Karen Danielsen, the daughter of Berndt Danielsen and Clotilde (Sonni) Danielsen, was born in Blankenese, Germany, on 16th September, 1885. Her father, who had been born in Norway, was a ship's captain in t he merchant marine. He was twenty years older than his wife and had four grown up children by his first marriage, and a three-year-old son, Berndt, from his second marriage. (1)
Sonni married Danielsen in 1881, not out of love, she told Karen, but out of fear of being left on the shelf. Karen felt hostile to her father, who she described as "a cruel disciplinary figure" and believed he favoured her brother over her. "He (Berndt Danielsen) delivers conversation sermons, says endless, rather stupid, prayers every morning... I cannot listen to his sensuous, materialistic, illogical, intolerant views of everything high and holy. He is simply a low, ordinary, stupid character, who cannot rise to higher things." Jack L. Rubins argues that his feelings towards his children was defined in part by religious beliefs: "Did not the Bible declare the woman to be secondarily created from the man". (2).
Karen had a much better relationship with her mother. Her father had been a successful architect and was the Surveyor and Director of Harbour Construction for Bremerhaven. Sonni's mother died two weeks after her birth. She was brought up by her father's third wife, Wilhelmine Lorentz-Mayer. She had been educated by her father and this included physics and Latin, subjects that were usually a male preserve. It has been suggested by Susan Quinn that it is "quite possible that Karen Danielsen's early ambitions, so unusual in a girl of the time, were inspired by this unusual grandmother." (3)
Karen also had a difficult relationship with her brother: "I know that as a child I wanted for a long time to be a boy, that I envied Berndt because he could stand near a tree and pee, that in charades I played a prince, that I loved to wear pants and was happy in my gym suit; perhaps hence also that at the age of 12 I cut my hair off to my neckline, thus being the curly haired prince again. I didn't like small children at all: rejection of specifically feminine motherliness.... It was always my pride that in school I was better than Berndt... But the neurotic's every attempt at compensation leads to overcompensation; with the ever-present sense of inferiority goes the desire to stand out, and a hypersensitivity toward reprimand and reproach." (4)
On 7th June, 1899, Karen decided to keep a secret diary: "How I came to be writing a diary is easy to explain: it’s because I am enthusiastic about everything new, and I have decided now to carry this through so that in later years I can better remember the days of my youth… I feel very dignified today, since I had my hair pinned up for the first time even though I am only 13 years old." (5)
Over the next eleven years she kept a detailed account of her thoughts and feelings: "Her diary was her confidante, with whom she carried on a personal dialogue, even though, as with an old friend whom we see only occasionally but with whom we feel in close contact, she wrote in it only intermittently, sometimes weekly, sometimes at yearly intervals... Her own words provide an insight into her personality and emotional development. The style of writing is innocent, intimate, revealing... she confided her hopes, her ideals, her plans and especially her problems and doubts." (6)
Karen loved going to school and developed close relationships with some of her teachers. "Herr Schulze, for history and religion. Heavenly, i.e., interesting, clever, quiet (almost imperturbable), naive, liberal views, not petty, a little too exact and thorough, trusting (almost too much so), selfless, charming father and friend, lovable, ironic, interested in us, his pupils.... Fräulein Banning, for French... Angelic, charming, interesting, clever, lovable, not strict, natural, opposite of pedantry and fussiness, unfortunately nervous, at times rather shy, delightful, like a sensitive plant (I believe it comes from nervousness)." (7)
Karen used her diary to explain her relationship with her parents. She wrote a message to her father: "We are so unspeakably happy when you are not here. Mother is our greatest happiness." (8) It has been argued that Karen like all children in divided marriages, felt she had to take sides. She later wrote that the child's "first attempts to relate himself to others are determined not by his real feelings but by strategic necessities... he has... to devise ways to cope with people and to manipulate them with minimum damage to himself." (9) However, she also had problems with her mother who she found "domineering". (10)
Karen was an intelligent child and from the age of fourteen she expressed a wish to go to university to study to become a doctor. However, at this time this was not possible. There were no schools in Hamburg that offered the six year course that enabled girls to prepare for the difficult Abitur examination. The other problem was that it was not a university in Germany that admitted women. "Yet in her imagination she was already Dr. Karen Danielsen, out there in the world curing diseases and saving lives." (11)
Kaiser Wilhelm II made a speech explaining why he thought it was wrong for women to go to university: "Our women... should learn that the principal task of the German woman lies not in the field of assemblies and associations, not in the achievement of supposed rights, with which they can do the same things as men, but in quiet work in the house and in the family. They should bring up the younger generation above all else to obedience and respect for their elders. They should make it clear to their children and their children's children that what matters today is not living one's life at the expense of others, achieving one's own aim at the expense of the Fatherland, but solely and exclusively committing all one's mind and strength to the good of the Fatherland." (12)
Karen was living in a society where any woman with aspirations for herself was selfish and unpatriotic. However, it was a time of changing attitudes. In 1895, August Bebel, the leader of the Social Democrat Party had introduced a motion in the Reichstag to grant suffrage to women. Although this measure was rejected, attempts were being made change the type of education provided to girls. She wrote in her diary that at first she wanted to become a teacher. "Then I went beyond that, and wanted to study." (13)
After finishing elementary school, most girls in Hamburg entered a Klosterschule. Heavy emphasis was placed on religious studies - history of religion, Bible study, theology - along with philosophy, literature, history, mathematics, German, French and English. No subjects were taught that were not tolerated by the church. This included human biology, a subject that Karen needed to study if she wanted to go to medical school. She therefore wanted to go to the Gymnasium where all the sciences were taught. This was a problem as she would need her father's financial help and would need to have his permission to go. (14)
On 12th January, 1901, Karen described her father's attitude towards her education. "My chances for the Gymnasium are getting better. I already know more about it. It's 5 years and begins with Oberteria (9th grade). We don't need to know any Latin or mathematics. Once Father has digested the monstrous idea of sending his daughter to the Gymnasium, Mother will talk with him further. He is approachable now. I wanted to tell you my experiences only on Sundays, dear diary, but I experience so much every day that I just can't save it up till Sunday." (15)
At first her father said he said he was unsure if he could afford to send her to the Gymnasium: "This uncertainty makes me sick. Why can't Father make up his mind a little faster? He, who has flung out thousands for my stepbrother Enoch, who is both stupid and bad, first turns every additional penny he is to spend for me 10 times in his fingers. And we did make it clear to him that he has to feed me only as long as I attend school. Once I have my diploma I most certainly don't want another penny from him. He would like me to stay at home now, so we could dismiss our maid and I could do her work. He brings me almost to the point of cursing my good gifts." (16)
Karen wrote in February 1901 that something was missing in her life: "Why? Why is everything beautiful on earth given to me, only not the highest thing, not love! I have a heart so needing love, the words apply to me too: To love and be loved is the highest bliss on earth. Only the first is granted me. Yes, I love Mother, Berndt, Herr Schulze, Fräulein Banning, with all my heart. But who loves me???" (17)
Berndt Danielsen eventually agreed to allow Karen to go to the Gymnasium. "How can I describe the impression the first 3 days at the Gymnasium made on me?? General impression: overwhelming, bewildering. It is something totally different. So I should probably describe the separate impressions. All the teachers gave inaugural speeches, which struck me as awfully funny. Our mathematics teacher, Dr. Bohnert, is very nice, clear and comprehensible, amiable in explaining. The Latin one, Dr. Christensen, is so far just loathsome. He never asks me questions, since I sit way in the back. The German one, Dr. Ahlgrim, is very good looking and, last but not least, the history teacher, Dr. Ziebarth, seems to be nice and interesting. A lady, with whom we also have English and French, sits in on the lessons: Frau Grube. One thing I've already noticed, I'm only now beginning to learn what 'learning' means." (18)
Karen's diary shows that she was willing to question her strict moralistic religious environment she had been raised in. This was very unusual thing to do for a teenager growing up in Germany at the time. At the age of seventeen she began reading books by Émile Zola and Guy de Maupassant. "One question occupied my mind for weeks, even months: is it wrong to give oneself to a man outside of marriage or not? I answered now in the affirmative, now in the negative. Only very gradually did I become certain that it is never immoral to give oneself to a man one really loves, if one is prepared to also bear all the consequences. How did I arrive at this joyously triumphant certainty? I don't know. I think a lot of things worked together."
Karen went on to discuss her ideas on marriage: "A girl who gives herself to a man in free love stands morally way above the woman who, for pecuniary reasons or out of a desire for a home, marries a man she does not love. Marriage is something only external. It is bad-not theoretically-but when one comes to know how few marriages are really good ones. I know two families from our large circle of acquaintances of whom I guess this is the case. But the one couple are pretty limited people, the other very superficial." (19)
In her diary Karen wrote about her need for a boyfriend. Her biographer, Jack L. Rubins, has pointed out: "In a photograph taken at this time, her face still carries the imprint of a striking young adolescent beauty - fine-featured, with a thin, straight patrician nose, high rounded cheekbones and a chin just beginning to take on the softly rounded contours of womanhood. And yet, as she was later to recall, she did not appreciate this subtle beauty. She did not feel beautiful. She often felt unlovable and unloved." (20)
During this period she developed strong views on morality: "The question of ethics in free love as opposed to marriage is really nonsense. Real, deep love is always of moral greatness because it elevates us inwardly.... Altogether too absurd, judging a person's character exclusively from his attitude toward sex. Much more important is, for example, his attitude toward the truth. Nobody will declare that I am immoral - and yet I could drown in the ocean of my lies. The first moral law: thou shalt not lie! And the second: thou shalt free thy self from convention, from everyday morality, and shalt think through the highest commands for thy self and act accordingly. Too much custom, too little morality!" (21)
Karen was introduced to Martha Deucker by her boyfriend, Walter Singer. Karen explained to her friend Gertrude Ahlborn: "Martha comes from quite simple circumstances, her father is a warehouseman and, it seems to me, the philosopher among the workmen. Martha was at first a housemaid at the Singers, where Walter noticed her because of her extensive knowledge and her thirst for learning. Then she was a salesgirl for a while, and now she is at Grone to be trained as a clerk. She is a fine person, has enormous energy and self-confidence, is clever, has temperament and is kind, very kind... Real class differences do not lie in money but in the development of a cultured, educated mind, and in this regard Martha is far superior to most girls of her class." (22)
The following week Karen invited Martha and Rolf, a musician, to her home. Her mother did not make them feel welcome. She complained that "Martha has nothing fine in her social manners and one recognizes the shop girl in her." Her mother objected to Rolf as he was Jewish: "A big scolding afterward, impudence on the fellow's part to come along with his floozy." Sonni told Karen that she must not bring to Martha and Rolf to the house again. This incident helped to undermine Karen respect for her mother. (23)
Karen wrote in her diary that she longed for a lover: "Not even the tips of my fingers have been kissed... In my own imagination there is no spot on me that has not been kissed by a burning mouth. In my own imagination there is no depravity I have not tasted, to the dregs." (24) At the age of eighteen Karen fell in love with Ernst Schorschi, who was two years older than her. She wrote that "as he covered my tear-stained face with kisses, as I kissed him, it all seemed... so natural, as if it had always been so." She admitted that for years she had "yearned madly for love, my whole being dissolved in this one great longing". Karen added: "I was so blissful, so divinely happy in my half unconscious enjoyment. And he too was happy. He thought of eternal love; I didn't want anything but the moment and didn't think of the future." (25)
When the relationship came to an end Karen became very depressed and contemplated suicide. She retreated into reading philosophy. This included Baruch Spinoza and spent many hours studying his book, Ethics. In her diary she quotes Spinoza as writing that "happiness is absence of all influences from outside that threaten self-preservation." One should not surrender to "the force of external things" such as "the desire to please, voluptuousness, intemperance, greed and sensuality... where intellect is hampered by passion, suffering remains." (26)
It is claimed that "she sought refuge in obsession with one man after another”. . However, she hated herself for desiring men: " To be free of sensuality means great power in a woman. Only in this way will she be independent of a man. Otherwise she will always long for him and in the exaggerated yearning of her senses she will be able to drown out all feeling of her own value." (27)
She eventually decided that she was looking for more than love: "A profound friendship between man and woman, an understanding of their souls, a sense of being at home each in the other's heart. Then love emerges. Ardent in its first desire, and yet beautiful, tender. Only when there is no underlying friendship, when it is only sensual pleasure that drives one toward the other, can love become shameless; then it does not matter if it hurts the other person, then each will be contemptuous of the other. When the first passion has subsided, friendship emerges doubly beautiful out of the fiery bath. That is the highest, most enduring happiness that we can experience through another person." (28)
In 1904, when Karen Danielsen was 19, her mother left her father (without divorcing him), taking the children with her. They moved to Bahrenfeld, a small town at the periphery of Hamburg. From this point on, he seems virtually to have disappeared from his daughter's life. (29)
In 1906 Karen became a student at Freiburg University. It was one of the first medical schools to admit women. Jacob Nahum later recalled: "You didn't go for studying. The lectures were there, but it was not only for learning or exams. It was to be acquainted with medicine. The students had a good time. There was a feeling of freedom... Like a bird in a cage who gets free. There was little competition. The students wanted nature, freedom, studying and at the same time a good time." (30)
It was not long before she was having a passionate relationship with fellow medical student, Louis Grote. Karen's mother decided she would move to Freiburg, where she rented a house and took her daughter, her friend, Ida Behrman, and Grote as lodgers. Unlike her previous boyfriends, her mother liked Grote. However, the relationship soon came to an end when she became involved with Grote's friend, Oskar Horney, who was studying political economy in Brauschweig. (31)
Karen began writing Oskar long letters where she expressed her thoughts on a wide-range of matters. In January 1907 she reported the discussions she was having with her fellow students: "I too doubt that women will ever be able to achieve intellectually what men do... So that the woman question won't bring any direct advance in the life of the mind (science, art)... That eventually the population increase would suffer seems to me to signify no great danger, for it will always be only a small percentage of women who work at such a highly intellectual level that their capacity for motherhood would suffer." (32)
Susan Quinn, the author of A Mind of her Own: The Life of Karen Horney (1987) comments: "By the standards of the day Karen's behaviour in Freiburg had been outrageous. Staying out all night with two men, going to one man's apartment and falling asleep on a couch, inviting men, without a chaperone, up to your apartment for tea - such things were simply not done by a middle-class girl in 1906." (33) Karen herself admitted that she was "a frightfully dissipated rascal." (34)
There were very few women on Karen's course. Germany was one of the last in Europe to admit women to university to study medicine. Until 1900 no women were admitted as matriculating students. At first most of the women at German universities were foreigners, especially Russians and Americans. According to Peter Gay: "Female outsiders sitting in the same lecture hall with men, seemed more tolerable to the all-male university establishment than having one's sister, or one's friend's sister, sitting there." (35)
Most of the professors insisted that medicine was no place for a woman. A professor of anatomy, Karl von Bardeleben, wrote: "In my opinion women don't have the physical strength for really serious study, maybe for philosophy, theology, history, teaching or mathematics - but not for the natural sciences and least of all for medicine... Already through study in the girls' schools they are sitting too much, often in slanted and crooked positions, which results commonly in harm to the spine, the chest and the pelvis, as well as the circulatory system and abdominal region." Dr. Georg Richard Lewin, a professor of internal medicine, argued that "true womanhood" would be sullied by medical studies: "A woman who is informed about the sexual parts not only of the woman but of the man and who can speak without blushing about the mystery of sexual acts will, if she doesn't repel men altogether, always leave them cold." (36)
Simplicissimus Magazine also took part in the attack on the idea of female medical students. One cartoon, titled "Fräulein Doktor" shows a dark-haired young woman (the lady doctor) sitting impassively on a sofa, head on hand, with eyes staring straight ahead. A young man kneels on the floor with his head thrown passionately onto her lap. He says: "You're mine at last!". I can hear your heart beating at my words!" She replies: "You're wrong dear, it's the abdominal artery." (37)
Another cartoon shows a spinsterish female medical student examining a young woman who in her underclothing. A white-bearded professor, standing beside the young patient, asks the student: "Candidate, what strikes you about this patient?" The woman replies: "That she is wearing silk underwear." (38) It has been argued: "The cartoon is intriguing on two levels. There is the the obvious implication that women just aren't serious enough to see beyond satin and lace. But there is a subtler, more vicious, implication as well: the female medical student is a particularly old-maidish and unattractive specimen, and she ogles the nubile young girl's naked breasts through her spectacles in a way that suggests a secret sexual attraction." (39)
Karen also had doubts about women becoming doctors. In her diary she quotes the Austrian philosopher, Otto Weininger: "All women who really strive for emancipation are sexual intermediate forms... all the so-called important women are either strongly masculine or imprinted by man or overestimated." Women can only become liberated when she frees herself from "her greatest enemy: her femininity." Karen takes Weininger's arguments very seriously: "The man impresses me frightfully in part and I am looking for points of attack. He confuses me at the moment because he brings forward so many really plausible observations in support of his thesis. But it cannot, must not, may not be like that." (40)
Karen eventually became very close to Oskar Horney who had returned to Freiburg to complete his Ph.D. thesis in October, 1907. Her mother complained about the time Karen spent with Oskar: "It was a little easier during the first two semesters, because the four of us held more together and they stayed home four or five nights out of seven... Now Karen is not there at all, since Horney is here. In the morning an hour or two, in the afternoon and evening she is with him. So if she wants and loves she has time for everything. I asked once for a half hour - she snapped at me!... Myself I really think highly of him, and I know of no one who could have such a good influence on Karen; but... does she have to run over to his place so often and every evening." (41)
When her brother Berndt Danielsen was told that Oskar had offered to marry Karen, he wrote to Sonni that it proved Karen "is now somehow a social creature." (42) A few months later, in another letter to his mother, "Poor Oskar really has to go through a lot with Karen, but I feel with you how glad you can be that the direct and primary worry about Karen is being taken away from you and that on top of that you get such a son-in-law." (43)
Karen married Oskar on 30th October, 1909. Her biographer, Susan Quinn, pointed out: "While it is impossible to know fully why Karen chose to marry at this stage of her life or why she chose Oskar as a marriage partner, it is true that marriage solved many practical problems at once. There was, first of all, the ever-present money problem. Oskar was an ambitious man with good prospects: at the time of their marriage he was beginning a promising career with a prewar industrial giant, the Stinnes Corporation in Berlin." (44)
Her brother Berndt believed that not many men would have married Karen. Oskar was tolerant of Karen's progressive views and unlike most German men did not mind her having a career. He also thought Oskar would help steady her down. It is possible that she also thought this. However, thirty years later, in her book, Self-Analysis, she would write about "the futility of placing the centre of gravity entirely in the partner, who is to fulfill all expectations of life." (45)
A few months after their marriage, Karen began complaining about her husband. Although he was kind and intelligent he had difficulty showing his emotions: "Oskar is always self-controlled. Even when he forces me to submit to him it is never savagery or animal brutality - he is at all times controlled, he is never elemental. For living together, certainly ideal - but something remains in me that hungers." (46) During this period she thought a lot about the possibility of having extra-marital relationships "but there is no direct evidence that she acted on her fantasies". (47)
The couple moved to Berlin where Oskar's job was based. Karen studied at the Berlin medical school and its neuropsychiatric clinic, where she met Karl Abraham, a member of the Wednesday Psychological Society founded in Vienna. In 1907 Abraham established himself as Berlin's first psychoanalyst. Soon after arriving in the city she went into analysis with him for depression and sexual difficulties. Karen later calculated that she had spent some five hundred hours in analysis. (48)
Karen wrote in her diary that Abraham believed that her sexual problems could be traced back to her childhood experiences: "Dr. Abraham thinks this comes from my first childhood impressions, from the time when I loved my father with all the strength of my passion. I got my erotic ideal from that time. I think of the overly strong attraction Ernst exercised on me, again and again, that clumsy, brutally egotistic, coarsely sensual fellow. I have always wanted to kill my passion for him through analysis. Now I understand that all his inferior characteristics, which I kept before my eyes, did not in the least quench my passion; no, on the contrary: the instincts in me wanted such a man - and my conscious I, seeking a man of fine intelligence and discerning kindness, resisted against this in vain. In Oskar I found everything I consciously wished for - and behold: my instinctual life rebels." (49)
In another entry she admitted that she loved spending time with Abraham: "I can talk about anything I ever felt and thought and know that it is being heard by another person. Also, I know that this spiritual disrobing, just as the physical undressing, gives the sensual pleasure of shy embarrassment and submission, and also that self-exhibition satisfies a strong sexual drive carried over from childhood. From way back the urge to make myself interesting unquestionably dominated my relationship to people. This desire that others should pay attention to me, my singularity, is really the old exhibitionist tendency, but there is further an urge to martyrdom contained in it since one puts oneself forward just as much through one's bad as through one's good characteristics and must suffer for it."
Karen Horney realised that she had a strong desire to make a mark on the world: "There is nothing more unbearable than the thought of disappearing quietly in the great mass of the average, nothing more fatal than the reproach of being told one is a nice, friendly, average person. In order to stand out through achievement, however, one would have to work. Intellectual work is nevertheless thoroughly repugnant to the unconscious because it distracts it from its activity in sexual life. So one dabbles in "moods," one appears now gay, self-aware, competent, up-and-doing, and now burdened by a heavy passivity and fatigue, even playing with death wishes. Along this line the subconscious just incidentally profits in all sorts of ways." (50)
Karen's discovery of psychoanalysis changed her life. It has been claimed that "it became the intellectual and emotional pursuit in her life". After a two-and-a-half hiatus, Karen began writing down her thoughts in her diary. "Her childhood, her dreams, her sexual life and longings - all were examined now through the lens of psychoanalysis." She also comments in her diary on the articles and books she reads on the subject. This includes the work of Sigmund Freud, Alfred Adler, Carl Jung and Otto Rank. (51) Abraham wrote a letter to Freud about his new patient, who he described as "a very intelligent young woman". (52)
Karen Horney's father died in May 1910. Karen now became increasingly depressed, but gave up her analysis that summer. Karen also became irritated not least because of Sonni's husband-hunting and endless demands: "All her arguments take on a kind of rigid monotony: that she is always putting herself aside, sacrificing herself, and yet people owed her some consideration... She is now morbidly seeking for expressions of affection from those nearest to her... thus becoming an almost intolerable burden to everybody." (53)
In January 1911 Karen became aware she was pregnant. She had mixed feelings about the idea of having a child: "Isn't the baby a tyrannical authority of this sort that would rob me of my golden freedom? Something else occurs to me: with my present deep aversion to Sonni I may have a resistance against finding myself in a situation that makes me resemble her: becoming a mother, as she is my mother.... Then new duties loom in the raising of the child. With my uncertainty and lack of self-confidence I am afraid I may not be able to fulfill them. And reflect with death wishes on the being that is piling these duties upon me. It just occurs to me that at lunch I read a story in which a man, worried about being able to support his child, wished it dead and then, when it was rescued from an actual mortal danger, could not contain himself for joy." (54)
Karen's mother died suddenly of a stroke on 2nd February 1911. "Sonni's death in many respects means a release for me; I must have wished for it in many ways and greeted it with relief.... Given Sonni's inability to handle money, the pecuniary side eventually became critical too, though it was not our chief concern. The main thing was that Sonni presented a constant danger to my health, and recurrences of poor health were often due - or in any case thought to be due to her account. When she had her stroke a further consideration entered in: she would remain paralyzed and probably retain mental defects. Then it would have been our unavoidable duty to take her into our house and look after her. Our whole life would have been altered, a black shadow would have darkened our sunny, harmonious home. The thought was so dreadful to me that in those days I couldn't even think it through, but evaded it, either with the idea that Sonni could live alone with a nurse, or the thought that we would wait and see how things went, i.e., the wish that she might die before this question came up."
Oskar Horney suggested that some of Karen's guilty feelings had to do with repressed wishes: "Then when death actually came, the consciousness of guilt for all these wishes that had previously been discreetly repressed came to the surface. I wanted to atone through an exaggerated grief, through torturing myself by reliving all the dreadful days of her sickness and death, through keeping away all distracting elements and all joy of life. The self-reproach for the countless unkindnesses one did her, large and small, the torment that this can never again be made good, this is a different, entirely conscious consciousness of guilt and would never by itself lead to nervous symptoms. It is a feeling of guilt that will always remain and that should teach me to become kinder toward the living. That is something which can make one serious but cannot be inimical to life, rather it must at bottom have an encouraging and ennobling effect on it." (55)
Karen gave birth to a daughter, Brigitte Horney, on 29th March, 1911. She became a devoted mother: “It is just the expectation and the joy in it that are now so indescribably beautiful. And the feeling of carrying in me a small, becoming human being invests one with higher dignity and importance that makes me very happy and proud." (56) "In nursing, such an intimate union of mother and child as never occurs later. Mutual sensual satisfaction; hence perhaps strengthening of the longing for one's own mother ... what I value most just now in a woman is motherliness.” (57)
Karen Horney began attending meetings of the Berlin Psychoanalytic Society. In February 1912, she presented a paper about children's sex education. Karl Abraham was impressed and wrote appreciatively of her to Sigmund Freud. "At our last meeting we enjoyed a report from Dr. Horney about sexual instruction in early childhood. For once, the paper showed a real understanding of the material, unfortunately something rather infrequent in the papers of our circle." (58) Soon afterwards she acquired her first patient, Frau von Stack. "Whether she'll get something out of the analysis I don't know. I certainly will!" (59)
Horney graduated from the University of Berlin in 1913. The outbreak of the First World War increased the amount of people needing psychological help. She also gave birth to two more daughters, Marianne (1913) and Renate (1916). She also found time to became the secretary of the Berlin Psychoanalytic Society. In February, 1917, she gave her first lecture about psychoanalytic therapy to fellow-doctors. (60)
Horney became a socialist and was deeply influenced by the Swedish writer, Ellen Key. An early feminist, Key was an advocate of a child-centered approach to education and parenting. "Sport and play, gymnastics and pedestrianism, life in nature and in the open air.... This will be most excellent bases for the physical and psychical renewal of the new generation." (61)
Karen Horney shared many of Key's child-rearing ideals. Both of them "believed in fresh air and exercise, a minimum of control and direction, and allowing children's true nature to surface without the imposition of adult values" and "preferred progressive schools - coeducational, non-religious, and non-punitive." (62) However, Karen differed from Key's ideal mother in one crucial way. Key insisted that the mother "should be entirely free from working to earn her living during the most critical years of the children's training." (63)
During this time she worked full-time practicing psychoanalysis. In 1918 the Horneys had purchased a large house and garden in the new suburb of Zehlendorf. They employed several staff, including a cook, several housemaids, a ladies' maid, a gardener, a chauffeur and an English governess to teach her three daughters. Karen saw her patients in Berlin in the morning, then returning home in the afternoon to see more patients in the front room of her house. Janet Sayers has claimed that Karen's child-rearing"was a mixture of benign neglect and whimsical impulsiveness". (64)
At the International Congress in The Hague in 1920, Hermine Hug-Hellmuth reported on her early efforts in her paper On the Technique of the Analysis of Children. Her work was based on observation and analysis of children's behavior and on the possibility of applying psychoanalytic theory to education and the psychology of children. This included analysing her nephew, Rolf Hug. The illegitimate child of her half-sister Antoine, he had been raised by Hug-Hellmuth since the death of his mother. (65) Karen became friends with Hug-Hellmuth and the two women became close friends. (66)
In 1920, Karen Horney became a founding member of the Berlin Psychoanalytic Institute. She then took up a teaching position within the Institute. Although she was well-paid for her work, it was Oskar Horney's job that provided them with such a luxurious life-style. His boss, Hugo Stinnes, who had prospered as a coal and power supplier and was one of the main suppliers of the raw materials needed by Germany during the First World War. In the inflationary period that followed the war he used his assets to acquire foreign currency and build up the largest industrial trust in Europe. Stinnes held right-wing views and in 1919 he joined with Alfred Hugenberg to establish the German Nationalist Party (DNVP). Oskar shared these nationalist views and this later caused problems in their marriage. (67)
Post-war Berlin was the centre of sexual liberation. According to Stefan Zweig: "Berlin transformed itself into the Babel of the world... the Germans brought to perversion all their vehemence and love of system. Made-up boys with artificial waistlines promenaded along the Kurfiirstendamm... and in the darkened bars one could see high public officials and high financiers courting drunken sailors without shame. Even the Rome of Suetonius had not known orgies like the Berlin transvestite balls, where hundreds of men in women's clothes and women in men's clothes danced under the benevolent eyes of the police. Amid the general collapse of values, a kind of insanity took hold of precisely those middle-class circles which had hitherto been unshakable in their order. Young ladies proudly boasted that they were perverted; to be suspected of virginity at sixteen would have been considered a disgrace in every school in Berlin." (68)
Melanie Klein was also a member of the Berlin Psychoanalytical Society. Along with Hermine Hug-Hellmuth and Anna Freud she was one of the pioneers of child psychology. Klein began to make observations on her own small son, and she was encouraged to carry on when Sandor Ferenczi told her she had a gift for psychoanalytical understanding. She was determined to allow her young son's mind "freedom from unnecessary prohibitions and distortions of the truth". An atheist, Klein decided she did not want to teach him that there was a God. She also was straightforward and truthful with him about sex. This at the time was extremely radical. The results of her experiment was described in The Development of a Child: The Influence of Sexual Enlightenment and Relaxation of Authority on the Intellectual Development of Children. (69)
In 1922, Karen Horney delivered her first paper to the International Psychoanalytic Congress in Berlin. Entitled, On the Genesis of the Castration Complex in Women. Horney acknowledged that women may envy men their penises, in the same way she did with her older brother. But, she maintained, this stems from envy of the advantages the penis affords boys' ability to urinate standing up. Horney claimed that femininity is innate, as is the daughter's sexual identity with her mother. She dismissed Freud's penis envy account of femininity as due to misplaced "masculine narcissism." (70)
Oskar Horney lost his job in 1923 and the family income went into decline. The same year Karen's brother, Berndt Danielsen, aged only forty-two, died of pneumonia. Although they had a difficult relationship when children they became very close as adults. Oscar also became very ill when he contracted meningitis. He barely survived and it is believed he may have suffered brain damage. (71)
In 1923 Karen Horney met Erich Fromm. Although there was a fifteen year age difference, they both felt a mutual sexual attraction. "Fromm... showed maverick, iconoclastic tendencies in his leftist views, rebelling against the social status quo. It may have been this quality, of which Karen had her share, that attracted her, or his ability to encompass his contradictory inner drives. Indeed his attempt to reconcile opposites was one hallmark of his theories, for instance the contradictions between inner psychic and external social forces, between psychoanalysis and Marxism.... As for him, he could well have experienced her in the same way other students in his class did: She represented a caring, understanding, yet at the same time strong mother figure." (72)
Horney was also influenced by the work of Ernst Simmel, who succeeded Karl Abraham as President of the Berlin Psychoanalytic Institute. He was also a socialist and took pride that the clinics free treatment did not differ in the least from that of patients paying high fees. "All patients are... entitled to as many weeks or months of analysis as his condition requires". In this way the Berlin Institute was fulfilling social obligations incurred by society, which "makes its poor become neurotic and, because of its cultural demands, lets its neurotics stay poor, abandoning them to their misery." Horney also became a close associate of Wilhelm Reich, Edith Jacobson, and Otto Fenichel who together explored ways of "finding a bridge between Marx and Freud". (73)
Karen Horney was now the main source of income and she increased the number of lectures she gave at the Berlin Psychoanalytic Institute. She also became secretary-treasurer of the German Psychoanalytic Association. Frederick A. Weiss was one of those who attended these early lectures. He described her as looking somewhat like Käthe Kollwitz: "Nordic and almost blonde, with rather strict features although not especially pretty... but strikingly earnest and passionate, seeming to enjoy every minute." (74)
Karen Horney became a close associate of Melanie Klein and that in 1925 she decided that her daughter's education should be supplemented with a course of psychoanalytic treatment with Melanie Klein. Brigitte, who was fourteen, refused to go for analysis. Marianne, was twelve and more complaint, attended faithfully for two years but developed strategies that kept Klein's interpretations to a minimum. Renate, who was only nine, tried to cooperate but disliked the talk about sexual matters. (75) Later, Horney, psychoanalysed Melanie's daughter, Melitta Klein. (76)
In 1926 the Horneys were forced to sell the Zehlendorf house and move to an apartment in the city. Oskar attempts to revive his business career ended up in bankruptcy. Within a year of the move, Karen and Oskar decided to live apart. Karen, and her three daughters, moved to a smaller apartment nearby. Oskar set up home with his secretary, Hanna. According to Susan Quinn, "Hanna, whom he eventually married, was no match for Karen in intellect, nor was she beautiful. But she was devoted in a way that Karen could never be." (77)
Karen Horney taught courses on principles of analytic technique, psychoanalysis, gynecology and sexual biology, to students at the Berlin Psychoanalytic Institute. One of her lectures, on the fate of women, drew an audience of two hundred. Students liked her because she was down to earth and accessible. One of her former students commented that she had the ability to make her case-studies extremely interesting. "She would often say that if you start with sexuality, with penis envy, you do not understand the person." (78)
Henry Lowenfeld, attended seminars given by Karen Horney and Ernst Simmel. Lowenfeld "liked her very much because she had a certain talent for really understanding people much better than many other analysts... for instance, we had a case seminar with her and one with Simmel". Lowenfeld argued: "Simmel had a very superior brain but did not have the talent for showing us what the patient was like. She did have this." He also added that "she was rather nice to all of us... she had a Ping-Pong table in her apartment and played Ping-Pong with us. I don't think many teachers would have done that." (79)
Gustave Graber was another one of her students: "Karen Horney... slim, in a beige or brown dress, with a medallion on a chain. She spoke in an even voice, not with force... but always interesting and it affected you. We would remain after the class and carry on long discussions about the psychology of women or the destructive instinct, which Freud was just writing about." (80) Fritz Perls was taught by Horney, Wilhelm Reich, and Otto Fenichel: "From Fenichel I got confusion, from Reich, brazenness; from Horney, human involvement without terminology." (81)
Martin Grotjahn was very nervous when he was interviewed by Karen Horney. "Yet she had a kindly twinkle in her eye and he quickly felt at ease. She was an impressive and beautiful woman towards whom one developed an almost immediate deep confidence. She seemed to be an all-understanding Mother Earth. She offered a place of rest in the turmoil of those times." Grotjahn was also a great fan of her daughter, Brigitte Horney, who was now a great actress: "The girl was of such beauty that nobody wanted to miss her. To see both women together was unforgettable." (82)
In 1927 Horney published The Problem of the Monogamous Ideal. In the paper she explained the different ways in which marriage is bound to disappoint. She argues that women are driven into matrimony by "all the old desires arising out of the Oedipus situation in childhood - the desire to be a wife to the father, to have him as one's exclusive possession, and to bear him children". As a result, marriage is "fraught with a perilously heavy load of unconscious wishes." The incest prohibition, which had forced the child to renounce their passion for the parent, is likely to revive and replace sexual desire with mere affection. This may take various forms, for example, a woman may assume a wholly maternal role, resolving not to "play the part of wife and mistress, but only that of the mother." Whatever form the "limitation of love" takes, it is likely to lead husbands and wives to "seek for new love objects."
The reason that people still desire monogamy is "a revival of the infantile wish to monopolize the father or mother." Since the early wish met with "frustration and disappointment" and "wounded our self-regard in its tenderest spot," we are all left with a "narcissistic scar." As a result, "our pride... later demands a monogamous relation and demands it with an imperiousness proportionate to the sensitiveness of the scar left by the early disappointment." Horney goes on to argue that monogamy is maintained as "an insurance against the torments of jealousy." Whatever the reasons for choosing monogamy, it is a choice that "imposes a restriction of instincts."
Horney ends her paper by asking why marriage has not been studied in any detail by psychologists. She speculated that analysts may have personal reasons for not submitting marriage to psychoanalytic scrutiny: "For some time I have asked myself with growing astonishment why there has as yet been no thorough analytical exposition of the problems of marriage". Perhaps, she continues, "the conflicts... touch us too closely, lie too near to some of the deepest roots of our most intimate personal experience." (83)
Horney was influenced by the philosopher Georg Simmel who had argued that modern society is dominated in every aspect by the male point of view. The standards by which mankind has judged male and female nature are "essentially masculine". As a result "in the most varying fields, inadequate achievements are contemptuously called 'feminine', while distinguished achievements on the part of women are called 'masculine' as an expression of praise". This has resulted in a psychology of women that "has hitherto been considered only from the point of view of men". (84)
In her paper The Flight from Womanhood Horney asks: "How far has the evolution of women, as depicted to us today by analysis, been measured by masculine standards and how far therefore does this picture fail to present quite accurately the real nature of women?" Horney turns the usual arguments upside down, motherhood gives women "a quite indisputable and by no means negligible physiological superiority." There is reason, in fact, for men to envy women! "When one begins, as I did, to analyze men only after a fairly long experience of analyzing women, one receives a most surprising impression of the intensity of this envy of pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood, as well as of breasts and of the act of suckling." Nor have women been able to sublimate their drives as easily as men, since "all the professions have been filled by men." (85)
Ernest Jones agreed with Horney: "There is a healthy suspicion growing that men analysts have been led to adopt an unduly phallo-centric view of the problems in question, the importance of the female organs being correspondingly underestimated." (86) However, Sigmund Freud attacked these views and in his paper, Female Sexuality (1931): "Karen Horney is of the opinion that we greatly over-estimate the girl's primary penis-envy... This does not tally with my impressions." (87) In a letter to Carl Müller-Braunschweig, Freud criticised Horney for missing the main point: "We deal only with one libido, which behaves in a male way." (88)
Robert Coles has argued that overwhelmingly psychoanalysts were hostile to Horney's views expressed in this paper. "For years I have heard various psychoanalysts dismiss her ideas out of hand, or scorn them as of little value or interest. As one goes through this article and others like it, one wonders why the rejection, why the contempt or derision, why the condescension... She merely wants her colleagues to stop and think for a while: as bourgeois men of the first half of the twentieth century, do they have blind spots about themselves as men and about women, and if so, what are they, and how do they affect their thinking?" (89)
In March 1931 Karen Horney took part at a conference "On the Death Instinct". In her paper, Culture and Aggression - Some Thoughts and Objections to Freud's Death Instinct and Destruction Instinct. She argued that Freud's death and destruction instinct was "ingenious though subjective speculative imagination". According to Horney, the existence of unconscious hostile, aggressive and destructive drives were not instinctive. She believed that such emotions or attitudes could arise either as constructive and life-preserving - the mother fighting for her child - or as a reaction to frustrations, insults or previous anxieties. That one of the main reasons for aggressive behaviour was the product of cultural factors such as lack of economic security. (90)
In July, 1932, the Nazi Party won 230 seats in the Reichstag. It seemed only a matter of time before Adolf Hitler gained power. Jewish friends such as Erich Fromm, Max Eitingon and Ernst Simmel, decided to leave Germany. Horney decided to follow their example and in September, and along with her daughter, Renate, boarded a ship bound for the United States. Marianne followed in 1933 but Brigitte stayed in Germany to pursue her film career. (91)
Karen Horney established herself as a psychoanalyst in Chicago. She found plenty of work and on average saw patients for five hours a day, while studying for the exams necessary to qualify as a US doctor. She also gave public lectures that attracted large audiences. In January, 1933, she applied for US citizenship. (92)
Horney and Franz Alexander established the Chicago Institute of Psychoanalysis at 43 East Ohio Street. Its brochure, issued in October 1932, declared that: "Psychoanalysis, being a young science, has not yet found its permanent place in the official centers of teaching and research - the universities. This conservative attitude is no longer justified since psycho-analysis has secured its place in our present civilization. Indeed, for the intelligent public today, it is becoming as natural to consult a psychoanalyst concerning a psychosis or neurosis as it is to go to an ophthalmologist in the case of eye trouble." (93)
Horney developed a reputation for having affairs with her students. This included Leon Joseph Saul, sixteen years her junior, who later became Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania. He later recalled that he was seduced in her apartment: "The main striking thing was that Karen had no sex appeal whatsoever. She was one hundred percent maternal type, and not at all sexual. Her build was sort of mediumish to largeish... She had a sort of pursed expression around her mouth and often had a manner of great benignity." Saul estimated her age at the time as about sixty-five." Horney was in fact forty-seven. (94)
In February 1933 Karen Horney read a paper entitled, Maternal Conflicts to the American Orthopsychiatric Association in Boston. The woman patient whom Horney focuses on is a 35 year-old married college teacher. She had "a striking personality" and was troubled by the fact that certain of her students seemed to have "more than tender feelings for her - in fact, there was evidence that certain boys had fallen passionately in love with her." What emerged in time was "the sexual nature of her own feelings" and indeed, a very real conflict over whether or not to act on them. In fact, she fell in love with one of her students, who was aged about 20. Horney explained it was "rather striking to see this poised and restrained woman fighting with herself and with me, fighting against the urge to have a love relationship with a comparatively immature boy." (95)
Susan Quinn, the author of A Mind of her Own: The Life of Karen Horney (1987) has pointed out that "the similarities between the teacher, contemplating an affair with her twenty-year-old student, and Karen Horney, similarly inclined (perhaps) toward her young supervise, are striking. And even though the teacher differs from Horney in important ways... one suspects that Horney chose this particular case, consciously or unconsciously, because it resonated with her own concerns at the time." (96)
This was followed by the paper, A Frequent Disturbance in Female Love Life: The Overvaluation of Love (1933), based on a study of thirteen women. She argued that these women "their relation to men was of great importance to them," yet "they had never succeeded in establishing a satisfactory relationship of any duration. Either attempts to form a relationship of any duration. Either attempts to form a relationship had failed outright, or there had been a series of merely evanescent relationships, broken off by either the man in question or the patient - relationships that moreover often showed a certain lack of selectivity." These women were "as though possessed by a single thought, I must have a man" so that "by comparison all the rest of life seemed stale, flat, and unprofitable."
Horney argued that some women need to "prove their feminine potency to themselves." She goes on to suggest that women's "interest in a man, such as may even amount to an illusion of being tremendously in love with him, vanishes as a rule as soon as he is conquered - that is, as soon as he has become emotionally dependent on them." And this "tendency to make a person dependent through love" grows out of their "desire to be invulnerable" and, underneath, a profound "fear of the disappointments and humiliations that they expect to result from falling in love." The wish to be a man, or resentment against the male, derives from the idea that he can always go with a prostitute, "that a man can always have sexual intercourse when he wants it." (97)
In 1933 Horney met Erich Fromm when he visited Chicago. Horney had known Fromm and his wife, Frieda Fromm-Reichmann in Berlin, where all three had studied psycho-analysis. Fromm was now a divorced man and although he was fifteen years his junior, he began a sexual relationship with Horney. (98) "Over the next decade it is impossible to sort out Fromm's influences on Horney from her influences on him in the writing they each produced... It was during the Chicago years that Fromm and Horney's intellectual relationship deepened into a romantic one." (99)
Horney's views on Sigmund Freud became increasingly hostile and this eventually caused conflict between her and Franz Alexander who later recalled: "The only major strife developed in relationship to Dr. Karen Horney, whom I had invited from Berlin to become my associate in the direction of the Institute. I knew her abilities from Berlin and admired her independent thinking. I did not know, however, the deeply rooted resentment she harbored against Freud.... Horney's resentment against Freud expressed itself in her attempts to discredit some of his most fundamental contributions, with the ambitious goal of revising the whole psychoanalytic doctrine, a task for which she was not fully prepared. She had excellent critical faculties but did not succeed in supplying anything substantially new and valid for what she tried to destroy." (100)
Horney decided to leave the Chicago Institute of Psychoanalysis and moved to New York City and applied for membership of the New York Psychoanalytic Society. It has been argued that the break with Alexander was inevitable. Dorothy R. Blitsten commented: "I think she probably would have left anyway because, if you want to know what I think of Karen Horney, I think that in no way could she ever remain second in command anywhere." (101)
Erich Fromm also moved to New York and joined the faculty of the Institute for Social and Economic Research at Columbia University. Karen's friends claimed that although they did not live in the same house they spent a lot of time together. "Karen Horney's first two books, written during the early New York years, are laden with references to Fromm's works, published and unpublished. Some whispered that Horney was getting all her ideas from Fromm. The exchange, however, was anything but one-sided. The two were intertwined, emotionally and intellectually, in a relationship that must have fulfilled, perhaps for the first time in Horney's life, the dream of a marriage of minds, which she had envisioned in her letters to Oskar thirty years before." (102)
Horney and Fromm joined a small group of exiles who had fled from Nazi Germany. This included Erich Maria Remarque, Paul Tillich, Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer and Paul Kempner. Other close friends included Harold Lasswell, Karl Menninger and Harry Stack Sullivan. Hannah Tillich believed her husband were lovers. However, although she suffered terrible jealousy with some of her husband's liaisons, Hannah became very close to Karen: "She took me as a friend" and listened with "beautiful, but invisible, attention." Even though she was "gay with men, she'd never forget the woman". Hannah was very shy, and she was very grateful that Karen "would bring me out, get me to participate in the conversation." (103)
Horney began teaching at the New York Psychoanalytic Institute. She became close friends with Clara Thompson. "By temperament and personality, the two women were similar in some ways but quite different in others." One colleague who knew them both at this time commented that even though both had needs for leadership, domination and prestige, Karen "fascinated and at the same time frightened many of the students" whereas "Clara was more tender, encouraging and emotionally involved." (104)
Karen Horney's lectures were immensely popular. One reason for this was that they were free of psychoanalytic jargon. "Nor did she trouble them with any descent into the alien-seeming, conflict-ridden, bitty sexual world of the Freudian unconscious. Her style was also very attractive. Although her flow was interrupted by endless smoking, and although she was felt to be no beauty, she easily won her students' adoration as her mother had won hers as a child." (105)
One student, Katie Kelman, commented: "You know, she was not a beautiful woman, but she was a beautiful woman. She was a little coy, she had a little of the actress in her. Her expression was so lively... her face was shinning and she had wonderful hands, wonderful movements. And everybody was just hanging on what she had to say.... she received a standing applause. It was not just an ordinary talk, it was a very moving experience." (106)
In the lecture, The Neurotic Need for Love, Horney raised the fundamental question as to whether there can be a direct repetitive relation between any infantile instinctive drive and a later adult attitude. Unhealthy development attitudes acquired in infancy must be sustained by dynamically important drives of later life. She attempted to explain why some people had a neurotic craving for love and admiration. Horney blamed this on a "persistent longing for the love of a mother which was not freely given in early life". (107)
In 1937 Horney published her first book, The Neurotic Personality of Our Time. She claimed that in childhood "the outside world is felt to be hostile, if one feels helpless toward it". For the neurotic "the danger appears all the greater, and the more his feeling of safety is based on the affection of others the more he is afraid of losing that affection". The child feels "that annoying them involves the danger of a final break... and is filled with pent-up resentment." According to Horney, "as everyone knows who is acquainted with neurotic behaviour, plenty of accusations do find expression, sometimes in veiled, sometimes in open and most aggressive forms." (108)
In the book she argued that neurosis stems not from any sexual or aggressive instinct, or castration anxiety in relation to the father, as Sigmund Freud claimed. Horney believed that neurosis stems from lack of genuine parental warmth and criticised them for not recognizing the true needs of the child. At root, she claimed, "neurosis stems from parents favouring one child over another, from their injustice or lack of consideration, their interference with the child's wishes and friendships, or their ridiculing of its nascent bids for independence." Horney adds that "so much does the child need and fear its parents, so much does it dread losing their love through being bad, that it dare not express the anger bred of their mistreatment." (109)
Horney pointed out that there is a conflict between craving for affection and power. That obsessive pursuit of power often fails through being poisoned by the hostility that first evokes it. Alternatively, underlying hostility causes people to fear the dependence and affection they crave. "The mother who derives no satisfaction from the relationship to her children because she feels... that the children love her only because they receive so much from her and thus secretly begrudges them whatever she gives them." (110)
Horney argued that sex is another way people seek to secure affection. It is then an effect, not a cause, of neurosis as Freud claimed. This is combined with a striving for power, prestige and possessions. If a child feels they are competing for the love of their parents, they might develop feelings to "control, humiliate, deprive, or exploit others". She went on to argue that "such guilt-ridden self-belittlement, she maintained, is not the effect of superego identification and the father's moral censure, as Freud implied, but an attempt to ward off others discovering one's underlying hostility." (111)
In the book Horney referred to her own relationship with her mother. She felt rejected by her mother who had "not wanted her in the first place". Karen "was made to feel insignificant because the mother, a beautiful woman, was much admired by everyone". (112) At the age of eight Horney reacted by throwing herself into frenetically competitive schoolwork. One of the problems that Horney faced was the need to cover-up the hostility she felt towards her parents. Not least because of "the cultural attitude that it is a sin to criticize parents." (113)
The Neurotic Need for Love sold extremely well and went through thirteen printings in a decade, and the next three books were equally popular. Paperback editions of her books, which began appearing after the war, have sold over half a million copies. The success of her books proves that her ideas had their own powerful attraction. "Horney's popularity with laymen seems to have come naturally to her - explaining psychoanalysis to the outside world had been one of her talents even in the early Berlin days." (114)
In her work Horney stressed the importance of culture. As a woman she had long been conscious of its role in shaping our conceptions of gender. This view had been reinforced by her observation of the differences in culture between Europe and America. Horney was therefore receptive to the work of such sociologists, anthropologists, and culturally oriented psychoanalysts as Erich Fromm, Alfred Adler, Franz Boas, Margaret Mead, Max Horkheimer, Harry Stack Sullivan, John Dollard, Harold Lasswell and Ruth Benedict. (115)
Horney decided to publish a new book where she would take a close look at the theories of Sigmund Freud. It would be a book, like all her previous writing, an attempt to find a theory that fitted with her experience. Horney at first suggested to her editor, William W. Norton, it should be called "Personal Outlook in Psychoanalysis," because, as she explained to him, "All we can say about anything, and all that is worth saying, is after all something personal." (116)
Eventually it was decided to call it New Ways in Psychoanalysis (1939). In the first chapter she outlined what she considered to be the "elementary principles" of psychoanalysis that were indisputable. First and foremost was Freud's discovery "that actions and feelings may be determined by unconscious motivations." (117) She also agreed that Freud's hypothesis "that psychic processes are as strictly determined as physical processes" made it possible to begin to understand "psychic manifestations which had hitherto been regarded as incidental, meaningless or mysterious, such as dreams, fantasies, errors of everyday life." (118)
Horney also praised Freud for illustrating "the dynamic concept of personality" the idea that conflicting "emotional drives" are characteristic of psychic life and result in a great array of strategies that Freud and others have learned to recognize in treatment - displacements, projections, repressions, rationalizations, slips of the tongue". (119) She also acknowledged his contribution to the idea that "character and neuroses are molded by early experiences to an extent hitherto unthought of." Finally, Freud was responsible for providing the "tools for therapy", especially "those relating transference, to resistance and to the method of free association". (120)
In the second chapter Horney details her differences with Freud. She argues that psychoanalysis was "the creation of a male genius" and therefore tended to overlook the female experience. She argues that "no one, not even a genius, can entirely step out of his time" and that "despite his keenness of vision his thinking is in many ways bound to be influenced by the mentality of his time." (121) Horney then goes on to say that Freud was too influenced by the scientific values of the 19th century, which led him "to explain psychic differences between the two sexes as the result of anatomical differences". Horney accused Freud of "mechanistic-evolutionistic thinking," the idea that "present manifestations not only are conditioned by the past, but contain nothing but the past." (122)
The next fourteen chapters deal with Freud's main concepts. Each one begins with Freud's view and ends with Horney's. "As Horney stresses at the outset, the central difference has to do with the question of the role of biology in psychic life. Freud operated with the conviction that the drives - or instincts - and their gratification or frustration were the source of psychic conflict; Horney was proposing that neurotic behaviour had its origins not in the frustration of drives but in basic anxiety... This meant that many behaviours that Freud explained in terms of frustration or gratification of drives were explained by Horney in terms of the need for security, for reassurance, for affirmation." (123)
Horney claimed that Freud over-emphasized the biological sources of human behaviour, assuming that the feelings, attitudes, and kinds of relationships that are common in our culture are universal. However, anthropology showed that cultures vary enormously. For example, she regarded the Oedipus Complex as a culturally conditioned phenomenon that can be reduced through social modifications. She observed that a girl may be adversely affected by her family's preference for a brother, but that this is not merely an accident of her individual lot because "a preference for male children belongs to the pattern of a patriarchal society." (124)
Horney claimed that "historical and anthropological findings" do not support Freud's idea that the more complete the repression of biological drives the higher the culture". (125) Horney argued that once we stop regarding culturally conditioned behaviour as biologically given, we shall no longer be inclined "to regard the masochistic trends frequent in modern neurotic women as akin to feminine nature, or to infer that a specific behaviour in present-day neurotic children represents a universal stage in human development." (126)
Horney questioned Freud's view that neurosis from the clash between culture and instinct. Freud believed that we must have culture in order to survive, and we must repress or sublimate our instincts in order to have culture. Since happiness lies in the full and immediate gratification of our instincts, we must choose between survival and happiness. Sublimation gives us a measure of satisfaction, but our capacity for it is limited. Horney rejected this view and argued that we do collide with our environment as inevitably as Freud assumes. When there is a collision, "it is not because of our instincts but because the environment inspires fears and hostilities." (127)
In New Ways in Psychoanalysis Horney suggested the authoritarian or self-righteous parents created a situation in which children feel "compelled to adopt their standards for the sake of peace" and "self-sacrificing parents make children feel they have no rights of their own and should live only for their parents' sake". Very ambitious parents make children believe themselves to be loved for imaginary qualities rather than for their true selves. In some cases parents "miss no opportunity to make a child feel that he is no good, and the parents' preference for other siblings, which undermines his security and makes him concentrate on out-shining them." (128)
Horney explains that in a culture in which parents are invested with great authority, there is a powerful taboo against breaking their rules or criticizing them, and children are forced to feel guilty for either feeling or expressing anger. The most serious consequence of the child's repressed hostility is an intensification of anxiety. This is "a feeling of being small, insignificant, helpless, deserted, endangered, in a world that is out to abuse, cheat, attack, humiliate, betray, envy." (129)
The book received some very good reviews. George A. Lundberg, writing in the American Sociological Review, commented: "Dr. Honey is a psychoanalyst who consistently practiced the Freudian system for fifteen years and came to see its inadequacies... For years to come, New Ways in Psychoanalysis, will probably serve as a standard guide to the newer, more sociological, more realistic Freudianism." (130) Leonard S. Cottrell argued that the book was "an excellent constructive critique of Freudian theory" and "a pioneering work in bringing sociologists and clinical psychologists into a more fruitful relation." (131) Livingston Welch in the New York Times concluded that "Dr. Horney's pruning is not only constructive but something that psychoanalysis has been in need of." (132)
However, supporters of Sigmund Freud reacted very differently. The situation was not helped by the fact that Freud was seriously ill at the time the book was published and he died soon afterwards. Otto Fenichel, led the attack in an article that appeared in the Psychoanalytic Quarterly. He began by claiming that Dr. Horney seems simply to have misunderstood Freud". Fenichel goes on to explain that "anyone who knows psychoanalysis realizes that what Dr. Horney wants to abolish is the essence of psychoanalysis." (133)
Horney's old friend, Karl Menninger, was especially hostile and refused to acknowledge her academic status and has been accused of writing a sexist review of her book: "Miss Horney's book deliberately makes its appeal to an audience unprepared to recognize its many inaccuracies, distortions and misstatements... If she had been content to advance her point of view in a modest and well documented way without setting herself up as a champion of "New Ways," her book might have been a major and timely contribution. But Miss Horney starts out by saying that she has been dissatisfied with the therapeutic results of psychoanalysis, that she found in every patient problems which psychoanalysis couldn't solve. She used to attribute this to her lack of experience or some other fault of her own, but finally came to realize that something was essentially wrong with Freud's concepts. These she proposes to correct... Any attempt to refute or criticize Miss Horney gives rise to the cry that she is being made a martyr to the bigoted orthodoxy of the majority. I am fully aware that this review may be construed as further evidence of such inhospitable and ungallant behavior." (134)
Susan Quinn has argued that Horney was not only been attacked because she was a woman but as a non-Jew German. Some people complained about her daughter's success as an actress in Nazi Germany. Horney was involved in anti-fascist activities and was a member of the American Committee for the Protection of the Foreign-Born. This later caused her to be criticised by Joseph McCarthy for being under the control of the Communist Party of the United States. She was also on the volunteer panel of the Jewish Family Service and National Refugee Service and provided free psychiatric help to refugees. (135)
In an article she wrote in 1939 she tried to explain the reluctance of people to criticise fascism. She argued that people who are afraid to take a stand are constrained by "a deep feeling of insecurity... their feelings and thoughts are largely determined by others". Consequently, "they are easily swayed, now this way, now that. It is people with these traits who succumb most easily to Fascist propaganda. Fascist ideology promises to fulfill all their needs... Decisions and judgments of values are made for the individual and he has merely to follow. He can forget about his own weakness by adoring the leader." Educators, she concluded, must try to help each student understand that "he, as an individual, matters... Show them how imperative it is to take a stand upon all important questions... try both by precept and by example to give each of them the courage to be himself." (136)
Lawrence Kubie, the president of the New York Psychoanalytic Institute, was extremely hostile to the ideas of Horney and disliked her habit of holding "secret" evenings at her apartment and turning out "proselytes". (137) He became concerned when a group of students approached Kubie and requested a course that was critical of Freud that was taught by Karen Horney, Clara Thompson and Harry Stack Sullivan. Kubie responded by introducing a new curriculum with Horney, Thompson and Sullivan doing less teaching than before. (138)
David M. Levy, a child psychiatrist, took up their case and warned about the "imposition of certain ideas upon them by Dr. Kubie" and "despite all Kubie's protests about liberalism, and the teaching program, a reactionary movement lurks behind it." (139) Abram Kardiner also supported Horney and criticised the way Kubie chaired a meeting addressed by Horney on 17th October, 1939: "The last meeting... created no good feeling, and for this failure in part I blame you. You permitted the tone of discussion to go unchallenged; you tolerated criticism of an empirical scientific procedure by the standards of religious sectionalisms... you permitted scientific slander to take the place of criticism." (140)
There were now calls to have Horney expelled from the New York Psychoanalytic Institute. The leading figure in this was Fritz Wittels, Freud's friend and biographer. In an open letter sent to all members of the Institute he pointed out: "In the spring of 1939 Dr. Karen Horney has published a book written for the general public, in which with one sweeping gesture she refuted most of the fundamentals of psychoanalysis.... While she pretended to have retained the unconscious and some of its dynamics, all experts expressed their opinion that Dr. Horney's unconscious has nothing in common with Freud's concept of this psychic system and the laws ruling it. Lay readers are full of praise for any book which... kills the contention that our sex life is of fundamental importance in the structure of human psychology. As a result forty years of patient scientific work was thrown to the dogs."
Wittels was especially upset by the fact that Horney had a lot of support amongst younger members: "Dr. Horney has surrounded herself with a group of younger and youngest members of our psychoanalytic society whom she has either analyzed herself or supervised. Some of these adolescents in the field show clearly that their transference to their master is still in full bloom, openly confessing in our meetings their deep gratitude for help which they got from Dr. Horney. I have never heard that mine or anybody else's former training analysands have done anything of this kind and if it occurred we would consider it not only in bad taste hut evidence of an incomplete analysis... Our students come to us because of Freud's invulnerable name expecting to be taught the result of forty years of patient psychoanalytic work. Instead, we are urgently asked to teach them a doctrine diametrically opposed to Freud's findings and rejected by probably ninety-nine percent of the experienced members of the International Psychoanalytic Association." (141)
On 29th April, 1941, the Educational Committee of the New York Psychoanalytic Institute decided to demote Horney. As a result, Horney and her supporters decided to resign from the New York Psychoanalytic Society: "When an instructor and training analyst is disqualified solely because of scientific convictions, any hopes we may have harboured for improvement in the policies of the society have been dispelled. We are interested only in the scientific advancement of psychoanalysis in keeping with the courageous spirit of its founder, Sigmund Freud. This obviously cannot be achieved within the framework of the New York Psychoanalytic Society as it is now constituted. Under the circumstances, we have no alternative but to resign." (142)
Three weeks later Karen Horney, Clara Thompson, Harmon S. Ephron, Bernard S. Robbins and Sarah Kelman established the Association of Advancement of Psychoanalysis (AAP). Soon afterwards the first edition of the organization's American Journal of Psychoanalysis was published. The journal announced the availability of thirteen courses for "students in training and interested physicians" and four courses for graduate students in psychology and other disciplines. Ephron later claimed: "They were glorious days. The revolution was on." (143)
The AAP provided courses at the New School for Social Research. It also established the American Institute for Psychoanalysis with Horney as dean (later renamed the Karen Horney Psychoanalytic Institute) at 329 East 62nd Street. Guest lecturers included Erich Fromm, Harry Stack Sullivan, Abram Kardiner, Harold Kelman, Stephen P. Jewett, Frieda Fromm-Reichmann, David M. Levy, Margaret Mead, Janet Rioch Bard, William V. Silverberg and Franz Alexander. Horney was now free to teach her own ideas, but Lawrence Kubie ensured that she and her associates were excluded from mainstream national and international psychoanalytic organisations and journals. She was much vilified and her later books were not reviewed in establishment journals. (144)
Horney was accused by Kubie of taking advantage of her position "to build little bands of neophytes and proselytes around her, and to keep them from having contact with any other points of view." Another was that "she had a tendency to become involved in serious counter-transference relationships with some of her young male students". Not only did she lure some of them into her bed, but she did not make it possible for them "to work out the negative aspects of their transference relationships to her." She had a tendency to build "closely dependent relationships in which all hostile elements had to be bottled up and never expressed." (145)
In 1942 Karen Horney published Self-Analysis. It was based on a series of lectures she had given in New York the previous year. Her main concern was on showing how the concepts of psychoanalysis that might be helpful to teachers and social workers. In the course she had focused on the use of "factual psychoanalytic knowledge by teachers, social workers and laymen in an effort to aid others... in making an adjustment to their environment." The material she had presented included the possibilities and difficulties of self-analysis. (146)
She argued that a person may undertake self-analysis, "during the longer intervals that occur in most analyses: holidays, absences from the city". Or someone who lives a greater distance from cities where analysts, practice may undertake analysis between "occasional checkups." She added that someone who lives a great distance between cities where analysts, practice may undertake analysis between "occasional checkups." It may also be possible that "self-analysis may be feasible without analytical help." (147)
It has been argued that apart from her diaries, Self-Analysis is the most revealing of Horney's writings. It is largely a case-study of a woman called "Clare" who is clearly based on herself. "The process of self-discovery and growth through which Clare goes over the course of approximately five years, however, took almost three decades of Karen Horney's life. Despite the omissions, simplifications, and fictionalizations, the Clare case gives us a good idea of how Horney perceived her own development and helps us fill in our picture not only of her life but also of her personality. Horney probably perceived herself as having discovered and tackled her trends in very much the sequence she attributes to Clare and as having made similar progress." (148)
The book was ignored by most publications but Lionel Trilling, an ally of the Freudian establishment, was willing to attack Horney in the press. He claimed that "in her latest book Dr. Horney carries her rejection of Freud's theories about as far as it can go... She propounds the belief that by adapting the techniques of regular analysis a neurotic person can effectively analyze himself." (149) J. F. Brown in The New Republic did not like the idea of the book's promise to provide "the key to self-analysis for three dollars". (150)
Trilling and Brown seemed to think that this view was anti-Freudian, however, Freud believed strongly in self-analyses and books such as The Interpretation of Dreams, was largely the product of his analysis of himself. As Freud later explained: "The interpretation of dreams is in fact the royal road to a knowledge of the unconsciousness; it is the securest foundation of psychoanalysis and the field in which every worker must acquire his convictions and seek his training. If I am asked how one can become a psycho-analyst, I reply: 'By studying one's own dreams.' Every opponent of psychoanalysis hitherto has, with a nice discrimination, either evaded any consideration of The Interpretation of Dreams or has sought to skirt over it with the most superficial objections." (151)
Erich Fromm had been Karen Horney's partner soon after arriving in the United States in 1933. However, conflicts began to appear during the early days of the American Institute for Psychoanalysis. Fromm and Clara Thompson were angered that most of the new students were taken into analysis by Horney. According to several students at the institute Horney appeared to resent Fromm's popularity with students. Ruth Moulton has suggested that Fromm's first book in English, Escape from Freedom (1941) may have aroused Horney's jealously, particularly since he drew praise and attention from the same lay audience that admired Horney's work. Fromm was also the only teacher on the faculty who had Horney's kind of charisma. (152)
Horney's relationship with Fromm had been in difficulty for several years. Horney told her secretary, Marie Levy, that Fromm was a "Peer Gynt type". (153) In one of her books Horney explained what she meant by describing someone as Peer Gynt: "To thyself be enough... Provided emotional distance is sufficiently guaranteed, he may be able to preserve a considerable measure of enduring loyalty. He may be capable of having intense short-lived relationships, relationships in which he appears and vanishes. They are brittle, and any number of factors may hasten his withdrawal... As for sexual relations... he will enjoy them if they are transitory and do not interfere with his life. They should be confined, as it were, to the compartment set aside for such affairs." (154)
One of Horney's biographers has speculated: "Horney's version of Peer Gynt/Erich Fromm suggests that the relationship with Fromm may have ended because she wanted more from him than he was willing to give. "Might she have suggested marriage, for instance, and scared him off? On the other hand, however, Fromm couldn't have been entirely averse to marriage, since he married twice after his relationship with Horney ended. Perhaps, since both his subsequent marriages were to younger women, he was looking for a less powerful partner. Horney was fifteen years older than he, had published more books, and was better known at the time.... It is also true that Horney herself possessed many of the attributes of the Peer Gynt type. Could her typing of Fromm have been a projection? Was it she, not he, who backed off when the relationship reached a certain level of intimacy?" (155)
Another source concerned Karen Horney's daughter, Marianne. At Horney's suggestion, her daughter entered into psychoanalysis with Fromm. Marianne later admitted that her relationship with Fromm changed her life. After two years of analysis, she became aware of the artificiality of her relationship with her mother. This was followed by a wish for closer relationships, and resulted in new friendships and meeting her future husband and embarking on a "rich, meaningful" life, including "two marvelous daughters." The analysis had not provided a "cure" but had "unblocked... the capacity for growth." Marianne believes that Fromm was able to help her not only because he had been a good friend of her mother's for many years, and knew her "erratic relatedness or unrelatedness to people." As a result, he was able to "affirm a reality which I had never been able to grasp." (156)
In April 1943, a group of students requested that Fromm teach a clinical course in the institute program. Horney rejected the idea and argued that allowing a non-physician to teach clinical courses would make it more difficult for their institute to be accepted as a training program within New York Medical College. At a vote in the faculty council, Horney's proposal was victorious. Fromm, who was working as a training analyst in the privacy of his office, where he was analyzing and supervising students, was officially deprived of training status. As a result, he resigned, along with Clara Thompson, Harry Stack Sullivan and Janet Rioch. (157)
A large number of students were upset by this dispute. Ralph Rosenberg wrote to Ruth Moulton: "We children should get together and spank our unruly parents for their childish behaviour. The students may hold the balance of power in the mess. Thompson expects to recruit enough students from our gang and other sources to start a third school... The faculty has little to gain by the split and its undivided loyalty. The faculty has little to gain by the split and its accompanying mud slinging. The students lose the services of outstanding teachers... We do not know the actual issues causing the split... I therefore suggest that the students invite the Fromm and Horney group to discuss their differences in the presence of the students." (158)
Fromm, Thompson, Sullivan and Rioch, along with eight others, established their own institution, the William Alanson White Institute of Psychiatry, Psychoanalysis, and Psychology. (159) Horney was deeply hurt by this development and told a Ernest Schachtel, who took holidays with the couple in happier times, that she unwilling for their friendship to continue unless he stopped seeing Fromm. Schachtel refused: "I was surprised she would make such a condition. I continued to see him, because we were old friends... I think she was deeply hurt by Erich Fromm." (160)
Karen Horney developed a close relationship with the much younger Harold Kelman. "She needed him, not only because he was a forceful administrator but also, apparently, for personal reasons. Kelman was bright, and Horney enjoyed sparring with him intellectually, tossing ideas back and forth. But Kelman and Horney were more than just intellectual companions. They behaved together with the easy familiarity of a couple... People who knew Kelman doubt that his relationship with Horney was primarily sexual; many got the impression that Kelman, who never married, was either asexual or homosexual." (161)
Horney became very dependent on Kelman and later succeeded her as dean of the American Institute for Psychoanalysis. (162) Judd Marmor, who worked with both Horney and Kelman claimed: "She (Horney) was seduced by people who worshiped her. That was very important to her. And Kelman was a bachelor, he had no family, and he devoted himself constantly to her, he was at her beck and call. He was a strange man, a bright man, not without ability... his personality was a little odd." (163)
Horney would often criticize Kelman in front of students. Once when he was speaking on "Duplicity," she furiously asked "What are you really trying to say?" Another time, when he was lecturing on dreams, he gave the impression she was a follower of Andras Angyal. Horney jumped up and berated him, crying: "This is not my theory!" On another occasion, after he claimed that some degree of anxiety was normal and tolerable, she again angrily protested, that it was the obligation of the analyst as a physician to relieve emotional pain." (164)
Horney published Our Inner Conflicts: A Constructive Theory of Neurosis in 1945. The title referred to the simultaneous, opposing pull between any compulsive yet contradictory, unconscious neurotic trends. Horney argued that neurosis is due to uncaring parenting and the conflicting character trends it sets in motion. She described these trends as involving variously moving towards, against, and away from others. These movements eventuate in three distinct character types. The "compliant type" seeks to resolve conflict between movement towards and against others by emphasizing the first trend. The "aggressive type" emphasizes the second trend. Whereas the "detached type" seeks to avoid all conflict through retreat from others". (165)
The defensive attitudes which the person develops as solutions for such conflicts constitute the neurotic personality structure. Horney believed that man is innately constructive but can become destructive when obstacles are put in the way of his growth. These neurotic conflicts differ from normal, daily human conflicts, where you make a largely conscious choice between alternatives. "With neurotic conflicts, this simple resolution is impossible. The forces acting are not only diametrically opposed but are unconscious and compulsively driven. Therefore decision, choice and responsibility are lost." (166)
In her previous books she had concentrated on making distinctions between her views and those of Sigmund Freud. This is continued in the introduction where she attempts to explain her own distinctive theories. This included her observation that many neurotics were either compulsively dependent (someone who dared not assert himself or herself for fear of losing love) or compulsively aggressive (someone who needs to deny and bury all dependency needs). One solution to this conflict involved what she called "moving away". That is to say "maintaining an emotional distance between the self and others" which "set the conflict out of operation". (167)
The person with a moving-toward-others personality needs to feel loved, accepted, needed, taken care of by others. "He is self-sacrificing, generous, undemanding. He avoids quarrels, competition, standing out. Blaming himself, and apologizing, comes easily. But there are inhibitions on any assertiveness or anger. He often feels helpless and inferior; or at least, his self-evaluation depends exclusively on what others think of him. Values like goodness, sympathy and humility are idealized, whereas their opposites - egotism, selfishness, ambition, domination - are despised."
The moving-against-others neurotic has diametrically opposite qualities. "He needs to control, to succeed, to exploit and triumph over others. Prestige and recognition are part of this. He must be tough, hard and unsentimental - and always right. He enjoys competition, arguing, winning. However, inhibitions do exist on feeling or expressing any softer emotions: affection, tenderness, understanding, enjoyment."
The moving-away-from-others involves a form of emotional detachment in which the person becomes an objective onlooker to himself. "He needs to keep emotional distance, noninvolvement, from others. Self-sufficiently, privacy and independence are additional needs... Feelings in general are suppressed. He excludes both the softer emotions of the compliant person and the power-drive of the assertive one. To experience either would provoke conflict... Detachment thus differs from the other two trends in being more stringently defensive against the direct emergence of conflicts." (168)
Horney claimed that sometimes the neurotic "instead of moving away from others.... moved away from himself". This solution involved creating an idealized image that explained away the conflicts. "The problem was that it also involved living a lie - since there was always a big difference between the idealized version of oneself and the real version. Different neurotics live this lie in different ways. Sometimes the emphasis is on believing in the idealized image, in which case the neurotic has a great hunger for praise and admiration, all of which he believes he deserves. Sometimes the emphasis is on the realistic self, which by comparison with the idealized image is highly despicable. In this case the neurotic is compulsory self-derogatory." (169)
Common to all three types, Horney argued, is a tendency to generate an idealized self-image to overcome the factors that otherwise undermine individual self-esteem. People who suffer from the discrepancy between the idealized self and the real self, will use a lot of energy to attempt to "whip himself into perfection". Such a person lives under what Horney termed "the tyranny of the should." He is "at bottom as convinced of his inherent perfection as the naively 'narcissistic' person, and betrays it by the belief that he actually could be perfect if only he were more strict with himself, more controlled, more alert, more circumspect." (170)
Horney argues in her book that if "our reasonable needs for safety and satisfaction are frustrated, we become unhappy, defensive, and destructive, with the severity of our neurosis depending upon the extent of our deprivation". (171) Horney goes on to say the general goal of therapy is to make the neurotic aware of the conflicts and their neurotic solutions and to help him get in touch with his "real self". This "real self", Horney believes, has a will to grow once it has been given a little encouragement. An analysis "can be safely terminated if the patient has acquired this... capacity to learn from his experiences - that is, if he can examine his share in the difficulties that arise, understand it, and apply the insight to his life." (172)
Harold Lasswell, writing in The New York Tribune, praised the work: "This new perspective gives a more coherent account of the self than before... There is an unmistakable note of optimism in her analysis, since she sees the personality as a going concern, capable of progressive adjustment. The book is distinguished by clarity, poise and mature judgement." However, he added a warning: "The problems involved are of the utmost complexity and the author's contentions can only be competently assessed by persons... highly specialized in psychiatry and social psychology. The writing is so lucid that it will evoke the illusion of comprehension in uncritical and unqualified minds." (173)
Karen's daughter, Brigitte Horney, remained in Nazi Germany throughout the Second World War. In 1940 she married a cameraman named Konstantin Irmen-Tschet. Her movie career came to an end when the authorities became aware of her close friendship with the actor Joachim Gottschalk and his Jewish wife, Meta Wolff. Gottschalk received information that his wife and son were about to be arrested by the Gestapo. On 6th November, 1941, the family committed suicide. Brigitte and her husband ignored the orders of the German government not to attend the funeral and later claimed "the Gestapo was taking pictures of us, but we didn't care". Irmen-Tschet was arrested but Horney's fame kept her out of prison. (174)
Karen and Brigitte were reunited after the war. However, when they attempted to visit Japan together, the State Department denied her a passport. It was later discovered that the FBI had been monitoring Horney since November, 1940 and was concerned about her involvement with the New School for Social Research. According to the FBI "this institution is known to have communistic sympathies" and "Dr. Horney... is a communist or communist sympathizer". In March 1941, another informant reported that Horney was "probably a Nazi" who had "spoke well" of Rudolf Hess. He added "a work of hers attacking Freud is the only book on psychiatry that the Communist Party allows sold in book shops" and "Madame Horney's books sell fine" in the Soviet Union. A month later, J. Edgar Hoover wrote a letter passing along this information to E. J. Connelly, the assistant director of the FBI. (175)
The FBI recorded the reasons why the passport application was being rejected: "After carefully reviewing this file it is my opinion that Dr. Karen Horney's record follows the familiar pro-Communist or fellow traveller pattern. Her membership and active participation in at least five pro-Communist organizations, it seems is sufficient evidence to prove that she was well aware of the objectives of these organizations and was not just innocently taken in... Dr. Horney is an author and psychologist and with her background will follow the usual pattern of specialists in such subjects, and discuss in a favourable light socialist and communist theories... It is well known that the shock of Japan's defeat has left Japanese educators bewildered and confused, resulting in many becoming receptive to communism... It is, therefore, recommended that she be denied a passport to visit Japan at this time." (176)
Horney's final book, Neurosis and Human Growth (1950) went through several drafts and took five years to write. Her main focus was on the psychological consequences of self-idealization. Children try to cope with feelings of weakness, inadequacy, and isolation by developing interpersonal strategies. The original defences, moreover, do not fully satisfy their psychological needs and exacerbate their sense of weakness by alienating children from their real selves. As a further defense children or adolescents develop an idealized image of themselves, which is "a kind of artistic creation in which opposites appear reconciled." (177)
The nature of the idealized image depends upon our own experiences. Its content is much influenced by our predominant defense and the attributes it exalts. For example, the idealized image of self-effacing people "is a composite of lovable qualities, such as unselfishness, goodness, generosity, humility, saintliness, nobility, sympathy." It also glorifies "helplessness, suffering, and martyrdom". (178)
The idealized image is designed to enhance our feeling of worth and to provide a sense of identity, but it leads to increased self-contempt and additional inner conflicts. Horney believed that we develop a set of intrapsychic defences that Horney calls the pride system. "Although the pride system is set in motion by disturbances in human relationships, it develops a dynamic of its own. Because we cannot live up to our shoulds and the world does not honor our claims, our feelings of weakness, worthlessness, helplessness, and inadequacy are intensified." (179) The neurotic is rarely aware of his self-hate, "at least in its true intensity and ramifications... he only experiences its effects." (180)
We cannot live up to our idealized image because it is highly unrealistic and full of contradictions. "Since we will feel worthwhile only when we actualize our idealized image, and since everything that falls short of that image is contemptible, we develop a despised image of ourselves that is just as unrealistic as its idealized counterpart... Imagination is put into the service of neurosis not only in the creation of the idealized self and the formation of lofty dreams but also in the continual falsification of reality that is necessary to protect the precious illusions." (181)
Horney believes that the search for glory is often the most important thing in life. It gives them the sense of meaning and the feeling of superiority they so desperately crave. They may experience depression or despair at the feeling that they can never actualize their idealized image. The search for glory constitutes a "private religion" the rules of which are determined by our particular neuroses. Horney claimed that more lives have been "sacrificed on the alter of glory than for any other reason." (182)
Horney observes that some people assume that because neurosis is primary the result of bad human relationships it can be remedied by good ones, for example, like those with an analyst, "in which factors that were injurious in childhood are absent." This expectation may be "justified with regard to the child and adolescent", but it is much more difficult with adults as they "do not have the power to uproot a firmly planted pride system" that is a logical outgrowth of early development. (183)
In the book she proposes three general types of solutions to conflict the expansive solution, the self-effacing solution, and the resigned solution. "Each of these solutions has its own reward. For the expansive group the reward is mastery, for the self-effacing group the reward is safety, and for the resigned group the reward is freedom. The point is not that any one of these solutions is all wrong but that each is too much of one thing. Because of the fear of being hurt, for instance, the resigned person is determinedly unambitious, whereas the expansive person may never be able to stop pushing himself. Each of these types is burdened with an image of himself that is rigidly adhered to." (184)
Horney explains this by finding examples for her points in the plays of Henrik Ibsen. Nora's story in A Doll's House, for instance, is about imprisonment within a "false self". This deception of self permeate not only the characters she cites in other plays by Ibsen such as John Gabriel Borkman, Peer Gynt and Hedda Gabler. She also uses material from her childhood diaries to explain this issue. She for example, her reflections on her own hypocrisy in pretending to believe in God. By late adolescence she was writing about not knowing which of her many selves was the real one. In the book, she claims that as we develop "the emphasis shifts from being to appearing." (185)
Soon after the publication of Neurosis and Human Growth Horney began to have attacks of upper abdominal pain. She had also had good health and at first refused to see a doctor and instead prescribed her own remedies. However, after several months of continuing pain, she eventually consulted a specialist. X-rays were inconclusive and she rejected the idea of an exploratory operation. Throughout the next two years the pain recurred intermittently. (186)
With the help of some influential friends, Horney was able to make contact with Secretary of State Dean Acheson. He eventually gave permission for her to be given a passport. In June, 1952, a memorandum was issued that a "one-time membership in Communist-front organizations should not prejudice a person for all time." (187) The passport was now issued to Horney and on 21st July, 1952, Karen and Brigitte boarded a Pan Am World Airways flight to Japan. (188)
On her return to the United States she was taken ill. She was taken to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital and she was discovered to have cancer of the gall bladder, which had spread to the lungs. While in hospital she was visited by a young medical student, Robert Coles. He later wrote: "She knew she was dying, and made no effort to conceal her knowledge from me, a stranger." Horney asked him how many women were in his class at medical school. She was dismayed when he told her "there were three, out of a hundred or so." Horney replied "that a profession so dedicated to caring for people, naturing them... should be so overwhelmingly made up of men". She added that this was not true of the Soviet Union. Her last remark, as he got ready to leave, was "You are young, and maybe when you reach my age the world will be quite different." (189)
Karen Horney died on 4th December 1952. At her funeral service Paul Tillich told the large crowd gathered for the ceremony: "One of the most powerful lives we have known came to an end, unexpectedly except in the last few weeks, unimaginably to most of us, even now after it has happened... She wrote books, but she loved human beings. She helped them to throw light into the dark places of their souls." (190)
How I came to be writing a diary is easy to explain: it’s because I am enthusiastic about everything new, and I have decided now to carry this through so that in later years I can better remember the days of my youth….
I feel very dignified today, since I had my hair pinned up for the first time even though I am only 13 years old. In spiritual matters I still feel very unworthy, for although I am steadily growing up, I do not yet feel the true need for religion. A sermon can overwhelm me and at times I can act accordingly, but prayer… he need - spiritual poverty - in a word: the thoughts. Unfortunately, I have to stop now, it is bedtime.
Yesterday we made a lovely class trip to Venttorf. At the station I sat opposite Herr Schulze, then I carried his coat, which I enjoyed very much. On our way there Anita and I walked alone, in Venttorf we met Susi Schulze (the daughter of Herr Schulze) with whom we got on well. It's great in school. My favorite subjects are religion, history, chemistry, and French. I don't like arithmetic at all and the same goes for gym.
I am still a student at the Convent School and am frightfully fond of going to school. We really have awfully nice teachers, I'll describe their characters for you.
Herr Schulze, for history and religion. Heavenly, i.e., interesting, clever, quiet (almost imperturbable), naive, liberal views, not petty, a little too exact and thorough, trusting (almost too much so), selfless, charming father and friend, lovable, ironic, interested in us, his pupils, kindly disposed, etc....
Dr. Dietrich, for geography and natural sciences. Treats us like recruits, rather rough, quite handsome, rather boring lessons, not pedantic and fussy, extremely unfair, outside school very jolly and nice, natural, vain, and severe.
Dr. Karstens, for German. Fräulein Emmerich's favorite, moderately good lessons, fussy, strict, frightfully precise in correcting compositions, a hair-raising declaimer, but enjoys fine declamation, polite, fair.
Fräulein Banning, for French (the ladies should have come first). Angelic, charming, interesting, clever, lovable, not strict, natural, opposite of pedantry and fussiness, unfortunately nervous, at times rather shy, delightful, like a sensitive plant (I believe it comes from nervousness).
Fräulein Emmerich, class teacher for English. Very nice, clever, interesting, obliging, pretty fair, coquettish (with Dr. Karstens), trusting (rather too much), somewhat untidy, careless, the nicest classroom teacher one could imagine.
This uncertainty makes me sick. Why can't Father make up his mind a little faster? He, who has flung out thousands for my stepbrother Enoch, who is both stupid and bad, first turns every additional penny he is to spend for me lo times in his fingers. And we did make it clear to him that he has to feed me only as long as I attend school. Once I have my diploma I most certainly don't want another penny from him. He would like me to stay at home now, so we could dismiss our maid and I could do her work. He brings me almost to the point of cursing my good gifts.
What happened to me then probably happens to everybody. I avidly picked up everything that could reveal to me something on these sensitive points. I had a preference for walking in the streets of the prostitutes. I read a book about "Prostitution in Paris." I read Zola's Nana. I often read Maupassant novels which L. brought along to school. I read poems of Marie-Madeleine On Cyprus. And though I resisted, though tortured by pricks of conscience, I began to get enthusiastic about these poems. They stirred sensual pleasure in me for the first time. I read Bilche's Love Life in Nature, I read Wolff's Tannhliuser - and I finally got so far as to doubt my statement about the only sin a woman can commit. One question occupied my mind for weeks, even months: is it wrong to give oneself to a man outside of marriage or not? I answered now in the affirmative, now in the negative.
Only very gradually did I become certain that it is never immoral to give oneself to a man one really loves, if one is prepared to also bear all the consequences. How did I arrive at this joyously triumphant certainty? I don't know. I think a lot of things worked together. In the first place it was Shakespeare who helped me on the right track: "For there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so."
One should base every consideration of things human on this sentence. A girl who gives herself to a man in free love stands morally way above the woman who, for pecuniary reasons or out of a desire for a home, marries a man she does not love. Marriage is something only external. It is bad-not theoretically-but when one comes to know how few marriages are really good ones. I know two families from our large circle of acquaintances of whom I guess this is the case. But the one couple are pretty limited people, the other very superficial. The other marriages?? What a mess!
All our morals and morality are either "nonsense" or immoral.
Will it ever change? And how? And when?
The dawn of a new time is breaking. I hope with all the strength of my young hope. Perhaps even the next generation will not know these battles, perhaps it will already be stronger than we are because more of them stem from a union of love. Perhaps more of the next generation will become mothers, true mothers, whose children are children of love. For how difficult it is today for a young girl to admit that she is having a child. The immorality of abortion will cease in that time-which perhaps will never come.
There is no question that a woman who gives herself freely to a man-aware of the step she takes and all its consequences-stands infinitely higher than the thousands of girls who marry the first comer in order to marry.
When will we stop judging people by what they do? What they are is the only criterion. For not all people are so harmonious that their actions give the clue to their natures.
Altogether too absurd, judging a person's character exclusively from his attitude toward sex. Much more important is, for example, his attitude toward the truth. Nobody will declare that I am immoral - and yet I could drown in the ocean of my lies.
The first moral law: thou shalt not lie!
And the second: thou shalt free thy self from convention, from everyday morality, and shalt think through the highest commands for thy self and act accordingly.
Too much custom, too little morality!
Rolf and I often went to lectures, on club excursions, etc., and almost always his friend Walter Singer (brother of Berndt's friend Paul Singer) was there too with his friend Martha D. Although the 4 of us met socially occasionally, we did not become very close, as you can imagine. I'm not supposed to go to her house. I could not convince Mother of the silliness of her prejudices. Martha comes from quite simple circumstances, her father is a warehouseman and, it seems to me, the philosopher among the workmen. Martha was at first a housemaid at the Singers, where Walter noticed her because of her extensive knowledge and her thirst for learning. Then she was a salesgirl for a while, and now she is at Grone to be trained as a clerk. She is a fine person, has enormous energy and self-confidence, is clever, has temperament and is kind, very kind. As we were sitting there in her little room and she told me about her rich life - it was already 11 o'clock, we hardly noticed it couldn't help giving her a kiss, and now we say "Du" to each other and are friends. Naturally, I feel that there is still much that separates us because of the fundamental difference in our courses of development and our milieus on the one hand, and the difference in our characters on the other.
She writes too-inevitably-psychological sketches. Now you will probably say that I too am always doing something different from other sensible people. Real class differences do not lie in money but in the development of a cultured, educated mind, and in this regard Martha is far superior to most girls of her class.
It is a frightful shame that she cannot come to our house, and Mother can take no part in this new happiness, but trying to convince Mother of the senselessness of her prejudices was fruitless. But this is probably a natural course of events. It is not only the right but the duty of the child to seek new, better ways than its parents could, says Ellen Key.
Through this eternal series of conflicts, development goes on. I really must stop now; I think I have told you a lot of what is important in my inner life right now; go and do likewise. And go on loving me in the New Year, do you hear? A warm ray from one heart to the other is after all the only thing, the best we have.
To be free of sensuality means great power in a woman. Only in this way will she be independent of a man. Otherwise she will always long for him and in the exaggerated yearning of her senses she will be able to drown out all feeling of her own value. She becomes the bitch, who begs even if she is beaten-a strumpet. It is a different thing if through the muting of all other instincts, the one instinct has become a power in her, i.e., when she is only "female."
Otherwise eternal battling. And every victory of the senses a Pyrrhic victory, bought with loathing, ever deadly loathing afterwards.
And a man wants a woman calm and superior to these low instincts, of whose power he is only too well aware in himself. Everyone loves that which is higher. Whence the old song about the vanity of man, who wants to conquer, always to conquer, who will accept nothing that is given to him.
Deep in my soul arises an alluring vision. Strong men - in their arms women whose glance and voice make known an imperturbable inward harmony, who know nothing of that war to the death in us between fiery giants and icy queens, between sensuality and intellect.
A profound friendship between man and woman, an understanding of their souls, a sense of being at home each in the other's heart.
Then love emerges. Ardent in its first desire, and yet beautiful, tender. Only when there is no underlying friendship, when it is only sensual pleasure that drives one toward the other, can love become shameless; then it does not matter if it hurts the other person, then each will be contemptuous of the other.
When the first passion has subsided, friendship emerges doubly beautiful out of the fiery bath. That is the highest, most enduring happiness that we can experience through another person.
Dr. Abraham says we must now have patience. Till now ideas have come with such playful ease. Now we must wait because the resistances are too great. What more can happen now? I cannot imagine what else he wants to find. He has given me many possible explanations for the states of exhaustion, the inclination to passivity that increases to a longing for sleep-even for death-the same inclination to passivity that governs my love life. The desire for physical and spiritual martyrdom, whence the great attraction brutal and rather forceful men exert on me, the wanting to blend in with the will of a man who has set his foot on my neck, all the same story. The shyness too in part belongs here.
Dr. A. thinks this comes from my first childhood impressions, from the time when I loved my father with all the strength of my passion. I got my erotic ideal from that time. I think of the overly strong attraction Ernst exercised on me, again and again, that clumsy, brutally egotistic, coarsely sensual fellow. I have always wanted to kill my passion for him through analysis. Now I understand that all his inferior characteristics, which I kept before my eyes, did not in the least quench my passion; no, on the contrary: the instincts in me wanted such a man-and my conscious I, seeking a man of fine intelligence and discerning kindness, resisted against this in vain. In Oskar I found everything I consciously wished for-and behold: my instinctual life rebels. It feels itself drawn to a Karl U. because it scents the beast of prey in him, which it needs. To Rolf too. When we were together in those days he took an unremitting pleasure in tormenting me. Walter S. once said to him: "You are a sadist." He disputed the point at the time-but I knew Walter was right. On his birthday, when he wanted to take Tobby away from me and we consequently got into a fight in which he forced me to my knees and after that to lie on the floor, imperiously demanding a kiss as the reward of victory, a crimson glow almost engulfed me and in that instant I loved him. He totally lost his self-control at that moment. Oskar is always self-controlled. Even when he forces me to submit to him it is never savagery or animal brutality-he is at all times controlled, he is never elemental. For living together, certainly ideal-but something remains in me that hungers.
When I asked Dr. A. today what more he really wanted to find out in me he said: that is the typical question when resistances appear in the course of the treatment. I was uneasy and embarrassed over the interpretation of dreams. He thinks the resistance may grow stronger before it is broken. That is always so. I am curious.
I often wonder whether I have some need for my illness. To let myself be pampered? In order not to have to work? To avenge myself on Oskar with it? As a child I looked forward to lying in bed at night because then I could be least disturbed in telling myself stories. Is my subconscious now continually trying to bring about this or some corresponding situation so that my dreams can pursue their course undisturbed?
When I pass Karl U.'s apartment I think each time: I really could go upstairs so that he would accompany me to the station or home, but I never do it. When I saw him again for the first time night before last, I was unspeakably happy. I was in bed. When he gave me his hand in greeting I had a strong desire to throw my arms around his neck and give him a kiss. Afterward I just went on being glad that with my freshly washed hair I looked quite well; I didn't say much.
Undoubtedly I enjoy going to the analysis and am happy in the morning when it occurs to me on my way to college that today I am to be there at quarter to 10 instead of 2 o'clock as usual. So what makes the analysis so indispensable to the subconscious? For one thing, the attachment to Dr. A. in itself. But above all: during that hour only I am, only I, undivided, the center of interest. I can talk about anything I ever felt and thought and know that it is being heard by another person. Also, I know that this spiritual disrobing, just as the physical undressing, gives the sensual pleasure of shy embarrassment and submission, and also that self-exhibition satisfies a strong sexual drive carried over from childhood.
From way back the urge to make myself interesting unquestionably dominated my relationship to people. This desire that others should pay attention to me, my singularity, is really the old exhibitionist tendency, but there is further an urge to martyrdom contained in it since one puts oneself forward just as much through one's bad as through one's good characteristics and must suffer for it; furthermore, the old childish "megalomania"; in short, one wants to be something quite special-and furthermore, a colossal need for an object, the need to please many people, to conquer many. If a few are taken in by this and make one feel that they consider one "a genius," the swindle is complete. There is nothing more unbearable than the thought of disappearing quietly in the great mass of the average, nothing more fatal than the reproach of being told one is a nice, friendly, average person. In order to stand out through achievement, however, one would have to work. Intellectual work is nevertheless thoroughly repugnant to the unconscious because it distracts it from its activity in sexual life. So one dabbles in "moods," one appears now gay, self-aware, competent, up-and-doing, and now burdened by a heavy passivity and fatigue, even playing with death wishes. Along this line the subconscious just incidentally profits in all sorts of ways.
It can't go on like this. I have too much to do, can't let one day after another pass by without having utilized it fully. I mustn't let myself be dominated by my distaste for everything. Oskar has found a very natural explanation for my behavior. It reveals the limitations of a self-analysis, for I did not arrive at it myself. It comes to this: Sonni's death in many respects means a release for me; I must have wished for it in many ways and greeted it with relief. For one thing, through her hysteria-which, furthermore, must have been increased and reinforced in these last years through organic changes in her vascular system-she gave us many an ill-humored hour. Her fate in the future lay before us as a threatening question to which we found no satisfactory answer, yet it repeatedly thrust itself upon us. Given Sonni's inability to handle money, the pecuniary side eventually became critical too, though it was not our chief concern. The main thing was that Sonni presented a constant danger to my health, and recurrences of poor health were often due-or in any case thought to be due to her account. When she had her stroke a further consideration entered in: she would remain paralyzed and probably retain mental defects. Then it would have been our unavoidable duty to take her into our house and look after her. Our whole life would have been altered, a black shadow would have darkened our sunny, harmonious home. The thought was so dreadful to me that in those days I couldn't even think it through, but evaded it, either with the idea that Sonni could live alone with a nurse, or the thought that we would wait and see how things went, i.e., the wish that she might die before this question came up.
Then when death actually came, the consciousness of guilt for all these wishes that had previously been discreetly repressed came to the surface. I wanted to atone through an exaggerated grief, through torturing myself by reliving all the dreadful days of her sickness and death, through keeping away all distracting elements and all joy of life. The self-reproach for the countless unkindnesses one did her, large and small, the torment that this can never again be made good, this is a different, entirely conscious consciousness of guilt and would never by itself lead to nervous symptoms. It is a feeling of guilt that will always remain and that should teach me to become kinder toward the living. That is something which can make one serious but cannot be inimical to life, rather it must at bottom have an encouraging and ennobling effect on it.
Only guilt feelings toward repressed wishes have an inimical influence on life, restrictive, making for illness.
The nurse is gone now and I have my little one all to myself. All the corresponding work, too, naturally-but that will be all right. If only I were strong again and, above all, inwardly free. Abraham? Perhaps it would be good after all. He wrote, in a letter of congratulation, that he would like to visit me sometime. Now I am aware that whenever the doorbell rings, the thought shoots through my mind: it might be he. I don't quite understand the reason for this. So the readiness for transference is there in large measure-and on the other hand, it is just this that scares me about re-entering treatment; I think it will again bring up difficulties in arriving at solutions. But if, when recuperated, the state of my soul has not improved, I will go. The great load of work I shall have to surmount-baby, exams, newspaper, correspondence, psychotherapy report, diary, interpretation of my dreams-makes it imperative that I keep absolutely fit. Evidently I have a strong resistance against interpreting my dreams. For even if I put a sheet of paper for writing them down beside my bed, which mostly is not the case, I say to myself when I wake up: "I've already forgotten so much of that dream, it isn't worthwhile writing it down. I'll wait until I have remembered a complete dream." That this reason isn't valid I know well enough from theoretical instruction.
Exhaustion after nursing. Nursing is a sort of autoerotic sensual satisfaction that like all stimuli of that kind produces sleepiness, the various means for inducing sleep: sucking, slight stimulation of genitalia by pressure, position, indulging in fantasy, or chemical means. In nursing, such an intimate union of mother and child as never occurs later. Mutual sensual satisfaction; hence perhaps strengthening of the longing for one's own mother.
That one half of the human race is discounted with the sex assigned to it… is decidedly unsatisfying, not only to feminine narcissism but also to biological science...
At this point I, as a woman, ask in amazement, and what about motherhood? And the blissful consciousness of bearing a new life within oneself? And the ineffable happiness of the increasing expectation of the appearance of this new being? And the joy when it finally makes its appearance and one holds it for the first time in one's arms? And the deep pleasurable feeling of satisfaction in suckling it and the happiness of the whole period when the infant needs her care?
When one begins, as I did, to analyse men only after a fairly long experience of analyzing women, one receives a most surprising impression of the intensity of this envy of pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood, as well as of the breasts and of the act of suckling.
The only major strife developed in relationship to Dr. Karen Horney, whom I had invited from Berlin to become my associate in the direction of the Institute. I knew her abilities from Berlin and admired her independent thinking. I did not know, however, the deeply rooted resentment she harbored against Freud.... Horney's resentment against Freud expressed itself in her attempts to discredit some of his most fundamental contributions, with the ambitious goal of revising the whole psychoanalytic doctrine, a task for which she was not fully prepared. She had excellent critical faculties but did not succeed in supplying anything substantially new and valid for what she tried to destroy.
Miss Horney's book deliberately makes its appeal to an audience unprepared to recognize its many inaccuracies, distortions and misstatements... If she had been content to advance her point of view in a modest and well documented way without setting herself up as a champion of "New Ways," her book might have been a major and timely contribution. But Miss Horney starts out by saying that she has been dissatisfied with the therapeutic results of psychoanalysis, that she found in every patient problems which psychoanalysis couldn't solve. She used to attribute this to her lack of experience or some other fault of her own, but finally came to realize that something was essentially wrong with Freud's concepts. These she proposes to correct... Any attempt to refute or criticize Miss Horney gives rise to the cry that she is being made a martyr to the bigoted orthodoxy of the majority. I am fully aware that this review may be construed as further evidence of such inhospitable and ungallant behavior.
I consider it my duty-as a man who has devoted his life to psychoanalysis - to survey in plain language what has happened so far in the New York Society. In the spring of 1939 Dr. Karen Horney has published a book written for the general public, in which with one sweeping gesture she refuted most of the fundamentals of psychoanalysis.... While she pretended to have retained the unconscious and some of its dynamics, all experts expressed their opinion that Dr. Horney's unconscious has nothing in common with Freud's concept of this psychic system and the laws ruling it. Lay readers are full of praise for any book which... kills the contention that our sex life is of fundamental importance in the structure of human psychology. As a result forty years of patient scientific work was thrown to the dogs.
Bewildered by Dr. Horney's book, which all experienced analysts, with the inexplicable exception of one or two, consider absurd in its essentials, we invited the author to discuss her viewpoints with us in the society. As a result we lost the better part of a session in discussing what she presented. To our surprise Dr. Horney refrained from mentioning the bold assertions of her book and... emphasized (that) cultural difficulties, in whose midst the patient lives, should primarily be considered.... What she emphasized in her verbal discussion looked to some of us like old stuff.
Some of us got the impression that Dr. Horney was not sincere with us. Did she perhaps feel that the time had not yet come to smash Freud's psychoanalysis in his own stronghold, that is, the New York Institute? The issue is Freud or no Freud. Is it in accord with scientific ethics to still call a theory and a practice psychoanalysis after having stripped it of its fundamentals?
Dr. Horney has surrounded herself with a group of younger and youngest members of our psychoanalytic society whom she has either analyzed herself or supervised. Some of these adolescents in the field show clearly that their transference to their master is still in full bloom, openly confessing in our meetings their deep gratitude for help which they got from Dr. Horney. I have never heard that mine or anybody else's former training analysands have done anything of this kind and if it occurred we would consider it not only in bad taste hut evidence of an incomplete analysis...
Our students come to us because of Freud's invulnerable name expecting to be taught the result of forty years of patient psychoanalytic work. Instead, we are urgently asked to teach them a doctrine diametrically opposed to Freud's findings and rejected by probably ninety nine percent of the experienced members of the International Psychoanalytic Association. The result is confusion of which the students rightly complain.
The neurotic feels caught in a cellar with many doors, and whichever door he opens leads only into new darkness. And all the time he knows that others are walking outside in sunshine. I do not believe that one can understand any severe neurosis without recognizing the paralyzing hopelessness which it contains. … It may be difficult then to see that behind all the odd vanities, demands, hostilities, there is a human being who suffers, who feels forever excluded from all that makes life desirable, who knows that even if he gets what he wants he cannot enjoy it. When one recognizes the existence of all this hopelessness it should not be difficult to understand what appears to be an excessive aggressiveness or even meanness, unexplainable by the particular situation. A person so shut out from every possibility of happiness would have to be a veritable angel if he did not feel hatred toward a world he cannot belong to.
Taking again as an example the need to appear perfect, I would be interested primarily in understanding what this trend accomplishes for the individual (eliminating conflicts with others and making him feel superior to others), and also what consequences the trend has on his character and his life. The latter investigation would make it possible to understand, for example, how such a person anxiously conforms with expectations and standards to the extent of becoming a mere automaton, and yet subversively defies them; how this double play results in listlessness and inertia; how he is proud of his apparent independence, yet actually is entirely dependent on the expectations and opinions of others; how he is terrified lest anyone should discover the flimsiness of his moral strivings and the duplicity which has pervaded his life; how this in turn has made him seclusive and hypersensitive to criticism.
Fortunately analysis is not the only way to resolve inner conflicts. Life itself still remains a very effective therapist... The therapy effected by life itself is not, however, within one's control. Neither hardships nor friendships nor religious experience can be arranged to meet the needs of the particular individual. Life as a therapist is ruthless; circumstances that are helpful to one neurotic may entirely crush another.
A patient may for instance become aware of both hating his mother and being devoted to her ... on the one hand he feels sorry for his mother because, being the martyr type, she is always unhappy; on the other hand he is furious at her on account of her stifling demands for exclusive devotion... Next, what he has conceived as love or sympathy becomes clearer. He should be the ideal son and should be able to make her happy and contented. Since this is impossible he feels `guilty' and makes up with redoubled attention. This should (as next appears) is not restricted to this one situation; there is no situation in life where he should not be the absolute of perfection. Then the other component of his conflict emerges. He is also quite a detached person, harbouring claims to have nobody bother him or expect things of him and hating everybody who does so. The progress here is from attributing his contradictory feelings to the external situation (the character of the mother), to realizing his own conflict in the particular relationship, finally to recognizing a major conflict within himself.
It is amazing how obtuse otherwise intelligent patients can become when it is a matter of seeing the inevitability of cause and effect in psychic matters. I am thinking of rather self-evident connections such as these: if we want to achieve something, we must put in work; if we want to become independent, we must strive toward assuming responsibility for ourselves. Or: so long as we are arrogant, we will be vulnerable. Or: so long as we do not love ourselves, we cannot possibly believe that others love us, and must by necessity be suspicious toward any assertion of love. Patients presented with such sequences of cause and effect may start to argue, to become befogged or evasive.