catharsis

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catharsis

1. (in Aristotelian literary criticism) the purging or purification of the emotions through the evocation of pity and fear, as in tragedy
2. Psychoanal the bringing of repressed ideas or experiences into consciousness, thus relieving tensions
3. purgation, esp of the bowels

catharsis

release of emotional energy, producing relief from tension. The term is most specifically used in PSYCHOANALYSIS where it describes the process in which repressed memories and emotions are brought into consciousness, sometimes involving transference to the analyst. In thus making them explicit, and the patient reexperiencing them consciously, they are depowered and the personality becomes freer.

Catharsis

 

a term used in ancient Greek philosophy and aesthetics to designate the essence of aesthetic experience. The concept dates back to Pythagorean philosophy, which urged the use of music for the purification of the soul. According to the Stoics, Heraclitus spoke of purgation by fire. Plato taught that catharsis was the freeing of the soul from the body and from passions or pleasures. Aristotle spoke of the educative and purifying significance of music, through which man gains relief and is purged of his emotions and desires, experiencing an “innocent joy.” In the absence of further clarification, Aristotle’s famous definition of tragedy as the purging of emotions (Poetics, ch. 6) has given rise to controversy over what is meant by catharsis. G. E. Lessing interpreted it ethically; the 19th-century German scholar J. Bernays defined it in medical terms as something that brings relief; and the German E. Zeller saw it as a purely aesthetic phenomenon. Science has been unable to definitively resolve the problem of the essence of Aristotelian catharsis, since it is unclear whether catharsis ought to be understood simply as the elimination of particular emotions or as their harmonization. The Austrian doctor and psychologist S. Freud used the term to designate a method of psychotherapy.

REFERENCES

Losev, A. F. Ocherki antichnogo simvolizma i mifologii, vol. 1. Moscow, 1930. Pages 728–34. (Contains bibliography.)
Akhmanov, A. S., and F. A. Petrovskii. Introductory essay in Aristotle, Ob iskusstve poezii. Moscow, 1957.
Boekel, C. W. van. Katharsis. Utrecht, 1957. (Bibliography.)

A. F. LOSEV

catharsis

[kə′thär·səs]
(psychology)
Release of tension by releasing deep-seated emotions or reliving a traumatic experience.
References in periodicals archive ?
We encounter here Frye's privileging, in the 1950s, the Aristotelian over the Longinian approach: the aesthetic view takes precedence over the enthusiasm of ecstasis, as the feelings generated when we are transported are not subject to critical scrutiny.
Both, however, enter into the Commedia in such a way as to qualify its spiritual geometry, its proposal of the ontological issue in terms of a solitary ecstasis of the spirit on the plane of the vertical; for the solitary ecstasis of the spirit on the plane of the vertical at every point presupposes within the soteriological and eschatological economy of the whole the fact of significant encounter on the plane of the horizontal, the presence of one person to another as by turns, and indeed simultaneously, an extrinsic (Pauline) and an intrinsic (Johannine) principle of affirmation.
I believe that it was not any faith in the mystical powers of "chance"--or any concomitant letting-go of oneself, ecstasis, or abnegation of will--which attracted Xenakis to stochastic laws, but rather a positively plastic working with stochastically describable matter.
The literalizing of temporal ecstasis has become the norm for us, in a world in which the dream of a permanent now is carried by the collapsing together of live transmission and recording, and the maintenance of the maintenant through technologies that ensure nothing slips out of date and everything is for ever.
This divine love goes out of itself as ecstasis, a being outside itself.
The leaping and whirling ecstasis of imagistic energy was part of his poetic beginning, as was a steady emphasis upon the transcendental moment.