Karen Horney: A Psychoanalyst`s Search for Self-Understanding

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9780300059564: Karen Horney: A Psychoanalyst`s Search for Self-Understanding

Karen Horney (1885-1952) is regarded by many as one of the most important psychoanalytic thinkers of the 20th century. Her early work, in which she quarrelled with Freud's views on female psychology, established her as the first great psychoanalytic feminist. In her later years, she developed a sophisticated theory of her own which provided powerful explanations of human behaviour that have proved to be widely applicable. Yet through these years of intellectual achievement, Horney struggled with emotional problems. This study of Horney's life and work draws on newly discovered materials to explore the relation between her personal history and the evolution of her ideas. Bernard J. Paris argues that Horney's inner struggles - in particular her compulsive need for men - induced her to embark on a search for self-understanding, which she recorded first in her diaries and then in her covertly autobiographical psychoanalytic writings. Although this search brought Horney only partial relief from her problems, it led her to profound and original insights into the human psyche. Paris describes Horney's life - her childhood and adolescence in Germany, marriage to Oskar Horney, motherhood, analysis and self-analysis, emigration to the United States, founding of the American Institute for Psychoanalysis, ostracism by the psychoanalytic establishment, and her many romantic liaisons. At the same time he examines the various stages of Horney's thought, showing how her experiences influenced her ideas. Focusing particularly on Horney's later work, Paris shows her mature theory to be an important contribution to the study of literature, biography, gender and culture, as well as to psychoanalysis and psychology.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

Eminently useful, although somewhat contradictory, this admiring intellectual biography of an iconoclastic psychoanalyst recapitulates the strengths and weaknesses of its subject's thought. Karen Horney (18851952) played a key role in the development of psychoanalysis between the wars and transcended her discipline as a feminist thinker. Horney scholar Paris (English/Univ. of Florida) surveys the psychoanalyst's ideas while locating their sources in her personal experiences. He builds on the work of previous biographers Jack Rubins (Karen Horney, 1978) and Susan Quinn (A Mind of Her Own, not reviewed), who brought messy details of Horney's life to light without, he contends, fully relating them to her mature theory. For Paris, Horney's ideas represent her effort to come to grips with her own problems--to perform, as her best-known title has it, a ``self-analysis.'' After a lucid account of Horney's youth in Germany, Paris treats her early, relatively orthodox essays and her subsequent development of a theory of feminine psychology. He shows how pondering social concerns led Horney to consider the cultural dimensions of neurosis and eventually to develop a new paradigm of psychological structure as a complete, ongoing system, rather than an individual story only understandable through recourse to its occluded origins. Her adult life was thorny: Paris discusses her ``female Don Juanism,'' her battles in the bitter psychoanalytic arena, and her difficult affairs with famed rivals like Erich Fromm. Extensive commentaries on Horney's late thought tie these strands together, focusing on ideas about pride and defense strategies expressed in Our Inner Conflicts and Neurosis and Human Growth. Throughout, Paris maintains allegiance to Horney's conviction that we each have a true inner self, even while he depicts stark discontinuities among the facets of her own personality. It will take a grander synthesis than his, one that incorporates wider historical and cultural context, to really resolve this tension between Horney's thought and life. In the interim, however, this serves as a fine introduction to a stimulating thinker whose influence continues to rise as therapy becomes more pragmatic and less dogmatic. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

Founder of the International Karen Horney Society, Paris (English, Univ. of Florida) surveys psychoanalyst Horney's life and work, demonstrating how Horney's theories evolved from her own inner struggles. Drawing on new sources, including letters from Horney to her daughters, Paris expands work by biographers Jack L. Rubins (Karen Horney: Gentle Rebel of Psychoanalysis, LJ 9/15/78) and Susan Quinn (A Mind of Her Own: The Life of Karen Horney, LJ 10/15/87). Unfortunately, these new sources lack the depth of diaries already available to scholars, and Paris must rely on anecdotes and Horney's theoretical works for subjective details of her later life. Paris's most valuable contributions are chapters assessing Horney's mature theory, its contribution to modern psychology, and its applications for interdisciplinary studies. Recommended for academic libraries.
Lucille Boone, San Jose P.L., Cal.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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