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Catharsis Theory of Mass Communication


Dr. Seymour Feshbach is an eminent professor in the department of psychology at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He was born in New York City at 1925; In 1951, he was awarded PhD in psychology at Yale University.

catharsis theory of mass communication

Later he became a faculty of Pennsylvania University until 1963. Since 1960’s he is very active in Media Violence and Television studies and he is well recognized for formulating the Catharsis hypothesis in field of Mass Communication.

Catharsis Theory Overview

Catharsis Theory stands a vital mantle in the discourse on upshots with regard to severity of mass communication and it’s far ranging roots over a time.

Catharsis serves as a purifying factor to collective channel sources of information such as radio, television, newspapers, and the cyber internet that may inevitably incorporate unappealing visuals that can be harmful not only for the viewing public but can also be destructive means to the mindset of the most minor fans of the said mass media.

With the worsening materials used by the media as of late, the existence of catharsis in the middle of it serves as like a redeeming cleansing sponge that acts as a scouring element to pools of murky world of mass communication.

The implementation of the assertive measures of the Catharsis supposition may lessen the alarming push of vulgarities and misgivings and misconstruing of mass media. However, it may not certainly be rendered literally, but it can likely be manifested in a performer’s mental inventiveness.

Theory in Detail

Beholding entertainment shows, that have catastrophic genre helps a person who fail to resist to a dramatic bailout from pessimistic sentiments, sympathy, trepidation or rage.

The individuals who go through antipathetic sensitivities are likely surmised to attain soul purification, and rinsing after seeing how the actors depict their appointed parts in a given act with such mundane display of dramatic discomforts and hardships of life, suffering these given elements.

This is the ground of Catharsis Theory to which was also considered favorable to the well-being of a person and the community he lives in, as he allocates his perturbations externally and refined in a civilized wholesome demeanor.

The notion of how media must be adjudged is a bit indefinite. Not withstanding the incrustation, bearing neutrality, lack of character or concurrence, transitory nature, and spectator’s desires of hampering the motivation, the contemporary applied sciences assists the enterprises to appropriately acquaint their earmark spectators to safeguard their piece of information in terms of remission.


In reference to the broad range of Catharsis Theory, it is believed to be a realm of boundless purview considering the ever growing visual materials as per mass media communication is concerned.

Nevertheless, theory can also be spotted in Psychology and its domains. It is also manifested the world of arts, and most of all in an individual’s day to day ordinary lifestyles and in aesthetics.

It can be put that the emotional release functions along, with probable mental despondent who are the cajoled spectators healed by means of their encounters with the craft of cinema, songs or visuals, and individuals who are by all means precisely ill and were subjected to medical administrations utilized through expressive techniques.

The purpose of this theory is reckoned not only by the experts but also by every individual most of all those who have gone through it and was purged from their agitations.

Renewed from their old shells, these individuals who experienced first-hand healing were profoundly persuaded that the ‘Catharsis Theory’ is not simply a melo-dramatic exodus from their forlorn inklings they have gained from TV-viewing, but most of all it has imparted in them a total virtuous transfiguration.

Creating in them a brand-new less villainy versions of themselves. This outlook grew widely favored over the passage of time up to the present, but still remarkably stands as doctrines of most experts in the field of Theories.

Related: Catharsis in Psychology


A film released in 1999, directed by David Fincher, starring Brad Pitt, Edward Norton and Helena Bonham Carter, “Fight Club” movie is best fitted  example for this type of theory. The film is all about lawlessness and unutterable mayhem, so to speak.

In the movie, an anonymous “voice-over” played by Edward Norton, suffers from insomnia. Taking part in a club of testicular cancer patients, he gained his very own catharsis after deceiving the patients making them think that he also endures the same ailment.

After he lost his house in a sordid blast. He then called a soap merchandiser portrayed by Brad Pitt whom he met on a flight home. Tyler asked him to punch him in the face. Their duel with a clash of bare fists carried on until it has provoked men to construct a “Fight Club” headed by Tyler wherein they can indulge in brawling for leisure purposes.

A certain substance abuser known as Marla, portrayed by Helena Bonham Carter, tries to contact the “voice-over” but ends up with sexual engagements with Tyler. This movie is all about mental manipulation wherein a sly “controller” eventually found himself the one who got apparently being controlled in the end.

{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Vivian April 13, 2017, 12:50 pm


  • Rosybliss April 17, 2019, 7:03 pm

    Wow…interesting piece. Sir, I want to know… is psychological discomfort identified with the Catharsis theory?

  • Musa Saleh August 7, 2019, 4:47 pm

    Sir,Will catharsis theory cause frustration and aggression? does it mean the theory was created to remove too much of emotions?
    Thank you

  • Br November 22, 2020, 4:02 pm

    Please when was the theory formed and by who?

  • Masroor Ahmad August 5, 2023, 11:52 pm

    The theory was floated by Seymour Feshbach and is very interesting in its context but still requires to be thoroughly worked out by people from the academic background

  • Boo Ali November 18, 2023, 11:07 am

    Seymour Feshbach is very interesting in its context but still requires to be thoroughly worked out.

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