On July 16, Inspired by Iceland, the country’s official tourism site, launched its latest campaign to encourage travel to the island. But it’s not your average “come-see-the-sights” promotion. In the spirit of 2020, the campaign—aptly titled “Looks Like You Need to Let It Out”—invites people around the world to do exactly that. With scream therapy. That will be recorded and played in Iceland’s sweeping wilderness.
Until July 29, anyone can visit the website to record their own screams, yells, vocalizations, and exhortations, with one of seven landscapes in Iceland as a backdrop. (Imagine your screams resounding across the red sands of Rauðisandur in the Westfjords, the basalt rocks near the lighthouse at Kálfshamarsvík, or the falling waters of Skógafoss). The recordings will be played via speakers in the real-life locations themselves, bringing your voice—along with many others’—into the Land of Fire and Ice.
“Across the world, people have been through a lot in the last few months,” said Sigríður Dögg Guðmundsdóttir, head of Visit Iceland, in a press release. “We empathize and want to do what we can to help people relieve their frustrations.”
Scream therapy is part of a controversial treatment called primal therapy, which was popularized in the 1970s by California psychotherapist Dr. Arthur Janov, who passed away in 2017. But some still find elements of its technique therapeutic. “What we don’t realize is that the psychological response to wanting to scream lights up a part of our brains called the amygdala,” says mental health consultant Zoë Aston on the Looks Like You Need to Let It Out website. “The amygdala activates when we are under threat, something we have all experienced in the past few months.” According to Aston, screaming into an undisturbed space is beneficial because it “literally allows your amygdala to release the stress stored there and move forward.”
“In Iceland, we are lucky enough to have vast open spaces and beautiful nature that is the perfect place to let out frustrations. We feel this is just what the world needs,” says Guðmundsdóttir. “And when people are ready to resume traveling, they can come and experience it for themselves.”
For those who want to indulge in some Icelandic yelling in person, currently, travelers from approved countries may travel there and pay for a coronavirus test upon arrival to avoid a 14-day quarantine (visitors from a short list of low-risk countries are exempt from quarantine or screening.) But for Americans, who are still prohibited from leisure travel to the country, scream therapy sounds like a pretty good option.