From a young age, screaming is heavily discouraged in our society. It is usually seen as a sign of terror, pain, or even emotional instability. However, there is scientific evidence to suggest that screaming could actually be very beneficial to our physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
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Dr. Arthur Janov discovered the benefits of screaming by accident when treating his patients with a method he called Primal Therapy. He describes this practice as follows: “Painful things happen to nearly all of us early in life that get imprinted in all our systems which carry the memory forward, making our lives miserable. It is the cause of depression, phobias, panic and anxiety attacks, and a whole host of symptoms that add to the misery. We have found a way into those early emotional archives and have learned to have access to those memories, to dredge them up from the unconscious, allowing us to re-experience them in the present, integrate them and no longer be driven by the unconscious. For the first time in the history of psychology there is a way to access feelings, hidden away, in a safe way and thus to reduce human suffering. It is, in essence, the first science of psychotherapy.”
“The number one killer in the world today is not cancer or heart disease,” claims Dr. Janov. “It is repression.” Indeed, we do live in a heavily repressed society. If you doubt this, consider the reaction you would elicit if you were to start screaming in public. People would think you were absolutely out of your mind. You might even be removed from the situation by kind professionals in white coats. Screaming is, however, a very primal way to get in touch with the pain we have repressed that may be eating away at us from the inside. Ironically, the theory behind Primal Therapy argues that screaming from the depths of our soul can actually restore our sanity.
Reportedly, the first time a patient screamed when undergoing this therapy, Dr. Janov himself was stunned by the results. “He became virtually another human being. He became alert,” claimed Janov. “He seemed to understand himself.” It seems as if expressing emotional pain in a physical, tangible way can help us to let it go. Repressed pain and anger can have physical effects of the body, so it would make sense that releasing it in a physical way could give us some sense of relief.
This is definitely one of the stranger therapeutic techniques I’ve come across, and obviously you can’t just scream in a public place or wake the neighbors with your guttural roar. However, if your heart is feeling blocked up by a pain you can’t quite reach, this might be worth a shot. Find a way that works for you. Go deep into the woods where no one will hear you. Scream into your pillow. Scream to loud music. Tell your roommates what you’re doing and just get weird. Access your pain and let it flow.
“Trauma is personal,” wrote Danielle Bernock in her book It does not disappear if it is not validated. When it is ignored or invalidated the silent screams continue internally heard only by the one held captive.” Replace your own silent screams with a physical manifestation of your trauma, grief, and hurt. Give it back to the earth and let it reverberate through the universe.