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A History Of Karen Horney English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1563 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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A History of Karen Horney. The History of Karen Horney has proven through history of psychology to be an essential part of it. Through this paper every essential part of Horney’s life and several after her death are brought up and shown the significance of it, from her childhood, marriage and children, her education and career. Then her significance in history is brought in play, bringing up her theories like her Theory on Neurosis, Mature Theory, Theory of Self, and Neo-Freudism. Another significant impact is her involvement as a female in the field of psychology. Finally the legacy she left behind for the field of psychology was the Karen Horney Clinic and also the Karen Horney Award both created after her death and both still active even today.

What Karen Horney Did For Psychology: A History of Karen Horney

Karen Horney was born Karen Danielsen on 16 September 1885 in Blankenese, Germany. Her father, Berndt Wackels Danielsen, was a ship’s captain,  authoritarian, and a religious figure. Her mother, Clotilde was very different kind of person, being much more elegant than Berndt. Horney’s older brother was also named Berndt, who Horney cared for deeply. She also had four elder half-siblings from her father’s previous marriage.

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Horney Knew her father as a harsh authoritative person and also noticed that he kept Berndt, the son, on a higher pedestal than her. Her father attempted to try to get her approval by buying her gifts or taking her out on his voyages on his boat. No matter what Horney felt as if she was not treated as equally as her brother and was not given the same affection as her brother which lead to her becoming attached to her mother. Since Horney’s Childhood her view on life and attitude became very difficult towards other people and their positive opinion about her. She truly suffered through years of depression which affected her for the rest of her life. It had an effect on her school and her career.

Through Horney’s career she developed theories and ideas that many professionals in the field of psychology still put into play today. These include her Theory of Neurosis which eventually becomes The Mature Theory, her belief in Neo-Freudianism, and also her Theory of Self. She was also a rather large part having females actively in the field of psychology.

Horney’s Theory of Neurosis was developed while she was a psychiatrist. It is believed that her childhood is part of the reason for this to be developed. Horney saw neurosis in different point of view than most psychoanalysts of the time. Her in interest in neurosis led her to ” complete a detailed theory of neurosis with data from her patients”. Horney understood neurosis as something that was consistent in someone’s lifetime. Which is different from most theorist which believes that neurosis was a negative attribute for a person’s mind like any negative mental disorder.

Horney understood that importance of the influences to a person during their childhood. She specifically pointed out the importance of a parents affect on a child. A child’s perception of events against the parents actual intentions of their action is what is most important in understanding a person’s neurosis. One example is “a child might feel a lack of warmth and affection should a parent make fun of the child’s feelings. The parent may also casually neglect to fulfill promises, which in turn could have a detrimental effect on the child’s mental state.”

Throughout Horney’s career her experience led her to create ten patterns of neurotic needs. These needs are based on different things that a person needs to succeed in life. She tool these needs and applied them to what she believed was a person’s neurosis. A neurotically affected person could possibly have all ten of the patterns but does not need all ten to be considered neurotic. These ten patterns of neurosis were condensed into three broad categories: Compliance, Aggression, and Detachment. Compliance is seen as a process of “moving towards people, or self-effacement. Under Horney’s theory children facing difficulties with parents often use this strategy”. Aggression is called the “moving against people, or the “expansive” solution. Neurotic children or adults within this category often exhibit anger or basic hostility to those around them”. Detachment is  the “moving-away-from or resigning solution or a detached personality”. Horney recognized that children might simply try to become self sufficient. This is eventually refined once more by Horney in her later years of her work.

The Mature Theory is a summary of her ideas coming from her writing “Neurosis and Human Growth: The Struggle Toward Self-Realization”, her major work published in 1950. It is in this book that she summarizes her ideas regarding neurosis, clarifying her three neurotic “solutions” to the stresses of life. The expansive or aggressive solution became a 3 part combination of narcissistic, perfectionistic and arrogant-vindictive approaches to life. Her other two neurotic “solutions” were also a refinement of her previous views: self-effacement, or submission to others, and resignation, or detachment from others.

Through Horney’s career her and Alfred Adler came to form the Neo-Freudian discipline. Being a Neo-Freudian you follow and use Freud’s theory’s and idea but instead of using them exactly you expand on them and create your own theories from Freud’s . For example,

“While Horney acknowledged and agreed with Freud on many issues, she was also critical of him on several key beliefs. Freud’s notion of “penis envy” in particular was subject to criticism by Horney. She thought Freud had merely stumbled upon women’s jealousy of men’s generic power in the world. Horney accepted that penis envy might occur occasionally in neurotic women, but stated that “womb envy” occurs just as much in men: Horney felt that men were envious of a woman’s ability to bear children. The degree to which men are driven to success may be merely a substitute for the fact that they cannot carry, nurture and bear children. Horney also reworked the Freudian Oedipal complex of the sexual elements, claiming that the clinging to one parent and jealousy of the other was simply the result of anxiety, caused by a disturbance in the parent-child relationship. “

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Another theory of hers, which she shared with Abraham Maslow, was the Theory of Self. This is the idea that everyone is striving for self-actualization. By the word “self” Horney explained that she believed in a person’s “being and potential”. Her Theory on Self consisted of a person having “an accurate conception of our own self”, which helps a person realize their “potential” and to work toward that potential. This “self-actualization” is believed to be is the healthy route of life slightly opposing the neurotic needs. Horney believed that people have two views of themselves, “the ‘real’ self and the’ ideal’ self”. While the real self is that potential mentioned earlier, the potential for “growth, happiness, will power…”, the ideal self is a model for the real self to help develop the potential to reach that level of self-actualization.

Females in the field of psychology during Horney’s time was down to a minimum. There were organization specializing in such but they were never as big as the more popular organizations such as the APA. Horney was one of the first to pave the way for fellow female psychiatrists and psychologists. Horney published 14 papers between the years of 1922 and 1937 all put into a single volume titled “Feminine Psychology”. Horney’s worked for females in her field proving that “many cultures and societies worldwide encouraged women to be dependent on mean for their love, prestige, wealth, care and protection”. She believed that society there is too much of a will by women to “please, satiate, and overvalue men”. She worked to prove and display this and it was finally proven to the public by her works in the “Feminine Psychology”.

After the death of Karen Horney, which occurred December 4th, 1952, a legacy was left which we use today. Besides her theories and her push into the field as a female there were also the Karen Horney Clinic and the Karen Horney Award. The Karen Horney Clinic opened on May 6, 1955 in New York City, in honor of Horney’s achievements. The institution is open for research and as a training facility for medical professionals for the psychiatric fields; it is also a low-cost treatment center for patients. Then there was the Karen Horney Award which was established by the Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis. The award was given to anyone who wrote an outstanding contribution toward the development of psychoanalysis and continue the work and ideas of Karen Horney.


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