The Psychotherapeutic Value of Tragic Catharsis

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Abstract

The article analyzes the phenomenon of catharsis that occurs from the perception of the tragic in art. Based on the eudemonistic understanding of catharsis we trace the cultural and historical aspects of the problem and show that catharsis as an aesthetic and psychological phenomenon that emerged in antiquity in order to facilitate acceptance of the necessity of dying of Self for rebirth into a new life. Using the examples of expressionist paintings and their early origins (M. Grünewald, E. Munch, P. Picasso) we analyze catharsis that occurs in the process of the tragic artworks perception, showing its therapeutic value for the audience (accepting the inevitable and searching for meaning, struggling with despair, resisting chaos, evil, and destruction). We show that the tragic in art, including painting, creates an aesthetic space that penetrates the living space of the subject of artistic perception and creates the possibility of expanding the conceptual horizon and spiritual renewal.

General Information

Keywords: catharsis, eudemonistic interpretation of the tragic in art, expressionism, involvement in artistic space, search for meaning

Journal rubric: Theory and Methodology

Article type: scientific article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.17759/cpp.2018260103

For citation: Ermolaeva M.V., Lubovsky D.V. The Psychotherapeutic Value of Tragic Catharsis. Konsul'tativnaya psikhologiya i psikhoterapiya = Counseling Psychology and Psychotherapy, 2018. Vol. 26, no. 1, pp. 29–44. DOI: 10.17759/cpp.2018260103. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)

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Information About the Authors

Marina V. Ermolaeva, Doctor of Psychology, Professor, Professor of the UNESCO Department “Cultural and historical psychology of childhood”, Moscow State University of Psychology & Education, Moscow, Russia, ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1645-5136, e-mail: mar-erm@mail.ru

Dmitry V. Lubovsky, PhD in Psychology, associate professor, Professor of the UNESCO Department “Cultural and Historical Psychology of Childhood”, Moscow State University of Psychology & Education, Moscow, Russia, ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7392-4667, e-mail: lubovsky@yandex.ru

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