Is Demolition Therapy Destructive?

June 1st, 2012 by Andrea Bennett

A little post-work venting never hurt anyone…or did it?

Brought to you by Liberty Mutual's
The Responsibility Project

Years ago when I worked in New York City’s World Financial Center, I was let in on a little secret by a coworker. While many of our colleagues headed down to Johnny’s, a regular after-work hangout, another small group headed up to Times Square to take out their aggression a different way: in a virtual gaming arena called “XS,” whose advertising slogan was “Too much is not enough.” Inside, sweaty executives, their ties flung over their shoulders, obliterated everything in their virtual way.

Turns out, the habits of my old coworkers weren’t unique. A new concept in Dallas, Texas, called the “Anger Room” lets you throw, punch and destroy real (not virtual) things in the name of releasing your pent-up frustration. The room, a storefront in a Dallas strip mall, builds mock kitchens, living rooms and replicas of actual workplaces, and fills them with big-screen TVs, VCRs, fax machines, desks, potted plants and, well, walls, where you can focus your five – or 25 – minutes with a baseball bat.

According to the Irving, Texas News-Register, the rooms are filled with donated and found items from garage sales or dumpsters. There’s a menu of services, but it’s hardly spa-like. The five-minute “I Need a Break” session is $25; a 15-minute “Lash Out” session is $45; and you can pay $75 for 25 minutes of “Total Demolition.” One fan of the “Anger Room” told the paper, “Five minutes may not seem like a long time, but I was so exhausted from smashing everything after four minutes, I couldn’t even finish my full session.”

Hugo, a 24-year-old retail salesman from Dallas who asked that his last name not be used, told ABC News that he paid $45 for 15 minutes inside the Anger Room and said it was worth every penny. "I can't afford a psychiatrist, but I can afford this," he said, as he crushed a large television with a baseball bat.

A Time Magazine article notes that the Anger Room does take safety precautions: “Customers are fully decked out in safety goggles and helmets to protect themselves, but such courtesy isn’t extended to the objects in the room.” 

It’s hard to say whether this kind of exercise is actually therapeutic, or if rage just begets more destructive behavior. Think the concept of the Anger Room has legs? Or would frustrated workers be better served by taking a yoga class?