Catharsis (from the Greek katharsis) is precisely defined as a cleansing, with no substantial consensus in regards to its exact meaning. Generally, this effect is a form of emotional insight. The process typically starts off being difficult to fully face and is sometimes accompanied by physically intense sensations which typically lead into pronounced emotion enhancement, deep introspection, and an analysis of one's character and past events. During this experience many people describe reliving traumatic events, witnessing painful memories, having enhanced mental imagery, reliving of past experiences, painful feelings in general, and a release of previously repressed emotions. This process of integrating manifestations of conflicts and traumas into long-term stable memories is often described as feeling very natural.
This effect can be helpful in aiding an individual overcome conditions such as addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other personal afflictions relating to suffered past traumas. After this experience is over, most users report feelings of increased life satisfaction, rejuvenation, and spirituality enhancement which may last days, weeks, or even years after the event is over.
Catharsis is most commonly induced in therapeutic settings under the influence of moderate dosages of psychedelic compounds, such as LSD, psilocybin, and mescaline. However, it can also occur to a lesser extent under the influence of entactogens, dissociatives, and meditation.
The culturally dominant definition of catharsis, releasing the pressure of negative emotions, was popularized by both Josef Breuer and Sigmund Freud as the hydraulic model in psychoanalysis and Jakob Bernays's purgation theory in philology. There is a large amount of discussion of these theories' unsuitability towards the emotion of anger, showing that acting aggressively produces more aggression. Aggression studies' applicability towards catharsis can be called into question though, specifically regarding the nature of security required to experience this effect. It is also notable that Freud himself abandoned this model in practice, favouring the psychoanalytical technique of free association.
Compounds within our psychoactive substance index which may cause this effect include:
- Responsible use
- Subjective effects index
- Psychedelics - Subjective effects
- Dissociatives - Subjective effects
- Deliriants - Subjective effects
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