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Catharsis of Aggression

Definition

According to catharsis theory, acting aggressively or even viewing aggression is an effective way to reduce angry feelings and aggressive impulses. The word catharsis comes from the Greek word katharsis, which, literally translated, means “a cleansing or purging.” The first recorded mention of catharsis occurred in Aristotle's Poetics. Aristotle taught that viewing tragic plays gave people emotional release (katharsis) from negative feelings such as pity and fear. In Greek drama, the tragic hero didn't just grow old and retire—he often suffered a violent demise. By watching the characters in the play experience tragic events, the viewer's own negative feelings were presumably purged and cleansed. This emotional cleansing was believed to benefit both the individual and society.

Catharsis also played an important role in ancient religious and ...

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