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Counseling Psychology and Psychotherapy

Publisher: Moscow State University of Psychology and Education

ISSN (printed version): 2075-3470

ISSN (online): 2311-9446


License: CC BY-NC 4.0

Started in 1992

Published quarterly

Free of fees
Open Access Journal


The Psychotherapeutic Value of Tragic Catharsis 823


Ermolaeva M.V.
Doctor of Psychology, Professor, Chair of Educational Psychology, Faculty of Psychology of Education, Moscow State University of Psychology & Education, Moscow, Russia

Lubovsky D.V.
PhD in Psychology, Professor at the Chair of Educational Psychology, Department of Educational Psychology, Moscow State University of Psychology & Education, Moscow, Russia

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.

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

Column: Special topic: psychology of art and art therapy


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