Path of Healing  

Cathartic Emotional/Vocal/Physical Release

What are the Benefits of Catharsis and Cathatic Healing? Emotional Release Techniques - Primal Scream therapy - Copyright 2011

What is Catharsis?

Catharsis is the explosive release of deeply troubled, deep-rooted, states of suffering within us.
Outbursts of crying, rage or "tantrums" are common examples, but so also is spontaneus belly laughter - see these Laughter Yoga Videos. Liz Curtis Higgs has an excellent compilation of true-life stories on Humour and Healing including a chapter on "Humor as a Stress-Reliever".

Catharsis may manifest in primarily emotional, verbal, spiritual or physical forms, but in essence is an holistic experience involving all 8 Levels of our nature.

Cathartic Healing is the form of catharsis which shifts body-located 'stuck energies' ['visceral pain'] of primal reaction to trauma or suffering [see "Can Catharsis be Healing?" section below].

Heartbreak, Soul-Loss & Inner Demons!
Dr. Mike Meredith discusses Catharsis as 'Heart Energy Therapy'

From Yearning, Longing or Unrequited Love to Healing & Fulfilment!
The challenges of Relationship break-up, Depression, Anxiety, Elderly relatives, Failure, Loss, Guilt, Shame, Bitterness, Procrastination etc
VIDEO LINKS: www.sunflower-health.com/courses/detox.htm   www.sunflower-health.com/courses/anger.htm   www.meetup.com/Holistic-Cambs   www.fullyalive.me.uk

Why do We "Bottle-Up" our Emotions and Impulses?

Although it is very healthy to be naturally self-expressive and spontaneous, there are many situations where our emotions and impulses are unhelpful, inappropriate, embarrassing, or simply produce negative reactions and consequences. As young children we were initially very natural and spontaneous in expressing our suffering, disappointment or frustration, but over time learned that this did not always works in our interest [e.g. destructive feelings] or was not always acceptable to those around us. So we learned to hold in certain feelings - especially potentially DESTRUCTIVE or TOXIC feelings - to hold them in temporarily [Emotional Control, Impulse Control] or to DENY or REPRESS them on a long-term basis. Emotional Control+Management and Impulse Control+Management are important lifeskills - part of adapting to social norms, developing interpersonal skills, being practically effective in the world and forming responsible and nourishing relationships.

Deliberate "Bottling-Up" of Emotions and Impulses!

Emotions and impulses are powerful DNA-drive energies, developed over millions of years of evolution and threats to survival. Sometimes human beings hold onto 'negative' emotions and violent impulses because they are potentially Self-Protective, or can be used on a future occasion to Bully or Harm others.

'NEGATIVE ENERGIES' may also be held-in/held-onto because of their ability to create desired interactions with others, as in "birds of a feather flock together" [angry people attract angry people] or "misery loves company" or they may be used to exploit the good nature of others by attracting 'rescuers', 'supporters' or 'sympathisers'.

Vitality, Health, Social & Wellbeing Consequences of "Bottling-Up"

Long-term DENIAL, REPRESSION or DISSOCIATION [splitting off into an imagined reality] of what are often termed "Negative Emotions", adversely affects our Vitality, Health and Well-being....

*"Grief and Trauma - Holistic Release" : Certificate Course


Anger & Frustration 'Ventilation' [safety-valve effect]
Safely Vent Your 'Anger' to Clear Head & Avoid Self-Sabotage
This video shows "emotional ventilation" NOT "emotional catharsis"
In true catharsis there is 'emotional completion/depletion', so that the underlying 'visceral woundedness' - that was being emotionally protected - is exposed and available for healing.

Sources of Bataca [Bataka] Frustration Release Bats: UK/EU   USA

Low-cost Foam Baseball Bats: UK/EU   USA

Can Catharsis be Healing?

In itself, catharsis is not necessarily healing, the therapeutic benefits may be purely temporary, it can even be counter-productive if occurring at the wrong time or place. However, in the right circumstances, catharsis provides an opportunity to experience and transform deeply-troubled or repetitive life experiences...

Catharsis plays a pivotal role in ALL signficant and sustainable, healings of deep-woundedness. It does this by by removing the most potent of all blocks to healing i.e. the retention of self-protectively held-in 'visceral pain'. Visceral pain usually has 2 components: a) the invading trauma or frustrating circumstances, and b) the primal [stone-age] human reaction to a), e.g. terror, panic, self-deadening, and/or violent/destructive impulses.

A lot depends on the setting in which cathartic release occurs and the degree of post-cathartic TLC [tender, loving care] - from self or others - that is available. A sense of isolation is a common comonent of suffering and trauma, so group-supported, co-catharsis, co-healing is generally the most powerfully-healing form of cathartic release.

Cathartic Healing is not primarily about releasing 'stuck emotions' although that will usually be present also, it is primarily about releasing VISCERAL PAIN - the deep-seated pain of particularly potent grief, trauma, prolonged struggle or suffering.

Visceral Pain cannot be released by talking therapies alone - combined physical and vocal movements of 'energy' are required. This releasing can only be achieved by surrendering the self-control of the personal ego, which is why many people get stuck with visceral pain for prolonged periods - sometimes lifelong, especially when there is the accompanying self-fulfilling belief "I will never recover from this!" The 'surrender' requirement means that most people require a facilitative environment in which they can feel SAFELY-HELD by experienced others, so that their ego can surrender to bottled-up powerful feelings and energies that are perceived as 'dangerous' to self-image or to others - which is precisely why they were bottled-up!

Can Catharsis be Harmful?

Generally speaking, the release of bottled-up feelings and tensions is a goood thing, but there is a small risk of what I call "Hysterical Catharsis".

In 'Hysterical Catharsis' you may for example start crying, but instead of the usual sense of clearing and emerging peacefulness, you just cry and cry and cry. The Crying has become a bottomless pit of despair! Going there, just makes you feel worse and increasingly helpless and hopeless.

The same can happen with ANGER - you just rage and rage and rage, but there is no relief - your anger is a bottomless pit!

The reason why distress becomes a bottomless pit is that it is coming from a place of self-delusion. Healthy emotions come from genuine, 'real' experiences. A 'real' traumatic experience had an 'impact energy' which became transmuted into distressed emotion which can be released to allow a natural self-healing journey back into the old 'grounded bottom line' of wholeness.

In Hysterical Catharsis, on the other hand, there is a 'false memory' twist to the trauma story, which arises from a personality fragmentation and reassortment, in which a "Survival Self" is created and a former part of the survivor's self-identification [truth] has become disconnected. In Shamanic Healing this is termed "SOUL-LOSS". The consequence of this is that catharsis just keeps leading the client back to an 'untrue' place of mis-perception and mis-self-identification, and hence to yet more distress.

Hysterical Catharsis easily results in re-traumatization, so facilitating catharsis is not something that should be undertaken by inexperienced, enthusiastic amateurs!


I encountered this inspiring poem at a "Therapeutic Poetry" workshop led by Rionach Aiken

When is Catharsis helpful?

Catharsis can be a powerful tool for accessing and clearing deeply-troubled or repeatedly-accumulating life experiences. As the deeply-held energy is released, there is momentary access to the painful wound that underlies our dis-ease. There is an opportunity to become aware of what the wound is about and when, where and how it originated. There is also an opportunity to understand what keeps the wound active - what repeated patterns are maintaining it or preventing it from healing.

After a cathartic release, there is a brief window during which the sufferer is especially open to simple healing experiences and these experiences are especially powerful in over-writing old body-memory experiences of suffering or trauma.

Simple "TLC" 'healing treatments' after catharsis include receiving compassion, self-compassion, unconditional love, self-love, caring, self-caring, empathy. The healing effects are potentiated in group catharsis situations, where all group members encourage and support each other in cathartic release, then care for each other, with minimal intervention, during the moments of post-cathartic reccovery.

What are the Benefits of Cathartic Healing?

The common after-effects we see in our Anger Management, Emotional Detox and Rebirthing classes are:

Focussed Expressive Psychotherapy - Freeing the Overcontrolled Patient!
Cathartic Healing - Expressive Psychotherapy - Release emotional energy blocks

The first practical book from an experiential perspective to deal explicitly with blocked emotions ['affect']. Based on the authors' extensive clinical experience focused expressive psychotherapy (FEP) is shown to be suited for the many over-controlled patients mired in unfinished emotional business.

FEP principles, 5-step therapeutic procedures, methods and assessment techniques are covered plus the roles and responsibilities of therapist and client. The design of experiments and problems are illustrated with segments from actual sessions. Evaluation procedures are provided so that therapist and patient can assess the progress being made. Complete FEP sessions with explanatory comments are included so that the reader can follow the entire FEP process from the beginning to the end of the session. An invaluable resource for group, couples, marriage guidance and family therapists, also professionals working with violence and abuse in prison settings or rape crisis centers, suicide prevention, school counsellors and grief therapists, drug and alcohol rehabilitation therapists and any psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, counsellor or mental health worker who deals with clients with constricted emotions..

Reviews + New & Low-cost Used Copies: USA   Canada   UK & Europe  (all deliver world-wide)
What Experiences & Symptoms can Catharsis Help?

A wide range of experiences that trouble us and generate emotional and/or physical suffering!
  • Abandonment, Neglect, Rejection
  • Aggressiveness, Self-sabotage
  • Anger, Frustration & Rage
  • Blaming, Self-blame
  • Burnout
  • Chaos
  • Claustrophobia, Smothered
  • Clumsiness, Dysfunctionality, Accident-prone, Error-pronev
  • Confused, Disorientated, in a Fog
  • Creative Block
  • Cravings [e.g. comfort eating] & Addictions [e.g. alcohol, social media]
  • Deadness, Blank
  • Depression, Gloom, Foreboding
  • Disability, Illness, Sickness, Suffering
  • Eating disorders
  • Emptiness
  • Exhaustion, Burnout
  • Facing overwhelming demands
  • Failure
  • Feeling a victim, Feeling abused
  • Defeat
  • Frustration
  • Guilt
  • Hatred, Self-hatred
  • Helplessness
  • Hostility
  • Hurt Feelings
  • Ignorance, Stupidity, Idiocy

Training in Cathartic Healing Skills

*Emotional Detox    *Anger & Frustration Release    *Mindful Self-Awareness Resources

Learn more about Catharsis & Cathartic healing

*Catharsis Resources

About the Author

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