Definition of cathexis in English:


Syllabification: ca·thex·is
Pronunciation: /kəˈTHeksis


  • The concentration of mental energy on one particular person, idea, or object (especially to an unhealthy degree).
    More 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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