from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Concentration of emotional energy on an object or idea.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. the concentration of libido or emotional energy on a single object or idea

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. the process of investing mental, emotional, or libidinal energy or significance in an object, person, or idea.
  • n. the emotional or libidinal energy invested in an object, person, or idea.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. (psychoanalysis) the libidinal energy invested in some idea or person or object


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Greek kathexis, holding, retention, from katekhein, to hold fast : kat-, kata-, intensive pref.; see cata- + ekhein, to hold; see segh- in Indo-European roots.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Ancient Greek κάθεξις (kathexis, holding, retention). Entered English language as a translation for the common everyday German word Besetzung, which in this context means "occupation" in the sense of a position or something being occupied or filled, and not a military occupation of a place or the filling of job positions (although it can also mean either of these in other contexts). In English translations, a Greek word was used to be more scientific.


  • A cathexis is conceived to be analogous to an electric charge which can shift from one structure except in so far as it becomes bound – or to troops which can be deployed from one position to another.

    Word of the Day

  • I believe the first time and until today the last time I saw the word "cathexis," it was in a piece by Norman Mailer.

    "Something weird and cultish in the sycophantish cathexis onto Hillary of the many nerds, geeks and vengeful viragos who run her campaign..."

  • It's the same mentality that chose to render Freud's Besetzung by "cathexis," Fehlleistung by "parapraxis," and Ich by "ego." SUBLATE.

  • Generally speaking, it is only those of us, such as creative scientists and Classical poets, who are in an active, efficiently productive quality of practical intellectual relationship with the principles adopted by deceased important thinkers of the past, who find in that fully efficient, if immortal quality of efficient social relationship in the form of a dialogue with minds from the past, the effect of what we sense as "cathexis" with those relevant minds living in the past.

    LaRouche's Latest

  • A parenthetical remark from Craig Keller: "One barely cognates Lubitschian mise-en-scène; apprehension happens faster than you can incant 'cathexis-anti-cathexsis!!!'"

    GreenCine Daily: DVDs, 5/11.

  • It is the cathexis that makes love both exquisite and painful but it is the "will to nurture one's own and another's spiritual growth" that makes it endure.

    Archive 2008-07-01

  • There was a ton of cathexis going on in that relationship.

    Archive 2008-07-01

  • According to Peck, love is "the will to extend one's self for the purpose of nurturing one's own or another's spiritual growth." hooks goes on to discuss the importance of not confusing affection and/or cathexis investment of feeling and emotion in another with love.

    On Love

  • I wrote cathexis, but it should have be catharsis, for the theatrical context.

    Congratulations to Jane Fonda!

  • But this collective cathexis that created Obamamania is obviously a deep desire for authenticity, and he is the natural repository of our hidden hopes.

    Hillary Agonistes


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  • Ooh, this would be a good term to use as the name of some fictional supernatural phenomena. Possibly something halfway between a tulpa and a genius loci

    April 14, 2016

  • Ich bin ein sexworker.

    October 10, 2008

  • The joys of psychoanalytic language! Ick.

    June 28, 2008

  • Slumry: check the paragraph titled "Will The Real Freud Please Stand Up" in "Integral Spirituality" p. 122-3. Undoubtedly there would be more in "Integral Psychology" which I haven't read.

    August 10, 2007

  • Any particular writing's of Wilber's that you can cite on that subject?

    August 9, 2007

  • Ken Wilber has some ideas on the mis-translation of Freud's writings as well.

    August 9, 2007

  • That is interesting. As I recall, one of Freud's translators more or less coined this word as a translation of a German word that means someting like "to occupy" If a person cathects something, he or she invests emotional energy in it and makes it his own. Bruno Bettelheim wrote a book about what he regarded as the mis-translation of Freud's writing.

    August 9, 2007

  • That is interesting--hadn't considered that. Here's what I found on etymologies:

    catharsis: Greek kátharsis, a cleansing, equiv. to kathar- (var. s. of kathaírein to cleanse, deriv. of katharós pure)

    cathexis: Greek káthexis, a keeping, equiv. to kathek- (var. s. of katéchein to keep, hold on to, equiv. to cat cat- + échein to have, hold)

    August 9, 2007

  • Interesting to contemplate the possible (?) connection to catharsis. Investment of emotional energy v. release of same.

    August 9, 2007