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Binstock, W.A. (1975). Purgation Through Pity and Terror: A Reply to the Discussion by Clifford Yorke. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 56:225-227.

(1975). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 56:225-227

Purgation Through Pity and Terror: A Reply to the Discussion by Clifford Yorke Related Papers

William A. Binstock

Although Dr Yorke is a most gentle and gracious critic, we do appear to hold quite contrary views on some central issues. Whereas I propose (Binstock, 1973) to discard the concept of therapeutic catharsis, he is determined to retain it (Yorke, 1974).

Before taking up the intellectual argument, in which I shall endeavour to emulate his directness, I wish to say something about the essentially affective, non-verbal point which he saves for last. Dr Yorke cautions that we should not 'regard the film or the drama in a pejorative light', and goes on to champion the value of film-making in general and to praise a particularly beautiful example.

From its inception, the writing of my paper was attended by the risk that it might be misconstrued as an attack on theatre-goers, physicians, poets, hysterics, or others. Believing my arguments to apply in fact to everyone, I chose as the most effective strategy for averting this danger the style of the paper, deliberately composing a histrionic oration which cried out from every paragraph: 'I am one of you! I, too, love these things!'

Although Dr Yorke has dealt most kindly with this style, it failed with him. I can only hope that others will understand my intended message: art is demeaned by attempts to justify it through the rationalization that it is a treatment. As it was said of the sabbath and man, therapy was made for the artist, not the artist for therapy. I have by no means condemned the enjoyment of histrionics—only the pretence that they constitute treatment.

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