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Horney, K. (1947). Inhibitions in Work. Am. J. Psychoanal., 7(1):18-25.

(1947). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 7(1):18-25

Inhibitions in Work

Karen Horney

MOST neuroses affect our work life in one way or another. In this paper, I shall deal with some of the work impairments which stem directly from neuroses. I shall not refer to difficulties which are due to economic pressures, nor to peculiarities due to cultural attitudes toward work (compare, for instance, the New Englander with the Mexican Indian); nor shall I consider the many impairments of work which are related not to the work itself but rather to disturbed relationships with the people for whom or with whom the work is done.

The range of neurotic difficulties in work is great. There is the prodigious worker with seemingly inexhaustible energies, but the quality of his work remains far beneath his real potential. There are those who work frantically and consider wasted every hour not given to work. There are many who cannot concentrate. There are gifted persons who take up one pursuit after another, starting with enthusiasm but soon dropping it. There are those who make sporadic efforts but lack consistency; those who scatter their energies in various directions; those who conceive brilliant ideas or projects but never get around to doing anything about them.

All kinds of distress may be connected with work: from strain and exhaustion to fears and open panics. Such distress may arise in the process of work or at public performances. The capacity to work, finally, may be linked up to rigid conditions: to hours in the morning or at night; to the absence or presence of outside pressure; to strict solitude, or to other people being around—and so on and so forth.

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