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The psychological “processing” or overcoming of a traumatic experience.


In Greek theatre, catharsis was the vicarious discharge of emotion through drama. In the 19th century, catharsis was a medical procedure involving cleansing the body by medications which caused vomiting, diahoreah to cleanse the body of disease. The Austrian psychologist Josef Breuer was the first to develop the “talking cure” which laid the foundation for Freud’s psychotherapy. The aim was to bring to the surface repressed emotions in a “catharsis.”


The general idea of overcoming emotional crises by working over a critical experience is implicit in the Russian notion of perezhivanie, which was used by Fedor Vasilyuk in his approach to psychotherapy. It is arguable that is was also implicit in Vygotsky’s use of the concept of perezhivanie.


Freud, S. (1914) Remembering, Repeating and Working-Through (Further Recommendations on the Technique of Psycho-Analysis II).

Vasilyuk, F. (1984). The Psychology of Experiencing.

-- AndyBlunden - 07 Oct 2014


Topic revision: r1 - 07 Oct 2014, AndyBlunden

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