On October 6, 2020, Dr. Brennan Spiegel released his book titled “VRx: How Virtual Therapeutics Will Revolutionize Medicine,” which is an amazing survey of different applications of what could be called virtual medicine, experiential medicine, digiceuticals, or cyberdelics. The FDA is calling it Medical XR (MXR), and they’re recognizing it as an entirely new field of medicine that needs special regulatory considerations.
Not only is Spiegel’s book a comprehensive survey on what’s happening with virtual therapeutics, but also explores this fascinating intersection between neuroscience, psychology, clinical medicine, technology, the Mind/Body connection, embodied cognition, & different branches of philosophy but specifically the philosophy of mind and the mysterious nature of consciousness itself. Spiegel is able to deftly explore all of these different dimensions through George Engle’s bio-psycholsocial model of medicine created in 1977 or from how the World Health Organization in 1947 recognized that there’s a physical, emotional, and social dimension to health. VR is helping Western Medicine transcend the biomedical lens of health and healing, and start to leverage the body’s innate healing capacities that can be unlocked though digitally-mediated experiences.
Spiegal has also been deploying VR to over 3000 patients at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, California as a part of patient care and research projects. He was a co-author of a paper titled “Recommendations for Methodology of Virtual Reality Clinical Trials in Health Care by an International Working Group: Iterative Study” that aims to develop a methodological framework to “guide the design, implementation, analysis, interpretation, and communication of trials that develop and test VR treatments.”
I had a chance to talk with Spiegel about this whole new field of medicine, and what it can teach us about the underlying mechanisms of perception, health & healing, and the mysterious nature of consciousness itself.
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