On July 16, ‘Inspired By Iceland’ —- the country’s official tourism site —launched its latest campaign to encourage travel to the island. But it’s not your average “come-see-the-sights” promotion. Titled “Looks Like you Need to Let it Out,’ the site invites people around the world to do exactly that with a good old scream that will be recorded and played in Iceland’s sweeping wilderness.Until July 29, anyone can visit the website to record their own screams, yells, vocalizations, and exhortations, with one of 7 landscapes in Iceland as a backdrop.Of course, the idea is to promote tourism to Iceland’s rugged landscape, but scream therapy is a useful therapeutic technique. The scientific support is a bit iffy, but whether it’s backed by science or not…
I can tell you this: Boy, does it feel good.
Scream therapy is part of a controversial treatment called primal therapy, which was popularized in the 1970s by California psychotherapist Dr. Arthur Janov. Apparently, the psychological response to wanting to scream lights up a part of our brains called the amygdala. The amygdala activates when we are under threat, something we have all probably experienced in the past few months. Screaming into an undisturbed space is beneficial because it allows your amygdala to release the stress stored there and move forward.Like everything in life, you have to experience it to judge it. Regardless of the science, I have screamed until I was hoarse afew times in my life: When my wife has been fighting for her life… When a major business deal has broken down because of a lawyer’s inability to let the other side gain a tie… When a relative’s dishonesty landed me in court… When I rescued an animal and had to keep my hands off the throat of the neglectful owner.Each one of these things is incredibly stressful, and pent-up stress is equally harmful to our health.
It doesn’t really matter what causes the stress. When we experience it, we own it.
Regardless who or what caused us to feel stress, it’s ours, and it harms no one else but us —- unless we let it out.It’s good to let it out and there’s no one way to do it. Boxing, Tai Bo, soccer, and mountain biking —- all been outlets I have used in the past to let out the stress. It’s easy to scream while boxing or mountain biking because people just think you’re going through the pain barrier. But if you were to stand in the center of a parking lot and scream, people would call the police.So, when sports and workouts aren’t available, I’ve driven to a plateau, walked up a hill and (after making sure I’m alone) screamed so hard I thought my lungs would fly out.When I was an angry teenager handling sectarian bullying, my mother’s slow dying, and my father’s abdication of duty, I used to cycle from my home about 9 miles up to a beautiful plateau (called The Plateau) that overlooked the Rift Valley, carved by glaciers, known as Clywyd. (Clue id).From there I’d walk up to an ancient site called Moel Famau (Bare Hill), which commands a 360-degree view of the Welsh and English sides of the Offa’s Dyke border. Moel Famau is associated with many magical practices and occasional unexplained phenomena.
In 1810, an Englishman named Thomas Harrison built an Egyptian Obelisk called Jubilee Tower in honor of George 111’s jubilee. It was never completed, suffered many ‘erosions’ and was partly destroyed in a ‘storm’ in 1830. (Given the animosity between Wales and England, I suspect none of the disrepair was from a natural cause.)During the week, I could usually guarantee being alone in this ancient and majestic site. I would climb the broken steps to the top of the obelisk, face back toward home (the direction in this picture) and just scream until I had neither breath nor voice left.Always I felt great relief. Always I slept like an angel that night. Always things turned around in life almost immediately.I remember my brother used to get in his car, slam shut the door and then scream so loud I could hear him from the house. It doesn’t matter how you do it so long as you do. Let that stress out. Otherwise you own it and eventually it will own you.Cheers,TrevP.S. In the Transformation course, we have several techniques designed to dissolve the negative build-up of frustration and stress. My favorite is ‘Pump up the Volume,’ which comes with a brilliant video clip of someone perfecting the technique. Learn more here.
A version of this blog post has also been published on Medium.com