Saturday, March 3, 2012

Karen Horney's Personality Theories

There have been many contributions to personality theories in the 1900s. Karen Horney proposed an original theory of neurosis. She viewed neurosis as a way of coping to make life manageable. Horney studied neurotic needs to develop three categories of coping strategies. The first strategy is compliance, which includes the neurotic need for affection, approval, a life partner, and to simplify life. I can personally relate to this because feeling loved and cared about helps make me a functional being. Without the affection and approval from my family and friends, I would not feel fulfilled. The second strategy is aggression and it includes the neurotic need for power, control, exploitation of others, social recognition, personal admiration, and personal achievement. This need for personal success I can also relate to in order to feel accomplished in my artistic career path. The third strategy is withdrawal. This encompasses the neurotic need for self-sufficiency, independence, perfection, and to narrow life’s borders to be inconspicuous. After learning about these three strategies, which type of personality do you think you possess the most qualities of: compliance, aggressiveness, or withdrawing? I see myself more as a compliant, withdrawing person who needs care and affection and feels a need to be independent and strive towards perfection, though not exactly perfection itself.

Aside from the three coping strategies of neurotic needs, Horney also contributed to the psychological understanding of oneself, which is referred to as the self theory. She saw neurosis in terms of self images since the self is the core of one’s being. Self-realization was defined by Horney as seeing your potential and having an accurate conception of who you are. The neurotic has a different viewpoint of seeing one’s self. The neurotic self is split into the despised self and ideal self. So the neurotic struggles to do the things they believe they “should” be doing and continues to hate themselves and strive for perfection. In other words, the neurotic person straddles between the despised self and ideal self, while the healthy person sees their potential and self-realization. In many ways, I see Horney’s self theory as an explanation to why we struggle to see our true self. Overall, I think that Karen Horney made great contributions to personality theories.


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