Funny Business with Jane Wells

MINDSTORM: Experiencing The World Of Schizophrenia


Here's the opening line of a press release sent my way:

"Have you ever wondered what the world is like for a person with schizophrenia?"

Um, no. I haven't. I mean, I have enough on my mind already.

However! At the upcoming annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association, a company called Janssen is promoting its new schizophrenia-simulation product,the appropriately named MINDSTORM. (If you click on this link you can see a video simulation).  Janssen is part of the Johnson & Johnson family of companies.

They call it a "virtual hallucination tool." How do such ideas come to life? Who decides, "You know, we need to invest R&D into making a machine that simulates delusions because there's money in that!"

The release says that MINDSTORM lets you "learn firsthand what it may feel, smell and sound like to experience symptoms of this world-altering disease." Smell?

Reporters are invited to give MINDSTORM a whirl next week at the APA meeting, either at an on-site 3D theater, or with a portable version of the device. MINDSTORM to go!

But as mildly curious as I am to experience virtual delusions, who really needs the headache (literally)?

I understand how this could be a very useful tool in teaching everyone from doctors to loved ones to police to better understand schizophrenia, which the company claims afflicts 2.4 million Americans. But is there really a market for such a device? Without sounding completely callous, might Janssen consider other revenue markets for MINDSTORM? Military and NASA training? IMAX screenings? Theme parks?

Of course, I might want to rethink my surprise. I keep spending more and more time as Fake Jane.

Questions? Comments? Funny Stories? Email

Related Tags