In RealLife a big part of why we love {{Media}} is that it is [[CatharsisFactor cathartic]]. It is fun to blow off steam shooting up {{Mooks}}, crying over a TearJerker, enjoying a SadistShow, etc.

There is also a more serious form of catharsis where psychological ills are healed through ceremony or painful experiences. Basically, usually as a major plot point, a character either seeks or inadvertently goes through an experience that normally only a NightmareFetishist might seek, and it helps them deal with a medical, psychological, etc. condition. [[CatharsisFactor When a story does this for a reader in the real world]], it's YMMV. When it occurs InUniverse, it's less subjective. May take the form of PercussiveTherapy or a CatharticScream.



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* In ''Manga/{{Karin}}'', gloomy Fumio becomes an energetic optimist after being bitten by [[EmotionEater Karin]]. Everyone gets a boost from a bite from her or her brother but with Fumio it's the most noticeable.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* In ''ComicBook/TheTaleOfOneBadRat'', quiet, introverted Helen finally breaks down and screams out her pent-up anguish and frustration about her sexually-abusive father and hateful, uncaring mother to the world, literally shattering the panel in the process.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* In ''WebVideo/DragonBallZAbridged'' Gohan gets the chance to pummel his absent and neglectful father when a villain takes over his body.
* In ''FanFic/HopeOnADistantMountain'', Makoto goes back into the Hope's Peak Academy as seen in a sandbox version of the D-7 simulation, a virtual reality program designed to push students past their emotional limits to test their mettle via [[DeadlyGames Deadly Games]][=.=] He does this in order to better understand the events that happened to him, and their effects on his psyche, and fortunately, there are AIs there to explain things to him. [[spoiler: Or unfortunately, given they still want to help Makoto "grow".]]

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* ''Film/TheHorseWhisperer'' ends up helping both the horse and its owner this way.
* In ''Film/AnalyzeThis'', Robert De Niro shooting the couch probably counts, as it was likely extremely cathartic for his character.
* Defied in ''Film/AmericanPsycho''. The film closes with Bateman, in the middle of a MotiveRant to himself, realizes that even admitting he is a CardCarryingVillain to himself does not give him any catharis.
* ''Music/TheWall'': When Pink trashes his hotel room, it's probably the first time he's genuinely expressed or even [[TheStoic felt]] an emotion after years of stuffing it all down.

* Creator/AaronAllston's ''Literatute/XWingSeries'' novels are full of this. Most notably, [[TheWoobie Myn Donos']] arc in ''Wraith Squadron'' contains at least two distinct and separate examples of this trope.
* In ''[[Literature/KushielsLegacy Kushiel's Dart]]'', Phedre goes to the temple of Kushiel to atone for her role in the death of her master and the things she had to do when a captive of the Skaldi. Kushiel himself is said to be the patron of a very harsh mercy, attended by masked priests and priestesses who inflict painful rituals on those who come seeking atonement.
* In Creator/MichaelFlynn's Literature/SpiralArm novel ''Up Jim River'', Donovan is given a drug that a native culture uses for vision quests. When he recovers, he is not cured of his multiple personalities, but is definitely more integrated.
* In ''Literature/MirrorDance'', ex-{{Tykebomb}} Mark Vorkosigan starts the story a confused, self-sabotaging mess of a man. After being captured and tortured by [[ArcVillain Baron Ryoval]], his mind shatters -- with the result that his multiple personalities, finally aware of each other, can start working together, using PowerBornOfMadness to defeat Ryoval and rebuild his life.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* Veronica once shot a pillow in her office (using a silencered gun) on ''Series/BetterOffTed''.
* The ''Franchise/StarTrek'' franchise has touched on overcoming psychological issues through cathartic experiences on multiple occasions.
** ''Film/StarTrekVTheFinalFrontier'': Sybok uses his unique ability to share with and help conquer a person's greatest emotional trauma to gain the trust of most of the crew.
* ''Series/BabylonFive'':
** In one episode, a mentally disturbed Earth - Minbari war veteran reenacts Arthurian legend with Delenn as a means of finding peace. Earlier in the same episode, the same veteran gets in a fight with some Downbelow thugs, and gets helped out by G'Kar, who recounts how it felt shortly afterwards:
---> "By G'Quan, I can't recall the last time I was in a fight like that! No [[GreyAndGrayMorality moral ambiguity]], no [[EldritchAbomination hopeless battle against ancient and overwhelming forces]]! [[BlackAndWhiteMorality They were the bad guys, as you say, and we were the good guys.]] And they made a very satisfying thump when they hit the floor."'
*** [[RewatchBonus The same scene takes on new significance for Delenn as well]], once we find out about her part in the war. [[spoiler: Namely, that she cast the deciding vote in favor of going to war against humanity [[ATragedyOfImpulsiveness in her moment of grief]], and has tried to make up for it ever since.]]
** In another episode, Marcus Cole has just finished [[OneManArmy beating a room full of thugs senseless]] in a brawl.
---> '''Marcus Cole:''' Well, they said I was carrying around a lot of repressed anger.\\
'''Lennier:''' And?\\
'''Marcus Cole:''' I'm not repressed anymore!
* The Dark Truth on ''Series/EliStone'' can be used for this. However, it's usually used for other things.
* The Ninth Doctor's regeneration in ''Series/DoctorWho'' is the first truly ''happy'' regeneration of the entire series.
* In ''Series/TheFlash2014'', after Barry defeats Tony Woodward/Girder, [[SchoolyardBullyAllGrownUp his old tormentor back in school]], he locks him up in the particle accelerator and gives him a good TheReasonYouSuckSpeech. Once he's out of sight, Barry pumps his fists in thriumph.
-->'''Cisco''': Duuuude, that had to feel great!
-->'''Barry''': You have ''no'' idea.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'':
** [[BreakTheCutie Jack]] is '''not''' what you would call a well adjusted individual, owing in no small part to the [[PlayingWithSyringes horrific experiments]] performed on her. Her LoyaltyMission has you guiding her through the abandoned facility where these experiments were performed and dealing with some of the remnants of her past, before setting a BigBulkyBomb in her old cell and blowing the lab to smithereens. Afterwards, she becomes... well, slightly less AxCrazy. The achievement you get for completing the mission is even called "Catharsis."
** After taking down the Shadow Broker and saving Feron, Liara is much more like the person she was in the first game.
** The majority of the loyalty missions in the game revolve around this (depending on player choices): Kasumi finally deals with the loss of her former partner and lover and can move on. Garrus finds some peace after the betrayal and death of his team. Grunt finally finds a place to belong after questioning his existence. Samara ends the centuries-long hunt for Morinth. Zaeed gets revenge on the man who stole everything from him. Tali moves past the loss of her father (and/or possible exile) knowing that Shepard will be there for her.
*** [[VideoGame/MassEffect2 The third game]] adds some more (again, depending on player choices). The quarians and the geth can finally end their war. Mordin has the opportunity to deal with the guilt he's felt due to his involvement with the krogan genophage. Miranda finally confronts her father and ensures he won't get his hands on her sister. Shepard gets satisfying vengeance on Kai Lang, and at the end [[spoiler: willingly sacrifice his/her life knowing that doing so will end the war that's left them psychologically broken]].
* Shaundi's LoyaltyMission in ''VideoGame/SaintsRowIV'' culminates in this: after taking up the suggestion to [[EverybodyMustGetStoned get stoned]] from [[spoiler:her LiteralSplitPersonality, the "Classic" Shaundi]], the two of them discover that the drug gave them superpowers. [[spoiler:The "New"]] Shaundi also discovers that [[spoiler:her old self]] ''can'' have great ideas, while the latter acknowledges that the former is not as stuck-up as she thought, and the two of them finally reconcile. Cue a cathartic superpowered race between the two (and the Boss) and a playful rooftop duel. And ''then'', after the battle against Veteran Child, she defuses a SadisticChoice situation where [[spoiler:VC takes both of her selves hostage and forces the Boss to choose between them--by each of her selves killing his copy holding the ''other'' Shaundi: not only does this show their acceptance of each other, but also finally breaks Shaundi's fears of being a permanent DistressedDamsel for life]]. Really, the whole mission is just one long catharsis for her.
* Max's monologue in the normal ending of ''VideoGame/MaxPayne 2'' (concluding with "I had a dream of my wife. She was dead. But it was all right.") suggested that Max underwent a catharsis after [[spoiler:the death of pretty much anyone he ever cared about, including Vlad and Mona]], finally breaking away from the self-destructive path that Michelle and Alex's deaths put him onto. [[SequelReset Part three says otherwise.]]
* At the beginning of ''VideoGame/AceCombat5TheUnsungWar'', Nagase is saved from a very embarrassing defeat by [[VeteranInstructor Captain Bartlett]] TakingTheBullet for her. The guilt over this accident follows her throughout the game until the mission "Ice Cage" when she finally completes her almost two months-long crash (while looking for POW Bartlett, no less). She is significantly less troubled after she is rescued, even though Bartlett isn't found [[spoiler:until ten missions later]].
* At the beginning of ''VideoGame/GearsOfWar'', the COG is desperate for qualified soldiers, and so pardons everyone at soon to be abandoned penal facility, including [[PlayerCharacter Marcus Fenix]] on the condition that he return to active duty. Fenix is not happy to find himself shanghaied back into the military and under the command of Colonel Hoffman. However, when his squad comes under fire during a field briefing, he expresses after the ensuing firefight that he found the visceral experience of it to be very satisfying after being cooped up so long.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Touhou}}'', [[CompleteImmortality immortal]] [[WhoWantsToLiveForever Fujiwara no Mokou]] constantly kills and is killed by her also immortal [[TheRival rival]]; [[LivingForeverIsAwesome Princess]] [[ Kaguya]]. She appreciates the brutal and endless stalemate.

[[folder:Web Animation]]
* ''Machinima/RedVsBlue'': When the Reds and Blues finally get to beat the tar out of [[spoiler:ManipulativeBastard Felix]], it is ridiculously satisfying, for them and the audience.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* It's something of a running gag in ''Webcomic/LsEmpire'' that characters find inflicting pain on Geminiman to be cathartic. The AltText suggests that it might be the paint that he uses on his armor.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* The dictionary definition is [[ here]] and [[ here]].
* Wiki/TheOtherWiki defines it [[ here]], mentioning that some modern psychiatrists call this ''closure''.
* A number of ancient societies had some form of ceremony that was intended for this purpose. In AncientGreece, there were rituals to propiate the gods and discharge the ritual pollution that had led to your problems -- such as insanity. If it failed, you needed to try another god; this was not the offended one. If it succeeded, you had achieved ''catharsis'' or cleansing.