noun, plural catharses [kuh-thahr-seez] .
the purging of the emotions or relieving of emotional tensions, especially through certain kinds of art, as tragedy or music.
Medicine/Medical, purgation.
psychotherapy that encourages or permits the discharge of pent-up, socially unacceptable affects.
discharge of pent-up emotions so as to result in the alleviation of symptoms or the permanent relief of the condition.

1795–1805; < Neo-Latin < Greek kátharsis a cleansing, equivalent to kathar- (variant stem of kathaírein to cleanse, derivative of katharós pure) + -sis -sis

hypercatharsis, noun
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World English Dictionary
catharsis (kəˈθɑːsɪs)
n , pl -ses
1.  (in Aristotelian literary criticism) the purging or purification of the emotions through the evocation of pity and fear, as in tragedy
2.  psychoanal See also abreaction the bringing of repressed ideas or experiences into consciousness, thus relieving tensions
3.  purgation, esp of the bowels
[C19: New Latin, from Greek katharsis, from kathairein to purge, purify]

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Word Origin & History

1803, from Gk. katharsis "purging, cleansing," from kathairein "to purify, purge," from katharsos "pure." Originally medical; of emotions from 1872; psychotherapy sense first recorded 1909, in Brill's translation of Freud.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

catharsis ca·thar·sis (kə-thär'sĭs)
n. pl. ca·thar·ses (-sēz)

  1. Purgation.

  2. A psychological technique used to relieve tension and anxiety by bringing repressed feelings and fears to consciousness.

  3. The therapeutic result of this process; abreaction.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary
catharsis [(kuh-thahr-suhs)]

An experience of emotional release and purification, often inspired by or through art. In psychoanalysis, catharsis is the release of tension and anxiety that results from bringing repressed feelings and memories into consciousness.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
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