Definition of cathexis in English:

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Pronunciation: /kəˈθɛksɪs/


[mass noun] Psychoanalysis
The concentration of mental energy on one particular person, idea, or object (especially to an unhealthy degree).
Example sentences
  • Vincent describes three developmental positions in adolescence: chaos, narcissistic depression, and renewed cathexis of the object.
  • Because the structure of cathexis emphasizes affective and normative components of relationships, Wingood and DiClemente refer to it as the structure of affective attachments and social norms.
  • The only thing that I can do, or anybody else can do, is to help you see that, and see your way to, what is called in psycho-medical literature, cathexis.


1920s: from Greek kathexis 'retention', translating German Libidobesetzung, coined by Freud.

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