Suddenly you were surprised by a feeling of emptiness and you began to cry uncontrollably or you were able to say what you had been silent for years! These genuine manifestations of emotionality are called catharsis and it is a great way to improve emotional health , release feelings and emotions. It must be done without restrictions, except those of not harming third parties.

What does catharsis mean?

Catharsis is not a novel term. It was used by Aristotle to allude to the purification of the spectators of the Greek tragedies. Freud takes the term and adapts it to his therapies to “unlock” emotions. Thus, in the therapeutic field, catharsis is to release emotions considered negative . In psychodrama, to do catharsis is to release spontaneity and creativity through body work.

In everyday life …

In everyday life we ​​usually hear expressions such as “I need to do catharsis” alluding to how, in a conscious way, the need to free oneself from certain burdens is recognized, the weight of which prevents us from flowing in life, in interaction with others and in our own world. inside.

Modern life with its work demands, social conditioning and affective restrictions, contributes to each time that people exempt themselves, withdraw or do not allow themselves to demonstrate what they feel about vital issues. We keep emotions and feelings to ourselves, sifting or softening them so as not to show ourselves and not feel vulnerable in front of the other.

Catharsis is like an escape valve, a way of draining disturbances, a “purge” of emotions through a process of liberation with a purifying benefit of the soul and the body. 

“Whatever you think, I think it is better to say it with good words” -William Shakespeare-

This is not an emotional explosion

Do not confuse catharsis with an emotional explosion! It is not mere reaction! I like the approach of contacting our emotions through body work such as biodance, psychodrama and any activity where you express your inner world. Find your way to drain, genuinely release the flow of repressed emotions. Body work to express and show what we feel is usually very beneficial.

Catharsis helps you:

  • Recognize and value emotions. Without judgments, only with the objective of identifying what hurts and bringing it to the surface to change it.
  • Improve relationships with people around you, the possibility of healing what has been avoiding or hiding.
  • Know yourself, know what you feel and express it.

The important thing is to be authentic when expressing our emotions, without repression, but without attacking or affecting other people. Catharsis lets out what was nested, what was holding us back, preventing us from flowing and growing as human beings.

How about the search for collective catharsis in the face of great human tribulations? Theater, music and art in general, can help free us from negative emotions such as anger or resentment to give way to more positive emotions such as joy and love.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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