Main menu


Psychologists say little evidence helps mental health Psychology

featured image

Walking into a room on your lunch break for a good cry may seem like a helpful way to de-stress, but experts say there is little evidence that this approach provides long-term mental health benefits.

Psychologist Arthur Janoff invented Primitive Screaming Therapy (PST) in the late 1960s. It is based on the idea that repressed childhood trauma is the root of neurosis, and that screaming can help release and eliminate pain. With notable bestselling authors and patients, including John Lennon and Yoko Ono, this approach became popular in the 1970s.

However, contemporary experts say the treatment has little evidence to support its use.

Professor Sacha Froholz from the Department of Psychology at the University of Zurich – whose research includes cognitive and neural mechanisms for sound production and emotional processing – is one of them.

“In my opinion, there is no scientific evidence that primal yelling has any positive effects in treating mental and psychiatric disorders. Given that modern psychotherapy is an evidence-based therapeutic approach, no serious psychotherapy school uses any elements of primal scream therapy today. , “He said.

“PST is also based on the partially erroneous assumption that traumatic early life events are stored as mental and physical complexes – such as imprisonment – that can only be resolved by ‘getting out’ while screaming,” Froholz added. “There is no scientific evidence for that.”

Froholz also noted that initial scream therapy often uses screams of anger — which can be counterproductive.

“We know that such consistent expressions of anger as a therapeutic modality have no or even negative effects on the therapeutic outcome,” he said. “Our research shows that positive cries – joy and pleasure – are more relevant to humans, and induce social bonding as a positive effect.”

Dr Rebecca Siemens Wheeler, senior lecturer in psychology at Birmingham City University, said she was also skeptical of the long-term benefits of yelling on mental health, although she said little research had been done.

“The current state of things is that we don’t really know – but based on what we do know, it’s not likely to be helpful,” she said.

Among her concerns was that screaming or hearing others scream could activate the body’s “fight or flight” mechanism, increasing adrenaline and cortisol levels.

“[That] It’s kind of the opposite of what you do with things like meditation or yoga, which normally activate the parasympathetic nervous system that helps you slow down, evaluate, and allow the prefrontal cortex to get some glucose back…and help us make “better decisions,” she said.

Siemens Wheeler added that if yelling becomes a habit, it may also hinder other actions that may be more helpful when it comes to processing emotions.

But she noted that context is important, and yelling can help if done in groups and allow people to bond.

“I am very skeptical about the potential benefits, especially in the long term. [But] If you want to do it for a laugh, why not? ‘ She said, ‘You’ll probably feel comfortable for a few minutes. But I don’t think it has any potential as a permanent, ongoing treatment. I think it’s more recent.”