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 ?
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For anyone who's known sublime connection and abject alienation (preferably in the same day), Lorrie Moore's exquisite third collection of short fiction offers a comic and decidedly dark catharsis.
The film strains for moral catharsis and loses some of its courage in the process.
This anthology of what seemed the ultimate in silly and irrelevant art turned Out to be a delight and a catharsis for me, the kind of liberation that comes from sweeping dusty prejudices out o f the attic.
The jury's verdict that Peterson was guilty of murder with special circumstances and should be executed provided a catharsis for many but the truth is that he is more likely to die of natural causes on San Quentin's Death Row.
At last the real Dogma 95 program emerges as catharsis interruptus - a leap into an ice-water void that proffers its own shock-to-the-system release.
After that bit of catharsis, Drumstrings and Evie form a bond and go through ups and downs in their town full of losers before, inevitably, taking that long ride down Thunder Road, their town full of losers firmly fixed in the rear-view mirror.
What is apparent on viewing any collection of these portraits is how similar her subjects seem: caught on the edge of land and sea, in limp bathing suits that evoke adult dreams, stilled by the blunt formality of the camera and the sudden catharsis of the flash, they serve as icons of an aspiration that we who are already adults have long forgotten.