Even the Greek one has to leave, symbolically speaking, in order to find the etymological origin of the word catharsis that we are now dealing with. It derives from the word “catharsis”, which can be translated as “purge” or “purification”.
Its original meaning referred to the procedure to purify or heal those individuals or objects that had some type of impurity.
It was precisely this Greek term that served as the inspiration to name a French religious group of the 10th century whose members called themselves Cathars, the “pure”: Catharism. The south of France was where that movement had the greatest growth and development, which was a dissident of the Catholic Church and which, among other things, opted to affirm that creation was the fruit of a duality: Christ and Satan.
Likewise the Cathars rejected the material world and advocated asceticism as a means of salvation. They had their peak in the 12th century, but the Catholic Church, faced with the advance they were experiencing, decided to ally with the French crown to put an end to them. In this way, they not only declared them heretics but also took steps to put an end to them violently.
In the latter case, it must be said that from 1209 there was an authentic crusade against the Cathars, in which acts such as the siege of the Montsegur citadel in 1244 were especially tragic. The result of this and other actions of Similar cuts led to the flight of those, who were forced to hide. And that was how, little by little, Catharism was extinguished in every corner it had reached.
At present, catharsis is used to name the change that a person experiences after experiencing a traumatic event or that causes a very great exaltation. For example: “When I saw the car on fire, I did catharsis and cried for three days”, “Juana is living a very difficult time but she cannot express what she feels: I hope she can do catharsis and remove the anguish from her interior”, ” After the fight, I felt like a catharsis and I relaxed ”.
Catharsis is also the consequence that something tragic produces in the observer who experiences various emotions, such as terror or mercy. According to Aristotle, this type of experience makes the observers of a tragedy end up purifying their interior and freeing themselves from these passions.
The tragedy as a genre, in this sense, produces a catharsis and manages to heal the viewer since he projects the emotions on the characters that appear on stage. These characters are punished in the play and the viewer can feel empathy without fear of experiencing the consequences of those same punishments.
The psychoanalysis makes a similar definition of the idea of catharsis, to considering the possibility of communicating an emotion repressed through therapy serves to make the individual catharsis and release of the trauma.
Finally, in the field of biology, catharsis consists of intentionally or spontaneously discarding certain substances that are harmful to the body.