Virtual Hallucinations

medimaging_rs.jpgThe training device, created by Janssen L.P., is a rig with earphones and goggles that plunges the wearer into the mind of a serious schizophrenic. The system offers two interactive scenarios. In one, you’re riding a bus in which other riders appear and disappear, birds of prey claw at the windows, and voices hiss, “He’s taking you back to the FBI!” The other features a trip to the drugstore, where the pharmacist seems to be handing you poison instead of pills, and hostile customers stare at you in disgust.

Developed with psychiatrists and endorsed by advocates for the mentally ill, Virtual Hallucinations is being used by law enforcement, corrections, and health care professionals

So says a May 22, 2007 article in Wired News.

UC Davis has a competing, or at least parallel system for creating virtual hallucinations. Here are some of the hallucinations it is said to have created:

  • Voices give a running commentary, telling the patient that he is worthless, fat, and that he should kill himself.
  • Bagpipe music that periodically starts and ends abruptly.
  • The text of a poster in the entrance morphs to spell derogatory words.

(Thanks to investigator Jane Kohner for bringing the Janssen device to our attention.)