Change We Can (Almost) Believe In

The American obsession with transformation isn’t new. In the 19th century, Ralph Waldo Emerson preached about tapping into the “infinitude of man.” In 1879, Mary Baker Eddy founded the religion of Christian Science, premised on the limitless power of faith and mind. Norman Vincent Peale was an early best-selling self-help author with The Power of Positive Thinking in 1952. But it was Werner Erhard, a lean, wolfish former salesman, who created the first modern transformation empire when he founded EST seminars in 1971. His courses were legendarily uncomfortable. He paced and cursed at his students. He had them writhe on the floor and scream out all their anxieties. He challenged participants to control their bladders so they didn’t have to leave the long sessions. (“You are not a tube,” he preened in the documentary Transformation while sipping water at the end of a seven-hour session. “You have transcended peeing.”)

Source: Time
Published: Apr 3, 2011
Length: 13 minutes (3,302 words)
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