The patient, his VR goggles on, scratched his nose, and Dr. Jones tried not to show his annoyance. Mostly out of habit: the doctor's avatar showed nothing and with his goggles off the patient would be too catatonic to see him anyway.
The neurodiagnostics said he was not catatonic as much as believing or willing himself into it, like everybody expressing the same symptoms, but there was little difference on how it impacted in their lives. Dr. Jones was sympathetic.
The patient scratched his nose again.
It was, however, irrationally irritating that somebody who believed themselves to have been "uploaded into the Metaverse" — unwilling or unable to deal with reality with the goggles off — would still scratch their nose.
Like all delusions it had proved impossible to talk anybody out of them. At least it only affected adults despite the regular viral scares about the "VR generation." The predominant hypothesis was that it had something to do with neural plasticity; Dr. Jones thought children had simply grown up with better games. Only an adult could confuse the Metaverse's mediocre graphics and clunky interface with something other than the third rate common denominator mall it was.
Annoying or not, though, and the psychiatrist had enough self-awareness to understand his annoyance was mostly with the situation and not with the man, the patient deserved help. And Dr. Jones had achieved some degree of fame as the specialist who had developed the most effective treatment known for the Reverse Simulation Syndrome.
The doctor's avatar said "This goes deeper than you think" and offered the patient two virtual pills. A red and a blue one.
Dr. Jones lived in a perpetual state of embarrassment about the treatment, and had quietly threatened every colleague who had suggested to name it after him. He suspected the motivation of his peers' enthusiastic and public praise was not entirely due to intellectual admiration.
The patient took the red pill, like everybody of his generation would have. The psychiatrist took off his goggles and then the patient's, who instead of going instantly catatonic as in the past blinked at him and then looked at his own hand.
And then scratched his nose.
"How do you feel?" asked Dr. Jones.
He had promised himself he would quit the profession before welcoming anybody to the desert of the real.