Need Help Working Through A Personal Crisis? Just Pretend You’re Freud

If you’re in the midst of a personal crisis and trying to figure out the best solution, here’s a trick that just might help you find the answer: Pretend you’re Sigmund Freud, and give yourself the same counsel you’d expect to get from the father of psychoanalysis.

That’s the idea behind a new University of Barcelona study, which found that a small group of male study participants who adopted Freud’s avatar in a virtual reality scenario gave themselves better psychological advice than when the used their own avatars.

“Seeing and interacting with oneself from outside of your own body gives you a different perspective — it is somehow often easier to solve the problems of a friend than your own — because you break out of your own boundaries and your familiar ways of thinking about things,” study author Dr. Mel Slater, a professor at Barcelona and University College London, told The Huffington Post in an email.

For the study, which was published online Sept. 10 in the journal Scientific Reports, the researchers used “immersive virtual reality.” Twenty-two male participants wore virtual reality headsets and were “immersed” in a neutral-looking room with two avatars created in their own likeness. “Embodied” in the first avatar, they would describe a problem. Then, they would switch roles, offering advice back from the second avatar’s perspective. The experience of being a “self counsellor” was meant to mimic the way we talk to ourselves in real life.

In a second virtual reality experience, the participants explained their personal problem as their own avatars, but were speaking to an avatar of Freud. Then, the person would switch into Freud’s persona to offer advice back. When the participants spoke as Freud, the vocals of their original audio were deepened a pitch so as to sound more —> Read More