Isness: Using Multi-Person VR to Design Peak Mystical Type Experiences Comparable to Psychedelics

David R Glowacki*, Mark Wonnacott, Rachel Freire, Rebecca Glowacki, Ella M Gale, James Pike, Tiu de Haan, Mike Chatziapostolou, Oussama Metatla

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference Paper

Abstract

Studies combining psychotherapy with psychedelic drugs (PsiDs) have demonstrated positive outcomes that are often associated with PsiDs’ ability to induce ‘mystical-type’ experiences (MTEs) – i.e., subjective experiences whose characteristics include a sense of connectedness, transcendence, and ineffability. We suggest that both PsiDs and virtual reality can be situated on a broader spectrum of psychedelic technologies. To test this hypothesis, we used concepts, methods, and analysis strategies from PsiD research to design and evaluate ‘Isness’, a multi-person VR journey where participants experience the collective emergence, fluctuation, and dissipation of their bodies as energetic essences. A study (N=57) analyzing participant responses to a commonly used PsiD experience questionnaire (MEQ30) indicates that Isness participants had MTEs comparable to those reported in double-blind clinical studies after high doses of psilocybin & LSD. Within a supportive setting and conceptual framework, VR phenomenology can create the conditions for MTEs from which participants derive insight and meaning.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2020
EventACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Honolulu, United States
Duration: 25 Apr 202030 Apr 2020
https://chi2020.acm.org/

Conference

ConferenceACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Abbreviated titleCHI 2020
CountryUnited States
Period25/04/2030/04/20
Internet address

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  • Prizes

    CHI 2020 Best Paper Award

    Metatla, Oussama (Recipient), 2020

    Prize: Prizes, Medals, Awards and Grants

  • Cite this

    Glowacki, D. R., Wonnacott, M., Freire, R., Glowacki, R., Gale, E. M., Pike, J., de Haan, T., Chatziapostolou, M., & Metatla, O. (2020). Isness: Using Multi-Person VR to Design Peak Mystical Type Experiences Comparable to Psychedelics. Paper presented at ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, United States.