Thanatophobia is a pathological fear , which is quite common among people. If you think about it, it seems to be a fear of death – quite a rational fear, as it can be described as a part of the survival instinct. But in fact such a phobia gives the person great discomfort, even when his life is not in danger. Scientists from the University of Barcelona came up with an interesting experiment, thanks to which they managed to reduce the impact of this phobia on the subjects.
The experiment involved 32 people suffering from thanatophobia. Subjects were dressed in identical black jumpsuit to placed on them by sensors and feedback units, after which everyone sat down in a chair, stretched out his legs in front of him and wore a virtual reality helmet. In it, he saw before him about the same room in which he was just. He also saw his body, arms and legs in first person. Then around it was a blue rubber balls that started to jump off those places on the suit where the fixed drives of feedback. At the time of contact between the ball and body worked vibrometric, so he felt the impact.
The Second phase of the experiment changed the image in a VR-helmet. Suddenly people began to see themselves in the third person, from the top of the back (as in many modern video games). This position was chosen by the researchers for a reason, because it is so described by witnesses who have experienced clinical death, the moment when their consciousness separated from the body (we won't discuss the veracity of these stories). This blue balls continued to jump on the hands and feet of the subjects. And here begins the most interesting. Scientists divided the participants into two groups, one of which at the moment of change the camera angle off the blocks feedback, that is, they ceased to feel the blows of the balls on their limbs.
The Subjects who lost the tactile connection with the virtual world, in one voice said that their fear of death decreased significantly. Most likely, it was the psychological moment of the separation of man from the body of his virtual avatar with all the attendant physical sensations, but the man continued to see ourselves and understand that in fact nothing wrong with him there. Scientists have set a goal to simulate the situation, showing people the possibility of the existence of their consciousness beyond the physical body, thereby decreasing their fear of death. It seems that the speculation of the researchers were correct, and now patients with thanatophobia you can try to get rid of their uncontrollable fear.