Customer Service | Help | FAQ | PEP-Easy | Report a Data Error | About
Tip: To download the bibliographic list of all PEP-Web content…

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

Did you know that you can download a bibliography of all content available on PEP Web to import to Endnote, Refer, or other bibliography manager? Just click on the link found at the bottom of the webpage. You can import into any UTF-8 (Unicode) compatible software which can import data in “Refer” format. You can get a free trial of one such program, Endnote, by clicking here.

For the complete list of tips, see PEP-Web Tips on the PEP-Web support page.

McIntosh, D. (1993). Cathexes and their Objects in the Thought of Sigmund Freud. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 41:679-709.

(1993). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 41:679-709

Cathexes and their Objects in the Thought of Sigmund Freud

Donald McIntosh


This paper reexamines Freud's theory of "cathexis" (a quantity of motivational intensity invested in an object) in the light of recent developments in philosophy and cognitive psychology. Contrary to what is often thought, the quantitative element is defensible as a purely psychological idea. The notion of a cathexis is closely similar to the philosophical idea of an "intentional" state, which derives from Franz Brentano, Freud's teacher and mentor.

Freud initially held the object of a cathexis always to be intrapsychic, a position which is untenable and which he largely abandoned after 1915, when he began (correctly) to take cathected objects generally to be persons or events, not their representations. His idea of a cathexis as "entering into" its object contains a valuable and neglected insight, which undermines the centrality of the distinction between the "outer" and "inner" realms of experience. This distinction should not be confused with the key distinction between "fantasy" and "actuality" with respect to cathectic objects. So-called "inner" (fantasy) objects are generally "inside" the mind in a metaphorical sense only.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

Copyright © 2020, Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing, ISSN 2472-6982 Customer Service | Help | FAQ | Download PEP Bibliography | Report a Data Error | About

WARNING! This text is printed for personal use. It is copyright to the journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to redistribute it in any form.