Cognitive defusion techniques through VR

FFFUTURES #11, Nov 3, 2020

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I've meant to write about the case described by Dr. Koichi Ogura last month that went viral on his Coccoon channel: "Christophe and Cristina Martin."

If you're not familiar with it, it's the case of a patient that lives with a rare mental disorder unbeknown to him. Doctors do not know when the condition started to manifest on the patient, but apparently (according to undisclosed evidence they've found), it's been at least 8 years.

According to Christophe, he is a widow who lost his life-partner to cancer. And although he's been learning to live without her, he cannot get rid of her personal belongings at home.

Christophe wakes up every day at 5 AM and goes for a run. At around 6 AM, he takes a shower and gets dressed. At this point, he always takes a long look at Cristina's closet: her favorite top, the old sweater she loved to sleep with during winter, the jacket that she wore only once. He likes to remember her, which is why getting rid of her clothes is something he simply cannot do.

Something that Christophe will not tell you at first, but if you gain his trust he will not stop talking about, are the strange occurrences he has experienced since Cristina passed away.

These occurrences have all the cliche symptoms of a haunting: household items disappearing and reappearing, strange noises, lights being turned on and off, etc. Christophe says that he used to be disturbed by these manifestations; however, he now sees them as something to be grateful for.

Every day, without exception, Christophe gets extremely sleepy at around 4:30 PM, and without a miss for years now, he takes a nap.

Cristina Martin wakes up from her power nap at 5 PM.

According to Cristina, her husband is on one of his usual two-week business trips. And although she's sometimes worried she hasn't heard from him, she doesn't overthink it. See, she does not seem to experience the passing of time the same way as Christophe does. She always thinks she's in the same one~two week period of her husband's trip.

This leads to an intriguing dual-scenario: Cristina does not have any reason to change any of her routines. But Christophe does have a reason to change his way of life, but he can't seem to detach himself from the things that remind him about her late wife.

What has stumped the experts following this case is the fact that both Christophe and Cristina do not seem to associate their physical body and physical needs with their identity. There seems to be a considerable gap in their reasoning and perception of their reality. They do not think, "I'm Christophe, and I'm a man," or "I'm Cristina, and I'm a woman."

They seem to exist as two entities within one same vessel, and whether the vessel fits their identity is irrelevant to both of them.

This 'ritual' has been financially supported by Christophe's bank account. He inherited a life-changing amount of money 10 years ago, and both Christophe and Cristina have access to it. The question is, what's going to happen if the money runs out?

Money has been a sponsor of this reality the two identities live on. Money has been a promoter of maintaining this ritual that, thankfully, does not hurt nor affect anyone. But how would Christophe and Cristina react to an awakening to the reality everybody else, but themselves, see?

👁️ Omnirealities

Can Virtual Reality Help With Depression?

Gergana Mileva writes for ARPost:

Treatment for depression usually involves curbing negative emotions. VR excels in that area as it can help distract your brain from thinking about pain and other negative thoughts. If you can convince the brain to focus on other things, it’s easier to cope.

The article talks about BehaVR and Psious, two immersive platforms that approach VR as a mental health tool to defuse negative thoughts in treating depression.

Testing the effectiveness of virtual reality as a defusion technique for coping with unwanted thoughts

Although this paper is behind a paywall (you can either buy it directly in this link or look for it online) the abstract describes the core of it: an approach to using VR as an alternative to mental health treatment.

The current study examined the impact of a VR task as a cognitive defusion technique on participants’ relationship with a negative self-referential thought (e.g., “I am a failure”). […] Participants were tested pre- and post-VR task on a state measure of cognitive defusion and ratings of their self-referential negative thought. The results indicated that a defusion VR task facilitates the management of negative thoughts and leads to an increase in state defusion.

🔮 Future Scenarios

Japan’s Artificial Intelligence Technology Strategy

I had mentioned in a previous issue how I tend to look for papers and publications by Institutions, Governments, and Consultancy firms to keep the pulse of (and be in the know of) different topics I’m interested in.

This paper is one of those good finds that describe an aspirational long-term strategy regarding the use of AI. Published by the Japanese Government’s “Artificial Intelligence Technology Strategy Council“, it’s a well-structured long-read.

In order for Japan to lead the world, it is necessary to come up with a challenging
roadmap oriented towards industrialization based on AI technology and other related technology, based on the on-site strengths that Japan possesses with regard to social issues that Japan and the world are directly faced with. It is also necessary for the wisdom of industry, academia, and the government to be assembled, and for consistent approaches, from research and development to social implementation, to be accelerated.

I really think that creating decks that summarize these reports would be great practice on a personal level, but I wonder whether there may also be an audience for it.

💀 Not a Cylon

Flora Yukhnovich, @flora_yukhnovich

Flora Yukhnovich, @flora_yukhnovich

Flora Yukhnovich, @flora_yukhnovich

🧠 Common Enemy

Why was your job application rejected: Bias in Recruitment Algorithms?

Merve Hickok, founder of, writes for the Montreal AI Ethics Institute:

[…] these AI recruitment products are marketed as an alternative to the biased decisions of hiring managers and recruiters and thus to provide a more standard processing of applications. The big issue with this statement is algorithms are not independent of their creators and their biases, nor are they independent of the historical data used to build its models. Algorithms are created by people, about people, for people. In other words, “Algorithms are opinions embedded in code”

This post is a long-read about recruiting, the technological advancements applied to it, and the unexpected outcome of the role of bias in this process. Again, a long-read well worth the time.

📿 A Return to Faith

Day of the Dead: From Aztec goddess worship to modern Mexican celebration

Kirby Farah, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at USC, writes for The Conversation a piece that helps point out the core difference of beliefs between Halloween and (a pagan/Christian tradition) and Day of the Dead (a celebration rooted in Aztec traditions):

Aztec mythology tells that Mictecacihuatl was sacrificed as a baby and magically grew to adulthood in the underworld, where she married. With her husband, she presided over the underworld. […] The Aztecs appeased these fearsome underworld gods by burying their dead with food and precious objects.

The article gives a brief but informative view of how the culture and traditions of the Spanish invaders and the native indigenous people blended into what is Day of the Dead today: a holiday nominally connected to Catholicism, but with deeply indigenous practices and beliefs associated with the worship of the dead.


AdventurePi: The Ultimate DIY Raspberry Pi Portable Arcade Cabinet

If you’re looking for a cool side project, this video from howchoo explains how to build a custom portable arcade cabinet running on Raspberry Pi, and using RetroPie to emulate classic video games.

Are you hacking with futures and other realities? Do you have comments, stories, or suggestions? I’d like to hear from you. Reach out:

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