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Virtual Reality Can Help People Face Their Fears

Update Date: May 06, 2016 05:59 AM EDT

Virtual reality is making its rounds once again and can be a good tool in varying instances. That includes business and gaming though the health sector could be part of that niche if used in the right way.

A recent study made by researchers from the Oxford University may have stumbled across a possible solution to address paranoia with state of the art virtual reality situations. The research was able supported with funding courtesy of the Medical Research Council.

People suffering from paranoia normally show mistrust on others with the belief that these people are out to render them some form of harm. A good example is when folks tend to shy away from social situations or avoiding eye contact which, to folks, is a form of avoiding harm.

With 30 people participating in the study, folks were divided into two groups – one on a lift and another on the Tube – with the aid of computer avatars. One group were tasked to defend themselves in the manner they normally would while the other group were to approach the computer characters and render long stares and/or standing up to them.

It turns out that the group where were encouraged to approach the computer graphics showed a remarkable drop in paranoid delusions that resulted in more than 50% of them no longer suffering from severe paranoia.

“Paranoia all too often leads to isolation, unhappiness, and profound distress. But the exceptionally positive immediate results for the patients in this study show a new route forward in treatment,” said Professor Daniel Freeman from Oxford University’s Department of Psychiatry.

Encouraging patients to try something out of their usual context does take a lot of courage, a risk that could render good or bad consequences. But in this case, being able to get through that barrier rendered something good and likely improve how folks can deal with social situations when it actually occurs in real life.

“Virtual reality assisted treatment has great potential because, as the price of the equipment makes it more accessible, much treatment could be delivered in people’s homes,” adds Professor David Clark, a member of the study team.

With virtual reality on the rise once more, this should be a good breakthrough as it can potentially help lives and broadens its scope not solely limited to business or gaming endeavors.

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