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Karen Horney

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Disagreeing with Freud on many issues and paying close attention to feminine psychology were only a few contributions that Karen Horney made to the world of Psychology. She had very different views on Neurosis and how it played a part in a person’s life.

Karen Horney was born on September 16, 1885 near Hamburg, Germany (Muskingum, 1999). Her father was Berndt Danielson and Clotilde Danielson. Berndt was a ship captain and Karen was grateful when he was out to see. She was deprived from her father’s affection and this affected her life in a dramatic way. She was always striving for his attention. She had painted a picture of her father disciplining the other children. She had developed a crush on her brother Brendt, who was preferred by her father, and he did not return the affection to Karen. At this moment was when Karen had her first bout of depression.

Karen was very close to her mother, and she faced another bout of depression when her mother passed away in 1911. She began Medical school in 1906 where she met her husband Oscar Horney and married him in 1909. Just before her mother passed away, she had the first of three daughters in 1910. After her mother passed away she decided to study psychoanalysis.

In 1923 her husband’s law firm collapsed and he came down with meningitis. He became meaner then he was before and was an enormous strain on their all ready strained relationship. Her brother also passed away at this time and the depression that had always riddled Karen was back again. At one points he swam out to see, and thought about committing suicide (Boeree, 1997). Karen and her daughters moved to the US in 1926.

Horneys theory of neurosis was of one of a day to day life. She saw neurosis as a way to make life more manageable and bearable. As she said, this is a way to seem like we are doing ok when we may be sinking. She developed ten patterns of needs in her experiences.

The neurotic needs are as follows:

1. The neurotic need for affection and approval, the indiscriminate need to please others and be liked by them.

2. The neurotic need for a partner, for someone who will take over one's life. This includes the idea that love will solve all of one's problems. Again, we all would like a partner to share life with, but the neurotic goes a step or two too far.

3. The neurotic need to restrict one's life to narrow borders, to be undemanding, satisfied with little, to be inconspicuous. Even this has its normal counterpart. Who hasn't felt the need to simplify life when it gets too stressful, to join a monastic order, disappear into routine, or to return to the womb?

4. The neurotic need for power, for control over others, for a facade of omnipotence. We all seek strength, but the neurotic may be desperate for it. This is dominance for its own sake, often accompanied by a contempt for the weak and a strong belief in one's own rational powers.

5. The neurotic need to exploit others and get the better of them. In the ordinary person, this might be the need to have an effect, to have impact, to be heard. In the neurotic, it can become manipulation and the belief that people are there to be used. It may also involve a fear of being used, of looking stupid. You may have noticed that the people who love practical jokes more often than not cannot take being the butt of such a joke themselves!

6. The neurotic need for social recognition or prestige. We are social creatures, and sexual ones, and like to be appreciated. But these people are overwhelmingly concerned with appearances and popularity. They fear being ignored, be thought plain, "uncool," or "out of it."

7. The neurotic need for personal admiration. We need to be admired for inner qualities as well as outer ones. We need to feel important and valued. But some people are more desperate, and need to remind everyone of their importance -- "Nobody recognizes genius," "I'm the real power behind the scenes, you know,"

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