American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. Medicine Purgation, especially for the digestive system.
- n. A purifying or figurative cleansing of the emotions, especially pity and fear, described by Aristotle as an effect of tragic drama on its audience.
- n. A release of emotional tension, as after an overwhelming experience, that restores or refreshes the spirit.
- n. Psychology A technique used to relieve tension and anxiety by bringing repressed feelings and fears to consciousness.
- n. Psychology The therapeutic result of this process; abreaction.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. In medicine, a natural or artificial purgation of any passage, especially the bowels. Also called apocatharsis.
- n. Used in English to express whatever Aristotle is supposed to have meant by the same word. But he has been understood in five different ways. A passage of his “Poetics” to which we are referred in his “Politics” for the full explanation of his meaning does not appear in the “Poetics,” as extant. The word was applied in Greek to the ritual purification of temples, etc. Plato and Xenophon (the latter using only the adjective
καθαρός, clean), both disciples of Socrates, use it to mean a clarification of the mind induced by dying and even at the near approach of death. Aristotle means by his phrase κάθαρσις τω%148ν παθημάτων(often translated ‘a purging of the passions’) a mental effect of the contemplation of works of high art, especially of the choral but severely simple and solemn Greek tragedies. He has been supposed to mean a cleansing from sin; but it is certain that he does not mean this or any strictly moral effect. On the other hand, he was of a medical family, and himself compares catharsis to the effect of a cathartic. He probably means the brightening and clearing of the emotional state by relieving the thoughts of the burden of sordid cares and of sensual desires; and something like this is now usually understood by the word.
- n. drama A release of emotional tension after an overwhelming vicarious experience, resulting in the purging or purification of the emotions, as through watching a dramatic production (especially a tragedy). Coined in this sense by Aristotle.
- n. Any release of emotional tension to the same effect, more widely.
- n. A purification or cleansing, especially emotional.
- n. psychology A therapeutic technique to relieve tension.
- n. medicine Purging of the digestive system.
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. (Med.) A natural or artificial purgation of any passage, as of the mouth, bowels, etc.
- n. (Psychotherapy) The process of relieving an abnormal excitement by reëstablishing the association of the emotion with the memory or idea of the event that first caused it, and of eliminating it by complete expression (called the
- n. purging the body by the use of a cathartic to stimulate evacuation of the bowels
- n. (psychoanalysis) purging of emotional tensions
- From Ancient Greek κάθαρσις (katharsis, "cleansing, purging"), from καθαίρω (kathairō, "I cleanse") (Wiktionary)
- New Latin, from Greek katharsis, from kathairein, to purge, from katharos, pure. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“You saw them disagreeing even on whether we can use the -- the term catharsis here.”
“The ancient Greeks used the term catharsis for the cleansing of both the body by medicine and the soul by art.”
“The term catharsis has been used for centuries as a medical term meaning a”
“The term catharsis has also been adopted by modern psychotherapy, particularly Freudian psychoanalysis, to describe the act of expressing deep emotions often associated with events in the individual's past which have never before been adequately expressed.”
“I think he's got a little time to do this, what we call the catharsis interview.”
“And the kind of place you want to go is our own Larry King or Oprah Winfrey, some place where you have time to tell your story, somebody who is going to be very sympathetic and you do that interview which we call a catharsis interview.”
“HOWARD BRAGMAN, FIFTEENMINUTES. COM: It's what we call catharsis in our business.”
“And for you literalists, the doctors define the term catharsis thusly (”
“However, this is an exercise in catharsis instead of anything serious.”
“So many times art has been called a catharsis for those who create it.”
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