If you are insecure or unhappy with your life, you need to allow someone to verbally abuse and degrade you until you feel you are of no value – then you can be rebuilt into a useful member of society. These are the basic tenets of est.
Created by Werner Erhard, an encyclopedia salesman, the Erhard Seminars Training (est) sessions were first held in a small apartment. They would soon be held in the conference rooms of the most elaborate and expensive hotels.
Erhard was born in Philadelphia as Jack Rosenberg and had gone through a number of jobs including work at correspondence school and as a used car salesman. In 1970, he began learning different mental philosophies including hypnosis, Scientology and Transcendental Meditation. He parlayed these into a method which required subjects to enroll in a $250.00, 60 hour seminar in which they would not leave the room for 15 hours except for 2 predetermined 15 minute breaks. As subjects discussed their biggest problems and fears, the EST trainers would rant and rave and scream at them, insulting them until the subject went numb and gave up maintaining any pretense of pride. At this point, as a rebirth of sorts, they could now begin their road toward building their lives and themselves from scratch. The selling point of this “therapy” was that it quickly got to the point of getting to the problem without spending years and years (and enormous sums of money) to do so.
The popular wave of EST began to ebb when several medical advisory boards and journals found problems with the methods. As well, it seemed that many subjects were less than thrilled with spending a weekend getting insulted and sworn at. Erhard had an opportunity to test his own methods when tough times arose. His wife divorced him, enrollment in his EST seminars declined and the Internal Revenue Service went after him for $2 million in back taxes. Whether he used his techniques or not, he landed on his feet, coming up with a new seminar strategy called “the Forum.” Apparently, when one treatment failed, try something else.