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Download I. The background of Horney`s theory of personality
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CHAPTER FIVE OUTLINE I. The background of Horney’s theory of personality A. The following elements are to be considered the keys to understanding the theories of Karen Horney concerning personality development, which starts in early childhood. Horney’s own childhood provided a backdrop in which she developed her concepts of basic anxiety and the neurotic needs that may exist in a person. In this chapter, Horney deviates from Freud and develops her own theory of Self-Analysis and provides the framework for what we call Feminine Psychology today. B. The basic elements of Horney’s Feminine Psychology include: 1. A child needs for safety and security early in life, according to Horney. Horney suggested early childhood trauma could unsettle the child which may cause Basic Anxiety. This basic anxiety could become the basis of neurotic needs which follows the child in the form of negative patterns of behavior in adulthood. The ten neurotic needs are affection and approval, a dominant partner, power, exploitation, prestige, admiration, achievement or ambition, self-sufficiency, perfection, and narrow limits to life. 2. These ten neurotic needs create three trends in personality development. These three trends are (A) the compliant type, (B) the aggressive type, and (C) the detached type of personality. For the neurotic person, one of these trends becomes the dominant way a person handles conflict and hostility. Horney was quick to suggest that these three trends may be perceived in normal people but become pronounced in neurotic persons. That is, conflict in a normal process we have in life situations. 3. Horney believed there was a conflict between our “real self” and the “idealized self.” The normal person understands their life goals and dreams in a realistic manner. A neurotic person perceives the traumas of life to be a challenge to perform perfectly, so that others will see how well they perform. This goal of perfectionism will not be obtainable. Hence, the neurotic person will only be frustrated as they attempt to unify their spirit. This “idealized self-image” becomes an illusion for neurotics, and not realistic nor satisfying for the person. The “tyranny of the shoulds”, according to Horney, is the attempt to meet the unobtainable goals of perfectionism. Neurotics will externalize their frustrations for their unfulfilled goals of perfectionism by projecting blame on the world and people around them. If they blame others for their unrealized goals, then they will not have to take internal responsibility for their own actions or choices which may fail them. 4. While Freud believed, (based on his clinical interviews with women), that women were frustrated and unhappy because they were not males. Horney took exception to this poor image of women and their inadequacy compared to men. Horney developed the concept of womb envy in boys to counter Freud’s concept of penis envy for girls. Horney rejected Freud’s notion of a woman having an inadequate superego, which comes from not being able to resolve the Oedipal Conflict as a girl. Horney believed the Oedipal Conflict produced conflicts between the parent and child. This may occur when the parent violates the child’s sense of security. Freud was very angry at Horney for taking oppositional viewpoints on his psychosexual theory of childhood. C. 5. Horney became an advocate for women in their ability to have children and a career. She recognized the issues of a woman having dignity and equality within the workplace and the conflict this might bring in raising a family. These issues have made more contemporary theorists re-introduce the theories of Karen Horney, especially in the area of Feminine Psychology. Horney also recognized that social and cultural influences can influence and even determine what a woman should do with her life goals. 6. Self-realization, according to Horney, should be a life long goal. To this end, Horney believed in the importance of continuous self-analysis, in which she refined as a technique of therapy. Assessment in Horney’s Theory 1. D. Horney used dream analysis and free association, but desired the therapist to take a more active role with a patient. The therapist would present friendliness towards the client and would sit across the patient in a chair, not lying down on an analyst’s couch. Free association was to unveil attitudes and feelings, not to be symbolic repressed references from infantile or childhood fantasies. This process was used to uncover layers of attitudes, experiences, and emotions which could reveal the person’s true self. Dreams were connected to what the patient felt about the dream, not symbolic representation. Research in Horney’s Theory 1. Horney did not agree with others, such as Freud, Jung and Adler in the note-taking usage of verbatims in the therapy session. She used the case study method of validating her work. Horney did attempt to use hypotheses in formulating her opinions in the therapeutic session. Research tends to validate Horney’s theories in relation to her three neurotic trends (Berg, Janoff-Bulman, & Cotter, 2001). However, further research in Feminine Psychology gives conflicting conclusions with Horney’s rejection of penis envy in women, while giving some credibility towards poor ego development in women (Hall & Van de Castle, 1965). Research with Horney’s culturally induced “neurotic competitiveness,” when using a selfreport inventory of this concept, found that people who score high on competitiveness also had high factors in narcissistic behaviors and were low in self-esteem (Ryckman, Hammer, Kaczor, & Gold, 1990).