Fri 16 Mar, 2012 12:11 pm
Some time ago I had a debate with a friend about the meaning of "catharsis".
He was under the impression that catharsis described the state in which someone witnessing a tragic or unfortunate event finds them self unable to look away.
For instance, how some people cannot help but stare at a car accident in passing.
We both now know that this is NOT the correct definition, but ever since our argument, I've tried to find a word that DOES describe the above situation to no avail.
Does such a word exist?
I believe a close fitting word would be, Schadenfreude:
satisfaction or pleasure felt at someone else's misfortune.
is as follows:
noun, plural -ses [-seez]
1. the purging of the emotions or relieving of emotional tensions, especially through certain kinds of art, as tragedy or music.
3. Psychiatry .
a. psychotherapy that encourages or permits the discharge of pent-up, socially unacceptable affects.
b. discharge of pent-up emotions so as to result in the alleviation of symptoms or the permanent relief of the condition.
Punching ones boss might bring catharsis to a disgruntled employee along with the eventual termination of employment.
"Morbid curiosity" is the best I can come up with since it implies a fascination with something you'd rather not know or see.
"For instance, how some people cannot help but stare at a car accident in passing."
that is known as rubbernecking. it always causes a traffic jam as well...
gawkers will slow down to look at accidents.
catharsis is something you do to stop being obsessed with something else.
Gardening can be a catharsis for grief. Shopping, too.