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Medicine Technology

Virtual Imaging Tech Helps People Get Over Social Anxieties 41

Posted by samzenpus
from the a-picture-is-worth-a-thousand-worries dept.
coondoggie writes "If you have ever visualized in your mind winning a race or overcoming a serious life hurdle then you understand at least some of the concept behind a new virtual video a technology that could help people with their social anxieties. Researchers say they have tested a system that lets people with all manner of social anxieties — from using public transportation and buying a drink at a bar to socializing at a party, shopping, or talking to a stranger — see themselves interacting in those situations via video capture."
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Virtual Imaging Tech Helps People Get Over Social Anxieties

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  • Flooding (Score:5, Funny)

    by GeekWithAKnife (2717871) on Thursday June 27, 2013 @08:25AM (#44120941)

    When it comes to anxiety it's fear that keeps people away. They refuse to face the source of their anxiety. One technique to overcome anxiety/fear is to flood -"flooding"

    The idea is that anxiety cannot build indefinitely. It peaks and then subsides. So flooding puts you in anxiety inducing situations in increasing intensity. Let's put it this way, it's not for everyone.

    Imaging helps people stay in relatively controlled environments to face their fears or source of anxiety in isolation. It like taking baby steps. So much easier to handle.

    Something tells me that viewing some stressful images from your favorite tablet on a coach at home with a cup of tea is the way most people will choose to combat their social anxiety. that is rather than the flooding alternative that would just put you in direct contact with your source of anxiety.

    I used to have pornography anxiety and from the comfort of my coach I slowly started to get over it. These days I can watch thousands of stressful images or even videos without a single panic attack. I'm cured. True story.
    • by mwvdlee (775178)

      I used to have pornography anxiety and from the comfort of my coach I slowly started to get over it. These days I can watch thousands of stressful images or even videos without a single panic attack. I'm cured. True story.

      Yes, but are you now over your social anxiety to do so in public transport, a bar, at a party, while shopping or with a stranger?

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      I used to have pornography anxiety and from the comfort of my coach I slowly started to get over it. These days I can watch thousands of stressful images or even videos without a single panic attack.

      Well played sir. You snuck that in really well. ;-)

    • It doesn't really work like that. I never had social anxiety before I was attacked. Now i'm constantly getting it wherever i'm going. according to this whole "flooding" theory, i should be experiencing less social anxiety then ever because every encounter should seem less intense then that one. Where exactly did you get this theory from anyways?
  • by nimbius (983462) on Thursday June 27, 2013 @08:26AM (#44120943) Homepage
    Doom still hasnt acclimated me to the inevitable demonic invasion of earth from a hell-portal on phobos, and despite rigorous training in Doom 2, i for one am entirely unprepared to fire shoulder mounted rockets at the decapitated head of John Romero.
    Half Life however is doing a spectacular job of teaching me how to live and work in a post-apocalyptic society governed by constant surveillance in which i have no real rights.
    • by wbr1 (2538558)
      If you survive you have a right to cake. Assume the party submission position...

      Oh, wait.

    • People do ask why i keep looking for strings hanging from the ceiling though.
    • by SirGarlon (845873)

      Half Life however is doing a spectacular job of teaching me how to live and work in a post-apocalyptic society governed by constant surveillance in which i have no real rights.

      You have the right to consume. That's still real.

      • You have the right to consume. That's still real.

        If you have money.
      • Half Life however is doing a spectacular job of teaching me how to live and work in a post-apocalyptic society governed by constant surveillance in which i have no real rights.

        You have the right to consume. That's still real.

        That's not a right, that's a duty!

    • by MobyDisk (75490)

      , i for one am entirely unprepared to fire shoulder mounted rockets at the decapitated head of John Romero

      Then move out of the way, there is a whole like of people behind you who bought Daikatana. They have been waiting for this opportunity.

    • by Picass0 (147474)

      Would you kindly remember to vote on November 5th?

    • by hhacklub (2928805)
      Two words impervious mode ... q3 worst baddies lovable when theycant hurt you ;]
  • Sigh. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 27, 2013 @08:28AM (#44120949)

    So you're anxious in social situations.

    Just come to this lab, let us put you in a box, while we monitor you trying to make virtual friends (because, obviously, nobody real would want to come near you so we can't even be bothered to hire actors to help you out here). And we'll stick you through a hundred scenarios and then judge how well you acted socially with them all.

    As someone who suffers with some quite extreme social anxiety, I can't think of much worse. And the best "treatment" isn't something that someone else can give you. It's just to get out there and do this thing for real, not sit in front of virtual friends.

    I'm extremely socially anxious to the point where I will stay hungry rather than approach a vendor to buy food if I can't predict the conversation - a surprise "Do you want X with that?" question makes me clam up and say something I don't want, because I think people might think it more "normal" to have it, even if I don't like it, etc. I hate answering phones, even when I *KNOW* it's someone I know ringing and exactly what they are talking about. I will avoid any and all social situations as much as possible.

    But the fact is that I hold down a good job in a school (children are more unpredictable, but much easier to talk to when you're perceived as an authority figure), I function in everyday life, I've been married after being with a woman for eight years, had a (normal, not socially awkward) child with her, divorced, now live with my girlfriend of four years, get on with all these peoples friends and neighbours and - until I mention it - nobody, even at work, is aware of my problem.

    Hell, I'm not even a bad public speaker - because the social contact is then on MY terms. And I'm happy to walk into an argument and take sides or even cause arguments and swear and shout at strangers when its necessary.

    When the social situation is out of my control or comfort zone, I'm a drip. When I'm the one who decides to take charge, I'm a loudmouth arsehole even under the threat of physical force.

    But I'm only capable of living that way because I taught myself to power through it. I *KNOW* it's all nonsensical and doesn't matter in the long run. The guy on the hotdog stand might think I'm odd for ordering a hotdog that I then throw away (or spending ten minutes hovering until I can find a point I'm happy to approach him), but it doesn't matter. Who cares?

    I might say something which makes no sense in the social context or have a joke die in the middle of a crowded room. I just know that I can power through it and it doesn't matter. People might think I'm an idiot for a while, and I can correct that later if necessary. If they shun me on the basis that a joke died, fuck them. That's their problem and I wouldn't want to know them. The worst thing is only unscheduled changes that I can't predict but - hey - you get through them.

    Pissing about with virtual friends in a box under the scrutiny of a room of shrinks? I couldn't think of ANYTHING worse, to be honest. No, I wouldn't seek medical help for such a condition. Like a lot of similar conditions, there's just not much they can do that a half-intelligent person couldn't do for themselves. Something scares you, go do it in small bits and build up to the thing that scares you most. It won't "cure" you, but you learn how to cope with it. You know that's the answer, even when you ask your friends, family, doctor, for help. And guess what they'll do - exactly that, but not on your terms.

    Incidentally, The Big Bang Theory covered this in the latest series with Raj's girlfriend (also, damn, they do their research. I am part of every one of the male characters.) She's the strongest person there. Raj's girlfriend - who has massive social anxiety - but is teaching herself to power through it, on her own, without help, standing in a comic book store full of strangers voluntarily JUST to force herself to interact because she knows she has a problem.

    Don't stick people in a box with virtual friends. Show them The Big Bang Theory so they know they aren't "different" to a lot of other people, who have coped perfectly well with even worse symptoms of the same problem.

    • by http (589131)
      The world is a better place that you aren't allowed to recommend treatment. Your definition of extreme needs work, too.
  • No shit captain obvious. Many people do imagine winning races, beating opponents, winning an intellectual discourse*, becoming great generals and so on and so forth.

    *uhm..no i'm not a schizophrenic..._turns around_ yes we are!
    • by etash (1907284)
      and all those things make us feel a sort of euphoria, i guess due to pheromones/hormones etc. etc. maybe just like chocolate eating does. P.S. i hate the lack of the editing feature on slashdot
  • According to TFA, all the tests subjects were psychotic. I kid you not. So applicability to more normative individuals is totally speculative and is known to exist only in the imagination of the author of TFA.
  • by lfp98 (740073) on Thursday June 27, 2013 @08:51AM (#44121041)
    I'm thoroughly confident that if I ever had to actually (or virtually) see myself as others see me interacting in a social situation, I'd never go to a party again.
    • by nukenerd (172703)

      I'm thoroughly confident that if I ever had to actually (or virtually) see myself as others see me interacting in a social situation, I'd never go to a party again.

      Don't know why this was modded funny. Someone once recorded me singing which I did not realise until they played it back (amid Homeric mirth among bystanders). I have never sung a word since - seriously. That was just a sound recording - hate to think what effect a video would have on me.

  • dreaming (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gbjbaanb (229885) on Thursday June 27, 2013 @09:29AM (#44121263)

    I suppose this is like what happens when you dream - if you've ever had a dream where you were naked in public or similar, your subconscious is just trying to help you out with some social anxieties.

    Of course, I use such virtual imaging techniques myself all the time, usually using the internet as a tool to assist. Only its everyone else that has no clothes on. And they're all women.

  • by moeinvt (851793) on Thursday June 27, 2013 @09:35AM (#44121317)

    IANAP, but I was wondering if Google Glass might be a useful tool for assisting mental health professionals, especially with things like agoraphobia or anxiety disorders? If people could exactly replay the circumstances that triggered their anxiety, a professional might be in a better position to explain and replace dysfunctional patterns of thinking.
    Of course other people's reactions to the fact that someone is wearing Google Glass hardware might be the very thing that exacerbates the anxiety, so maybe it's no good until it catches on.

  • There are people who get anxious about buying a drink at a bar? I only get anxious when it's time to pay the tab.

  • The fact that the title implies that people can just "get over" their anxieties shows that the public still has no idea about the cause of anxieties. They are a mental manifestation of a permanent PHYSICAL problem with the brain's neurochemistry. No amount of corrective therapy can fix the problem. What it can do is help alleviate the triggers that cause panic, and help the sufferer understand when medicine is required.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      The people with real problems will only have their anxiety reinforced by such a system. If you can see yourself being awkward and anxious in real time, that's going to make you feel even more awkward and anxious.

  • I remember writing a high school english paper on this idea back in 1998. I included VR technologies that didn't use headsets (some kind of VR dome that allowed for real time interaction). I assume they have built a holodeck now?

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