The est Standard Training

Werner Erhard and Victor Gioscia, San Francisco, Calif.

Published in Biosciences Communication 3:104-122, 1977

Abstract. The format of the est standard training is described. Relationships which participants develop in the training are: to the trainer, to the group, and to self. Three aspects of self are presented: self as concept, self as experience and self as self. Relation of these three aspects of self to the epistemology of est are discussed, as are the experiences of aliveness and responsibility.


Since fundamentally, est is a context in which to hold one’s experience, I want to begin this essay by thanking a number of people for providing me with a context in which to write it. To begin, I want to thank those who attended the panel discussion at the APA meetings in May 1976, and, in addition, I want to thank the reader for this opportunity to discuss the est Standard Training.

In the paragraphs that follow, I will present some information which may be useful as a context in which to examine est as an example of an ‘awareness training’ in relation to contemporary psychiatry. I want to say at the outset that I am not qualified to write about large scale awareness trainings in general, and I will not presume to tell you anything about psychiatry. What I want to do is share with you some of the format, intended results, and ‘theory’ of est as an example of a large-scale awareness training.

My intention is to provide a context in which the reader can have something of an experience of est and to create an opportunity for the reader, not simply to have some new concepts but to have an experience of what est is, insofar as that is possible in an essay.

So, I want the reader to know that my ultimate purpose is not to tell you some facts you did not know. I do ask you to entertain the possibility that there is something you do know, which you have not been aware that you know. The est training is an opportunity to become aware that you know things you did not know you knew, so it is not a ‘training’ in the usual ‘rule-learning’ sense of the word, nor is it an ingraining, by repetition or any other means, of behaviors, attitudes or beliefs.

Fundamentally, then the est training is an occasion in which participants have an experience, uniquely their own, in a situation which enables and encourages them to do that fully and responsibly. I am suggesting that the best way to learn about est is to look into yourself, because whatever est is about is in your self. There are some who think that I have discovered something that other people ought to know. That is not so. What I have discovered is that people know things that they do not know that they know, the knowing of which can nurture them and satisfy them and allow them to experience an expanded sense of aliveness in their lives. The training is an occasion for them to have that experience – to get in touch with what they actually already know but are not really aware of.

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