Getting It: The Psychology of est

a book about the Erhard Seminar Training (est) by Sheridan Fenwick

Getting It: The Psychology of est is a non-fiction book by American psychologist Sheridan Fenwick, first published in 1976, analyzing Werner Erhard's Erhard Seminars Training or est. It is based on Fenwick's own experience of attending a four-day session of the est training, an intensive 60-hour personal development course in the self-help genre.


Werner Erhard
Getting It: The psychology of est, 1976, Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, ISBN 0-397-01170-9
  • I took the training. It was an extraordinary experience. And I have some serious concerns about the implications of the est phenomenon. I think people ought to know about it. I think people ought to think about it.
    • p. 16
  • The bathroom restrictions are only one of many aspects of the est training which add up to the fact that the training takes place in a state of deprivation. During the training you are deprived of sleep because you arrive home around 3 A.M. and have to be back at the hotel by 8:30 the next morning.
    • p. 134
  • Many of the deprivations, such as the restriction on bathroom privileges, could be expected to have the effect of creating anxiety. For many people, the extensive rules and their authoritarian enforcement might be expected to create anger. Anger and anxiety are both states of emotional arousal. Deprivation creates arousal, which under such conditions is referred to as motivation. If you want to teach a rat to run in a maze, you deprive it of food so you can control its behavior by doling out food when it does what you want it to do.
    • p. 135
  • Trainers in est do not and cannot take the precautions that would be considered appropriate for psychotherapy. They use techniques such as confrontation which undermine psychological defenses and strip away resistance. They use some techniques whose effect is to increase anxiety and other techniques which encourage regression to developmentally more primitive modes of functioning.
    • p. 171
  • The authoritarianism of the training is a beginner's course in the totalitarianism you will be subject to if you join the est organization.
    • p. 177
  • [it is difficult to determine whether est] produces any more than a superficial catharsis, or whether it might be harmful to certain people
    • Getting It: The psychology of est, as cited in Charney, James (Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine) (1 October 1976), "Review of Getting It alongside Hargrove, Robert est: Making Life Work, and Rhinehart, Luke The Book of est", Library Journal 101 (17): 2071 


Alphabetized by author
  • Finally. Here's someone who is willing to disclose the details of Erhard Seminars Training, and then go on to analyze them from a psychological point of view.
    • Bader, Barbara (Editor) (15 July 1976), "Getting It", Kirkus Reviews 44 (Part II, Section No. 14): 821 
  • the only useful critical look at this essential issue.
  • [Fenwick's] analysis of the function of the group, the restrictive rules, and the enforced discomfort is convincing.
  • A plethora of newspaper and magazine reports, along with books written by graduates ... have attempted to explain the phenomenon of this self-help program, but none has done it as well or as objectively as this writer.
    • Crockett, Edith S.; Mount, Ellis (1 March 1977), "Sci-Tech Books of 1976", Library Journal 102 (5): 543–552 

See also