2022 Abstracts Stage 2

A Discussion of the Psychic Mechanisms Within Cinematic Catharsis

The emotional release that is often felt by spectators when observing cinema is an interesting focus in the context for Freud’s catharsis, as early cinema was still developing as an art form when he wrote his various works. He extensively discussed the psychic mechanisms at play during dreams, fantasy and even when telling jokes yet applying his theories of repression and the unconscious to cinema specifically has produced insight into the unique experience of being a spectator to cinema.

This dissertation explores the role of catharsis in cinema, focusing on the 2016 television series ‘Fleabag’ and analysing the psychic mechanisms at play during such catharsis. My object therefore is Cinema and Fleabag and the territory is catharsis.
Cinema is referenced through a variety of secondary sources and Fleabag is referenced through Phoebe Waller- Bridge’s original scripts- The Scriptures (2020).
Aristotelian Catharsis is reference through his Poetics (1995) which influenced Freudian catharsis as demonstrated in Breuer and Freud’s Studies in Hysteria (2004) which describe a therapeutic technique which harnesses the process of catharsis to treat neurotic patients. Finally, I discuss the feminine experience of catharsis with reference to the popular culture term dissociative feminism, relating it to Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex (2011).

By the above primary thinkers, my project demonstrates that the process of cinematic catharsis is purgative because it facilitates a processing of unconscious conflict, even if we are unaware of it.

2021 Abstracts Stage 3

Art as Catharsis and as Therapy

The so-called ‘cathartic’ elements of art, especially music, have fascinated me in some way for a long time. The strong emotions that can be aroused in the presence of an artwork, or while one is listening to certain music, are very often difficult to comprehend and put into words – such feelings can be said to ‘elude common vocabulary’ (Gabrielsson, 2010, p. 548). Especially since by nature our individual experiences are so subjective, the cathartic or therapeutic nature of art can also be very difficult to make sense of and thus communicate to others, perhaps even yourself. However, there have been and continue to be more sociological and medical articles being published investigating the idea of art therapy, which seem to be gaining traction as sound cases arguing in favour of art therapy. In light of all of this, what this article aims to accomplish is split up into two parts: firstly, I will provide a thorough philosophical foundation for understanding the very idea of artistic catharsis, which will entail a deep and critical exploration into Aristotle’s concept of catharsis and the debates surrounding it; and secondly, once this has been done to a satisfactory level, I aim to transition into a more social and psychological approach by considering the current ways in which art therapy and catharsis are viewed today. This latter half will pay specific attention to the effects of music on various individuals and groups, taking into account the different factors at play that may impact how those individuals or groups experience music, and even several other art forms.