Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Cathexis - The Object of Your Desire

A man lying on the floor, staring at a woman's feet and shoes
I've heard that some people really, really, really like shoes
(photo by Tor Kristensen)


Noun. Plural cathexes. Early 20th century.
[Greek kathexis holding, retention, a rendering of German (Libido)besetzung (Freud).]

PSYCHOANALYSIS. The concentration or accumulation of libidinal energy on a particular object.

Are you hungry right now? If you are, it's your id that's generating the psychological need to eat (in concert with your physical need for food), and in doing so it's probably making you think about food - perhaps a juicy cheeseburger or a deliciously crunchy apple. And you're probably imagining yourself eating them, and savouring the flavours, and enjoying that sense of satisfaction and fulfilment once you've eaten. This, according to the the Freudian model, is cathexis - the investing and concentration of libidinal energy on a particular object (using the word libido in its broader meaning of primitive biological urges and not just that of sexual drive).

Beyond Freud's model, the definition, meaning and usefulness of the word cathexis has been wrangled over and debated ad nauseam. In dictionaries, there are subtle differences in how it's defined too: Collins, for example, defines it as 'concentration of psychic energy on a single goal,' while Oxford Dictionaries puts it in a definite negative light, as 'the concentration of mental energy on one particular person, idea, or object (especially to an unhealthy degree)', which could be read as drifting into the realm of fixation, obsession, and fetish. Read in a more general sense, and cathexis could be applied to anything that you've invested emotional (libidinal) energy in: your husband, your wife, your pet, your business and even, dare I say, your blog.

What's your cathexis?

Do please invest some of your libidinal energy by commenting in the box below.


  1. Caption for the picture : "Wait a moment, I've read this gastrocnemius before."

    1. Ha! (addendum to 'Ha!' - I had to look up 'gastrocnemius' as I'd never heard it before)

  2. What it says about be that I was reading "anything that you've invested emotional (libidinal) energy in: your husband, your wife, your pet, your business and even, dare I say, your blog" and instead of blog I read "your dog" Geez... I must be more tired than I though ahahahah so I don't have good libidinal energy to share with you... and what's the point of sharing bad? ;)
    Definetly not shoes, I was one of the few people who could explain the slap with flops on the face of Sadam's Statue ;) with an interested face. And I'm always insisting how important it is not to show the bottom of one's shoes to our Oriental - Japanese mainly - Clients.
    Definetly food for though on this one.

    1. If one's cat can be one's cathexis, there's no reason that one's dog can't be one's repository of libidinal energy either.

      It just so happens that I have neither cat nor dog but I do have a blog.

  3. Great Information sharing .. I am very happy to read this article .. thanks for giving us go through info.Fantastic nice. I appreciate this post. florarie florisis