 @12:14PM (#49067593)

      In the sense that a virtual reality that you can enter and exit any time you like is not going to be the same, I agree. Indeed, having to actually live with the experience, as opposed to temporarily subjecting yourself to it is the real issue.

      That said, anything that allows non-schizophrenic people to experience the same sort of inputs will be useful towards understanding.

    • Re:Impossible (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mwissel ( 869864 ) on Monday February 16, 2015 @12:23PM (#49067667) Homepage

      No matter how hard you try, you cannot "get into the mind" of anyone*.

      *ftfy. - I think it is what they call the qualia problem.

      However it still might be useful in a similar sense as lenses that hamper your eyesight to resemble a cataract. It gives the researcher an idea how senses of such an individual are altering his/her perception of the world.

    • But we might be able to *give* someone schizophrenia by immersing them in this type of VR experience. How cool would that be?

    • Re:Impossible (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Mr D from 63 ( 3395377 ) on Monday February 16, 2015 @01:28PM (#49068033)
      It would be good to have an actual schizophrenic use the product and confirm if this is even remotely similar to what they really experience. Until then, its just what some think their experience is.
      • I think that one point people are missing is that the wetware is different, and that usually this has been the case for an extended period of time. I don't think that using the Ocular Rift is going to be capable of helping people understand The schizophrenic programmer who built an os to talk to god [slashdot.org]. Same as there's no way to simulate PTSD or Major Depressive Disorder, OCD, Hypervigilance, or even panic attacks that are sparked by relatively innocuous events.

        If you want to get a realistic taste of what it'

    • After reading "Queen of Angels" by Greg Bear, I don't even see why anyone would want to attempt to do this....

  • Obligatory [googleusercontent.com].

  • What if... (Score:3, Funny)

    by MagickalMyst ( 1003128 ) on Monday February 16, 2015 @12:27PM (#49067693)
    What if there were beings or entities that existed just outside our range of perception, that we are not aware of?

    Much like a dog whistle, which humans cannot hear. What if some people were 'sensitive' to other energies - sounds, lights, etc. that were outside the normal realm of human perception?

    What if schizophrenic people weren't "hallucinating", so to speak, but were able to actually "perceive" these energies or beings?

    Ahh, what then?
    • That sounds like... SCHIZO TALK! *Blam!* *Blam!*

    • Re:What if... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Jawnn ( 445279 ) on Monday February 16, 2015 @01:14PM (#49067895)

      What if schizophrenic people weren't "hallucinating", so to speak, but were able to actually "perceive" these energies or beings?

      More often than not, the "messages" are coming from God/Jesus or Satan, according to the patient. Mind you, my sample population is almost completely Judeo-Christian in orientation. It should be completely unsurprising that such perceptions are often ascribed to powerful supernatural entities from the patient's own psyche. If you want to argue that it's really Jesus calling, you're going to have to explain why He never calls the Muslim or Hindu schizophrenics.

      Mind you, I'm not trying to discount the possibility of the paranormal in general, but when it comes to the sensory experiences of those who suffer from certain disorders, this is well plowed ground. Peddle it someplace else.

      • I was not "peddling" anything. I just said 'what if'.
      • by halivar ( 535827 )

        I'm very close to a schizophrenic, and the "voices" are always int he form of either false memories or "code" in web pages or the crawling text on the news. They are not "perceiving" anything true. It is a mental disease.

      • by Kargan ( 250092 )

        What's really interesting to me is that the messages change in tone and intent depending on where the person lives.

        In foreign (non-U.S.) cultures, the voices are often friendly, playful and may be perceived as coming from a relative:

        http://news.stanford.edu/news/... [stanford.edu]

    • So how can someone without the condition measure it? The dog whistle, we know it is high frequency, so we can measure, and generate frequencies higher than normal perception. But we cannot seem to measure such an instance, nor we are unable to broadcast such message into a persons head (say someone who is already schizophrenic, and be able to send him other messages).

      Right now this idea is outside of what we can observe, the easier path is to state that it is an anomaly in the brain. In science the easi

      • Right now this idea is outside of what we can observe, the easier path is to state that it is an anomaly in the brain. In science the easiest solution that fits the model, is the one taken to be the one to use.

        You can ask whether the information has predictive value.

        The brain is an elaborate goal-setting mechanism coupled to a prediction engine. If the schizophrenic can use his extra information in some way that allows them to predict future actions or consequences, then we can say that the extra information is likely to be real.

        We do this all the time; for example, predicting that we will get run over if we step off the curb, based on information from our visible inputs about cars in the street.

        It's very easy to

  • Anyone with a recent version of linux can experiece the mind of a schizophrenic with Systemd. Unlike audio tests or videos that show you a first-person perspective of schizophrenic experiences, Systemd allows you to experience the neurosis first hand!
  • how about "get into the mind" of anyone? porn first.
  • ...there you are.
  • by PPalmgren ( 1009823 ) on Monday February 16, 2015 @03:43PM (#49068985)

    About a decade ago, a one-shot FX series called Dirt came out. It was about the celebrity tabloid journalism industry, I thought it was pretty interesting even though I'm not into that kind of stuff. One of the more interesting parts of it was that there was a schizophrenic photographer, and they did a couple segments from his perspective during periods when he was on and off his meds. I have no idea if their portrayal is how it acutally is, but I thought it matched what we've been described to as the symptoms. When the show was through his perspective, it was hard to tell what was real and what wasn't real sometimes.

  • Sounds like someone is having a waking dream [youtube.com]. Has anyone ever considered these schizophrenic 'voices' are actually suppressed physiological impulses bubbling back to the surface as phantom voices. The subject and content of the 'voices' being a distraction from what ever really ails them. The reported flattening being fatigue caused by trying to not think about something.

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