The Echoes of the Mind (14-2) Karen Horney

Karen Horney

Our whole civilization is a masculine civilization. The State, the laws, morality, religion, and the sciences are the creation of men. ~ Karen Horney

Like many who enter the field of psychology, German psychoanalyst Karen Horney (1885–1952) had personal traumas that adversely affected her mental health, beginning with a God-fearing fundamentalist father who believed that women were inferior to men and the primary source of evil in the world. Later, a rocky marriage didn’t help. Her personal experiences influenced her professional views.

Horney considered neurosis to be a continual process, sporadically occurring. In contrast, her contemporaries saw neurosis as a mental malfunction stemming from external stimuli.

Horney argued that male psychoanalysts typically viewed women from a distorted, juvenile perspective. If a woman envied men, it was not for their penises, but for their social standing, which women were denied.

Instead, Horney thought men often suffered womb envy: of women being procreative, and, more abstractly, their creativity. Womb envy expressed itself by disparaging women and their achievements.

Horney discarded many Freudian notions, include his oversexed attributions and the tripartite structural division of the mind into ego, id, and superego. Working during the Depression, she found more practical sources for mental problems. Horney emphasized that social conditions greatly affected mental health: most particularly, interpersonal relationships.

Self-realization does not exclusively, or even primarily, aim at developing one’s special gifts. The center of the process is the evolution of one’s potentialities as a human being; hence it involves – in a central place – the development of one’s capacities for good human relations. ~ Karen Horney