Skip to main content
ad info

CNN.com  U.S. News
  Editions | myCNN | Video | Audio | Headline News Brief | Feedback

 

  Search
 
 

 
U.S.
TOP STORIES

California braced for weekend of power scrounging

Court order averts strike against Union Pacific railroad

U.S. warning at Davos forum

Two more Texas fugitives will contest extradition

(MORE)

TOP STORIES

Thousands dead in India; quake toll rapidly rising

Davos protesters confront police

California readies for weekend of power scrounging

Capriati upsets Hingis to win Australian Open

(MORE)

MARKETS
4:30pm ET, 4/16
144.70
8257.60
3.71
1394.72
10.90
879.91
 


WORLD

POLITICS

LAW

TECHNOLOGY

ENTERTAINMENT

HEALTH

TRAVEL

FOOD

ARTS & STYLE



(MORE HEADLINES)
*
 
CNN Websites
Networks image


Virtual reality frees some from their phobias

virtual phobias
Virtual reality is helping some people with phobias face their fears  

June 21, 2000
Web posted at: 10:34 p.m. EDT (0234 GMT)


In this story:

Three-dimensional images, stereo sound

A $1,200 bill

RELATED STORIES, SITES icon



ATLANTA (CNN) -- To conquer fears that have held them captive, some of the millions of Americans who suffer from phobias enter a cyber world full of whatever they dread the most.

"Everytime I get on a plane I think I am going to die," said Melanie Metcalf. "It is like meeting your own mortality every time you fly, and it's a frustrating experience."

Metcalf decided to seek help after sitting home alone on New Year's Eve 2000 while her husband, once again, jetted off to vacation with their friends.

She sought a new form of therapy that exposed her to her fear with the help of a computer.

Three-dimensional images, stereo sound

simulation
Three-dimensional video images create a stressful situation that is lifelike  

"People have this fear structure in their brain that needs to be activated by putting yourself in the fearful environment," said Elana Zimand of Virtually Better, which has recreated cyber environments such as elevators, bridges, storms and even Vietnam.

"You can actually get used to that situation that was a previously frightening situation for you," Zimand said.

The patient wears a mask that plays three-dimensional video images, while stereo sounds help create a scene that is lifelike. That immerses the phobic person in a stressful situation without, for instance, having to actually walk on a bridge, climb a real mountain or speak to an audience.

"I think virtual reality exposure works, because we are tapping enough of their fear cues and bringing up that fear memory," said clinical psychologist Barbara Rothbaum.

A psychologist is also involved in the process as patients incorporate relaxation and breathing techniques while confronting their fears.

A $1,200 bill

Most people require a minimum of eight sessions at $150 each before they are ready to face their fears in the real world.

Psychologists said this form of exposure is an easier means of controlling the situation and keeping confidentiality.

And the help Metcalf has received from the virtual therapy of flying means she won't have to spend another vacation home alone.



RELATED SITES:
Virtually Better, Inc. Home Page

Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.

 Search   


Back to the top  © 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.