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VR is just as good as psychedelics in helping people reach transcendence

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I worried that I would invade the personal space of other participants if I approached them in small increments. Then I remembered that the ocean and the ocean thousands of miles away separated me from them. So I tried to settle into intimacy.

“What happens in VR is the feeling of completely forgetting about the existence of the outside world,” says PhD candidate at the Australian Center for Human Psychopharmacology and co-founder of a company that uses VR to enhance psychedelic therapy. One Agnieszka Sekula says: “So there’s definitely a parallel in this feeling of experiencing an alternate reality that feels more real than the one under the psychedelics.”

But she adds, “There’s a distinct difference between a psychedelic experience and the feeling of virtual reality.” For this reason, she appreciates that Isness-D presents a new path to transcendence rather than simply mimicking existing ones.

Further research is needed on the lasting effects of Isness-D experiences and whether virtual reality in general can induce similar benefits to psychedelics. The dominant theory of how psychedelics improve clinical outcomes (a far from settled debate) is that their effects are mediated by both the subjective experience of travel and the drugs’ neurochemical effects on the brain. that it is caused. Since VR only reflects subjective experience, its clinical benefits, which have yet to be rigorously tested, may not be as strong.

We got closer until we met in the center of the circle—four globs of smoke billowed together.

Jacob Addey, a psychiatric researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, hopes the study measured participants’ mental health. I think it’s expensive. This is the brain network that activates when our thoughts aren’t directed to a specific task, and which hallucinogens can suppress (scientists theorize that this causes ego death). ). People who were shown the awe-inspiring videos reduced their activity on the network. VR is more awe-inspiring than regular video, so Isness-D dampens that as well.

Already, a startup spun out of Glowacki’s lab called aNUma lets anyone with a VR headset sign up for a weekly Isness session. The startup sells a shortened version of Isness-D to businesses for virtual wellness retreats, offering a similar experience called Ripple to help patients, their families, and their caregivers cope with terminal illness. I am supporting. The co-authors of the paper describing Isness-D are also piloting it in couples and family therapy.

“What we’ve found is that presenting people with pure luminosity really frees them from a lot of judgment and prediction,” says Glowacki. It includes negative thoughts and prejudices about your body. He has personally facilitated his aNUma sessions for cancer patients and their loved ones. One, a woman with pancreatic cancer, died a few days later. The last time she and her friends got together was like a ball of light mixed together.

In one phase of my Isness-D experience, movement created a short electrical trail that marked where I was. After a while, a voice-over prompts, “What does it feel like to see the past?” I started thinking about past people I missed or hurt. In sloppy cursive, I used my finger to write my name in the air. I watched them disappear as fast as I scribbled them.