Schizophrenia Blog

Avatar Therapy as Treatment for Schizophrenia

Oct 1, 2013, 6:11 pm

Researchers of schizophrenia at King's College London Institute of Psychiatry (UCL) and the Wellcome Trust have developed a surprising new therapy to help sufferers of schizophrenia. In a futuristic and "science fiction" like approach they have developed an avatar system that aids sufferers of schizophrenia by reducing positive symptoms (i.e., auditory hallucinations). We have to give this 10 points for innovative thinking with respect to a schizophrenia treatment.   

How does the Avatar Therapy work?

Well it isn't quite like the movie, but a patient uses a programme to create an avatar on a computer; by choosing the face and voice of the entity they feel is communicating with them. A therapist speaks to the patient in real time using the avatar and the computer system developed by UCL, synchronises the avatar's lips with its speech. By doing this the therapist teaches the patient to confront the voice of their persecutor to their face, so to speak, and take control of their auditory hallucinations.

Avatar Treatment for Schizophrenia

Results of a clinical trial

The first clinical trial has gone well; Sixteen patients had up to seven 30 minute sessions of avatar therapy and the majority of the patients found an improvement in the frequency and severity of auditory hallucinations. Three of the patients stopped hearing voices after hearing them for a long periods of time (16, 13 and 3.5 years).


We are always sceptical of new schizophrenia treatments (that arrive in a flurry of media attention but then fade away) but we are encouraged by the initial results here and also the innovative thinking. If a therapy like this could replace electroconvulsive treatment for positive symptoms (even in part)  that would be an amazing development. It is a relative simplistic and cost-effective technology and we will continue watching this.



"silkyegg..." --- Do your research...SCHIZOPHRENIA and MULTIPLE PERSONALITY DISORDER - ARE *NOT* THE SAME THING...IDIOT!This is from a dootcr. The question is asked about schizoaffective & not plain schizophrenia, but I think you you will get the differences:this info is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions that apply directly to you or your care, ask your healthcare provider(s). This may be more than you were looking for, but here goes:What is the difference between bipolar disorder with psychotic episodes and schizoaffective disorder? This is somewhat of a confusing distinction...• Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder characterized by depressive episodes with manic or mixed episodes. A person with bipolar disorder can have psychotic episodes during either a manic phase or depression phase. They key here is that the mood disorder is always present, the psychosis is not.• In schizoaffective disorder, both symptoms of mood disorder and schizophrenia are present. The patient experiences mood swings and at least 2 psychotic symptoms (delusions, hallucinations, disorganized thinking) simultaneously – but the psychosis is the dominant feature (the mood swings may come and go). Even if the mood episode(s) clear, psychosis is still present to some degree.What are the different types of psychoses?• Schizophreniao A person must meet 3 criteria to be schizophrenic:? Display 2 or more of the following symptoms, each present for most of the time during a one-month period:• Delusions (bizarre/illogical thoughts”)• Hallucinations (ex: hearing voices)• Disorganized speech• Grossly disorganized behavior (ex: dressing for a snowstorm in 90 degree weather) or catatonic behavior• Negative symptoms (decline in emotional response, decline of speech or motivation)? The above symptoms must significantly impact the person’s ability to function (maintain relationships, work, go to school, etc.)? There must be continuous signs of the disturbance persist for at least six months. This six-month period must include at least one month of symptoms• Shchizoaffective disorder – as described above• Schizophreniform – related to schizophrenia, with two differences:o The total duration of the illness is at least 1 month but less than 6 monthso Significantly impaired function is not required, though it may be present as well.• Brief psychotic episode: A person may experience psychotic symptoms that are of sudden onset, short lived, and followed by return to baseline function. Not associated with another illness, medical condition or medication/drug• Delusional Disorder: Person does not meet the criteria for schizophrenia (though may experience tactile/olfactory hallucinations), however, experiences delusions. Delusions are typically not bizarre (jealous delusions very common), person is usually highly-functioning.• Shared psychotic episode: Rare! Psychotic symptoms are shared between 2 individuals such as siblings/spouses.• Important to note that various medical conditions such as alzheimer’s disease, brain tumors, multiple sclerosis, lyme disease, electrolyte disturbances etc. can cause psychotic symptoms. As can many medications/drugs/alchohol.Is it possible to be manic and depressed at the same time?• Yes, this is referred to as a “mixed” state or episode, where symptoms of depression and mania occur simultaneously. HOPE THIS HELPS!EDIT: Please note that if you are ever diagnosed w/schizophrenia, do to your depression you will more than likely will receive the diagnosis of schioaffective instead -- the affective simply means that you some type of mood disorder along w/schizophrenia -EDIT: "matt" you did a good job at giving characteristics of schizophrenia, however, you obviously have no idea what psychosis is: "People experiencing psychosis may report hallucinations or delusional beliefs, and may exhibit personality changes and disorganized thinking. This may be accompanied by unusual or bizarre behavior, as well as difficulty with social interaction and impairment in carrying out the activities of daily living." SCHIZOPHRENIA & PSYCHOSIS ARE SYNONOMUS" --"COOKIE" has written a well thought out/well organized question -I HARDLY THINK SHE IS "WHACKED"!!! That being said, from my experience w/depression I would have to agree you - depression is a battle that must eventually fought internally -- MEDS & THERAPY, though can be a great comfort blanket for those waiting to realize this! Was this answer helpful?
- Oct 11, 2013, 4:10 pm by Zulmira

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