A team of researchers at Oxford University have used virtual reality (VR) devices to help treat patients suffering from paranoia, in a further demonstration of how VR technology could help health care.
Thirty patients took part in the study, which was funded by the U.K. Medical Research Council. Using VR, the patients were confronted with simulations of situations they would normally find difficult, for instance standing in a lift surrounded by people, in order to relearn when a situation was safe.
The patients were then able to confront their fears as more and more computer generated characters were added to the scene. Around 20 percent of the patients no longer had severe paranoia at the end of the test; this figure rose to over 50 percent when the patients were encouraged to drop their usual defensive behaviours.