VR helps meeting inside demons

The Institute Philippe Pinel of Montreal has developed a VR program to help schizophrenic patients to overcome their fears. The project enables clients to design virtual-avatars of the demons which are considered to be inside them.

Facing with the avatars in VR, clients are free to communicate with them. The medical activity has been created by Pinel’s psychoanalyst Alexandre Dumais. When speaking about the program, he has mentioned that clients are not able to avoid the moment of schizophrenia, so the project aims to help them to control their feelings when being pursued by their inner demons.


The first patient, who has tried the VR experience, is 52 years old Richard Breton. He has been distinguished suffering from schizophrenia when he was only 20 years old. During the interview with CBC, Breton talked about his paranoiac episodes, which often risked his life. Tormented by hallucinations he has turned to Dumais’ medical program.

When taking part in the project, Breton has illustrated the appearance of his inner pest according to his vision, and the technician has displayed the computer-designed virtual avatar on the screen. He has also given a number of phrases that his demon usually says in his paranoiac moments, and with the headset on, has spoken with his inner tormentor.


After the experience, Breton has announced that the voices that he heard have been reduced by 90%. He has added that project helped him to return to his normal life.

In addition, the Institute Pinel has teamed up with Montreal-based VR firm Ova, in order to develop the next phase of its project. With the second project, they will provide schizophrenic clients more vivid characters of their demons.

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