Virtual reality can help people conquer their phobias

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“Exposure therapy has proved a highly successful treatment for phobias, but it’s impractical for things such as fear of public speaking or flying. The answer may be virtual reality.

“Phobics know that when they see a little spider on the counter, they shouldn’t be panicking because technically it’s not dangerous,” says Stéphane Bouchard, a psychologist at the University of Quebec. “They’ll tell you, ‘I know this is crazy.’ But because they keep avoiding, their limbic system keeps associating spiders with danger or extreme disgust and they never undergo that corrective experience.”

For many types of phobia, however, traditional exposure therapy is not feasible. Crippling fears of public speaking or flying, for example, can be difficult to tackle practically. Over the past 10 years the solution has increasingly been the virtual world, utilising some of the technologies that brought us 3D cinema.”

By David Cox at The Guardian

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/science/blog/2014/oct/16/virtual-reality-phobias-public-speaking-flying