Abstract

Continuing the historical trajectory traced previously (Fisher 2019), this article maps the beginning of a critical period of controversy that enveloped est (Erhard Seminar Training) and its founder after 1973. As the est training gained popularity and attracted mainstream media attention, skeptics homed in on its cultish and authoritarian aspects, while defenders argued that Erhard had created an excellent method for transforming the self and unlocking human potential. This dynamic replayed an earlier debate that had centered on Fritz Perls, Esalen, and Gestalt therapy during the 1960s (see Fisher 2017). Yet, est was at the heart of controversy in part because it stood as the symbol and test case for the human potential movement's enduring value, which remains uncertain today.

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