MCHENRY, Ill. — We’ve all been there before. Something sets you off, your blood starts to boil and all you want to do is break something.
Now there is a place you can go to release that stress: House of Rage in McHenry.
The owners converted an old house into the new business. It’s what’s known as a “rage room” where customers pay between $65 to $150 for various packages. For example, the “Psychopath” package includes 48 glasses, four large items, three medium items, five small items, a large TV, three electronics and a free energy drink.
Customers gear up in a protective suit, goggles, helmet and gloves and head to the basement to choose a weapon- baseball bats, tennis rackets, hammers, golf clubs and metal pipes.
Donna Lohmeyer bought a package for her son’s birthday.
“My son likes to get angry once in a while so this is a good outlet for him,” she said.
“I’m young. I have three kids and I work every day. So it’s nice to come out and break something you know?” customer Chris Maves said. “Come out and cause chaos and not get in trouble for it.”
Mark Lightbody came with Maves on a recent visit. He is an airplane mechanic who is also taking care of his elderly father and wanted to relieve some stress.
“Work, life, everything has you going,” he said. “The first couple things you break, you feel tentative. Then you get into it and you feel a lot better when it’s over.”
Rage rooms are becoming all the rage. There is the Purge Rage Room in Chicago, Gone Mad Rage Room in Peoria, the Wreck Room Rage Room in Naperville and Patty’s Pummel Palace in Moline to name just a few.
So what is it about breaking stuff that feels so good?
Abby Poplis is a licensed clinical social worker with Compass Health.
“I think there’s part of it that it’s the forbidden fruit. We’re not supposed to do it. We’re not supposed to break things or be violent,” she said. “I think it can feel good to do it and get it out.”
But is this a healthy way to channel your anger? Poplis says for stable people who don’t struggle with anger management, rage rooms can be a safe activity. But those who might have problems with aggression might want to think twice.
“We want to reinforce healthy coping skills rather than violent behavior and breaking things,” she said. “So if we’re using something like this to cope, we’re reinforcing violence as our way to get out our emotions.”
Customers we spoke with say they do find value in the violence, as long as it’s in a controlled environment.
“You see all the crime and violence on the news. This is a way to actually be able to do it without the consequences of getting arrested,” Lohmeyer said. “This is the way to do it and have fun at it and to release. There’s something satisfying about breaking glasses. The kid comes out in you.”
So will rage rooms continue to boom in popularity?
“I think there’s a place for them in terms of entertainment, but I don’t think there’s a place for them in the therapeutic world,” Poplis said.