How destruction therapy can release your rage

Destruction therapy is increasing in popularity but is unleashing your anger as healthy as it sounds?

Watching everyday people smashing up things with a baseball bat is routine for K Mohamed.

The co-owner of Smash Splash has seen it all.

“We’ve had divorce parties, bucks nights, people wanting to vent work or exam-related stress, and one case where a would-be bride came in her wedding gown and destroyed her dress with her bridesmaids,” K says.

The House of Wellness co-host Luke Hines gave the splash room a try and he wasn’t disappointed.

When I woke up today, I didn’t feel like I was holding onto any particular stress or rage within my body,” Luke says.

“But as soon as I started throwing that paint … it felt like I was unleashing tension I had been holding onto subconsciously.”

Whether customers are in the Smash room, the Splash room or even the Crash room, the one thing each person has in common is that they all come out looking and feeling lighter, according to K.

“Their shoulders aren’t as slumped, their footsteps aren’t as heavy,” she says.

“They look like different people.”

Smash Splash is just one of a number of “rage rooms” that have opened around the country, a new form of destruction therapy that is increasing in popularity, along with the likes of heavy metal yoga, online scream clubs and creating aggressive music playlists for workout motivation.

Such techniques are rooted in the idea that venting – if you use your anger correctly – can expel negative emotions and make way for the positive.

Destruction therapy: How anger can be positive

Although anger is often viewed through a negative lens, its presence is important information we need to tap into, explains psychologist Dr Amanda Ferguson.

“The body keeps a score,” Dr Ferguson says.

“If we listen to our emotions, a feeling of anger is telling you something is wrong – either internally or externally – and provided you use that anger constructively, you can use it to motivate or mobilise in a way that can lead to positive change.

“Repressed anger doesn’t eventually go away, it grows over time, often leading to a wide range of health issues.”

As Sigmund Freud wrote: “Unexpressed emotions will never die.

“They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.”

Of course, recent studies also back up the idea that acknowledging and releasing anger in a positive way can help improve our health.

One study found it not only reduces stress on the heart, but helps manage pain, while another found repressing anger can be linked to anxiety and depression.

So is it just a matter of picking up a sledgehammer and letting loose in order to feel better? Not quite.

Why you need an destruction therapy anger expression plan

Tamara Cavenett, president of the Australian Psychological Society, says while venting has its place, what works for one person doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to work for others.

“I would encourage people to closely examine their responses to these activities,” Tamara says.

“If it’s making you feel better, helping you to problem-solve or accept something you cannot change then it might certainly be a useful tool, but what you have to be careful of is that it’s not increasing your anger or keeping you trapped in an angry state.

“Check in with yourself and if you’re unsure whether your anger is positive or negative, a good way of arriving at your answer is by asking yourself, ‘Would a reasonable person be responding to this scenario the way you have been, and if they did react the way you just did, would you admire them for how they’ve conducted themselves’?”

If anger has become an issue in your life, consider speaking to your GP about a referral to a counsellor or psychologist who specialises in anger management exploration and techniques.

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Written by Dilvin Yasa.

Originally published April 2022. Updated June 2023.