• The Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD) is the research hospital for the Virtual Iraq programme led by Captain Scott L Johnston, Head of Clinical Psychology. This research programme is directed at US soldiers who have been recently deployed to the Middle East and show symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In 2008, data presented by RAND (Research and Development non-profit corporation) states that ‘mental health and cognitive conditions are widespread; in a cohort of otherwise healthy young individuals, they represent the primary type of morbidity in coming years and what is most worrisome is that these problems are not yet fully understood’. It shows that nearly 20 per cent of all serving military members reported symptoms of PTSD or major depression, and almost half did not seek treatment.
  • Captain Scott L Johnson, Clinical Psychologist and Director for Clinical Research, and Karen Perlman, Civilian and Research Psychologist
    Captain Scott L Johnson, Clinical Psychologist and Director for Clinical Research, and Karen Perlman, Civilian and Research Psychologist
  • Adolescent Mental Health Service Department
    Adolescent Mental Health Service Department
  • Christopher Robin mural painted at the Adolescent Mental Health Service Department
    Christopher Robin mural painted at the Adolescent Mental Health Service Department
  • When experiencing the Virtual Iraq programme as part of their treatment for PTSD, ‘warriors’ are asked to wear their uniform and use the head-mounted display. This is attached to the helmet for a more realistic experience, enabling a 360-degree field of vision. The participant controls his movements using an adapted weapon, while sitting or standing on a platform that vibrates when explosions are nearby or helicopters fly overhead. At the same time, the therapist may release a variety of smells into the atmosphere, using a Scent Palette - connected to the PC - to further enhance the memory and make the traumatic event more readily accessible.
  • Head Gear
    Head Gear
  • Virtual Iraq Programme Controller
    Virtual Iraq Programme Controller
  • Olfactory Controller
    Olfactory Controller
  • Whilst at ICT I worked with some of the programmers. They were developing a new programme to help helicopter pilots prepare emotionally for arrival at a location where an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) has been detonated. Much of the imagery used to write the Virtual Reality (VR) programmes utilise images from online sources, or more commonly from photographs supplied by soldiers when on deployment.
  • IED Victim
    IED Victim
  • Dead Man
    Dead Man
  • Virtual Severed Foot
    Virtual Severed Foot
  • Virtual Iraq Excerpt from Lisa Barnard on Vimeo.

    Virtual Iraq is a Virtual Reality exposure therapy system co-written by Albert 'Skip' Rizzo and Jarrell Pair as a tool for Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PET) or Immersion Therapy- a form of cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). PET is an accepted treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), in which the patient is gradually exposed to the feared situation, object, thought or memory through conversation through a process of habituation.