A recent study has found that persecutory delusions can be reduced by simulating fear-inducing situations in virtual reality.
…patients who fully tested out their fears in virtual reality by lowering their defences showed very substantial reductions in their paranoid delusions. After the virtual reality therapy session, over 50% of these patients no longer had severe paranoia at the end of the testing day. (Oxford study finds virtual reality can help treat severe paranoia)
The crux of what happened is patients faced and “fully tested out their fears.”
The virtual reality environment allowed them to “lower their defenses” enough to see that their initial fears were wrong. That they were mistakes.
Few people suffer full-blown persecutory delusions on the scale of the patients in this experiment, but I would maintain that all people everywhere suffer from “mistaken interpretations” that manifest as neuroses or delusions.
The virtual reality in the Oxford study allows for patients to face their “mistakes” (their exaggerated fears) and this is what reduces their paranoia.
The technique works because patients receive immediate feedback in real-time.
As they perceive in real-time that their delusions are not justified, they are reduced dramatically.
In FIML practice, a similar result is achieved through the FIML query and response with a caring partner.
All people are riddled with “mistaken interpretations” that wrongly define their sense of who they are and what is going on around them.
A basic tenet of FIML is that immediate truthful feedback reduces and eventually extirpates these mistakes.
FIML allows people to “lower their defenses” by focusing on micro-units of communication as they arise in real-time.
I believe the findings of this study lend support to the theory of FIML practice:
FIML practice eliminates neuroses because it shows individuals, through real data, that their (neurotic) interpretation(s) of their partner are mistaken.
first posted MAY 5, 2016