Discuss the important features of Karen Horney’s theory of personality.
The important features of Karen Horney’s theory of personality:
Karen Horney was not agreed with Freud’s view of women. She also disagreed with Freud’s belief that males and females were born with inherent differences in their personality. Rather than citing biological differences, she argued for a societal and cultural explanation. In her view, men and women were equal outside of the cultural restrictions often placed on being female.
Horney was also known for her study of neurotic personality. She defined neurosis as a mal-adaptive and counterproductive way of dealing with ‘relationships. These people are unhappy and desperately seek out relationships in order to feel good abut themselves. Their way of securing these relationships include projections of their own insecurity and neediness which eventually drives others away.
People with clinginess, significant lack of self esteem, and even anger and threatening behaviour, according to Horney, adapt this personality style through a childhood filled with anxiety. And while this way of dealing with others may have been beneficial in their youth, as adults it serves to almost guarantee their needs will not be met. She identified three ways of dealing with the world that are formed by an upbringing in a neurotic family: Moving Toward People, Moving Against People, and Moving Away From People.
Some children who feel a great deal of anxiety and helplessness move toward people in order to seek help and acceptance. They are striving to feel worthy and can believe the only way to gain this is through the acceptance of others. These people have an intense need to be liked, involved, important and appreciated. So much so, that they will often fall in love quickly or feel an artificial but very strong attachment to people they may not know well. Their attempts to make that person love them creates a dinginess and neediness that much more often than not results in the other person leaving the relationship.
Another way to deal with insecurities and anxiety is to try to force your power onto others in hopes of feeling good about yourself. Those with this personality style come across as bossy, demanding, selfish and even cruel. Horney argued that these people project their own hostilities onto others and therefore use this as a justification to get them before they get me. Once again, relationships appear doomed from the beginning.
The final possible consequence of a neurotic household is a personality style filled with a social behaviour and an almost indifference to others. If they don’t get involved with others, they can’t be hurt by them. While it protects them from emotional pain of relationships, it also keeps away all positive aspects of relationships. It leaves them feeling alone and empty.