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date: 05 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

In the last twenty years researchers have embraced virtual reality (VR) in order to integrate and extend the assessment tools and treatments currently in use for eating disorders (EDs). Specifically the VR protocols for EDs try to exploit clinically the sense of “presence,” that is, the feeling of “being there” inside the virtual environment. The sense of presence offered by VR can be a powerful tool in therapy because it provides the individual with a world in which he/she can be placed and live a particular experience. This triggers emotional reactions in patients and allows a higher level of self-reflectiveness than that provided by memory and imagination, and greater control than that offered by direct “real” experience. In particular, VR protocols for EDs use technology to alter the experience of the body (embodiment) in real time and as a cue exposure tool for reducing food craving.

Keywords: virtual reality, exposure, cue exposure, body image, bodily self-consciousness, body swapping, allocentric lock

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