Years ago in Second Life, I experienced a sim that allowed you to add a small program to your avatar (HUD – heads up display) in order to experience the sites and sounds of a person with schizophrenia. It was chilling, heartbreaking and gave me a window into a world I knew little about.
Last night I caught the tail end of a BBC report on Radio National about the use of Virtual Reality headsets in the humanities and mental health.
There are two sides to it:
1) Helping people with mental disorders to safely experience situations they find threatening (examples included an autistic person practising for a job interview and a paranoid person taking public transport) http://europe.newsweek.com/virtual-reality-used-treat-schizophrenia-psychosis-bipolar-330365
2) Helping psychologists understand what it is like to be schizophrenic by simulating what a schizophrenic person not on medication might experience
I found this nothing short of spine-chilling. What this will do for people with disorders and people who need empathy towards those with mental health issues could be ground-breaking.
And the little I’ve learned recently about body-based learning seems to tweak that a virtual reality experience is going to be more impactful that guiding an avatar through 3D space.