Trauma, technology, therapy
Back in 2019, I saw a movie called Game Over. It was a good, unconventional horror thriller but there was one scene that I recently remembered.
The scene was about a therapist using a VR device with his patient to help her deal with her fear of dark places through a virtual simulation.
I had nearly forgotten that scene until last weekend when I started reading a book called, The Body Keeps Score. The book deals with trauma and how it impacts even common people, not just war veterans or people with severe PTSD. It is a fascinating and engaging read so far and I will probably do a detailed post on it later.
But, the reason it reminded me of that scene from Game Over was the author’s explanation of how people can recover from trauma- by revisiting the traumatic experience while being anchored in the present moment. In the words of the author, this “opens the possibility of deeply knowing that the terrible events belong to the past”. Of course, it is easier said than done and there are different ways of doing so with the help of an expert.
So, using a virtual simulation to recreate a traumatic situation during therapy in that movie now makes some sense.
However, it is difficult to recreate every traumatic situation because the fear or trauma response might not be as straightforward.
Sometimes, we do not even know if there is trauma involved in our past. The situations might be too gruesome or overwhelmingly complicated to replicate virtually. Our memories might be vague as suppressing the memory of the event is a common trauma response.
And, this is where things can become really interesting.
According to Ray Kurzweil (who is famous for making many accurate predictions about technological progress), we will be able to [upload our minds to computers by 2045](https://www.kurzweilai.net/daily-mail-well-be-uploading-our-entire-minds-to-computers-by-2045-and-our-bodies-will-be-replaced-by-machines-within-90-years-google-expert-claims). I don’t have the technical expertise to have a logical comment on the plausibility of this but for a moment, just imagine if this actually becomes possible.
Assuming the uploading is perfect, then that means one could access their past memories, even the suppressed, subconscious ones, with clarity. So, it would become possible to recreate a situation from the past and relive that experience virtually, once again.
Now, I understand that some experiences might be too traumatic to relive. It’d perhaps make it difficult to stay anchored in the present moment. But, if one is trained in mindfulness and willing to dive into that experience with the help of an expert therapist in a safe environment, it might unlock doors to healing that we never knew existed.
Another way this could go is via the route of inner child therapy.
Imagine if you could revisit the child you were in that virtual world recreated from your memories. In fact, you might even interact with the child, made possible due to the integration of a language model like GPT with your memories of that time.
Everything you need to say to acknowledge and soothe that inner child becomes extremely real and can leave a powerful impact on your present life.
This is what one usually experiences during an inner child meditation. I once wrote about a similar experience I had in the form of a short story. And that’s why I strongly believe in the concept.
Yes, there are a lot of downsides one could speculate about AI, technology, and where things are headed. But if more people are able to heal and resolve their childhood traumas in this way, I cannot think of a better use of this technology for the benefit of the entire human race.
What do you think?
Until next time,