FAQ

What makes you qualified to lead people through the Insaning process?

Nothing.

Is Insaning just some rehash of basic neo-Reichian methods?

Yes and no. I take seriously the hypothesis that the gradual dissolution of muscular tension, combined with the development of a metacognitive capacity to know just what the hell you’re up to, will result in a huge shift in a person’s behaviour in the long term. I take inspiration from Reich, Lowen and Regardie. I find aspects of the Hyatt system very valuable but would not encourage most people to follow his system (though if you’re one of the few who can take it, go for it, you wild and beautiful soul). I like Willis’s slow and careful approach but think he was wrong to question the theoretical validity of the mechanism of repression. The Lacanian emphasis on seeing through the existence of some Big Other also informs my work.

The somatic aspect of Insaning, however, is only part of it. With the exception of people in my community whom I know and trust, I will not guide anyone through the breathwork part of the neo-Reichian work. I focus much more on the facial muscles and the generation of “red energy”, my term for the selfish, dumb, aggressive tendencies we all carry around and disown. The complete integration of red energy, by my reckoning, leads the ability to say “Fuck you” with perfect confidence and without violence. This, in turn, makes it unlikely that a person will ever need to say “Fuck you” under their breath (passive-aggressively) or from the top of their lungs (stupidly and dramatically). The true test is whether you ever actually need to say it at all, in any form.

Do you really consider the ability to say “Fuck you” a reliable metric? Seems immature.

Fuck you, Dad.

Aren’t you a Zen Buddhist priest? You don’t sound like one.

Yep.

Why the emphasis on “Fuck you” though? Do you think people deserve that? Are you deeply misanthropic?

I take it for granted that people are fundamentally kind and superficially awful. The goal is not to teach people to say “Fuck you” everywhere they go, but to make them realise how unwilling they are to express their resentment, aggression and hostility in a direct and vulnerable way. Passive-aggression is dangerous. In the current social and political climate, passive-aggression is taking on an ever more moralistic veneer. When was the last time you heard someone say “Fuck you” without sounding like a woke teenager, a maniac, or an asshole? The goal is to replace the superficial awfulness of passive-aggressive bullshit with the fundamental kindness of a well-timed, deeply felt, non-violent “Fuck you”.

What is a well-timed, deeply felt, non-violent “Fuck you” then?

Pay me money, book a couple of Insaning appointments and I’ll show you. That’s what the whole Insaning process is about. It’s not an easy thing. It’s like assertiveness training, but designed primarily to turn you into one of those people who is capable of voicing dissent without backing down and without needing to argue about how right they are.

This whole “Fuck you” thing just makes me uncomfortable.

Yes, that’s the point. Most people are happier to discourse on the complex psychological makeup of their horrible spouse, bitch about the economy, tell their children about right and wrong, and talk about the “problematic” nature of mainstream depictions of cartoon mice than they are being seen openly cursing. And reading this paragraph, they might well roll their eyes at the banality of this observation, and still be incapable of saying “Fuck you” to a room full of people.

Are you a quack?

Probably. Also I have a serious alcohol problem and I worship the devil.

Really?

For God’s sake.

What else does Insaning involve, aside from the dubious “Fuck You” practice?

There’s an important deconditioning aspect.

The point is to dig up, and then play out, our inner conflicts until they are revealed in their full absurdity. One effective way to do this is to articulate our superegoic demands — “Don’t do this! Don’t be like that!” — and to make those demands of someone else. For example, if we regularly chastise ourselves for being overweight and lazy, we start by writing down some critical elements of our self-hatred: “I am fat and I never get any work done, and nobody finds me attractive.” 

We then identify any background assumptions we hold about these self-judgements, such as “Being attractive means being thin” and “Laziness and success can’t go together” and “Successful people are attractive” and “I am entitled to an attractive partner” and “I am not entitled to an attractive partner” and “Successful people don’t get treated like garbage” and “I am not garbage and I should stop treating myself like garbage” and “Losing weight would be an act of kindness to myself”. These background assumptions often contradict each other when spelled out. 

Next, we notice what kind of pressure we put on ourselves to meet the demands of our superego: “I need to lose thirty pounds so that I can dress in more fashionable clothes, and find a very attractive partner to prove to myself that I am also attractive” and “I need to stop wasting time and make a million dollars so that I can truly enjoy my life and prove that I’m worth something”. 

Finally, we walk up to someone and we address them as though they were our pitiful ordinary selves: “You are a fat, lazy slob. You are thirty pounds too heavy and you need to lose weight immediately so that you can date someone extremely beautiful who will find you more attractive than anyone else. You also need to make a lot of money soon, so that nobody will treat you like garbage. You don’t deserve to be treated like garbage, so get off your fat ass and be kind to yourself, damn it.”

Such demands are, of course, utterly absurd, especially when made in a sequence, out loud, to a real person. To believe that these demands are realistic and based on sound judgement would be insane. Yet we engage in such insanity constantly. Merely catching a glimpse of ourselves in the elevator mirror can trigger such cruel self-talk — even though if we were to say these things to the person next to us in the elevator, we would be considered not just unpleasant, but out of our minds.