Paul Brinkman is talking about a research project called Virtual Reality and Phobias. Brinkman is more than just a researcher delivering intricate studies. He leads the way by developing VRET systems and combating phopias with avatars and virtual reality and examines the ninteraction between man and machine.
Having a job interview or asking a girl out on a date. Social activities that can be at most thrilling or nerve-wrecking to some, but truly terrifying to others. By reconstructing our social environment in a virtual world, Brinkman might be able to help people with social problems in the near future. Brinkman looks at establishing systems to treat patients with mental health problems, such as virtual reality exposure therapy.
Phobias are the most common form of anxiety disorders, which themselves are the most common psychiatric disorders.
Virtual Reality allows a third option of exposure therapy in a virtual setting that is safer, less embarrassing, and less costly than reproducing the real world situations. Besides situations can be created that are difficult to find in real life and it is more realistic than imagining the danger. Already some experiments have proven Virtual Reality to be a useful tool in treating specific phobias such as fear of heights, fear of spiders, fear of flying and claustrophobia, as well as agoraphobia.
To take Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy from the experimental lab and into the daily practice of psychologists more research is needed. Within four years they have built a fully functional system optimal for the given situation. Furthermore we have substantial data to support the effectiveness of VRET for the treatment of phobias (fear of heights, claustrophobia, and fear of flying). The domain is being approached from two angles: Psychology and Human Computer Interaction.
Furthermore, they completed another study in which they evaluated the effectiveness of low-budget virtual reality exposure versus exposure in vivo. According to this study there were no differences between the effectiveness of gradual exposure in vivo and VRET. Both conditions improved significantly and didn’t differ in their degree of improvement. The decline in fear of heights was sustained at six months follow up. It seems that VRET has the same effectiveness as exposure in vivo, even when measured on a behavioral avoidance test. They got very interesting results on usability of the therapist user interface, on navigation techniques in virtual reality, on comparison of virtual reality modalities and more. This system is being used for fear of heights, claustrophobia and fear of flying.
MY PERSONAL OPINION
This is one of the most amazing projects I have ever listened to. In my opinion, Brinkman is a successfull researcher because of this wonderful project that combates phobias and psychotic disorders using virtual technology.He showed how this method can provide solutions for such problems as fear of flying and, in the longer term, possibly also for social disorders. I hope Paul Brinkman continue creating new projects with the purpose of changing the world in a good way.