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catharsis (noun) cleansing of the bowels or any passage of the body; relieving of emotions by reading or watching any work of art, or through psychotherapy.

Catharsis is purging, that is, cleansing the body system and its passages by means of medicines which cause loose motions or vomiting to take away with them any impurities in the body. A common method of treatment of any ailment in the olden days, catharsis of the body was brought about by purgatives, that is, purifying medicines. A way, according to theorists of literature and the arts, of our being relieved of our bad feelings and emotions by experiencing and expressing them through works of art, especially through tragedy.

  • A common method of treatment of ailments in the olden days was catharsis, affected by giving the patient purgatives causing loose motions, which were believed to wash off any impurity in the body.
  • Following Aristotle's theory that tragedy brought about catharsis, or purification of emotions, great tragedies were produced in Greece, in the belief that by experiencing the suffering and sorrow represented in them, the spectators would be relieved of feelings of anger and the like.
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Last Modified : 11-May 2009
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