Opinion: Virtual reality: A potential cure for PTSD

Posted on Sep 18 2017 - 8:00am by Woody Dobson

War never changes. The damage of war on the psychological endurance of soldiers has plagued the globe for centuries without any form of resolution.

From the beginning of WWI and onward, visible psychological stress was displayed after the unstable introduction of conventional weapons and psychological warfare. Trench warfare, accompanied by the uncertainty of death, surrounded these uneasy minds on the battlefield.

Later, scientists would discover the troublesome psychological disorder known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and its lack of useful treatment options. Now, in the present day, we must search for a cure.

Virtual reality (VR) has the potential to harness the emotional states of veterans after years of grueling conflicts, thus, curing emotional distress. In its in-depth replication of hyper-realistic worlds, virtual reality possesses incredible technological potential by creating surrounding and not-limiting simulated scenarios.

In fact, VR started as a gamer’s dream by allowing the manipulation of any reality based on the user’s personal preference. What was thought originally as a gamer’s delight now brings hope to the medical world looking to satisfy the emotional needs of suffering veterans worldwide.

While VR is developing into a form of medicine, some still linger uncertainly on this futuristic view.

Due to the increasing progression of hyper-realism, pessimistic theorists view VR as an immediate and impending threat known as VR-escapism. In other words, because of how enjoyable simulated worlds become, individuals would escape to their own preferred realities, “Matrix”-style.

Adding further, VR decreases stress from the real world by allowing for an escape to a preferred universe. Since finding a safe space is a typical human reaction to stress, is VR-escapism convenient to societal norms?

While VR is still developing, its role in healing PTSD has been reassessed during recent introduction at VR medical facilities for veterans. These facilities act as a base of operations for emotional distress simulations, where former soldiers may engage with a previous wartime event, cloning and replicating their first PTSD reaction.

Using gradual, level-by-level stress benchmarks, the patients engage with reproductions of their traumatic experiences in an effort to come to terms with them. Each time they enter the virtual world increases the probability of eradicating the overall damages induced by PTSD and possibly even completely curing the trauma.

While differing stances surround VR’s medical incorporation, let’s analyze why medical VR is the best choice for treating and curing post-traumatic stress disorder.

Would you rather allow the continuation of dread and unending suffering for a person’s entire life, or cure that person’s suffering if given an immediate option?

Evaluating the effect of VR’s inception in medicine is imperative to successfully resolving PTSD among veterans. And upon that evaluation, we can see that, in VR, there is a lifelong cure for PTSD that is currently available and is certainly the most stress-free.

Woody Dobson is a senior political science major from Tupelo.