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Dr. Goodword
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Postby Dr. Goodword » Wed May 24, 2006 11:51 pm

• cathexis •

Pronunciation: kê-thek-sis • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. The focus or direction of emotional energy on a single object, idea, or activity. 2. A fixation or obsession.

Notes: Like all English words ending on -is (basis : bases, crisis : crises), the plural of this word is cathexes [kê-thek-seez]. Psychoanalysts, who define the word slightly differently (the focus of sexual energy), use the verb cathect and the adjective cathetic "related to cathexis", so why shouldn't we?

In Play: A cathexis does not necessarily focus on a fetish; work can be a cathexis if it is carried out with energy redirected from other parts of your life: "I wouldn't say that Sheila loves chocolate but rather that chocolate is the object of a passionate cathexis for her." The object of a strong cathexis, however, may be a fetish: "Sheila cathects accessories the way other women cathect men."

Word History: Today's word is a carbon copy of Greek kathexis "holding, retention" from katekhein "to hold fast", based on the intensive prefix kat(a)- "very (much)" + ekhein "to hold on (to), to keep". A historically related word is eunuch, from Greek eunoukhos, "an unmanned man in charge of the women of a harem", a word that comes from eune "bed" + ekhein "to keep". There is also a possibility that Greek skhole "a rest stop, leisure time", the origin of our word school, is related, with only the [kh] sound of ekhein surviving. If so, attitudes toward schooling would seem to have radically changed since we borrowed it. (If Curtis Simple has a cathexis for words like this, we very grateful to be its beneficiary.)
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Postby Stargzer » Thu May 25, 2006 4:46 pm

Dr. Goodword wrote: . . . "an unmanned man . . .

Now there's an interesting turn of phrase!

"To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them."
-- Attributed to Richard Henry Lee

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Postby Perry » Thu May 25, 2006 10:59 pm

Well if the procedure could be reversed, one might hear surgeons exhorted with "gentlemen, man your men".
"Time is nature's way of keeping everything from happening all at once. Lately it hasn't been working."

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