Decathexis is the process of dis-investment of mental or emotional energy in a person, object, or idea.
In narcissistic neurosis, cathexis is withdrawn from external instinctual objects (or rather their unconscious representations) and turned on the ego - a process Freud highlighted in the Schreber case, and linked to the subject's ensuing megalomania.
Decathexis of the lost person in grief was seen as a regular part of the mourning process by Freud, although later analysts have argued that such decathexis was rather the result of inhibited or partial mourning, not of successful mourning.
- Paul Denis, 'Decathexis'
- Hall, Calvin S. A Primer of Freudian Psychology. New York: Mentor, 1954.
- J-M Quinodoz, Reading Freud (2005) p. 145
- Sigmund Freud, Case Histories II (PFL 9) p. 208-11
- Otto Fenichel, The Psychoanalytic Theory of Neurosis (1946) p. 262
- Sigmund Freud, On Metapsychology (PFL 11) p. 266-7
- J-M Quinodoz, Reading Freud (2005) p. 134
- Lora H. Tessman, The Analyst's Analyst Within (2003) p. 236-7