Catharsis can be described as the experience of a sudden healing or releasing of strong or repressed negative emotions. The process typically starts off being difficult to fully face and is sometimes accompanied by very 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, a release of previously repressed emotions, painful feelings in general, and even experiences of encountering deceased relatives during hallucinatory states. This process of healing negative emotions and traumas (no matter the substance) is often described as feeling very natural and cleansing.
In the context of psychoactive substances, this effect is commonly referred to as "purgative" in nature. It can be very effective for helping the individual overcome conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other personal afflictions relating to suffered past traumas. After this experience is over, most users report feelings of contentment, rejuvenation, and personal bias suppression which may last days, weeks, or even years after the event is over.
Catharsis is most commonly induced 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.
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
- Nichols, Michael P., and Melvin Zax. Catharsis in psychotherapy. Gardner Press, 1977. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/h0087724
- Catharsis definition | https://www.alleydog.com/glossary/definition.php?term=Catharsis
- What is catharsis? (psychology dictionary) | https://psychologydictionary.org/catharsis/
- Scharfetter, Adrian. Athena Awakening: A Theoretical Exploration of Cathartic Integration within Psychedelic-Assisted Psychotherapy for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. California Institute of Integral Studies, 2017.