Meaning of Catharsis
What is Catharsis:
Catharsis is a purifying experience of human emotions. As such, the word comes from the Greek κάθαρσις (kátharsis), which means 'purge', 'purification'.
As synonyms for catharsis, the words cleansing or liberation can be used.
Within literature, for its part, catharsis is the purifying effect experienced by the viewer through a work of art. The concept was first devised by Aristotle in his Poetics.
As such, the Greek philosopher recognized in classical tragedies the ability to get the viewer to release their lowest passions through the aesthetic experience of theatrical performance.
In this sense, the tragedy offered the viewer a range of emotions, such as horror, anger, compassion, anguish or empathy, which allowed them to identify with the characters and their stories and, in this way, access the purifying effect that produced the scenic representation inside.
Hence, the tragedy is also instructive for its audience in terms of the decisions or interests that moved its characters towards its unfortunate end.
You may also be interested in Greek tragedy.
Catharsis in Psychology
In the area of Psychology, more specifically in Psychoanalysis, authors such as Sigmund Freud take up the concept of Greek catharsis from a therapeutic point of view.
Therefore, catharsis is a method by which, during the therapy process, a patient was led to unblock repressed memories or experiences in his unconscious, generally associated with traumatic events from the past, in order to be able to talk about it , make it aware, and experience it emotionally.