Karen Danielsen Horney
Horneywas a powerful critic of Freudian theory who, among other things, stressed socio-cultural influences on personality development and neurosis.Horney argued that during the course of development and the emergence of thereal self, children may experiencebasic anxietyand, in some cases, a person may developneurotic trendsor irrational strategies of coping with basic anxiety.
Inherent Constructive Forces
Horney’s belief in inherent constructive forces made her much more optimistic than Freud about the possibilities of psychotherapy.According to her, Freud did not have any clear vision of constructive forces and denied their authentic character.
Horney believed that people were able to act as their own therapists, emphasizing the personal role each person has in their own mental health and encouraging self-analysis and self-help.
Horney Vs. Freud
For Freud, creativity and love were sublimated forms of libidinal drives, and a striving for self-fulfillment could only be regarded as an expression of narcissistic libido .For Horney, the goal of therapy was not to transform hysterical misery into everyday unhappiness but to help people achieve the joy of self-realization.
Self-revelation is difficult and must be facilitated by the therapists’ having a genuine respect for their patients, a sincere desire for their well-being, and a wholehearted interest in everything they think and feel.“The therapist assists them in overcoming fear or hopelessness, giving them a sense that their problems can be resolved.”BuildingSelf Efficacy?
Living With Neurosis
“In the course of analysis, patients must confront not only their loss of glory but also their unsavory characteristics, which are the product of their neurosis. They tend to react with unconstructive self-hate, rather than with the self-acceptance that will enable them to grow.”
Healthy Vs. Neurotic Forces
The conflict between healthy and neurotic forces may never be finally resolved, but there may be a decisive shift in the balance of power.Therapy can be terminated when the balance has shifted decisively to the side of the strivings for growth and patients are ready to deal with their problems themselves through continuing self-analysis.
Karen Horney’sPersonality Types
Horney identified three unconscious strategies or movements employed by different types of neurotic individuals to deal with basic anxiety:1) thecompliant typemoves towardother people;2) thehostile typemoves againstother people; and3) thedetached typemoves awayfrom other people.
Ideal Vs. Real Self
Such strategies may establish anideal selfin tension with the real self, and a neurotic person may developblind spotsby denying experiences that are inconsistent with the ideal self. Theseneurotic solutionsmay induceself-hatredor atyranny of the should.Horney also investigated feminine psychology and thoroughly criticized Freud’s account of feminine sexuality. Horney saw gender differences as a function of environmental and not genetic influences.
A Feminist’s Perspective
A revival of interest In Horney’s approach and views began with the publication ofFeminine Psychology(New York, 1967), a collection of her essays from the 1920s and 30s, many of which were originally written in German.She disagreed with Freud about penis envy, female masochism, and feminine development.
Ahead of Her Time
These essays were controversial when they first appeared and were largely ignored until they reappeared in the 1967 publication.Since then, they have been widely read, and there has been a growing recognition that Karen Horney was the first great psychoanalytic feminist.
Horney argued that females have intrinsic biological constitutions and patterns of development that must be understood in their own terms and not just as products of their difference from males.She contended that psychoanalysis regards women as defective men because it is the product of a male genius (Freud) and a male-dominated culture.
The male view of the female has been incorporated into psychoanalysis as a scientific picture of woman's essential nature.Horney developed the concept of "womb-envy," contending that male envy of pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood, and of the breasts and suckling, gives rise to an unconscious tendency to devalue women.
Men's impulse toward creative work is an overcompensation, she argued, for their small role in procreation.
Notable Contributions to Psychology
Because of her emphasis on self-realization as the goal of life and the source of healthy values, Horney was recognized by Abraham Maslow as one of the founders of humanistic psychology.
Notable Contributions to Psychology
Her theory has most in common, perhaps, with the work of Erich Fromm, Ernest Schachtel, Carl Rogers, and Maslow.Many of Horney's ideas have made their way, often unacknowledged, into the array of concepts and techniques that are currently employed in clinical practice.