Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Simulating Psychedelic Therapy Through Mediated Reality

Version 2 2023-09-22, 01:43
Version 1 2021-11-23, 11:21
posted on 2023-09-22, 01:43 authored by Hillstead, Andrew

Due to the illegality of psychedelic substances, and despite proven efficiency, people suffering from various psychiatric illnesses and disorders are unable to receive potentially life-changing psychedelic therapy. With the recent technological development of computer-mediated realities, designers and developers now have the opportunity to digitally recreate such treatments. Through practical application along with the review of literature and conferences, this study aims to analyse the potential of mediated realities to convincingly simulate psychedelic therapy.   Augmented reality (AR) and modulated realities (ModR) such as modified and diminished reality show insufficient evidence for practical use in simulated psychedelic therapy. Augmented virtuality (AV), mixed reality (MR), virtual reality (VR) and modulated virtuality (ModV) contain a range of characteristics fundamental to potentially simulating mind manifesting psychedelic therapy. However, mediated reality in general appears to be extraneous for practical use in mind loosening psychedelic therapy. Currently, virtual reality (VR) shows the greatest potential for healing, trauma release, personal growth and exploration of the psyche by simulating closed-eye psychedelic experiences through adding virtual information via an HMD.   Accordingly, the author of this study has proposed a proof of concept (POF) for a neurofeedback driven VR experience which simulates aspects of both mind loosening and mind manifesting psychotherapy. This POF is intended to simulate the transformation of phosphenes into complex geometric pattern based hallucinations. With further development in this field, one day people suffering from various mental conditions might be able to receive safe, accessible and legal forms of simulated psychedelic therapy.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

CC BY 4.0

Degree Discipline

Media Design

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Design Innovation

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Design


Langelaar, Walter