Reconstructing Personal Stories in Virtual Reality as a Mechanism to Recover the Self

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.