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Psychoanalytical term for the vivid, often cathartic return of painful emotion(s) from past circumstances. The patient may have been conscious of the emotion/memory beforehand, or it may suddenly emerge from repression in the subconscious.

Example: A woman in therapy for sexual difficulty recalls being raped in childhood; for the first time, she fully experiences her pain and fear surrounding the incident.

APA Reference
Grinnell, R. (2018). Abreaction. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 8, 2020, from