Friday, June 17, 2011

Karen Horney

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In Horney’s book, New Ways In Psychoanalysis she significantly widened the limitations of Sigmund Freud’s theories and prepared the theories to be obtainable to a wide-ranging public. Freud is considered the father of psychology and psychoanalysis. His theories are based on sexual instincts rather than biological. In Horney’s book she disagrees with Freud’s libido theory, views and emphasis of childhood, and female masochism. Horney emphasized the significance of communal, educational, and gender aspects in human maturity, disagreeing on Freud’s focus on sexual disagreement as the origin of neurosis. Horney says, “Sexual problems, although they may sometimes prevail in the symptomatic picture, are no longer considered to be in the dynamic center of neuroses. Sexual difficulties are the effect rather than the cause of the neurotic character structure” (Horney p.10). These will be the three points discussed in the paper. It is important to know that she did base her beliefs on Freudian theory. She believed that change and contributions were necessary in order to further psychoanalysis. She believed that Freud did not pay attention to social factors that he emphasized physiological factors. Horney did agree with Freud that childhood is important to understand, however, she thought he spent an inordinate amount of time on it. Horney thought it was more important to find what in the past was causing the problem in the present not the psychosexual stages concentrated by Freud. Freud believed that masochism was natural to the female existence where as Horney believed masochism originated from personality conflicts. Her contributions and involvement in psychosomatic theory led her to be the first therapist to confront Freud’s culture �bound analysis of women. She believed that Freud’s theories were made to explain the male’s view and completely ignore female’s view.


In Horney’s book, New Ways in Psychoanalysis Horney rejected Freud’s libido theory. Freud’s libido theory is based on sexuality and its influence on the personality. Freud believed that all bodily sensations of a pleasurable nature, or strivings for them, are sexual in nature. Freud believed that after a baby nursed he/she felt the same sensation after someone having intercourse. Horney had her own theory about Freud’s theory. Horney emphasized that woman’s feelings of inferiority to men point to the defects in our society, and is not the result of women’s lack of penis. “I realized… that my search for a better understanding had led me in directions that were at a variance with Freud. If so many factors that Freud regarded as instinctual were culturally determined, if so much that Freud considered libidinal was a neurotic need for affection, provoked by anxiety and aimed at feeling safe with others, then the libido theory was no longer tenable. Childhood experiences remained important, but the influence they exerted on our lives appeared in a new light” (Horney 1, p1). Horney questioned the role of gender in personality development and stressed the importance of society and culture as determining factors for normal and pathological development. Horney disagreed with Freud’s penis envy. Horney believed that Freud was really detecting a women’s justified envy of men’s power in the world. While penis envy might occur occasionally in neurotic woman, she said womb envy occurs just as much in men. Horney felt that men were envious of a woman’s ability to bear children. To the degree in which men are driven to succeed and to have their names live on. Horney believed that men compensated for their inherit ability to carry, nurture and bear children. Horney did not understand why Freud placed so much emphasis on the male anatomy. Furthermore, Horney desexualized Freud’s oedipal complex, stating that clinging to one parent and jealousy of the other was simply the result of anxiety caused by a disturbance in the parent-child relationship. “When we realize the great impact of cultural conditions on neuroses, the biological and physiological conditions, which are considered by Freud to be their root, recede in to the background” (Horney 1, p.1) .


Horney did agree with Freud on the importance of anxiety-provoking childhood experiences in the development of maladjustment. However, Horney did not agree with Freud’s theory of primary narcissism, infantile fixation, and repetition compulsion theories. Anxiety became a central aspect of Horney’s theory, accounting for the personality’s defensive and security operations. Horney believed that oral, anal, and genital drives do not exist in all human beings. Horney believed that the compulsive drive was not based on satisfying sexual instincts as Freud did, but to provide safety from feelings of isolation, helplessness, fear, and hostility. She did not question the influence of childhood development, but how it operated. Horney believed that adverse experiences in childhood affected development… “Let us say, anticipating evil rather than good, the old experiences enter directly into adult ones” (Horney 1 p15). She believed that all childhood experiences develop the personality not sexual instincts “the sum total of childhood experiences brings about a certain character structure, or rather starts its development” (Horney 1, p.67).


Horney also disagrees with Freud’s theory that women are masochistic the desire to be hurt, even physically, a probable source of the myth that women wish to be raped. Horney states, “Masochistic drives are neither an essentially sexual phenomenon nor the result of biologically determined processes, but originate in personality conflicts” ( Horney 1, p. 80). Freud believed that masochism was natural to female existence. Freud’s purpose was to discover the internal psychic reasons for the realities he observed. His theory, stated briefly, was that the original anatomical structure of both sexes was male � which remains obvious in the boy (the penis) and in the girl (the clitoris). When children discover the difference between the sexes by seeing the external difference, girls suffer shock, they have no penis. Girls then envy the boys, loose their sadistic-aggressive tendencies, and develop feelings of inferiority. In the same experience, boys, however, find their aggressive self-confidence. Girls turn to their fathers in order to make up for their deficiencies. The girls think that the father relates to the boys because of the physical differences. Then the girls feelings of inferiority are greater and the fear of not being loved deepens their dependent relationship towards men. The relationship that the girls have towards females is resentment. Identity is tied to the loss of maleness, which can only be regained through the birth of a son. If girls are to have anything enjoyable, she must get over the chain of masochistic frustrations. Freud believed that male masochism is pathological; the female form is the normal psychic consequence of the difference of anatomy. Horney believed that Freud’s view of female masochism stems not from Freud, the Psychoanalysis, but from Freud, the boy.


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Horney observed that her uncertainties about Freud’s theories regarding women caused doubts concerning his theory as correct. After she immigrated to the United States in the 10’s, these qualms were established in her book, New Ways in Psychoanalysis. Many of her colleagues said the she was abandoning the spirit of psychoanalysis.





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