cachemash #149: cathexis
cachemash #149: cathexis (Photo credit: eaubscene)


: cathexis \kuh-THEK-sis\ noun

: investment of mental or emotional energy in a person, object, or idea


“The veil that hides Laura and her eyes, her hair, her smile (and its counterpart, the glove that veils her hand) becomes the object of Petrarch’s cathexis….”  From an essay by Margaret Brose in the 2010 book The Body in Early Modern Italy

“The plot of this French film diverges from … most American film we are force-fed in that it deals powerfully with subject matter that counts. It treats an almost unrecognized aspect of WWII in Europe, eliciting a strong cathexis from the viewer, who learns so much that he never knew before this celluloid feast.”  From an article by Marion DS Dreyfus in American Thinker, April 8, 2012

Did you know?

Cathexis (Star Trek: Voyager)
Cathexis (Star Trek: Voyager) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You might suspect that “cathexis” derives from a word for “emotion,” but in actuality the key concept is “holding.” “Cathexis” comes to us by way of New Latin (Latin as used after the medieval period in scientific description or classification) from the Greek word “kathexis,” meaning “holding.” It can ultimately be traced back (through “katechein,” meaning “to hold fast, occupy”) to the Greek verb “echein,” meaning “to have” or “to hold.” “Cathexis” first appeared in print in 1922 in a book about Freud’s psychological theories (which also established the plural as “cathexes,” as is consistent with Latin), and it is still often used in scientific and specifically psychological contexts.


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