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What Is Catharsis In Psychology

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Expressing Emotions Is Important

What is Catharsis? (Aristotle’s Poetics)

Emotions are a huge part of our human experience and cannot be ignored even if they are negative. They make us who we are. Catharsis is a process where we relive a traumatic experience but it does not make us weak. Expressing emotions is important because it helps us take a step toward accepting the pain and reality of our lives.

Emotional catharsis happens when we have bottled up our emotions for a long time and then the bottle suddenly breaks. It is inevitable but necessary. Sometimes we need to break down to feel good and thats okay.

Catharsis can help us deal with the difficult emotions that we find ourselves unable to deal with. This emotional release and expression is an important technique if youre coping with grief, fear, depression, and anxiety.

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I hope this article helped you understand what emotional catharsis in psychology means, why emotional catharsis is good for us, and healthy emotional catharsis techniques you can practice. For more information, you can write to us at .

The good thing about crying, Id realized, was the catharsis you felt when everything finally came out. It was as though Id cried tears of poison a poison that didnt have to be inside me anymore. Jeremy Jenkins

Take care and stay safe.

Emotional Catharsis And Therapy

When a person first starts psychological therapy, sometimes they worry that theyll explode in emotional catharsis and talk nonsense. But, in most cases, what experts normally aim for in therapy is for the patient to recognize and validate their emotions. Why? To identify the experiences making us feel that way.

In fact, catharsis was a process Sigmund Freud used at the beginning of his psychoanalysis sessions. In these sessions Freud treated hysteria which is really an illness of traumatic origin using hypnosis. The goal was purification or emotional catharsis to release the shock or trauma. Then the patient would be able to express the repressed emotions and experiences causing the symptoms in the first place.

When emotions block or paralyze you, when youve kept strong and firm in lifes hardest situations, and suddenly you cant cope any longer and you break thats when you get help processing these experiences and emotions through catharsis and its subsequent analysis.

That said, catharsis is important in therapies other than psychoanalysis, as well. In the psychodrama of authors like Moreno, catharsis is the goal of group therapy sessions. Here, the aim is to properly process the conflict that led you to get therapy.

And How Can We Get It

To do so, it is necessary to find ways to express emotions that are healthy and do not harm us or harm us or others.

It is not worth starting to express our emotions without any kind of regard since a bad emotional expression can cause as many or more problems than the absence of emotional expression.

The goal must be, then, to find those behaviors that allow us to express our emotions in a healthy way and that do not cause harm to anyone.

In addition, it is very important to know where to express them, shout them, cry, talk and control them.

So, having a place in the world where you can free yourself of all your emotions without any prejudice or fear is a highly effective therapeutic tool.

This is something that it is hard for us to realize humans, but we must bear in mind that all controlled emotional expression is therapeutic, since it allows you to accept your emotions, to be able to talk about them and manage them properly.

In fact, this concept that we are explaining is not far from what he calls emotional intelligence.

Not being afraid of suffering, emotions or the way we express our feelings is the first step to achieve psychological well-being.

Human beings live constantly exposed to events and situations that can produce negative emotions, they can disturb us or they can make us feel in a concrete way.

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Catharsis Psychology Definition: The Meaning Of Catharsis

The main term of catharsis has itself been derived from the Greek word of katharsis which means cleansing or purification.

This term is not only used in therapy but it is also used in literature as well.

This can be used as such that the hero of the novel will end up experiencing some emotional catharsis that might lead to the hero being restored or renewed.

The main purpose of using catharsis is to bring about a form of a positive change in the life of the individual.

Catharsis psychology definition involves both a cognitive component where the individual might gain new insights and also the emotional component where they can feel and express some strong feelings.

Modern Thoughts On Catharsis And Cathartic Movie Channels:

The significance of catharsis in psychology

According to Sigmund Freud, Catharsis is a key technique and it can help eject emotion. Movies and theatrical performances can trigger such emotional outflow. Jacob Levy Moreno advocates psychodrama techniques where emotions flow in groups or in an individual through theatrical presentations.

Currently, many TV channels have a specific cathartic bend to it keeping in view its mind remedial potential. These channels help people get free from emotions that put them at cross roads of self doubt and confusion. Horror movie channels take care of our mind that gets a kick from fright instinct.

However, the efficacy of the system is still open to challenges for lack of enough scientific support. But it is always great to unlock our hidden emotions by some external input before they devastate the mind.

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Effect On Emotional Recovery

This cathartic release of emotions is often believed to be therapeutic for affected individuals. Many therapeutic mechanisms have been seen to aid in emotional recovery. One example is “interpersonal emotion regulation”, in which listeners help to modify the affected individual’s affective state by using certain strategies. Expressive writing is another common mechanism for catharsis. Joanne Frattaroli published a meta-analysis suggesting that written disclosure of information, thoughts, and feelings enhances mental health.

However, other studies question the benefits of social catharsis. Finkenauer and colleagues found that non-shared memories were no more emotionally triggering than shared ones. Other studies have also failed to prove that social catharsis leads to any degree of emotional recovery. Zech and Rimé asked participants to recall and share a negative experience with an experimenter. When compared with the control group that only discussed unemotional topics, there was no correlation between emotional sharing and emotional recovery.

Overreacting And Its Reasons

When a persons reaction to an unimportant event is extremeand overpasses the events real value, they are overreacting. For example, whenyou shout horrible insults at a waitress merely because your hamburger hadpickles and you wanted it without. More than a personality trait, overreactingis a result of evolution.

Evolutionary psychologists believe that overreacting has its roots in a higher chance of survival. Animals that immediately kill intruders in their territory, avoid all risks and threats before any harm is done. Thus, protecting oneself against a potential threat is one reason for overreacting.

Also, people sometimes overreact to trivial signs of disrespect and unfairness to show that they cannot be exploited. The third reason why people overreact is that they are focused on only one thing. No matter how unimportant that event is, when this happens, people lose their ability to control themselves and think about consequences. No social norm, logic, moral standard, or concern for other people can stop overreacting.

Lastly, overreacting can be morecommon in one society compared to another, due to social acceptance and evenencouragement. To conclude, many acts of catharsis may be overreactions thatcan harm ones social life.

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Healthy Emotional Catharsis Techniques

Emotional catharsis can be done via therapy but apart from that, there are some healthy ways to achieve emotional catharsis without having a mental or an emotional breakdown.

1. Physical Exercise

Sometimes all you need to do to feel emotionally better is to physically release the tension thats built up in your mind and body. Go for a walk, run or jog, do some jumping jacks, or just do some physical exertion. One of the best ways to achieve emotional catharsis is to give martial arts a try. Martial arts can be a little pretend aggressive exercise that can help you release your repressed emotions.

2. Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation is another form of relaxation therapy that involves tightening your muscles and relaxing them, intentionally. PMR aims to release the tension from your muscles while helping you relax those tensed muscles one at a time.

For emotional catharsis, using your body and muscles is a way to release emotional tension from your body as well as physical tension.

Related: Best Relaxation Techniques To Combat Stress, Anxiety, and More

3. Making Noise

Sometimes you need more than just walking it off. One emotional catharsis technique that Ive seen my friends do is screaming at the top of their lungs into a pillow. Weird, isnt it? But it works! When you cant put a name to emotion and its making you feel uncomfortable, scream into a pillow.

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5. Psychodrama

Emotional Expression Is An Essential Part Of Us

Catharsis meaning in brief

All emotional expression, even something like emotional catharsis, must be validated and never suppressed. Keep in mind that emotions are a part of us. They make up part of who we are.

A cathartic process or emotional abreaction does not make us weak it makes us human. It teaches us that expressing our emotions purely is the first step towards accepting and understanding the pain in our lives.

In addition, emotional experiences are how we relate to the world. In other words, they are a part of our experience with our surroundings and other people. They are a fundamental part of our lives. We actually need them in order to to process all types of experiences, ranging from the most painful or upsetting to the most joyful ones we could imagine.

In fact, emotional catharsis happens when weve been strong for a long time and then suddenly break. Thats why it is necessary and unstoppable. It shows us the reality of our situation and teaches us that were fragile and that sometimes we need to break down and cry in order to be learn something.

I am still me when I laugh and when I cry, because those experiences are precisely the ones that make me human.

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What Is Emotional Catharsis And Why Is It Good For Us

21 February, 2018

Maybe you remember times in your life when you suddenly started crying because your emotions got the better of you and you couldnt help it. Andyou just couldnt stop crying. Or you had anger bottled up and then one day you exploded in uncontrollable rage. These experiences are part of the phenomenon known as emotional catharsis.

Emotional catharsis is a process in which our emotions are displayed in all their rawness. It is often associated with situations where were feeling intensely. Because it is such an intense expression of emotion, it concerns a lot of people and some even wonder if catharsis is dangerous.

But even though its often quite dramatic, the process of emotional catharsis is never dangerous. Quite the contrary it is actually very liberating. It helps us understand and express what were feeling. It takes us beyond just intellectually assessing the adverse situation were in. Instead, we learn to not suppress our emotions we let out all the emotional turmoil we were keeping in.

Expressing emotions is never dangerous. The danger lies in containing or denying them, because that makes us prisoners, instead of being free to live our lives to the fullest.

Catharsis Allows You To Express Anger As Aggressively As You Wish Tomaintain Your Psychological Health However The Scientific Society Believes Itoften Justifies Overreacting And Hurts Our Psychological Health Read On Tofind Out If Catharsis Really Helps Us

Catharsis refers to the expression of your feelings, especially when you are suppressing anger or other negative feelings. The term was first used in psychology by Sigmund Freud but originally dates back at least to ancient Greece.

This is a transcript from the video series Understanding the Mysteries of Human Behavior. Watch it now, on Wondrium.

According to catharsis, if you feel angry enough to break a few things around you, you should do that. Pop psychologists say if you feel like breaking someones ribs to express your anger, break glasses and tables instead and shout into your pillow. Suppressing emotions can indeed be unhealthy, but what if you bust the windows of somebodys car, just because they drove into the street faster than you? Is it the right reaction, or are you overreacting?

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The Relationship Between Catharsis And Overreacting

Catharsis can be a good excuse and even a green light for some people to overreact. Overreacting to many things per day can lead to, and at the same time result from, anger issues.

Those who suffer from chronic anger problems significantly magnify the importance of everything that happens to them. People who overreact do the same, even though they do not have chronic anger problems. They often engage in a catastrophizing thinking process, where they exaggerate the seriousness of a problem in their mind.

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What Is The Difference Between Catharsis And Psychoanalysis

The significance of catharsis in psychology

Categorized under Psychology,Science | What is the Difference Between Catharsis and Psychoanalysis?

Catharsis and psychoanalysis are both associated with the psychoanalytic theory of Sigmund Freud and the unconscious. They also involve in-depth talk and are instrumental in helping patients with psychological problems. Specifically, catharsis is the process of releasing strong emotions while psychoanalysis is a set of therapeutic methods and psychological theories which aim to make the unconscious conscious.

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Catharsis Psychology Definition: Psychological Benefits Of Catharsis

There have been no studies yet that can demonstrate the effectiveness of the original concept of Catharsis psychology definition by Breuer.

However, there is enough evidence that states that addressing these unaddressed feelings of a person that were previously left as it is can help them with different mental health conditions, as one of the goals of therapy is also to address difficult emotions.

Technically the concept of Catharsis psychology definition is to release such emotions that have been held up after an event.

According to the psychoanalytic theory, the release of such emotions is deeply linked with the need of the person to relieve or end unconscious conflicts.

For example, having continuous stress over work-related issues and problems for a week may end up having the person in tension and frustration.

Rather than venting such feelings over others or in any inappropriate way it is way better for the person to let these feelings out in a better way, such as stress-relieving activity or some physical exercise.

What Is The Emotional Catharsis

Catharsis is an emotional release that helps us to release unconscious conflicts. In fact, the term comes from the Greek word katharsis, meaning purification or cleansing. In Psychology, the catharsis involves a kind of emotional purge, so that we can restore our psychological balance. It is an intense and intimate process that is often liberating since we not only express content that we repressed but we give it a new meaning, we incorporate it into the story of our life and we manage to turn the page.

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Release Based Cathartic Therapy: Cautions And Considerations


Catharsis therapy is based on the idea that bringing painful memories to consciousness with emotional discharge is the best way to recover from old wounds. Deliberately re-living a traumatic event by dredging up memories or releasing emotions through catharsis is more likely to re-traumatize the body/mind than to heal itthe body/mind cannot distinguish between re-living and the real thing. Each time it will summon its defensive mechanisms in the same way that it would if the event were real. The cathartic approach perpetuates the effects of trauma .

Some body centered therapists although well intentioned have adopted an old belief called the hydraulic theory of mind . This theory postulates that there is an excessive amount of fluid behind a clients eyes that needs to come out and its up to the therapist to facilitate that release. But viewing clients as having pathologically dammed up unexpressed emotions only impedes the therapeutic process .

Integration is an expansion of ones sense of self to include new experiences that were previously incompatible. I cannot reject my past or get rid of it by surgery or therapy. I can only integrate it to a higher level of functioning. To thoroughly understand integration requires knowledge of the variety of coping and defense mechanisms that clients use to shield themselves from experience.

Common Questions About Catharsis

What is Catharsis? | The Importance of Cathartic Art

Q: What is an example of catharsis?

An example of catharsis is when a person flips the table and breaks everything around them because they are angry. Any expression of emotions not to suppress them can be an example of catharsis.

Q: What is the purpose of catharsis?

Catharsiswas believed to help people release the emotions they suppress and lead to their psychological health.

Q: What is catharsis in psychology?

Catharsis in psychology refers to any act of expressing emotions in order to feel relieved and maintain psychological health. However, todays science believes it is not at all good for psychological health.

Q: What did Freud believe that catharsis did?

Freud believed catharsis could release all the suppressed emotions that can hurt ones psychological health.

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