Friday, December 2, 2016



The modern era today, despite the vast technological and scientific advancements which has made life easier for the man today but has also complicated his life with multiple multifaceted and multidimensional impediments associated with stress, strain, worries, apprehensions, disdains and regrential fear.

More and more people these days use the word Catharsis without properly understanding its meaning definition, explanation and the implication of this word.

The word catharsis is derived from the Greek word katharsis meaning "purification" or "cleansing".  In Urdu the meaning is: تنقیہ نفس - tanfiea nafas. 

The spiritual meaning of catharsis is very much the same: discharging everything harmful from one's mind and heart, so that one can become pure.
In the modern times most of the definitions relate two essential components of catharsis: the emotional aspect and Cognitive Effect.
Cognition is "the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses."
The emotional effect denotes strong emotional expression and processing and the cognitive aspect signifies insight, new realization, and the unconscious becoming consciousness thus resulting in a positive change.

Historically catharsis was first used by Aristotle in the Poetics, (Drama) comparing the effects of tragedy on the mind of spectator to the effect of a cathartic on the body.
Catharsis is often discussed along with Aristotle's concept of anagnorisis.

ANAGNORISIS is a moment in a play or other work when a character makes a critical discovery.
In the modern times this term was first used in  psychology, by Sigmund Freud's colleague Josef Breuer who developed a "cathartic" treatment using hypnosis for persons suffering from extensive hysteria while under hypnosis. Breuer's patients were able to recall traumatic past experiences, and through the process of expressing the original emotions that had been repressed and forgotten, they were relieved of their hysteric symptoms. 

The term catharsis has also been adopted by modern psychotherapy, particularly Freudian psychoanalysis, to describe the act of expressing, or more accurately, experiencing the deep emotions often associated with events in the individual's past which had originally been suppressed, repressed or ignored, and had never been adequately addressed or experienced.
Emotional situations can elicit psychological behavior, cognitive, expressive, and subjective changes in individuals. Affected individuals often use social sharing as a cathartic release of emotions.
Collective emotional events share similar responses. When communities are affected by an emotional event, members repetitively share emotional experiences. 

According to researchers, every sharing round elicits emotional reactivation in the sender and the receiver. This then reactivates the need to share experiences in both the sender and recipient. Social sharing throughout the community leads to high amounts of emotional recollection and “emotional overheating.”

This cathartic release of emotions is often believed to be therapeutic for affected individuals. Many therapeutic mechanisms have been seen to aid in emotional recovery. One example is “interpersonal emotion regulation,” in which listeners help to modify the affected individual’s affective state by using certain strategies.

The idea of catharsis in medicine is similar to that in literature. It means 'purging', 'purification', although in a medical sense this implies a physical release, for example, expectoration of the sputa implies healing of cold. Hippocrates associated catharsis with healing, because it's role as a "purification agent" affecting the course of disease (both physical and mental). 

The ritual of purification usually implies that a person had engaged in some prohibited actions or sins. Catharsis helps the effective person to return to the previous status - before the violation of generally accepted rules and norms took place. In various religious practices, the action of purification is fulfilled with the help of Yoga, Calisthenics, water therapy, blood, fire, change of clothes, and sacrifice. The rituals are often considered as part of a person's healing from the devastating effect of guilt.

Throughout the history of humanity, catharsis was considered to have a strong healing effect and was applied in medicine, religion, cultural healing rituals, literature, and drama. The concept of catharsis has been widely used in modern psychology. Some modern therapeutic modalities emphasize the value of expression of repressed emotions and use catharsis as the essential tool for the positive therapeutic change. 

The complexity of phenomenon of catharsis involves experiencing repressed emotional traumas within safe and supportive environment, involving emotional discharge, as well as an appropriate cognitive processing and insight.
The spread of Islam in the last century and its emergence and proliferation in the European world   coupled with growth of behaviorism, the role of catharsis as a beneficial psychological and spiritual technique to cleanse and purify one’s mind and body has gained momentum in the pan Islamic World.

The recent research on the healing and therapeutic effects of fasting backed by scientific data and its application on day to day life has led people of other faiths also to practice fasting and meditation.
The Saints and religious leaders of the Indo Pak sub continent have practiced meditation in remote Isolated places where they tried to establish a direct link with the creator without any let or hindrance from worldly desire or interference from fellow human beings.

Among the five tenets of Islam Salaat, (Prayers) and Soum (Fasting) are the strongest which one has to practice in day to day life which means making ablution (Wazu) five times a day which cleanses the body of the acolyte of worldly impurities and then standing on the prayer mat and bringing the distance from your forehead to the floor at zero thus purging yourself and bridging the gap of your soul to that of the creator by bowing in complete submission to the will of all mighty ALLAH.

The Holy month of Ramzan is around the corner and this month does not simply imply that the faithfuls should only practice prayers and meditation but the third tenet of Islam which is Zakat (Charity) is also a very important pillar of Islam which means that one should help his fellow human beings who are less fortunate than you are by giving help and alms to the needy and poor and sharing your Dastar khawan (Dining Table) with the less privileged who cannot even afford a single square meal a day.

The true spirit of Islam can be seen and witnessed during the Holy month of Ramzan when the mosques become full with the Namazi’s and way side Aftar Dastar Khawan’s spring up like mushrooms in every nook and corner of the country where the well to do go all out of the way to share their Aftar with the laborers, workers, travelers, sick and homeless people because the return and bounties of rewards promised by Allah during this month multiples each good deeds by 70 times.           

The Islamic month of Ramzan which is due to start from the 7th of June 2016 will give ample chance and opportunities to the faithful’s to purge one’s mind and body of all negative thoughts and impediments and replacing them with positive thoughts and energy by practicing Soum, Salaat and Zakat…..

Dr. Babur Zahiruddin

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