University of Oulu

Georgieva, I.; Georgiev, G.V. Reconstructing Personal Stories in Virtual Reality as a Mechanism to Recover the Self. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 26

Reconstructing personal stories in virtual reality as a mechanism to recover the self

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Author: Georgieva, Iva1,2; Georgiev, Georgi V.3
Organizations: 1Institute for Advanced Study, 9010 Varna, Bulgaria
2Department of History and Philosophy of Science, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo 153-8902, Japan
3Center for Ubiquitous Computing, University of Oulu, 90014 Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.9 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2019
Publish Date: 2020-02-28


Advances in virtual reality present opportunities to relive experiences in an immersive medium that can change the way we perceive our life stories, potentially shaping our realities for the better. This paper studies the role of virtual reality as a tool for the creation of stories with the concept of the self as a narrator and the life of the self as a storyline. The basis of the study is the philosophical notion of the self-narrative as an explanatory story of the events in one’s life that constitutes the notion of one’s self. This application is suitable for cases when individuals need to recreate their self, such as during recovery after traumatic events. The analysis of the effects of virtual reality shows that it enables a person to engage in a process of deeper self-observation to understand and explain adverse events and to give meaning to these events to form a new story, which can complement the therapeutic outcomes of exposure treatments. This study proposes concrete examples of immersive scenarios used to reconstruct personal stories. Several possible levels of experience are proposed to suggest that recovery can be achieved through the gradual retelling of the self-narrative, addressing all of the underlying narratives. Considering the ethical challenges that might arise, this paper explores the ways in which immersion in virtual reality can benefit a person’s view toward life as a story and his or her self as its author, comparing this idea with previous research on the application of virtual reality for trauma treatment. The analysis also emphasizes the perception of narrative authorship in virtual reality as an essential method for recovering the self-narrative and improving a patient’s mental health during self-actualization.

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Series: International journal of environmental research and public health
ISSN: 1661-7827
ISSN-E: 1660-4601
ISSN-L: 1661-7827
Volume: 17
Issue: 1
Article number: 26
DOI: 10.3390/ijerph17010026
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 113 Computer and information sciences
Funding: This research has been partially financially supported by the Academy of Finland 6Genesis Flagship (Grant 318927).
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 318927
Detailed Information: 318927 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (