Will iPhone Games Be Our New Therapists?

Benedict Carey of The New York Times, has written an article discussing therapy apps. The concept seems oddly in line with a Brave New World despite its intention as an aide. The apps would be a collection of minigames that encourage users to practice healthier behaviors through completing simple, repetitive tasks, a process known as Cognitive Bias Modification. 

Experts and patients are split about the app’s effects, unsure of what exactly is working and on what. Some claim the app works very well to fight anxiety while others believe it may simply be a placebo effect. Is it paranoid to think that this may be letting the issue get out of hand? Something about the idea seems off-kilter; technology has shaped medicine but trying to cure some psychological ills through gadgetry is unsettling despite its potential to reach millions. 

“The prospect of a therapy icon next to Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja is stirring as much dread as hope in some quarters. “We are built as human beings to figure out our place in the world, to construct a narrative in the context of a relationship that gives meaning to our lives,” said Dr. Andrew J. Gerber, a psychiatrist at Columbia University. “I would be wary of treatments that don’t allow for that.””

As Dr. Gerber says, it really is all about those relationships, with people, not devices.

– Adnan Agha

[via The New York Times]