Virtual Reality Helps Conquer Fear of Heights

The problem with treating serious, deeply rooted phobias is that it requires the help of an experienced professional, time and money, and most ordinary people constantly lack at least one or all of them at once. “Is it possible to replace real therapy with its virtual analogue?” Asked the European doctors. And they set up an experiment.

It was attended by 100 people with a confirmed clinical form of acrophobia - fear of heights. Of these, 51 made up the control group and did not receive treatment, 49 were invited to participate in the training program, 47 agreed, 44 people reached the final. The technique of healing from acrophobia was completely copied from real instructions, with the difference that the commands were given not by a person, but by a program, plus everything happened in virtual reality.

At first, the participants were explained the nature of their fear through facts and examples, then they were offered to perform simple tasks - to ride an open elevator, remove a kitten from a tree, throw a ball between skyscrapers, etc. The program did not take into account the patient's individual character traits in any way, did not seek a personal approach to him - the re-education was the same for everyone.

According to the results of the experiment, the participants again assessed their level of acrophobia, and in 34 of the trainees it became significantly lower than in the control group. This is not a failure or success, but rather a demonstration of the capabilities of the technique itself. Not every person will voluntarily go to a psychotherapist with their problem, but many will agree to put on a VR helmet and "play", which can be used to prevent phobias.