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illustration Cathexis



Part of speech: noun

Origin: Ancient Greek, 20th century


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

Examples of Cathexis in a sentence

"During his week visiting us in Florida, our young grandson developed a cathexis with a gecko who lived on our porch."

"My husband has a cathexis on clean dishes and makes routine sweeps around the house to find dirty plates and glasses to bring to the dishwasher."

About Cathexis

“Cathexis” is based on the ancient Greek “κάθεξις” (“káthexis”), meaning “retention” or “holding.”

Did you Know?

In the early 20th century, the field of psychoanalysis was primarily being developed by Germans including Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and Alfred Adler. They frequently used the common German word “Besetzung,” which, literally translated, means “an occupation.” But translators into English were having a difficult time getting the meaning quite right for English texts. Aiming to sound formal, translators reached for the ancient Greek word for “holding” or “retention,” “κάθεξις” (“káthexis”). “Cathexis” became a new English word meaning “a concentration of mental energy directed at one thing such as a person, object, or idea” — in short, the retention of focus in a single direction.

illustration Cathexis

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