PSYCHOLOGY ISSUES -
Fooling our mind for a good purpose - Virtual Reality Therapy and visualization
- How imaginary time travel rejuvenated seniors' bodies and minds.
- How a video game alleviated a war veteran's pain.
- How musicians and athletes practice in their minds - and see actual results.
By Tracy W.
First, the youth project. A group of seniors travelled back in time for a whole week to the year without breaking the laws of physics, dressing in the same fashion as they did when young, listening to music of that time, dancing, discussing the issues of that year, flirting, feeling young again.
This was an actual study done by psychologist Ellen Langer with seniors home residents who were taken to an isolated location to re-live the year 1959. After a week of vacationing in the past, they were given medical tests and doctors were amazed at how much and how quickly these seniors had been rejuvenated. Their cholesterol levels, their blood pressure, their memory, their energy, their overall sense of well-being and empowerment had greatly improved in comparison with the control group of seniors who had stayed in the seniors home who felt the same.
Read more about the study here:
SnowWorld as pain therapy for a war veteran
Our imagination can also be put to use in a process known as Virtual Reality Therapy (VRT). A patient is asked to participate in a virtual reality game with a theme chosen to counteract his body's message of pain. And it works!
Lieutenant Sam Brown suffered severe burns from the blast of an IED in Afghanistan. Back in the US his treatment was causing such excruciating pain that it was unbearable. Concerned by the prospect of painkillers dependency and side effects, his doctor ordered a video game.
That's right. He ordered SnowWorld, where the gamer throws snowballs at penguins to the music of Paul Simon. The burn victim's mind is partly transported to a cool and beautiful world, away from his burning pain, engaging in an entertaining and soothing activity while the medical staff treats his skin.
SnowWorld was designed by University of Washington psychologists, Dr. David Patterson and Dr. Hunter Hoffman. In 2011 the US military concluded a study proving that it was more effective than morphine to alleviate pain.
Read more about SnowWorld treatment and Lieutenant Brown's recovery and his new life here:
Musicians and athletes getting better by practicing in their minds
Marisa Brook explores another angle of using the imagination to effect real physical improvement on her article The Science of Mental Fitness. Musicians and athletes often use imaginary practice to sharpen their skills. Famous performers such as Vladimir Horowitz and Arthur Rubinstein rehearsed on an imaginary piano.
And here is the astounding fact that for athletes imaginary practice results in greater dexterity and strength. This has been proven by scientific studies.
Let children daydream
Children fantasies as self-therapy and self-discovery. They use their imagination as self-therapy - beyond usual fun and excitement, although they do not know it at the time. They compensate for what is missing in their lives, empowering themselves to face what we call the "real world".
Many children therapeutic fantasies uncover talents and dreams that would have otherwise remained obscured in their everyday lives, sharpening awareness of goals for their future as adults.
Unfortunately adults cram their children's time with extra-curricular activities these days. Children need a time for solitude and dreams. It's their time for magic.