Virtual Hallucinations

August 17, 2007

There’s this virtual reality device that simulates psychosis, called Virtual Hallucinations.  It’s been mentioned in some news stories as an empathy-inducing device for police officers, and it seems to be helpful.  I think that’s great (and I’m really pleased to keep seeing mention of more police forces being trained in handling mental illness issues).

But it’s weird to see it presented (not in that article but in some others I’ve seen) as letting people experience what it’s like to be schizophrenic.  That’s like saying that induced nausea and malaise and having your head shaved is like having cancer and going through chemotherapy.

Maybe someday they’ll be able to simulate delusions and lack of insight and thought disorders and other things like not having insurance and not having a job and having strained or absent friendships and family relationships and physical health problems and all the other things that often go along with actually having a mental illness, and then that will be like what it’s like to have schizophrenia.  (Or bipolar and schizoaffective disorders, since it’s simulating psychosis, not psychosis in schizophrenia.)