“You’re a loser.” “Pathetic!” “You shouldn’t be here”… The voices bombard you, words running angrily over the top of each other, bursting in from every direction.
It is not often police will put up with this kind of abuse. But officers taking part in a unique mental health training program in NSW are doing just that, using a 3D machine that simulates the experience of a person with schizophrenia in the midst of a paranoid psychotic episode.
As part of an intensive four-day training course, officers experience what it is like to be a person with schizophrenia who is trying to do everyday activities, like catching a bus, while experiencing auditory and visual hallucinations.
When the Herald tried the machine – 3D goggles and earphones hooked up to a computer program – it was nauseating and disorienting. People faded in an out of view, there was constant colour and movement, and innocent faces turned into sinister plotters in a matter of seconds. It was disturbing despite knowing that unlike a real psychotic episode it could be turned off at any time.
Constable Katrina Shaw, 26, said the machine, which is loaned to the police by pharmaceutical research company Janssen-Cilag Australia, gave her an insight into a “whole different world”.
Reported by AMY CORDEROY
The Sydney Morning Herald
Submitted by Anna