EP 109: The Difference between Catharsis and Complaining

May 3, 2022

  • Catharsis is the process of releasing strong, or repressed emotions by bearing witness. Catharsis is an important part of traditional psychotherapy, dating back to the work of Sigmond Freud.  
  • There is a subtle difference between catharsis and complaining.  The former brings peace, the latter increases our feelings of discontentment.   
  • Complaining feeds the story about everything that is wrong with the world.  Catharsis occurs when we are able to fully witness and honor the full range of our human experiences and emotions.
  • We all have a deep need to be heard.  
  • Complaining and catharsis can feel different in our bodies.  
  • Complaining may feel good temporarily, but it doesn’t benefit us in the long run because it will keep reinforcing our pain stories, and negatively impact those around us. 
  • There are many ways we can release emotional energy other than verbalizing our emotions, such as moving our bodies and engaging in artistic pursuits.  

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Modalities mentioned in this episode:

Focusing by Eugene T. Gendlin, Ph.D.:


Person Centered therapy – Carl Rogers:



EFT (tapping):


Emotion Code/Body Code by Dr. Bradley Nelson:

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