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SXSW holds meeting for merging psychedelic drugs with VR

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-South by Southwest(SXSW) is an annual event that brings together innovators, entrepreneurs and thought leaders from around the world to explore the latest trends and ideas.

-This year, one of the most ta;lked -about sessions at SXSW was a discussion on the intersection of psychedelics and Virtual Reality. 

The session titled “Exploring psychedelics and VR“, featured a panel of experts who discussed the potential benefits and challenges of combining these technologies. The panel included Tom Furness, a professor at the University of Washington and one of the pioneers of VR technology; Rick Doblin, the founder of Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies(MAPS). 

The Story In Depth

According to panelists, both technologies have the potential to induce altered states of consciousness that can help people explore their inner-selves and become more self-aware Furness noted that VR technology can create immersive and transformative experiences that can help people break down their egos and explore their true selves. VR experiences can lead to increased empathy, reduced anxiety, and improved mental health. 

Doblin, on the other hand, highlighted the potential benefits of SD, psilocybin, and MDMA. He noted that these drugs have been used for centuries to induce altered states of consciousness. These drugs are effective in treating depression, anxiety and PTSD. The panelists then explored the challenges of combining psychedelics and VR. One of the main concerns is the potential for negative experiences or “bad trips”. Careful screening and preparations are essential to eliminate risks.

Another challenge is the legal status of psychedelic drugs, which are currently illegal in many countries. However, the panelists noted that there is growing interest and support for the medical use of these drugs. Several clinical trials are currently underway to explore these therapeutic benefits, therapy, education and entertainment. For example, a patient could be guided through a VR experience that helps them explore their anxieties, while also being supported by a trained therapist. 

In the realm of education, VR could be used to create interactive learning experiences that help students explore complex concepts and ideas. For example, a VR experience could be created that stimulates the effects of different psychedelic drugs. In the realm of entertainment, VR could be used to explore new worlds and perspectives. For example, a VR experience could be created that stimulates a psychedelic trip in a safe and controlled way. 

How can VR be used to explore Psychedelics?

  • Simulation of psychedelic experience- VR technology can be used to create simulations of visual and auditory experiences that people have when they take psychedelic drugs. These simulations can be used to help people understand the effects of different drugs and to enjoy experiences that they may never have had before. 
  • Guided meditation and therapy- VR can be used to create guided therapy experiences that help people overcome their depression, anxiety and mental problems. This combination means people won’t be relying on drugs anymore to achieve the same effect. 
  • Research- VR can be used to conduct research on the effect of psychedelic drugs in a safe environment. Researchers can study different doses of LSD to investigate the neural mechanisms underlying psychedelic experiences. 
  • Education and harm reduction- VR can be used to educate people about the potential benefits and risks of psychedelic drugs. VR experiences could be created that simulate the risks of driving under the influence of drugs or provide information on safe dosing. 

Overall, VR technology has the potential to enhance our understanding of psychedelics and to create transformative experiences that help people in self-awareness. However, it is important to use VR technology responsibly and to ensure that people are properly prepared for the experience they may have.


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