Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

Living Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming


Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27771-9_200039-1


Etymologically, the term “catharsis” is derived from the Greek word Katharsis, meaning “purification,” “cleansing,” “healing,” “transforming,” and “purging.” Bharat’s Natyashastra and Aristotle’s Poetics discuss catharsis in their dramatic theories. Bharat states that drama evokes a particular aesthetic–emotional experience, i.e., Rasa, which deals with and transcends the problem of egoism, whereas Aristotle claims that dramatic experience is uplifting and edifying. Both Indian and Greek scholars argue that the process of purification leads to liberation.

Most of the definitions of catharsis emphasize four chief aspects: cognitive, psychological, emotional, and religious. Aristotle and Bharat discuss the emotional effect of catharsis in their dramatic theories. An almost similar connotation of catharsis is mentioned in medicine: Hippocrates considers catharsis as a purifying agent, and he associates it with healing. Breuer and Freud bring forth the cognitive and...

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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Humanities & Social Sciences – Languages & LiteratureShri Mata Vaishno Devi UniversityKatraIndia