CATHARSIS

Dr.Krishna Prasad Sreedhar

You might have heard this expression a number of times yet may not know what exactly this means. If dust goes into our nose, we will immediately sneeze. Often the sneezing is quite violent. The whole body participates in the action. After all should we need all that force and fury to throw away the dust? Yes, the body reacts this way. In fact these are reflex responses of the body and they are usually very forceful if not violent. The moment our body feels that a foreign material has entered, it reacts strongly in such a way as to oust it at the quickest possible manner.

Imagine that we happen to take food that contained some poisonous substance. Will the body go on thinking for days together as to whether the poison should be thrown out or not? No. On the other hand the body reacts immediately with all the force at hand. We develop severe diaohrrea and vomiting. These body mechanisms are aimed at survival and thus the social appropriateness of these reactions are not taken care of. The body reacts instantaneously and does not care for the society or other external norrms of behaviour. It behaves as if the safety of the body is more important than any thing else.

Well, now let us come to the level of the mind and examine a similar situation. We may be surprised to note that poison getting into the mind remains beneath the mind for years together. Often there are no automatic mechanisms like the reflex action to cleanse the mind. Not only that poisons in the form of undesirable thoughts lie deep in the mind and manifest as disorders. This is because we suppress them if our mind feels that it is socially inappropriate to express. If the suppression is strong and goes to the unconscious, Psychologists call it as ‘Repression’. Suppressed and repressed thoughts do not lie dormant in the mind forever. They often try to come out. The threat of these surfacing creates tension and anxiety to the person concerned. The reemergence of these suppressed and repressed materials can also shape itself into other disorders. In fact the celebrated Psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud argued that our entire Neurotic, Psychotic and Psychosomatic disorders are due to suppression and repression.

HOW TO OVER COME THESE?

Psychologists have discovered that Hypnosis, Psychoanalysis and Catharsis are the ways through which we can overcome the difficulty. If the material has already gone to the unconscious mind we may require Hypnosis or Psychoanalysis to bring it back to the conscious mind and to externalise it. However, if the suppressed material is still in the conscious mind we need Catharsis. Catharsis is a technique through which we talk to a professional Psychologist anything and every thing that comes to our mind. The Psychologist tells us to express our thoughts as and when they come to the mind without any inhibition. In the all-accepting atmosphere of the clinic one would be able to express one’s thoughts which are forbidden by the society. As the free flow of thoughts start we might experience emotional out bursts. It is not uncommon for people to cry or show anger etc. during Catharsis. A couple of good sessions of Catharsis makes the person feel free from the disturbing thoughts and emotions, which the person has suppressed early. Many people report a feeling of unloading and relief immediately after a session of Catharsis. Catharsis is a mental purging technique and is effectively used by Psychologists. Many Psychologists use this technique as part of Supportive Psychotherapy.

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