The Therapist’s Coffin

Sheng Li visited the Ruoshui Mental Health Clinic in Shenyang, China, to photograph the practice of "death experience therapy":

According to 50-year-old therapist Mr. Tang Yulong, the clinic opened in 2009 and since then there have been more than a thousand people who have done the death experience therapy. The therapy costs 2000 yuan ($320) and usually lasts 4 to 5 hours, during the duration of which the patient is required to lie in a coffin while his/her relatives read “epitaphs” or give speeches nearby. The patient also needs to write down his/her feelings and share with therapists and family. Mr. Tang said that many of them burst into tears when they are “resurrected.” He believes it is an extreme but efficient method to make people realize the value of their lives.

Li interviewed a participant who described the effects of the treatment this way:

Mr. Yang told me later that for a few seconds he really felt as if he were dead inside the coffin, and his desire to keep on living became stronger. And when he heard his wife reading a letter to him, he cried. He said that it was so strange that when he was “dead,” he actually felt closer to his wife and loved ones.

(Video: A less elaborate and less scientific coffin therapy service in the Urkaine.)