Do Rage Rooms and Smash Therapy Strengthen Negative Behavior?

Woman pulling her hair with steam coming out her ears.

A new form of anger management calls for people to express their rage by screaming or smashing things. (Image: Teodor Lazarev via Dreamstime)

Welcome to the new era of stress management solutions — rage rooms. These are places designated for venting out your anger and anxiety.

There are some people who tend to be more short-tempered than others. Sometimes, it is owing to genetic traits and it may also be the result of their upbringing and childhood incidents that affected the psyche. The solutions are numerous to keep anger controlled. Some people mellow down with age while there are others who opt for professional counseling for anger management issues. However, a section also heads to the places where they can vent out their anger and stress without interruptions.

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For ages, psychologists have tried to treat people coping with anger and stress through extended counseling and they also recommend trying mind-calming techniques like medication and yoga. However, over the years, they have started experimenting with newer ways to deal with anger and resultant stress. Rage therapy is supposed to let people who are experiencing stress and anger release their pent-up emotions by smashing things.

Rage rooms offer people a chance to give free rein to their anger by smashing things up.
Rage rooms offer people a chance to give free rein to their anger by smashing things up. (Image: Harris Hart via Dreamstime)

Rage rooms allow unexpressed emotions to be expressed

Harley Therapy’s founder and clinical director Dr. Sheri Jacobson says: “Many mental health conditions stem from unexpressed emotions. If we don’t give space to these emotions, then we’ll come up against psychological difficulty. Rage and anger are no different. If we can release those emotions in safe ways, then we can provide some relief from them, in the same [way] as scratching an itch.” (Healthline)

The rage rooms are like fake living rooms with copies of furnishings and stuff. There are plenty of objects to smash through. By smashing the objects you can release your anger and there is nothing to justify to anyone. This is also called smash therapy. Similarly, you can sign up for the online scream clubs. Screaming is another way of venting out the anger inside without resorting to physical violence.

There are some apparent benefits of using these options. In rage rooms, you can smash things without any repercussions or causing harm to anyone. There is a sense of freedom and you can vent it out freely whenever you want. You will not be judged for your acts. 

However, psychologists warn that these anger-busting options may not be very useful for resolving the issues that lead to rage. At max, you get a safety valve to release the pent-up stress and rage inside.

The text "Root Cause" appearing behind torn brown paper.
Psychologists warn that these anger-busting options may not be very useful for resolving the issues that lead to rage. (Image: Andrei ASKIRKA via Dreamstime)

Jacobson adds: “Venting can be helpful; however, rage is often violent and uncontrollable. Whether these practices exacerbate your feelings depends on how helpful the behavior is and whether it’s helping you address and understand the reasons you’re so angry.” (Healthline) It lets you release the pressure but can’t prevent a recurrence. A study carried out back in 1999 revealed that letting out anger and rage may actually pave the way for nurturing aggressive behavior in people. 

The U.S. cities where people are coping with stressful life and situations have witnessed mushrooming of such rage rooms. In Atlanta, you get “The Break Room” and there is New York-based “The Wrecking Club”. In LA, you get “The Anger Room.” These places have gotten rave reviews but you have to understand these are not long-term solutions for coping with rage and stress. They may be able to diffuse the anger temporarily, but without a solid strategy to manage anger, recurrence is inevitable. 

Psychologists suggest that people should try methods that get to the root of the anger-causing issues rather than seeking a temporary release. This may vary from one person to another. Not everyone gets angry for the same reasons and it is, therefore, natural they will need to find diverse solutions. Trying various cognitive-behavioral techniques may be useful in this regard.

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