In Karen Horney's opinion, a neurotic process is a special form of human development and constitutes the antithesis of healthy growth. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables. Abstract. In Karen. Karen Horney - Neurosis and Human Growth (Struggle Toward Self-Realization) [PDF] - Ebook download as PDF File .pdf), Text File .txt) or read book online. NEUROSIS AND HUMAN GROWTH ends: no more loneliness; no more feeling lost, guilty, and un- worthy; no more responsibility for self; no more struggle with.
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One of the most original psychoanalysts after Freud, Karen Horney pioneered such now familiar concepts as alienation, self-realization, and the idealized image. Neurosis and human growth by Karen Horney; 8 editions; First published in ; Subjects: Accessible book, Child development, Growth. Neurosis and Human Growth: The Struggle Toward Self-Realization is the magnum opus of Print/export. Create a book · Download as PDF · Printable version.
Needless to say, it is complex. But Neurosis and Human Growth is provocative because it is so hard to distinguish where it goes awry.
They have, as it were, no other alternative. Our problem is that we are driven to actualize an idealized vision of ourselves. Others may be driven to seek external success, regardless of their activity.
In a key paragraph, Horney writes: The difference, then, between healthy strivings and neurotic drives is one between spontaneity and compulsion; between recognizing and denying limitations; between a focus upon the vision of a glorious end-product and a feeling for evolution; between seeming and being, fantasy and truth.
The difference thus stated is not identical with that between a relatively healthy and a neurotic individual. The former may not be wholeheartedly engaged in realizing his real self nor is the latter wholly driven to actualize his idealized self. But, while the difference between the healthy and the neurotic person in this respect is simply one of degree, the difference between genuine striving and compulsive drives, despite surface similarities, is one of quality and not of quantity.
In other words, there is a difference in kind of motivations—the real self operates on healthy motivations, while all others are neurotic.
In Horney's view, the key difference between neurosis and healthy growth is the difference between compulsive actions fueled by anxiety and spontaneous actions fueled by one's full range of emotions. If a person grows up able to maintain his or her spontaneity, that person grows up by a process which Horney calls self-realization. Horney describes self-realization as the development of a person's given potentialities, and compares it with the process of an acorn growing, given fertile soil, into a tree.
The principal subject of the book, however, is what happens when a person's spontaneity is crushed in early life. The person will slowly lose touch with that spontaneity or " real self " and develop, instead, a reactive self which is constructed to respond to dangers of various kinds. If a child's early environment is such that the child grows up seeing the world as basically hostile, compulsive actions will predominate and the child will grow up devoted to allaying anxiety.
This development and its consequences for the adult personality are what Horney calls neurosis. Horney devotes thirteen chapters to an analysis of the neurotic development in all its nuances and the various forms it can take as a person grows into adulthood, one chapter to the process of overcoming neurosis in therapy, and one chapter to how her theory compares and contrasts with classical psychoanalytic theory.
This book was the inspiration for Robert C. Tucker 's biographies of Joseph Stalin , whom Tucker describes as a Horneyan neurotic. Horney influenced Bill W. You interest me very much when you talk of Karen Horney.
Eventually the individual may come to identify himself with his idealized, integrated image. The n it does not remai n a vi- sionary image which he secretly cherishes; imperceptibly he becomes this image: the idealized image becomes an idealized self.
And this idealized self becomes more real to hi m than his real self, not primarily because it is more appealing but because it answers all his stringent needs. Thi s transfer of his center of gravity is an entirely inward process; there is no observable or conspicuous out ward change in hi m.
Th e change is in the core of his being, in his feeling about himself. It is a curious and ex- clusively human process.
It would hardly occur to a cocker spaniel that he "really" is an Irish setter. And the transition can occur in a person only because his real self has previously become indistinct. Whi l e the healthy course at this phase of devel opment and at any phasewould be a move toward his real self, he now starts to abandon it definitely for the idealized self.
The latter begins to represent to hi m what he "really" is, or potentially iswhat he could be, and should be.
It becomes the perspective from which he looks at himself, t he measuring rod with which he measures himself. Self-idealization, in its various aspects, is what I suggest call- ing a comprehensive neurotic solutioni. No wonder, then, t hat when he believes he has found such a solution he clings to it for dear life.
No wonder that, to use a good psychiatric term, it becomes compulsive. We can look at self-idealization from two major vantage points: it is the logical outcome of an early development and it is also the begi nni ng of a new one.
It is bound to have far-reach- ing influence upon the further development because there sim- ply is no more consequential step to be taken t han the abandon- ing of the real self. But the main reason for its revolutionary effect lies in another implication of this step.
The energies driving toward self-realization are shifted to the aim of actualiz- ing the idealized self. Thi s shift means no more and no less than a change in the course of the individual' s whole life and de- velopment. We shall see t hroughout this book the manifold ways in which this shift in direction exerts a molding influence upon the whole personality.
Its more immediate effect is to prevent self-idealization from remai ni ng a purely inward process, and to force it i nt o the total circuit of the individual' s life. The indi- vidual wants toor, rather, is driven toexpress himself.
And this now means that he wants to express his idealized self, to prove it in action. It infiltrates his aspirations, his goals, his conduct of life, and his relations to others. For this reason, self- idealization inevitably grows i nt o a more comprehensive drive which I suggest calling by a name appropri at e to its nat ure and its dimensions: the search for glory.
Self-idealization remains its nuclear part.
The other elements in it, all of them always present, t hough in varying degrees of strength and awareness in each individual case, are the need for perfection, neurot i c ambi t i on, and the need for a vindictive t ri umph. Among t he drives toward actualizing the idealized self the need for perfection is the most radical one. It aims at not hi ng 4 We shall discuss the exact meani ng of compulsiveness when we have a more compl et e vi ew of some further steps i nvol ved in this sol uti on.
Chapter 3, Th e Tyranny of the Shoul d. Like Pygmalion in Bernard Shaw's version, the neurotic ai ms not only at ret ouchi ng but at remodeling himself into his spe- cial ki nd of perfection prescribed by the specific features of his idealized image. He tries to achieve this goal by a complicated system of shoulds and taboos.
Since this process is both crucial and complex, we shall leave its discussion for a separate chap- ter. The most obvious and the most extrovert among the elements of the search for glory is neurotic ambition, the drive toward external success. Whi l e this drive toward excelling in actuality is pervasive and tends toward excelling in everything, it is usually most strongly applied to those matters in which excel- ling is most feasible for the given individual at a given time.
Hence the content of ambi t i on may well change several t i mes dur i ng a lifetime. At school a person may feel it an i nt ol erabl e disgrace not to have the very best marks in class. Later on, he may be just as compulsively driven to have the most dates wi t h the most desirable girls. And again, still later, he may be ob- sessed with making the most money, or being the most promi - nent in politics.
Such changes easily give rise to certain self- deceptions. A person who has at one period been fanatically det ermi ned to be the greatest athletic hero, or war hero, may at anot her period become equally bent on being the greatest saint. He may believe, then, that he has "lost" his ambi t i on.
Or he may decide that excelling in athletics or in war was not what he "really" wanted. Thus he may fail to realize that he still sails on the boat of ambi t i on but has merely changed the course. Of course, one must also analyze in detail what made hi m change his course at t hat particular t i me. I emphasize these changes because they point to the fact that people in the clutches of ambi t i on are but little related to the content of what they are doing.
What counts is the excelling itself. If one did not recog- nize this unrelatedness, many changes would be incomprehen- sible. For the purposes of this discussion, the particular area of activity which the specific ambi t i on covets is of little interest. The pi ct ure varies, however, in many ways, according to the nat ure of the desired success.
Roughly, it may belong more in the category of power direct power, power behi nd the throne, influence, mani pul at i ng , or more in the category of prestige reputation, acclaim, popularity, admiration, special attention.
These ambitious drives are, comparatively speaking, the most r e a l i s t i c of the expansive drives. At least, this is true in the sense t hat the people involved put in actual efforts to the end of excelling. These drives also seem more realistic because, with sufficient luck, their possessors may actually acquire the coveted glamor, honors, influence. But, on the other hand, when they do attain more money, more distinction, more power, they also come to feel the whole impact of the futility of their chase.
They do not secure any more peace of mi nd, i nner security, or joy of living. The i nner distress, to remedy which they started out on the chase for the phant om of glory, is still as great as ever.
Since these are not accidental results, happeni ng to this or t hat in- di vi dual , but are inexorably bound to occur, one may rightly say that the whole pursuit of success is intrinsically unrealistic.
Since we live in a competitive culture, these remarks may sound strange or unworldly. It is so deeply ingrained in all of us that everybody wants to get ahead of the next fellow, and be bet t er than he is, that we feel these tendencies to be "nat ural.
Even in a competitive cul t ure there are many people for whom ot her valuessuch as, in particular, that of growth as a human beingare more i mport ant t han competitive excelling over ot hers. The last element in the search for glory, more destructive t han the others, is the drive toward a vindictive triumph. On t he other hand, t he drive for excel- ling may be relegated to fantasy, and the need for a vindictive t r i umph then manifests itself mainly in often irresistible, mostly unconscious impulses to frustrate, outwit, or defeat others in personal relations.
I call this drive "vindictive" because t he motivating force stems from impulses to take revenge for hu- miliations suffered in childhoodimpulses which are rein- forced duri ng the later neurot i c development. These later ac- cretions probably are responsible for the way in which the need for a vindictive t r i umph eventually becomes a regular ingre- dient in the search for glory.
Both the degree of its strength and t he person' s awareness of it vary to a remarkabl e extent. Most people are either entirely unaware of such a need or cog- nizant of it only in fleeting moments. Yet it is sometimes out in the open, and then it becomes the barely disguised main- spring of life.
Among recent historical figures Hi t l er is a good illustration of a person who went t hrough humi l i at i ng ex- periences and gave his whole life to a fanatic desire to t r i umph over an ever-increasing mass of people. In his case vicious circles, constantly increasing the need, are clearly discernible. One of these develops from the fact that he could t hi nk only in categories of t r i umph and defeat. Hence the fear of defeat made further t ri umphs always necessary.
Moreover, the feeling of grandeur, increasing with every t r i umph, rendered it increas- ingly intolerable that anybody, or even any nat i on, should not recognize his grandeur. Many case histories are similar on a smaller scale. Thr ough the discovery of the fraudulent maneuvers of his boss, with t he resultant bankruptcy of the firm, his scale of values crashes. He too, he realizes, could be "great" and "free.
And his pride is by now so inflated that when he actually approaches her, and is rejected, he strangles her. Sought by t he police, he is at times afraid, but his mai n incentive is to defeat t he police t ri umphant l y. Even in his at t empt ed suicide this is t he chief motivating force. Much more frequently the drive toward a vindictive t r i umph is hi dden.
Indeed, because of its destructive nat ure, it is the most hi dden element in the search for glory. It may be that only a rat her frantic ambi t i on will be apparent. In analysis alone are we able to see that the driving power behi nd it is the need to defeat and humi l i at e others by rising above them.
The less harmful need for superiority can, as it were, absorb the more destructive compulsion. Thi s allows a person to act out his need, and yet feel righteous about it. It is of course i mport ant to recognize the specific features of t he individual trends involved in the search for glory, because it is always the specific constellation that must be analyzed. But we can underst and nei t her the nat ure nor the impact of these trends unless we see t hem as parts of a coherent entity.
Alfred Adler was the first psychoanalyst to see it as a comprehensive phenomenon, and to poi nt out its crucial significance in neu- rosis. Ther e are various solid proofs that t he search for glory is a comprehensive and coherent entity. In the first place, all the individual trends described above regularly occur together in one person.
Of course one or anot her element may so pre- domi nat e as to make us speak loosely of, say, an ambitious per- son, or of a dreamer. But that does not mean that the dominance of one element indicates t he absence of the others. The am- bitious person will have his grandiose image of himself too; the dreamer will want realistic supremacy, even though the 7 See the compari sons wi t h Adler's and wi t h Freud's concepts in Chapter 15 of this book.
He may t ur n from glamorous daydreams to bei ng the perfect father and employer, and again to being the greatest lover of all time. Lastly, they all have in common two general characteristics, both underst andabl e from the genesis and the functions of the whole phenomenon: their compulsive nat ure and their imagi- native character.
Both have been mentioned, but it is desirable to have a more complete and succinct picture of their meaning. Thei r compulsive nature stems from the fact t hat t he self-idealization and the whole search for glory developing as its sequel is a neurot i c solution. When we call a drive com- pulsive we mean the opposite of spontaneous wishes or strivings.
The latter are an expression of the real self; the former are det ermi ned by the i nner necessities of the neurot i c structure. Th e individual must abide by t hem regardless of his real wishes, feelings, or interests lest he incur anxiety, feel torn by conflicts, be overwhelmed by guilt feelings, feel rejected by others, etc. In ot her words, the difference between spontaneous and com- pulsive is one between "I want " and "I must in order to avoid some danger.
The need for glory has hi m in its clutches. Since he himself is unaware of the differ- ence between want i ng and being driven, we must establish criteria for a distinction between the two. The most decisive one is the fact that he is driven on the road to glory with an ut t er disregard for himself, for his best interests. I remember, for example, an ambitious girl, aged ten, who t hought she woul d rat her be blind t han not become t he first in her class.
We have reason to wonder whet her more human livesliterally and 8 Because personal i ti es often l ook different in accordance wi t h the trend whi ch is prevai l i ng, the temptati on to regard these trends as separate enti ti es is great. Freud regarded phenomena whi ch are roughl y similar to these as separate i n- sti nctual drives wi t h separate origins and properties. When I made a first at- tempt to enumerate compul si ve drives in neurosis they appeared to me too as separate "neuroti c trends.
John Gabriel Borkman died when he started to doubt the validity and the possibility of realizing his grandi- ose mission.
Her e a truly tragic element enters i nt o the pi ct ure. If we sacrifice ourselves for a cause which we, and most healthy people, can realistically find constructive in terms of its value to human beings, that is certainly tragic, but also meaningful. If we fritter away our lives enslaved to the phant om of glory for reasons unknown to ourselves, that assumes the unrelieved proport i on of tragic wastethe more so, the more valuable these lives potentially are.
Anot her criterion of the compulsive nat ure of the drive for gloryas of any other compulsive driveis its indiscriminate- ness. Since the person' s real interest in a pursuit does not mat- ter, he must be the center of attention, must be the most at- tractive, the most intelligent, the most originalwhether or not the situation calls for it; whet her or not, with his given at- tributes, he can be the first.
He must come out victorious in any argument , regardless of where the t r ut h lies.