The Height of Reality: Using Virtual Reality Technology to Desensitize Acrophobia
Virtual reality (VR) is a new up-and-coming technology on which to watch three dimensional films or play video games. However, the practical uses of virtual reality can spread much further than just media outputs. This research aims to explore one of the practical uses for virtual reality technology. VR has the potential to help patients living with psychological disorders, by reducing the anxiety that they experience to a more manageable level within a safe environment. This dissertation addresses the use of a virtual reality simulation to reduce the anxiety experienced by patients effected by acrophobia, known as the fear of heights. The preliminary research includes several in-depth interviews with psychologists and clinicians, as well as phobic patients to better understand the processes of gradual exposure rehabilitation. This method also determines how a virtual reality simulation may be effectively designed. The primary aim of this research is to build a VR simulation which will produce a conducive result in the anxiety levels of the participants’ mental health, within a familiar and comfortable environment. User-testing the simulation will further refine the program’s effectiveness. The outcome will be a program supported by existing virtual reality treatments for psychological disorders that ultimately reduces the anxiety experienced by participants.