In 2005, artist Jennifer Kanary's sister-in-law committed suicide while suffering from a psychotic episode. This event led Kanary to develop Labyrinth Psychotica, an experience designed to give people more insight into how it feels to suffer through psychosis.
Users are strapped into virtual reality gear and transported into the mind of a psychotic girl named Jamie. The whole experience lasts twelve minutes, during which 'normal' reality gets increasingly intertwined with Jamie's psychotic reality, making it more and more difficult to distinguish between what's real and what's not.
With Labyrinth Psychotica, Kanary wants to provide family members and mental healthcare workers with means to better understand what someone in a psychotic state goes through. She hopes this will lead to more understanding and better treatments.
Motherboard visited Kanary in The Hague, The Netherlands, where she will be presenting her wearable tech for the first time. There she told me all about her project, how she went about understanding the psychotic mind, and what she wants to achieve with this experience. We also get to try out the wearable and find out a psychotic episode is a truly frightening thing—even when it's just a simulation.
This video originally appeared on Motherboard Netherlands.