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In psychoanalysis, the emotional charge associated with an instinct (3), or the process of investing psychic energy in a part of the body or an instinctual object. The Austrian physician Josef Breuer (1842–1925) and Sigmund Freud (1856–1939) introduced the concept in 1895 in their book Studies on Hysteria (Standard Edition, II). The original German word used by Breuer and Freud was Besetzung, an everyday word meaning occupation; the word cathexis was coined in 1922 by Freud's translator James Strachey (1887–1967), who revealed that Freud considered it too technical (Standard Edition III, p. 63, note 2). A word more in harmony with the German is investment. See also economic, hypercathexis. Compare countercathexis, decathexis. cathect vb. To load with psychic energy through cathexis. [From Greek kathexis occupation, from kathechein to hold fast]

Subjects: Psychology.

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