ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2020, Vol. 28 ›› Issue (1): 22-32.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2020.00022

• Special Section of Public Psychological Services: Research and Practice • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Is catharsis beneficial or harmful? The psychological intervention effect and potential harm of catharsis

ZHAN Jun1, XU Hongfei2, REN Jun3, LUO Jing4()   

  1. 1 School of Marxism, Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University, Fuzhou 350002, China
    2 Suzhou Industrial Park Xietang School, Suzhou 215123, China
    3 School of psychology, Zhejiang Normal University, Jinhua 321004, China
    4 School of psychology, Capital Normal University, Beijing 100048, China
  • Received:2019-08-21 Online:2020-01-15 Published:2019-11-21
  • Contact: LUO Jing


The theory of catharsis believes that venting can effectively alleviate anger and aggressive impulses. However, a large number of experimental studies about the effects of direct catharsis, indirect catharsis and target catharsis on aggression have revealed the potential harm of catharsis on aggression and its functional mechanism, the catharsis can’t reduce anger but increase aggression through factors such as cognitive processing. Even so, the public still favors this seemingly convenient way of regulating emotion, for example catharsis equipment has become the standard equipment of psychological counseling institutions. This not only suggests people's unilateral cognition of psychological catharsis, but also reflects the lack of scientific and standardized construction of our social psychological service system. Future research should focused on the potential problems and its possible solutions in the current widespread application of catharsis equipment that used as a mean of modern psychological intervention.

Key words: catharsis, emotion regulation, anger, aggression

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