How a Vomiting Robot May Help Your Emetophobia

robotsAt first glance, those suffering from emetophobia are not likely to look at a vomiting robot as a friend. But this guy, officially known as “Vomiting Larry” can actually end up being helpful for decreasing and alleviating vomit phobia.

Who, Exactly, is this Vomiting Larry?

Larry’s official designation is that of a simulated vomiting system, or a robot that looks and vomits like a human. His full projectile range has been clocked in at 10 feet. When he’s not vomiting, he looks somewhat like an ordinary fellow, although it’s unclear from either the BBC video or photo if Larry has a full body or he’s simply a vomiting head and digestive system.

How the Heck Could He Help Emetophobia?

Vomiting Larry was created in the first place to help quash the spread of norovirus. Professor and norovirus researcher Ian Goodfellow calls the nasty winter bug “the Ferrari of the virus world,” and Vomiting Larry lets scientists like Goodfellow study how it’s spread. Knowing exactly how far and how vehemently the virus travels when expelled can help scientists try to get a handle on this thing and better develop a solution.

“In my lab we are trying to understand how these viruses work,” Goodfellow told the BBC, “with the overall aim of trying to identify a drug that will prevent infection and control outbreaks when they do occur.” 

Thus Larry’s helpful use No. 1 for emetophobiacs, or anyone for that matter, is getting a handle on the dreaded norovirus. The less likely the virus is to spread, the more likely you are to avoid it and its unpleasant side effects.

Another way Larry could prove helpful to those suffering from vomit fears is by being a tool you can use in the desensitization process.

Desensitization to Vomit

Desensitization to vomit involves the gradual exposure to vomit-related images, text and video over a period of time. The aim is to make vomit less scary by making yourself less reactionary to it and it’s not a tool everyone is ready to use. Going for desensitization is neither pretty nor comfortable but some therapists use it in their treatments.

A huge warning goes to anyone who may want to take a gander at Larry in action, either in a photo or on video, as he definitely falls into the not-pretty category. He also falls very high on the list counselor Anna Christie created outlining a typical desensitization process. Her gradual exposure process, outlined at, features 11 levels of desensitization.

Levels 1 to 5 include cartoon illustrations, drawings, words and phrases. Levels 6 to 11 are where the more graphic and realistic items kick in. Vomiting Larry would rank about a 9 of Christie’s list, which is only recommended for people who have worked the desensitization process up to that high level.

Christie notes repeated exposure to items above the level 5 are typically the most helpful for long-term emetophobia relief. Vomiting Larry may fall right into line as one of the relief tools, although once again, neither he nor the process is pretty.


SOURCES with WARNING for graphic images and video of Larry:

Photo Credit: willycoolpics.