The word catharsis comes from the Greek word katharsis, which literally translated means a cleansing or purging. According to catharsis theory, acting aggressively or even viewing aggression is an effective way to purge angry and aggressive feelings. Anger and aggressive impulses exist inside the psyche and seek to get out by being expressed. Catharsis, therefore, involves any act of ‘venting’ – expressing, viewing, or engaging with aggressive actions as a means to eliminate one’s feelings of anger.
Bushman, B. J. (2002). Does venting anger feed or extinguish the flame? Catharsis, rumination, distraction, anger, and aggressive responding. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 28(6), 724-731. doi: 10.1177/0146167202289002.
Bushman, B. J., Baumeister, R. F., & Phillips, C. M. (2001). Do people aggress to improve their mood? Catharsis beliefs, affect regulation opportunity, and aggressive responding. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81(1), 17. doi: 10.1037/0022-35184.108.40.206