Catharsis Theory and Media Effects - Research Article from Encyclopedia of Communication and Information

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Catharsis Theory and Media Effects

Is viewing violence cathartic? The large amount of violence in the mass media is often justified by the concept of catharsis. The word catharsis comes from the Greek word katharsis, which literally translated means "a cleansing or purging." 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 ancient notion of catharsis was revived by Sigmund Freud and his associates. For example, A. A. Brill, the psychiatrist who introduced the psychoanalytic techniques of...

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This section contains 1,038 words
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Buy the Catharsis Theory and Media Effects Encyclopedia Article
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Catharsis Theory and Media Effects from Macmillan. Copyright © 2001-2006 by Macmillan Reference USA, an imprint of the Gale Group. All rights reserved.
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