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Word of the Day
Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Definitions for decathect

  1. to withdraw one's feelings of attachment from (a person, idea, or object), as in anticipation of a future loss: He decathected from her in order to cope with her impending death.

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Citations for decathect
It is getting easier now for me to decathect from Eugene. Patricia Marx, Him Her Him Again The End of Him, 2007
According to Freud, bereavement was not complete until the mourner was able to withdraw the emotional attachment to the deceased (decathect) and reinvest that emotional energy into a new relationship or, at least, back into life. J. William Worden, "Theoretical Perspectives on Loss and Grief," Death, Dying, and Bereavement, 2015
Origin of decathect
Decathect is an extremely rare word in English, used only in Freudian psychology. It is formed from the common prefix de-, signifying privation or removal, and the very rare verb cathect “to invest emotional energy.” Cathect is a derivative of the adjective cathectic (from Greek kathektikόs “capable of holding or retaining”), from the noun káthexis “holding, possession, retention.” The English noun cathexis is an arcane translation or partial translation of Sigmund Freud’s Besetzung, a common, ordinary word in German meaning “(military) occupation, cast (of a play),” from the verb besetzen “to occupy, stock, fill.” Decathect entered English in the 20th century.