Avatar Therapy Might Prove Useful for Schizophrenia Patients

Avatar Therapy Might Prove Useful for Schizophrenia PatientsPeople suffering with schizophrenia might have some relief from tormenting voices as psychiatrists are developing such a system which would be able to control them and also be able to silence the disturbing voices by confronting a computerized avatar of themselves.

Doctors did a pilot study by using `avatar therapy' in which 16 patients of schizophrenia participated. The results of the therapy showed that almost all the participants reported a reduction in hearing of the tormenting voices and the distress caused by them.

The first step of the therapy required the participant to choose a computer based avatar and a voice with whom they can associate and believe that the face and voice is talking to them. Then the system synchronizes lips of avatar with its speech so that the therapist can talk to the patient through that avatar.

Professor Julian Leff, the developer of the therapy, said, "Even though patients interact with the avatar as though it was a real person, because they have created it they know that it cannot harm them, as opposed to the voices, which often threaten to kill or harm them and their family".