Violence and Catharsis Theory

Topics: Violence, Catharsis, Mass media Pages: 7 (2351 words) Published: May 6, 2013
KOM 5111



Name| :| Mohd Salekhan Bin Othman|
Matric No.| :| GS 35782|
Date| :| 7th May 2013 (Tuesday)|
Signature| :| |


1| Definition of The Theory| 3|
2| Founder Of The Theory and The Development of The Theory| 4| 3| Main Concepts of The Theory (Field Experiments)| 5|
4| Application and Variables of The Theory| 6|
5| Criticisms of The Theory| 8|
6| Future Development of The Theory| 10|
7| References| 12|


Catharsis came from the Greek word and literally it can be defined as purification or a purging. It was originally defined by Aristotle in Third Century B.C as purging or cleansing of one’s emotion. Viewing tragic plays will give people emotional release (katharsis) from negative feelings such as pity, fear, and anger. The first recorded mention of catharsis occurred more than one thousand years ago, in the work Poetics by Aristotle. Catharsis explains the dramatic art of the Greeks known as tragedies (the entertainment or media of the days in the sixth-century). These tragedies allowed the audience to project their feelings or fear, anger and happiness towards the dramatic art they were viewing instead of fulfilling these feelings themselves, only to feel relief and exhilaration at the end through catharsis.

Breur and Freud described catharsis as involuntary (done without conscious control), instinctive body process, for example crying (Breur & Freud, 1974). Schultz and Schultz (2004) followed the psychodynamic tradition and defined catharsis as the process of reducing or eliminating a complex by recalling it to conscious awareness and allowing it to be expressed. The American Psychological Association (2007) also associates catharsis with the psychodynamic theory and defines it as the discharge of affects connected to traumatic events that had previously been repressed by bringing these events back into consciousness and re-experiencing them.

There are two components of Catharsis. First is the emotional aspect which is the strong emotional expression and processing while the second one is the cognitive aspect which is insight, new realization and the unconscious becoming consciousness. Some of the researchers perceive catharsis as emotional discharge, equating it with the behaviour of expressing strong emotions; some emphasize the cognitive aspect and the new awareness that emerges after reliving traumatic events from the past. In the end, there is positive change when the person experiencing catharsis


The first recorded mention of catharsis occurred more than one thousand years ago, in the work Poetics by Aristotle. Aristotle taught that viewing tragic plays gave people emotional release (katharsis) from negative feelings such as pity, fear, and anger. By watching the characters in the play experience tragic events, the negative feelings of the viewer were presumably purged and cleansed. This emotional cleansing was believed to be beneficial to both the individual and society. The crucial point in catharsis theory is that the observed aggressive action does not necessarily need to be executed in reality – it can instead take place in the actor’s fantasy or in the media (symbolic catharsis).

Seymour Feshbach, key proponent of the catharsis theory in communication research, distinguishes between three conceptions of catharsis: the Dramatic, the Clinical, and the Experimental models. The Dramatic model goes back to Aristotle who used the term “catharsis” in his Poetics to describe an effect of the Greek tragedy on its spectator: by viewing tragic plays the spectator’s own anxieties are put outward and purged in a socially harmless way. The spectator is released from negative feelings such as fear or anger. Aristotle’s definition of catharsis is not precise and...
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