Customer Service | Help | FAQ | PEP-Easy | Report a Data Error | About
Tip: To turn on (or off) thumbnails in the list of videos….

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

To visualize a snapshot of a Video in PEP Web, simply turn on the Preview feature located above the results list of the Videos Section.

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

Hoffer, P.T. (2005). Reflections on Cathexis. Psychoanal Q., 74(4):1127-1135.

(2005). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 74(4):1127-1135

Brief Communication

Reflections on Cathexis

Peter T. Hoffer, Ph.D.

The publication of Bruno Bettelheim's Freud and Man's Soul (1983) ushered in a wave of criticism of English translations of Freud's works, and, in particular, of James Strachey's monumental Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud (Freud 1955-1974). It is not my intention here to revive in all its complexities this ongoing debate, which has abated in intensity over the past decade, or to suggest ways of modifying the existing translation, but rather to reexamine and perhaps shed new light on one aspect of the controversy that has been cited in many of the commentaries: namely, Strachey's use of the word cathexis. In his trenchant critique of the Strachey translation, Bettelheim cites the choice of cathexis as

…but one example of a mistranslation of Freud's carefully chosen language into gobbledygook English. What American psychoanalysts refer to as cathexis is designated in German by the verb besetzen and the noun Besetzung. These two words, in the sense in which Freud used them, simply mean to occupy and occupation. Freud gave these terms a special meaning within his system to indicate that something—an idea, a person, an object—is being or has been invested with a certain amount of psychic energy, which has become fixated there. [1983, p.

[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.