Does pop wisdom work?
Certainly these various therapies can be a liberating experience. Spines feel more supple, people find they sleep better, and often one gets a high of sorts.
I remember best a weekend I spent with William Schitz's Esalen staff at a sampler of techmiques. There were perhaps 200 of us in a ballroom, and after we were told to stride about in circles touching and bumping one another, we were asked to sit on the floor, close our eyes and then reach out for the nearest face.
Much slitting of eyes. Much surreptitious shifting by some men to get near a pretty girl. We had to explore one another's faces with our finger-tips, eyes closed. I found my partner was a lady who works at another department of The Post. We couldn't look each other in the eye for months afterward.
Then we jumped up in the air and shouted as loud as we could. Yelled and roared and shrieked and kneened and bellowed. It felt good. But I don't recalled that it gave me any great insights.
Another exercise was to stand in files of about 10 people facing a leader. If you thought you should be at the head of the queue, you were supposed to move up and displace somebody. Or you could hang back. Or you could step away from the whole thing. ("Remember, you're in control at all times, don't do what you don't want to".) Lots of jostling, pursed mouths. Set jaws.
Well, I am not inot aggression for its own sake, and I didn't need to have it demonstrated to me, so I stepped out of line. There to ponder my motives and justifications. I got an insight or two, all right. But it didn't change my life.
In the garden of self-knowledge, which authentic psychotherapy can be at its best, this was a single blossom.