TWO TECHNIQUES FOR ELICITING EMOTIONAL AROUSAL: AN ANALOG STUDY OF CATHARSIS.
AuthorRODEN, ROBERT BRIAN.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractInterest in cathartic psychotherapy in which emotions are experienced and expressed has dramatically increased over the past few decades. Dozens of therapies currently exist which rely on emotional arousal and catharsis as important therapeutic devices. It is generally taken for granted that emotional arousal is required in order to facilitate catharsis. However, it is not clear which of the many techniques of eliciting arousal are most effective in leading to both arousal and catharsis. There is scant experimental evidence to back up the therapeutic effectiveness of catharsis or the techniques currently used for eliciting arousal. One technique used by therapists to elicit arousal and catharsis involves the patient actually experiencing emotional events (past, present and future) in the present situation. Many therapists utilize this technique yet the literature does not reveal any experimental attempt to validate its efficacy at eliciting arousal or catharsis. This study examined whether experiencing emotions in the present situation is more effective at eliciting arousal than talking about emotions. The hypothesis that experiencing emotions in the present situation is more effective at eliciting arousal than talking about emotions was for the most part confirmed. Some dependent variables provided strong evidence for this hypothesis while others failed to give it support. Although the evidence is not conclusive, it is strong. These results would tend to support the many therapists who encourage their clients to experience, re-live, and express their emotions in the present.