February 9, 2010
Is it the Cure?
If virtual reality machines become a part of the technological future in our society, how
will they be used? Will the machines simply be for pleasure, or could they be used for something
more advanced like medical procedures?
The story “Flashbattles” by W. T. Quick illustrates the use of virtual reality to condition a
person to change the way that they think or believe. The machine turned the president into a
pacifist by giving him the experience of war. After getting shot at and seeing a friend die, he
decided that there would not be war during his presidential term.
Maybe the concept from “Flashbattles” could be applied to more than making people
pacifists. If virtual reality machines can actually condition a person’s mind and change their
thought processes, maybe they can be used to help people with mentally debilatating issues such
as psychosis. People with extreme cases of mental illness could be helped through the use of
virtual reality by learning and seeing the way things really interact in the world while sitting in a
controlled environment such as a hospital.
There are many advantages to this idea. If a virtual reality cure for mentally unstable
people can be found, it could reduce the amount of these people on the streets drastically. Even if
a person takes a long time to be cured with the virtual reality machine, they’d be hooked up to it
in a closely monitored and controlled environment. This would be advantageous because often
times we find that criminals are mentally unstable. Reducing the amount of interactions between
unstable people and everyone else could reduce the crime rate. Another advantage is that many
people could regain loved ones who had lost the ability to think rationally due to mental illness.
Sociopaths often completely lose their mind and aren’t the person they used to be. A cure such as
a virtual reality machine could be a way to turn that person back to the way they were. With
these advantages, virtual reality treatment for mental illness sounds like a solid theory for a cure.
Even though there are many reasons why virtual reality treatments would be benefitial,
there are disadvantages as well. One main argument would be whether or not a person with a
mental illness could actually take what they learned from the machine and apply it to the real
world without the effects of the mental illness. Yes, this is a valid concern, but medical research
before any treatment is put on the market is extensive enough to find the risk of that. Any risk of
the treatment not working would be explained to the patient and family beforehand, so there
cannot be any surprises. A second argument would be whether or not the person would
experience “reality” after coming off of the machine because their minds were altered by the
virtual reality. I think that they would be just as in touch with reality as the rest of the world as
long as the machine taught them to use their senses the way that everyone else uses them.
Obviously, there are some problems that would have to be worked through as this
technique is being developed, but overall, I think that it would be an incredible medical
breakthough if someone could actually figure out a way to do it. I believe the more illness and
harm that can be prevented in the world, the better off everyone will be.