KOM 5111 THEORY COMMUNICATION INDIVIDUAL REPORT TITLE: Catharsis Name| Mohd Salekhan Bin Othman| Matric No. | GS 35782| Date| 7th May 2013 (Tuesday)| Signature| | CONTENTS 1| Definition of The Theory| 3| 2| Founder Of The Theory and The Development of The Theory| 4| 3| Main Concepts of The Theory (Field Experiments)| 5| 4| Application and Variables of The Theory| 6| 5| Criticisms of The Theory| 8| 6| Future Development of The Theory| 10| 7| References| 12| 1. DEFINITION OF THE THEORY
Catharsis came from the Greek word and literally it can be defined as purification or a purging. It was originally defined by Aristotle in Third Century B. C as purging or cleansing of one’s emotion. Viewing tragic plays will give people emotional release (katharsis) from negative feelings such as pity, fear, and anger. The first recorded mention of catharsis occurred more than one thousand years ago, in the work Poetics by Aristotle. Catharsis explains the dramatic art of the Greeks known as tragedies (the entertainment or media of the days in the sixth-century).
These tragedies allowed the audience to project their feelings or fear, anger and happiness towards the dramatic art they were viewing instead of fulfilling these feelings themselves, only to feel relief and exhilaration at the end through catharsis. Breur and Freud described catharsis as involuntary (done without conscious control), instinctive body process, for example crying (Breur & Freud, 1974). Schultz and Schultz (2004) followed the psychodynamic tradition and defined catharsis as the process of reducing or eliminating a complex by recalling it to conscious awareness and allowing it to be expressed.
The American Psychological Association (2007) also associates catharsis with the psychodynamic theory and defines it as the discharge of affects connected to traumatic events that had previously been repressed by bringing these events back into consciousness and re-experiencing them. There are two components of Catharsis. First is the emotional aspect which is the strong emotional expression and processing while the second one is the cognitive aspect which is insight, new realization and the unconscious becoming consciousness.
Some of the researchers perceive catharsis as emotional discharge, equating it with the behaviour of expressing strong emotions; some emphasize the cognitive aspect and the new awareness that emerges after reliving traumatic events from the past. In the end, there is positive change when the person experiencing catharsis 2. FOUNDER OF THE THEORY AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE THEORY The first recorded mention of catharsis occurred more than one thousand years ago, in the work Poetics by Aristotle.
Aristotle taught that viewing tragic plays gave people emotional release (katharsis) from negative feelings such as pity, fear, and anger. By watching the characters in the play experience tragic events, the negative feelings of the viewer were presumably purged and cleansed. This emotional cleansing was believed to be beneficial to both the individual and society. The crucial point in catharsis theory is that the observed aggressive action does not necessarily need to be executed in reality – it can instead take place in the actor’s fantasy or in the media (symbolic catharsis).
Seymour Feshbach, key proponent of the catharsis theory in communication research, distinguishes between three conceptions of catharsis: the Dramatic, the Clinical, and the Experimental models. The Dramatic model goes back to Aristotle who used the term “catharsis” in his Poetics to describe an effect of the Greek tragedy on its spectator: by viewing tragic plays the spectator’s own anxieties are put outward and purged in a socially harmless way. The spectator is released from negative feelings such as fear or anger.
Aristotle’s definition of catharsis is not precise and therefore was interpreted in various ways. The Clinical model is based on the work of psychoanalytical researchers such as Josef Breuer and Sigmund Freud. They assumed the existence of an inherent aggressive drive as well as a correlation between repressed negative emotions and psychological symptoms. Patients were encouraged to relive the situations that had given rise to their repressed feelings using therapeutic method (catharsis method). The Experimental model is based on the work of John Collard and his colleagues.
He defined catharsis in the context of the frustration aggression theory which is the reduction of aggression caused by the expression of any act of aggression and catharsis was restricted to aggression catharsis. 3. MAIN CONCEPTS OF THE THEORY (FIELD EXPERIMENTS) There was early scientific evidence suggesting this theory. Seymour Feshbach (1961) demonstrated what he said was catharsis by insulting college-age men with “a number of unwarranted and extremely critical remarks” in an experimental setting and then having them watch either filmed aggression (a brutal prize fight) or a neutral film (on the spread of rumours).
Those who had seen the prize fight were less aggressive in their attitudes than those who had seen the other film. He also obtained similar results in a 1971 study (Feshbach and Singer) conducted a research in a group home for preadolescent boys. For six weeks, half of the boys were restricted to watching television programs with little or no violence while the other half was allowed to watch violent content. A variety of behavioural measures indicated that the boys viewing the violent programs were less aggressive.
Allison Rogers from Bradley University took a poll of students using the ever-popular social media tool Facebook and found that her results supported the theory of catharsis. The results showed that 78% of the people polled agreed that violent video games help them displace their anger from real life to the fantasy life of video games. Then, 13% of people polled said that they use other means to deal with aggression and stress rather than media outlets. The other 9% said they were neutral when it came to deal with stress; media outlets were helpful but not the primary source of relieving stress and aggression. . APPLICATION AND VARIABLES OF THE THEORY This theory can be applied to group communication. Catharsis helps you express emotions that you built up and not expressed properly. Communicating with a group of friends or peers can help you facilitate these emotions properly and give you the outlet you need. Communicating with other people gives you the opportunity to “vent” and release the emotions you’ve been hiding. This gives you the release you need to not be overwhelmed with anxiety and the negative effects that come from it. This emotional release can also be used as a means of support.
Support groups take advantage of this emotional release to help achieve goals that the group could not have achieved without this catharsis. Catharsis is the experience of relief from emotional distress through the free and uninhibited expression of emotion. When members tell their story to a supportive audience, they can obtain relief from chronic feelings of shame and guilt. Dr. Prashant Nyer, Associate Professor at George L. Argyros School of Business and Economics also said that this theory can be applied in customers’ complaints.
When the dissatisfied customers are angry, if they do not vent their anger on you they will let rip somewhere else, tell their friends about your useless service. Then you have to offer catharsis to them – encourage customers to raise complaints, problems and concerns. Nyer, P. U (2000) demonstrates that unhappy customers, when “asked to express their feelings and thoughts experienced greater increases in satisfaction and product evaluation than those who were not asked to express their comments and complaints’. The customer always likes to know you welcome their comments and feedback.
While catharsis the opportunity to vent feelings is a good start, it does not necessarily solve your problem. Listening to the customer and saying sorry are a good start but you may need to do more to repair your relationship with that customer. The dependent variable in this theory is the attitudes or level of aggression and the independent variables are the movies or games. For example, the higher you watch violence movies or playing violence video games, your level of aggression will decrease as shown in Figure 1: Figure 1: Variables of the catharsis theory . CRITICISMS OF THE THEORY The theory of catharsis still has a lot more testing and research to be done to make it more credible when explaining aspects of psychology. Even though it has been around since the time of the ancient Greeks there is more that it needs to hold up when supporting hypothesizes of researchers in today’s society. One strength this theory has is the fact that it can already help with therapy sessions today. A lot of doctors and researchers suggested that using catharsis to “talk out” problems are very beneficial to one’s health.
Holding in anger, stress, problems can lead to anxiety; which can lead to health problems. Holding in feelings is never a good thing and catharsis helps us express these emotions we can hold in and release the anxiety we may feel. A weakness of this theory is that it doesn’t give credit to a person’s own judgment about whether or not they will commit the violent acts seen in movies, television, news media or video games. A person’s own morality must play into effect whether or not they will commit these acts.
However people do need an outlet to help them express their emotions in a healthy way and the catharsis theory can help with this. Another weakness to the theory of catharsis is there is no study that used medical science to prove that media violence negatively or positively affected the viewers. All the research was mostly surveys. Surveys cannot always be the most reliable source of research. The takers of the surveys could have lied o changed their answers to match what they think the researchers wanted.
F Scott Andison (1977) said that TV violence as a stimulant to aggression theory and to reject the cathartic theories. In fact, the U. S. Surgeon General came to this conclusion as early as 1972. The scientific evidence is overwhelming on this point. Viewing violence is definitely not cathartic—it increases rather than decreases anger and subsequent aggression. For example, in early July 2012, James Holmes killed twelve people in the theatre at Colorado, United States during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises.
He did that because he thinks that he is The Joker in The Dark Knight movies and wants to kill the Batman. Catharsis theory is elegant and highly reasonable, but it is false. It justifies and perpetuates the myth that viewing violence is healthy and beneficial, when in fact viewing violence is unhealthy and detrimental. Brad Bushman, Professor of Communication and Psychology at Ohio State said that people who played a violent video game for three consecutive days showed increases in aggressive behaviour and hostile expectations each day they played. 6.
FUTURE DEVELOPMENT OF THE THEORY Nowadays, the catharsis theory has been used widely in therapy session. For example, the Catharsis Application Program (CAP), it is original therapeutic process combining graphic expression under musical induction. Yoga is also one of the examples of using the catharsis theory. In United States and India, they do the Laughter Yoga for laughter exercise and deep breathing so that one can let go of all disturbing emotions. In Mass Media, many directors and producers of violent media claim that their products are cathartic.
For example, Alfred Hitchcock, director of the movie Psycho, said, “One of television’s greatest contributions is that it brought murder back into the home where it belongs. Seeing a murder on television can be good therapy. It can help work off one’s antagonism. ” More recently, in 1992, Paul Verhoeven, director of the movie Total Recall, said, “I think it’s a kind of purifying experience to see violence. ” Crying about Romeo and Juliet is nothing more than reawakening feelings of loss in the viewer’s lives and reliving unfinished personel experiences.
In today’s Reality Show such as American Idol, Survivor, The Voice and many more, the producers use the ‘live’ catharsis to portray relations and reactions of real ordinary people in abnormal situations and locations. UK survey demonstrates that every seventh teenager hopes to gain fame by appearing on reality TV (Economist, 2007). Catharsis suggested that television violence had social utility, providing young people with a harmless outlet for their pent-up aggression and hostility. However critics called this a `phony argument’.
Common sense and your own media consumption offer some evidence of the weakness of the catharsis hypothesis. When we watch families devouring chocolate cakes, does it purge you of your hunger drive? If you walk out of a movie like Die Hard did you walk out of the theatre a tranquil, placid person? What scientist learnt that certain presentation so mediated violence and aggression can reduce the likelihood of subsequent viewer aggression. But catharsis is not the reason. Rather viewers learn that violence might not be appropriate in a given situation.
Their aggressive drive might not have been purged, but they might have simply learned that such treatment of another human is inappropriate. Their inclination towards violence was inhibited by the information in the media presentation. This leads us to the theory that is generally accepted as most useful in understanding the influence of media violence on the individual – social cognitive theory. 7. REFERENCES (i) Baran, S. J. , & Davis, D. K. (2009). Mass Communication Theory (Vol. 5). Boston: Wadsworth Cengage Learning. (ii) Everdnandya. (2012, 5 22). Retrieved 4 30, 2013, from Catharsis in Psychology and Beyond: A Historic Overview: