The Virtual Hallucinations Project

The concept of simulating a purely internal experience (i.e., hallucinations associated with schizophrenia) originated with Dr. Peter Yellowlees, an Australian psychiatrist. Working with Nash Baldwin, the avatar name of a medical doctor at the University of California at Davis, a Virtual Hallucinations building was constructed in Second Life that contains simulations of visual and auditory hallucinations based upon Yellowlees’s interview with schizophrenic patients. After moving through the space, visitors are asked to take a survey to determine if the simulation increased their understanding of schizophrenia and what it is like to experience hallucinations.

Findings from the survey assessment are reported in Yellowlees and Cook (2006) in the journal Academic Psychiatry. Yellowlees and his colleagues see the Virtual Hallucinations simulation as a powerful educational and empathy building tool for the general public, mental health professionals, families with a schizophrenic member, and advocacy groups.

A video tour of the Virtual Hallucinations simulation is available.