LONDON
– For nearly her entire life, Mary had a crippling fear of cramped
spaces that meant she couldn’t travel on airplanes, subways, or cars.

Seeing a psychologist didn’t help. So she tried something else. The
61-year-old bookkeeper, who only gave her first name to protect her
privacy, sat down in front of a computer and spilled out her problems
to a kind of psychiatric computer game called "Fearfighter."

Last year, Fearfighter was one of two programs endorsed by Britain’s
health advisory watchdog for people with panic attacks, mild
depression, or phobias.

People uncomfortable with getting advice from a computer can still
choose to see therapists, but the option of logging on for help is now
available – and will be paid for by the government-run National Health
Service