Psycho-Babble Medication Thread 1120662

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Virtual reality program mimics psychedelics

Posted by Hugh on September 15, 2022, at 10:53:11

Recent research published in various fields of study (psychology, neuroscience, philosophy, pharmacology or theology) has drawn attention to the meaning and perception attributed to these [self-transcendent] experiences by people who have undergone them. Thus, there is now a growing scientific interest in investigating the therapeutic potential of this type of experiential phenomenology, which diminishes ego identity, increases the sense of connectedness and is associated with lasting therapeutic benefit in the treatment of depression, addiction and anxiety at the end of life. The aim is to unravel how such "experiences of self-transcendence" might be induced in laboratory contexts, in order to harness their potential mental health benefits.

Glowacki, founder and head of the Intangible Realities Laboratory (IRL), says that the controlled use of psychedelic drugs (chemical compounds such as psilocybin, found in hallucinogenic mushrooms, or LSD) represents a particularly promising approach: "For example, a study published in 2006 showed that 67% of participants who had these subjective experiences while taking psilocybin as part of a 'psychedelic psychotherapy' program considered the experience to be among the most meaningful of their lives."

Nevertheless, these therapies face a number of taboos and practical challenges to their widespread administration: their intense phenomenology sometimes provoke fear or panic and associated physiological responses, the onset and duration of which are often beyond the therapist's control, making it difficult for the therapist to positively direct the patient's experience. In addition, many questions remain about how best to determine an appropriate target dose that reliably elicits therapeutic effects and minimizes risks.

Given the complications associated with the administration of psychedelics, there is already alternative research exploring non-pharmacological technologies to safely and reliably elicit these states. "Of these, virtual reality has emerged as a particularly interesting candidate, given its ability to create strong alterations in perceptual phenomenology," says David Glowacki.

Together with his colleagues at the IRL, he has been working for years on a multi-person virtual reality experience, which they have called Isness. In this environment, groups of up to five participants experience together the collective emergence, fluctuation and dissipation of their own bodies: Isness creates an abstraction of the human body as a luminous and diffuse energetic essence, an aesthetic representation which is associated with "spirit" in various wisdom and meditation traditions.

In their recent study published in Scientific Reports, the researchers went a step further in the design of these intersubjective group spaces, allowing participants located in different parts of the world to cohabit the same virtual space in order to have a remote experience of corporeal overlap. "We continue to improve our technology to safely generate these experiences of self-transcendence from virtual reality and thus contribute to the development of therapeutic alternatives," says the group.

Specifically, Glowacki's lab has built a cloud-based, multi-person virtual reality experience called Isness-D (Isness-distributed), which blurs the conventional boundaries of personal space that humans usually keep between themselves. Isness-D participants have accessed this virtual space from a network of nodes in different countries around the world (U.S., Germany, U.K.), in which they are represented just as luminous energy essences, whose radiance is concentrated around their hearts.

Glowacki says, "The new technology [provides] moments of 'energetic coalescence,' a new kind of intersubjective experience in which bodies can fluidly merge, allowing participants to include other individuals in their self-representation."

The bodily boundaries of Isness-D are fuzzy, blurred and soft: they extend beyond the limits of the physical body, making it difficult to clearly specify where one body ends, and another begins.

To compare the therapeutic effects of this new technology with pharmacological treatments, Glowacki and his colleagues adopted a citizen science approach, coordinating an international network of Isness-D nodes. The team writes, "We analyzed the results using four key scales applied in previous studies with psychedelics to assess the subjective phenomenology of Isness-D.... In fact, and to the best of our knowledge, this work represents the first attempt to analyze a virtual reality experience using these measurement scales. Despite the complexities associated with such a distributed experiment, Isness-D scores on all four scales were statistically indistinguishable from those of recently published psychedelic drug studies."

The authors note that these results "demonstrate that distributed virtual reality can be used to design intersubjective self-transcendent experiences in which people dissolve their sense of self in connection with others, and may therefore offer similar therapeutic benefits that these techniques can have in the treatment of various pathologies."

Participants also expressed positive emotions, as well as an "overwhelming sense of calm and relaxation" at the end of their Isness-D experience. This was reflected in their responses in the subsequent questionnaire provided by the research team, with eloquent phrases confirming their level of enjoyment: "I feel remarkably happy. There's something very happiness-inducing about this whole practice."

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Re: Virtual reality program mimics psychedelics

Posted by linkadge on September 18, 2022, at 6:03:47

In reply to Virtual reality program mimics psychedelics, posted by Hugh on September 15, 2022, at 10:53:11

I've seen Alice in Wonderland .... no improvement.



[smile] linkadge

Posted by SLS on September 18, 2022, at 11:08:39

In reply to Re: Virtual reality program mimics psychedelics, posted by linkadge on September 18, 2022, at 6:03:47



Re: Virtual reality program mimics psychedelics linkadge

Posted by Hugh on September 20, 2022, at 14:26:35

In reply to Re: Virtual reality program mimics psychedelics, posted by linkadge on September 18, 2022, at 6:03:47

But Alice did learn valuable lessons by tripping through Wonderland.

> I've seen Alice in Wonderland .... no improvement.
> Linkadge

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