In a world exploding with human activity, resources are becoming increasingly strained, competition is high, and time is short. Citizens of the great industrialised nations are feeling the pinch – lost, saddened, hurried, driven by financial lust, and disconnected from the rhythm of their hearts.
And with floundering mental health resources and the proliferation of online living, ways to calm these wordy ills are taking on new forms. In New York recently, one man has taken the initiative to dress up in an eight foot padded panda suit, offering the citizens of Brooklyn a punch for one cent.
That’s right, folks can take their best shot at this towering symbol of salvation for a measly cent, in a bid to rid themselves of their deepest frustrations. Calling himself “sympathetically masochistic”, performance artist Nate Hill has helped Brooklyners vent their fury on issues ranging from relationship woes to speeding tickets.
And it appears Mr Hill is making a dent, with the Guardian calling his panda antics “delightful”, adding – “Nate Hill, hear our call: this stressed-out country needs you”.
Nearby, other healing innovationists are incorporating avatars in virtual scenarios to help patients deal with phobias, addictions and emotional bedlam. Here alcoholics are driven by strong urges to order from a virtual bartender, and gamblers can ‘shoot the moon’ in simulated conditions, all while researchers monitor when sensations kick in.
This ‘cybertherapy’ is now recognised as a remarkably effective form of treatment, as patients carry over their stimuli from real life. So much so that the Canadian military and United States Army have invested millions of dollars in virtual remedy research for the benefit of their officers.
Indeed, evidence from cybertherapy reveals clients are disclosing more information to their virtual therapist than they are to their blood pumping colleagues. As in the virtual world, the environment and consultant can be altered to suit conditions most effective in quelling a patient’s anxiety.
While some researchers remain sceptical over such “untoward” healing methods, others have become downright inspired. Professor Hootski, from the Sacramento Experimental Leisure Foundation (SELF), has designed a theme park aimed at “releasing the cork of hindrance from the bottle of the black beast”.
The park, entitled ‘The Dark Sanctuary’, is a place where entrants sign disclaimers before embarking on a pernicious rampage throughout the grounds. Here guests choose baseball bats, motorbike helmets and/or sledgehammers, before unleashing them on a variety of objects, such as designer office buildings, replica politicians, or pictures of past loves.
Happiness has increased within the vicinity by a reported 3%.