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United States Technology

Therapists use Virtual Reality for Veterans 198

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the games-that-heal dept.
ahoehn writes "NPR is reporting that researchers from the University of Southern California along with the Office of Naval Research are simulating combat situations which cause Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for theraputic purposes. Their immersive virtual reality technique seems to consist of the game Full Spectrum Warrior, headphones, and a set of VR goggles. From the article: 'The object is to help veterans come to terms with what they've experienced in places like Iraq and Afghanistan by immersing vets in the sights and sounds of those theaters of battle.' One can only assume that soon someone be reforming carjackers by letting them play the GTA."
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Therapists use Virtual Reality for Veterans

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  • it will work only if you pay them the street value of a stolen car for each one they get in the game...
  • while there playing gta they'll steal the goggles and run
  • by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @04:39PM (#13363585)
    I'd think that this technology would be more useful as a training tool, to help new soldiers learn what to expect in combat. Also, couldn't this be used as a physological filter, to identify those most likely to come down with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in the first place?
    • Here's something like what you're talking about:

      http://www.forterrainc.com/ [forterrainc.com]
    • I don't clam to know much about this topic, but isn't this going to work the same way they help people overcome phobias. In small amounts, introduce the what is causing the fear in an effort to bring the person to term with what they fear.
    • by jarrettwold2002 (601633) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @07:43PM (#13364283)
      They already have a filtering process in place for people that may develop serious psychological problems courtesy of combat.

      It's Basic Military Training.

      I was diagnosed with Bi-Polar disorder vis a vi BMT in the Air Force. I was also discharged/entry level separated.

      Basic Training is run deliberately under a high stress training environment. The idea being that they can simulate a large number of variables that play into a combat situation.

      During BMT, you can expect to lose a vast amount of sleep, be presented with challenging (and surprising) problems that have to be addressed with a very low tolerance of failure, and 'maintain military bearing' during the entire process.

      Personally, I never got more than roughly two hours of sleep a night. This is from being relatively keyed up, having an un-diagnosed mental disorder, and the atmosphere. You're supposed to sleep a minimum of four hours, however that was rarely the case depending on how pissed off our MTI was.

      During my stay in the 319th TRS, we had around 30-40 people, consistently, waiting to be discharged for mental disorders. The door rotated daily.

      Average time it takes to be discharged can vary depending on what your being discharged for, however, if it's mental illness they try to get you out of there in two weeks or so.

      All in all, BMT was an interesting experience, they do take mental illness damned seriously down at Lackland AFB. Further, if enlisted or NCO's give you trouble regarding mental illness, leadership doesn't tolerate it.

      I watched my MTI's (drill seargents) in the 319th discharge, get their asses chewed more than a few times by various officers over us getting harassed. I'm not entirely sure, but I think one lost a stripe over some comment he made to a group of us.

      As far as the other branches treatment of mental disorders, I've heard horror stories. Air Force has been serious about this for quite a while now, though.
    • You know what? I really have no desire at all to re-face what I saw down there. It's not the combat, it's the results of combat. That guy's leg which now resides fifteen feet from the rest of his body. That kid with bubbling skin and a mutilated face from an IED.

      No thanks. I'll deal with it.
  • by SpeedyGonz (771424) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @04:39PM (#13363586)
    . . . for pervs in hawaian shirts?
  • Therapists use Virtual Reality for Veterans

    Did anyone else read this "the rapists use virtual reality for veterans" ?
  • right (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Because reforming someone and treating them for PTS is entirely in the same ball park.
  • Done Be (Score:5, Funny)

    by icypyr0 (636724) <icypyro@@@wi...rr...com> on Saturday August 20, 2005 @04:43PM (#13363610)
    One can only assume that soon someone be reforming carjackers by letting them play the GTA.

    Obviously, this should've been "soon someone done be reforming". Pft.. these posters need to learn English.
  • Imagine.... (Score:3, Funny)

    by guildsolutions (707603) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @04:43PM (#13363611)
    Therapists using this for pedophiles?

    im sure it will be tried at some point, somewhere... And claimed to be 'theraputic'.
    • Even if it wasn't used for "therapy" but instead used for a simulation - one that medicates the need for younglings - then it's a good thing right?

      Anything to stop actual crimes from being committed, but I'm sure that you wouldn't support it then either.
      • Re:Imagine.... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by value_added (719364) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @06:14PM (#13363922)
        Even if it wasn't used for "therapy" but instead used for a simulation - one that medicates the need for younglings - then it's a good thing right?

        Well,that's a tad more intelligent than a bullet to the brain suggested by someone else. Paedophilia is defined as an interest or desire, not an act. The word for the act is molestation or rape. Knowing what words mean is helpful to intelligent discussion, innit?

        Satisfying desires or interests of any sort take an infinite number of forms, most of which are benign. With respect to sexual desires, watching X-rated videos found in your local video store is one form. I trust that requires little explanation for the /. crowd. Moreover, watching those videos, does not encourage you to become a rapist, cause you to become a rapist or otherwise make you guilty of any crime. Just as obvious, right?

        The problem, however, is that the above common-sense logic, in the context of underage material, is turned on its head. Viewing such material is considered a crime. A serious crime. The reasoning behind this IIRC stems from a Supreme Court decision where it was argued and accepted that such material encourages the person act out on his desires. It has also been argued and accepted in related cases that the distribution of such material creates further demand for them, thereby creating a market of some sort, hence the new laws that make mere possesion a crime.

        So, while watching Jenna Jameson do the nasty won't make you a rapist, watching Natalie Portman do the same (to use the current reasoning) will. And, irrespective of your actions or lack of them, you will be deemed a threat to society. And if you are found to be in possession of a topless picture of Natalie Portman, you could very well end up in jail.

        Most paedophiles hide in their own maturbatory fantasy worlds and are of no threat to anyone except themselves. Similary, the most of what is considered kiddy porn, urban legends aside, involves no sexual acts.

        With respect to the topic at hand, my own opinion is that a therapeutic use would have the same value as that of a Jenna Jameson video. Which isn't much. Satisfying, perhaps, at least to her fans, but not therapeutic. And for the records, I really don't know WTF Jenna Jameson is, and used her name only because I've seen it bandied about on / when the topic involves RAID devices.
        • Re:Imagine.... (Score:3, Interesting)

          by gmack (197796)
          You are talking out of the wrong oriface.

          I once worked for someone who had a site listing system that was invaded by child porn sites. Most of the listed sites were hosted in Russia so there was no one to turn them in to and nothing to do but clean out the offending content.

          Children sucking off fully grown adults.. penetration of children.. And that's just the banner ads. Three years later I still feel physically ill when I remember it(doesn't help that my memory can be photographic).

          Trust me: it's re
        • With respect to sexual desires, watching X-rated videos found in your local video store is one form. I trust that requires little explanation for the /. crowd. Moreover, watching those videos, does not encourage you to become a rapist, cause you to become a rapist or otherwise make you guilty of any crime. Just as obvious, right?

          If you are getting off on rape videos, you are a sicko too. If it is watching consensual sex, that is dramatically different. There is no such thing as consensual sex between an eig
    • Fuck, imagine being the DEVELOPER.
    • Unless pornography containing people below a particular age line deemed to be illegal magically works differently than other porn, it probably is theraputic [hawaii.edu] (study demonstrating that pornography is correlated with a significant decrease in sex-related crimes).
      • The issue isn't just the age. There is also the issue of consent. Children aren't really capable of knowing what they are agreeing to. Similairly if the adult porn happened to be rape footage I would find myself very worried about the person who enjoys watching it.
    • Well, seriously... why not? It certainly would be something that would make most people feel uncomfortable, but there wouldn't be any children hurt in *any* way or form whatsoever, while on the other hand, a successful therapy might mean that *real* abuse won't happen in the future.

      I don't know about you, but for me, it's immediately clear that this means that yes, it would be worth it. It'd still make me feel uneasy, of course - but it'd be worth it.
  • ...researchers from the University of Southern California along with the Office of Naval Research are simulating combat situations which cause Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for theraputic purposes. There immersive virtual reality technique seems to consist of the game Full Spectrum Warrior, headphones, and a set of VR goggles.
    Was that supposed to read "Their immersive" or "There, immersive"?
  • I say we just set them down in front of Battlefield 2 with a really nice rig.

    I have some reservations about the approach though. I fear we would trade one pain for another. Honestly, there is nothing worse then no cooperation on a 64 player pub server.

    At least the latter scar is at least more common and thus a larger pool of support is available.
  • by infonography (566403) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @04:49PM (#13363629) Homepage
    If you can't differentiate the Bad real memories from the bad game memories it robs them of effective power. But beyond that, what bothered me on games earlier on in them is could I have done this or that better. So by running it again and again, I can come up with new ways and win.

    One bit I worry is that we will be condemming our troops to Nintendo Wars, programming robot killers who return to home unbalanced. The GTA Defense may actually be real in 10 years.

    • Fro mTFA I don't think they're actually playing the games - just being immersed in the environment.

      Strapping someone with PTSD into a VR chair and making them repeatedly kill people isn't going to make them better, but exposing them to the stimuli (environment, sounds, etc) can help them go back through the feelings they had and deal with them.

      IIRC, in PTSD these feelings have which have been pushed into the subconscious where they fester and give rise to the disorder. The therapist can dynamically vary th
  • How callous... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stienman (51024) <adavis AT ubasics DOT com> on Saturday August 20, 2005 @04:51PM (#13363635) Homepage Journal
    One can only assume that soon someone be reforming carjackers by letting them play the GTA.

    Because, as everyone knows, a criminal hijacking cars results in the same trauma that soldier experiences when his humvee is blown up.

    I can't believe someone could even equate the "thrill" of performing a criminal act with the trauma of war.

    The psychologists are trying to help the soldiers understand why they act and react the way they do after a traumatic event. One Mash episode scratches the surface of this type of therapy. A doctor experiences something which seems ordinary in the daily life of a soldier, but he later tries to prevent another physician from administering gas anesthesia to a patient in need of surgery. During therapy the doctor comes to realize the the "ordinary" experience was actually a mother smothering her child to prevent the nearby enemy from finding the group's location.

    A PTSD soldier desires a normal life.

    -Adam
    • It's the concept of desensitization.

      You let the veteran relive his experiences in a non-hostile environment. Through repetition, it allows the individual to "delink" his experience from the autonomic alarm response that these things generate.

      Vets with PTSD are often hyper-alert, and exhibit "scanning" type behavior. Simple, common experiences can trigger an immense autonomic fight-or-flight response, complete with panic, sweating, rapid heartrate, elevated blood pressure, flushing, etc...

      This isn't about
  • One can only assume that soon someone be reforming carjackers by letting them play the GTA

    All your grammatical errors are belong to us

  • by BaronSprite (651436) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @04:52PM (#13363642) Homepage
    Good job trying to patronize treatment that could help people whom selflessly risked their lives (even if you agree with it or not) to help protect your country and you. Your little GTA comment was completely unneccesary.
    • Good job trying to patronize treatment that could help people whom selflessly risked their lives (even if you agree with it or not) to help protect your country and you.

      It was supposed to be non-sequitur, or humorous. I think it's okay to make fun of anything, even diseases and events that are killing thousands of people or causing untold suffering right now- humor and snide remarks are a good outlet when you have no power over a thing. On the other hand, if you are the very person that caused the sufferi
  • Cheap Shot (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kwilliamyoungatl (835177) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @04:54PM (#13363648)
    One can only assume that soon someone be reforming carjackers by letting them play the GTA.
    This is a cheap shop that vividly reveals the author's ignorance.
    In the first place, there is an enormous moral difference between carjacking and attempting to kill and capture, for example terrorists in Afganistan.
    Moreover, PTSS is a *real* issue. People going to war see unpleasant things, and dealing with that may be difficult. The intention is not to get them to feel bad about what they did, but to adjust to life where getting shot at is not an issue.

    Scuttlemonkey should be ashamed.

    • Scuttlemonkey should be ashamed.


      I sort of figure if someone voluntarily goes off to a shooting war and comes back with PTSS or more serious injuries they'll be able to handle a snide comment or two on slashdot. If not, then those of you joining up need to prepare yourselves not only for possible death or bodily or psychological damage, but also for impersonal verbal jabs from strangers on the internet.


  • The day is mine, Trebeck!

  • I wonder if the therapists are giving the vets Ecstasy before they engage in the simulation. See

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mdma [wikipedia.org]

    • Turning them into forever depressed e-tards because their brains are fried doesn't sound like a good outcome.

      X, aka E, aka Ecstasy is a very dangerous substance.

      No, I'm not a DEA agent, heck, even many very "pro-drug" people are (rightfully) afraid of a substance which causes serotonin neurons to be so depleted that they suck up dopamine and die due to peroxide formation.

      There are a lot of cautions on Erowid even about it.

      Don't forget the 108 degree fevers either.

      Or hyponatremia, which has left some people
  • Wait... (Score:2, Funny)

    by Jaiwithani (835259)
    I thought video games CAUSED violent behavior?

    ...now I just don't know what to believe...
  • by markybob (802458) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @05:23PM (#13363738)
    I'm a disabled veteran and have struggled to come to terms with what I've been through during two deployments. I expect an apology from you and Slashdot in general for posting such a demeaning thing about those who've tried to protect their countries.
    • Give him an M16, this t-shirt [yahoo.com], and drop him off in the middle of one of the nastier towns in Iraq, at 0200 local time.
    • Thank you for your sacrifice, but you don't deserve shit of an apology. We're told that you're defending our freedom, and you know what? We have the freedom to say shit that pisses you off.

      And how, exactly, were you protecting your country by invading one without the ability to attack ours?
    • by typical (886006) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @09:54PM (#13364688) Journal
      Why? Construction workers don't get apologies, nor do landscape painters. Veterans aren't any different. If your recruiter told you different, he was selling you a line of shit. You worked a job, and maybe that job doesn't get the respect you'd like it to do, but nobody made you take that job either.

      And the "protect your country" line is bullshit. That might fly somewhere in Central America or Eastern Europe, but the US hasn't been in danger that could be solved by conventional military force for a long time.
    • Most of us having been looking that he done gets fired sometime too.
    • Sorry, that just isn't going to happen.

      The US has experienced a level of relative saftey and prosperity for so long the population doesn't understand there is any other way.

      You might have fought to keep them safe, but most people never felt in any real danger, so they don't care.

      You've seen the real world, now welcome back to the surreal life, where having to spend $2 in gas to get to Starbucks is a national crisis.
    • I'm a disabled veteran and have struggled to come to terms with what I've been through during two deployments. I expect an apology from you and Slashdot in general for posting such a demeaning thing about those who've tried to protect their countries.

      If it were a national evening news anchor or some major politician (say the president) making light of those suffering because of a war or disaster then I would agree with you. This is the internet, and slashdot for christ's sake- there's a faceless slashdot

  • Sounds like they're doing simple desensitization. They should introduce paradoxical reaction. Have an army of Hello, Kitty! attack them with yarn balls.

  • by thomag (894176)
    Sure we could use this on criminals. Just give them a little shock when they're naughty. And it'll be just like that Clockwork Orange business where this idea worked great.
  • by Gorimek (61128) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @05:55PM (#13363855) Homepage
    Think about how much bigger the post traumatic stress load must be on the other side(s) of this war, that takes 10 - 100 times as high casualities, and presumably has very few therapy options available.

    I don't know much about PST, but I can't think it will manifest itself in ways that are good for anyone.
  • Just a couple things I would like to point out. First off PTSD is not always triggered by one traumatic event but also from the day to day stressors of having your life threatened. Some studies have actually stated this is the most frequent cause. Also I would imagine that these stressors have to do with actually believing your life is threatened and not from your body being tricked into thinking that. In other words making loud sounds and playing some video game isn't going to give you PTSD.

    However the pur
    • PTSD is a learned response and can be unlearned. Therapy has come a long way in the last 20 years, and I'm not talking about medication, virtual reality or even CBT. I'm talking about NLP, hypnotherapy, Provocative Therapy & EFT.
  • I don't know why, but for some reason vehicular kleptomania seems less plausible than regular kleptomania...
  • by Ralph Wiggam (22354) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @07:26PM (#13364217) Homepage
    I really hope that Full Spectrum Warrior is a better theraputic tool than it is a video game.

    -B
  • ...if there were virtual veterans.

    War is, on the whole, stupid. The current US war is particularly so.
  • Olfactory (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dun Malg (230075) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @01:06AM (#13365272) Homepage
    The object is to help veterans come to terms with what they've experienced in places like Iraq and Afghanistan by immersing vets in the sights and sounds of those theaters of battle.

    Sights and sounds aren't enough, I don't think. The sense most strongly liked to memory is the sense of smell. I by no means have PTSD like a lot of these guys do (I never came under direct fire, just had to worry about mines and unexploded ordinance mostly), but the smell of diesel exhaust or bug repellant still make me feel distinctly twitchy. I used to also get nervous seeing war movies, but after a couple years I was able to watch 'em fine without feeling like flipping out. But even to this day, driving behind a school bus if I catch a whiff of that diesel, my stomach tightens up.

  • by Biomechanical (829805) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @07:47AM (#13366062) Homepage

    Or any sort of combat situation. The closest I've come is when an arsehole tried to mug me - broke my nose but didn't get anything so I wasn't even a little bit stressed by it.

    Now, don't automatically dismiss my next thoughts because of that though. I'd like to try and say a few things and hopefully get my point across clearly.

    Firstly, War is Hell. There is no doubt about that. To take a man - and I say that as a general sexless term - and put them in a situation where they could, at any moment, suddenly be dead, can not be good for their nerves in the first place.

    Imagine being on a camping trip with your buddies. You've had a few beers, caught a couple of fish, and are generally relaxing around the camp fire while waving off the odd mosquito and keeping warm in your goretex (or whatever) jacket.

    "The mosquitos seem a bit heavy tonight." says one of your friends as you hear a particularly loud whining noise, and then his face is half-gone and he's dead.

    There's no thoughts that come of something like that. It's just "flight or fight" time. You can run, or you can kiss the dirt and crawl into your tent.

    Your goretex jacket is suddenly army greens. The mosquitos crack through the air. People are shouting directions, orders, for medical help, and just generally screaming in pain. Your fishing pole has become a large calibre, semi-automatic weapon, hard to tell if it's loaded or even what the exact calibre is in the bad light from the fire and with dirt on your hands. The tent is a fox hole or low trench with a shitty green tarp overhead.

    It's hard to think, to see clearly. You're scared - scared of dying, scared of living in pain, scared of ending up alone, scared of getting captured. There's the smell of mud, burning wood, maybe blood. At any moment a grenade might drop in and remove a limb if it doesn't kill you right away.

    And this, why you're out here, is because some guy in another country had decided that his piece of land wasn't big enough, or because he had to show "johnny foreigner" who's the boss.

    You're probably not even in your own country, defending it against invaders.

    "What the fuck am I doing here? What's going on up top? Why did I ever join? Will I ever see my wife again? Was that Hank that just screamed? Oh God I don't want to be here!"

    I don't know if this is a quote or a paraphrase from someone else but someone'll probably say it one day - "Those who would make war, would not if they had to fight it."

    I don't agree with war in general. I think it lost most of it's honour and principles of necessity when kings stopped going into battle with their soldiers. At the same time though I do feel sympathy for those who've been through war. I can only imagine in a small and pathetic way, like above, what it's like to be in the middle of a battle.

    If this new approach, using VR to confront and wear away the affects of Shell Shock, can work, I hope it get used and helps all those that fought in wars and came out broken. I hope they can rebuild their minds and put them to use in a new, and productive endeavour, remembering without terror what they once went through so they can hopefully dissuade the next generation from joining up the "defense" forces.

    There shouldn't be war any more. Our final act in the military should be to disband it as a fighting unit, gather up all the veterans with shell shock, and try to heal them.

    International commerce and the almighty dollar is the new weapon in our information age. Maybe when this time is over and we're scrabbling for the bits after a societal collapse we'll need to fight again, but now, there is no need for it.

    If a man is terrorising a society, take out that man. If a dictator is harming his people and they've cried out for help, take out that dictator. We have the technology today, when used correctly, to end wars before they even start.

    Idealistic and naive, maybe, but I'd like to at least dream that we won't all end up one day completely fucked because of some scared little egomaniac sitting in an irregularly shaped office barking orders into a phone. Maybe if they had to fight, we wouldn't.

  • So tell, me, doc, they put these folks in a kill-or-be-killed situation, with guerillas hiding in the midst of a large number of civilians, and they fired madly, and killed women and children. They're human beings.

    And, of course, Bush won't even meet with one guy's mother, and Nixon got pardoned - the folks who put them there.

    How do you "make it okay" for them to live with literal unjustified manslaughter and murder, and to think of their dead every day of their lives? Brainwash 'em, make 'em think it's all

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