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Sometimes you are just angry. Angry enough that you decide to take it out on something or someone. Physically. This violent behavior may target a simple inanimate object, an opponent in a boxing match, or other similar situation, or maybe some convenient villain who happens to be in the area. Anyway, the point is that you are resolving your anger in a violent, but still somewhat socially acceptable way.

The psychiatric term for doing this in a therapeutic context is "catharsis". At one time this was all the rage, but it has fallen into disfavor among psychotherapists in the last few decades, as evidence has emerged that all it does is reward violent outbursts.

Contrast Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!. Also contrast Percussive Maintenance, which is when the violence is motivated (at least partially) by attempting to make something work. As a rule of thumb; slapping your printer = Percussive Maintenance. Throwing it out of the window = Percussive Therapy.

See also Dartboard of Hate, in which the character takes out his frustrations on an enemy's image, and Punch a Wall, a subtrope that specifically deals with punching vertical surfaces.

Examples of Percussive Therapy include:

Anime and Manga

  • Shin Chan: "The Happiness Bunny" - a Japanese woman and daughter who release anger over their abusive husband/father by beating up their stuffed rabbits.
  • In Legend of Galactic Heroes, Reinhard exhibited a tendency to smash wineglasses whenever some particularly bad news was delivered to him. Justified in that drinks (and thus glasses) are readily available in those meetings where such news is delivered to.
  • How about Judau Ashta punching Bright Noa, of all people?


  • One Dilbert T-shirt had a picture of Dogbert walking away from a smashed computer with a baseball bat over his shoulder, and the caption "The network is down, but I feel a lot better!"


  • Analyze This: Paul Vitti "hitting" a pillow.
  • Fight Club: The premise of the film is a bunch of guys coming together to do this to each other.
  • The Whole Nine Yards: Matthew Perry hates his life. While driving to work, he stops every nine yards or so to flail around madly and heatbutt his horn three times.
  • Happy Gilmore: Just have to ask.. what did those golf clubs ever do to him?
    • I think it was pretty obvious he was just testing their durability, and then just placed 'em in the woods because that's what they were made of!
  • Office Space has the Most Rewarding Example, with baseball bats and the malfunctioning printer.
  • The movie Zombieland show us how it's done in twice, first when Tallahassee trashes out a family van and then when the protagonists break every single little thing of a store with music in the background.
  • In the "One of My Turns" scene in The Wall, Pink goes nuts and breaks everything in his hotel room, his aggression focused seemingly more at objects around him like his TV and his guitars than against the groupie who just happens to be in the way.


  The Silastic Armourfiends were an insanely aggressive race who lived on the planet Striterax approximately twenty billion years ago "when the universe was young". They were extremely keen on fighting - one of the best ways to deal with a Silastic Armourfiend was to lock him in a room by himself, since he would beat himself up sooner or later. They wrecked the surface of their planet in constant wars, and the whole population lived within bunkers deep below the surface. In an attempt to deal with the problems their violent nature created, the Silastic Armourfiends passed a law that anybody who had to carry a weapon as part of their normal work (including policemen, security guards and primary school teachers) must spend a minimum of 45 minutes each day punching a sack of potatoes. It was hoped that this would allow them to work off their surplus aggression. This plan worked only until someone had the idea to simply shoot the potatoes, and the Silastic Armourfiends were excited about their "first war for weeks."

  • In the book Man on Fire by A J Quinell, one character named Benny gets in trouble with the law after trashing the office of an mayor who promised him a job and later acted like every politician will. Benny tried to pay off his frustration with him but he escaped so...
    • The sent two dogs after him, they appeared 30 seconds later... through the windows... with their necks broken.

Live Action TV

  • Glee: Finn, still seething after the betrayal of his best friend's affair with and impregnation of his girlfriend, gets to Sectionals with enough time to teach the group a few songs he printed off with the Cheerios printer. After he "trashed the thing."
    • In a much earlier episode, Mercedes had developed a crush on Kurt (unaware that he was gay). After he turned her down, but failed to mention he was gay, she smashed his windshield, then sang a song about it. Possibly not an example, as the window smashing may not have been to make herself feel better, but to make Kurt feel worse.
  • Buffy Season 2 episode 1, where she ground The Master's bones to dust using a sledgehammer.
    • Spike spends much of the 7th season of the show with an intense case of Badass Decay, presumably due to the after-effects of him being given a soul, and then tormented by the First Evil. After retrieving his Badass Longcoat, he tracks down the Monster of the Week and engages in a brutal brawl with the guy (this being the first time we see Spike enjoy himself all season) before snapping its neck. Afterwards, he tells the corpse that a good fight is "Good for the Soul."
    • "A New Man". Giles, after a Humiliation Conga of events make him feel outdated and useless, comes across his old enemy Ethan Rayne and says, "You have no idea how much thrashing you is gonna improve my day."
    • In "Ted" Buffy claims she's not angry over her mother getting a boyfriend. Gilligan Cut to Buffy whaling the crap out of a vampire with a dustbin lid while a nervous Giles stammers that she really should move on to the staking...
  • When Angel sees his Love Interest Cordelia having sex with his son, he kicks down the door to the stairwell, then we hear the sound of him doing the same to every other door he comes upon.
  • Star Trek Deep Space Nine episode "For the Uniform." Eddington is always one step ahead of Sisko, so Sisko pummels a punching bag. It works a little better than most since he also shares his feelings with Kira at the time.
  • Star Trek the Next Generation episode "Chain of Command II." Cardassian Gul Madred has been torturing Picard since the end of the previous episode. Part of the torture involves a remote-activated pain implant. At one point, Madred leaves Picard alone with the remote, so Picard smashes it against the table. Madred walks in and tells him it won't help; he has more remotes. Picard's response:

  "Still.. It felt good."

  • The Goodies. In "Lighthouse Loonies" Bill goes insane and ends up chasing Tim around the lighthouse wielding a pie. After eventually copping Tim in the face with it Bill says calmly, "I feel better now."


  • Yoshiki Hayashi playing drums. Just go look up his drum solos on Youtube, especially the ones from *before* he threw out his neck drumming. He's admitted in interviews and in his official autobiography that he actually took up drumming as a way of expressing his feelings.

Western Animation

  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: The day before the eclipse, Aang is having serious mental health issues on account of feeling unprepared for the upcoming invasion. His friends try to help him in various way. One way they try is to have him scream into a pillow. It doesn't work.
    • Throughout the same episode, he attacks inanimate objects for training purposes. It still doesn't help.
    • Zuko does this a lot.
  • Ren in The Ren and Stimpy Show does it sometimes. A particularly good example is the beginning of the Adult Party Cartoon episode "Altruists", where he beats Stimpy up as if it's some kind of routine.
  • When told she needs to stop working so excessively, Nicole of The Amazing World of Gumball decides to start breaking household objects to relieve stress.
  • Benson from Regular Show does this often, as he has anger management issues. It's lessened gradually, thanks to character development.

Real Life

  • Interesting sidenote: that aggressive pursuits like boxing being used to vent frustrations actually decreases violent behavior is becoming increasingly psychologically suspect to the point of near-total disapproval.
    • That is why, say, inner-city boxing and MMA programs are no longer used for venting frustrations or psychological treatment. Boxing programs and MMA programs do not exist to help their participants vent frustrations and become more peaceful, they exist to provide a safer and legal way of engaging in violence and in some cases to allow participants to better their lives through becoming athletes rather than criminals.
    • The reason is actually pretty obvious: Percussive Maintenance alone does not provide an outlet for one's feelings or emotions unless it is actually coupled with some way of communicating said feelings or emotions and getting some feedback on them. For this purpose, an active form of art (e.g. theatrical martial arts, interpretative dance) or music (e.g. with the actual intent of expression rather than just randomly hitting things) would likely be better than boxing or MMA.
      • The other obvious reason is that it conditions you to deal with emotions agressively, rather than training you in self control. Oddly enough, teaching people to deal with frustration by fighting means a fight the next time they get frustrated.
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