“Siri, Where Did I Leave My Tinfoil Hat”?

It’s likely that in the near future Siri will be able answer such a question, and moreover, administer an inkblot test complete with diagnosis. That is, if you can bring yourself to trust the little homonculus that lives inside your phone (you can’t–it was put there by the CIA). In the meantime, however, you can soothe your crazy using one of several applications, available for download now:

In the past few years researchers have been testing simple video-game-like programs aimed at relieving common problems like anxiety and depression. These recent results have been encouraging enough that investigators are now delivering the programs on smartphones — therapy apps, in effect, that may soon make psychological help accessible anytime, anywhere, whether in the grocery store line, on the bus or just before a work presentation.

Not surprisingly, there are some therapists who do not welcome on-demand treatment:

“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.”

The smartphone has proven particularly useful with one approach–known as cognitive bias modification–that seeks to train the brain to avoid its bad habits. For instance, many people with social anxiety disorder focus on what they perceive to be the angry expressions of those around them–to the exclusion of all else. With cognitive bias modification, the brain can be tricked into ignoring such things, and best of all, the therapy can be delivered anywhere, including where it’s most needed.

Perhaps the best part about this will be the new ways in which our society will confront mental illness. Because soon enough people will be updating their Facebook (status update: still cray cray after all theez yearz lol) and tweeting (#thecialovesaliens) directly from their therapy apps!

Wait, that’s not better, that’s worse. Dammit!

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