From the Editor
“The voices won’t leave me alone.”
A patient made this comment to me recently. And it’s an experience many patients have had. Despite medications and follow up, the voices continue to be problematic.
This week, we look at a new paper from The Lancet Psychiatry which considers a novel approach: AVATAR therapy.
In this study, patients who experienced auditory hallucinations created a computerized simulation (avatar) of the voice they most wanted to influence, including what the voice said, how it sounded, and how the “entity” with the voice looked like. Patients, working with a therapist who controlled the avatar, then had therapy sessions in which they could talk to it. Patients were compared on several measures to those who only received supportive therapy.
The paper has received significant media attention including CNN and BBC.
Spoiler alert: the therapy helped – at least initially – but the results are complicated. (And, no, this isn’t “fake news,” to borrow a phrase from an American politician.)
In this Reading, we consider the paper and its findings.