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Derosis, L.E. (1958). Discussion. Am. J. Psychoanal., 18(2):148-149.

(1958). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 18(2):148-149


Louis E. Derosis, M.D.

I believe that the emphasis that existentialism places on the person as the center of his own being is entirely in accord with what Karen Horney called “genuine feelings” in New Ways in Psychoanalysis in 1939. These she defined as feelings which do not permit “analysis into allegedly instinctual components; (the term) combines the meaning of elemental and spontaneous.” Our speaker said, “Existentialism is concerned with the authentic …”

In 1950, in Neurosis and Human Growth, Horney struck another note when she described the development of the child as requiring the growth of a feeling of belonging—a sense of the “we.” In this climate she believed that a person could feel free to “relate himself to others with the spontaneity of his real (elemental) feelings.” The words “real” and “genuine” are interchangeable. In addition to these feelings, the neurotic person develops others which we call compulsive. The term “compulsive” is not used in the restricted sense of the obsessive-compulsive neuroses. In Horney theory, the term “compulsive” is extended to become a component process of all forms of neurotic development. Compulsiveness describes, then, a process which is, in essence, the Ultimate and the Absolute, operating as if in the present. I say in addition to the genuine, for no neurotic can be purely compulsive in his development. The nearest observable state, descriptive of a greater compulsiveness, would be found in certain forms of schizophrenia existing in the back wards of state hospitals.

Another important contribution of Horney theory is the concept of evolutional responsibility which each person has to himself, if he would realize and fulfill himself. We believe it is the development of this responsibility that is the doctor's most important task in therapy. We believe this task is possible of accomplishment only because it is possible to recognize these same genuine feelings in our patients in assisting the process of helping them to differentiate these elemental feelings from the compulsive ones. In a crude sense, this process reminds one of the placenta at term. It has served its function, but once we have delivered the baby, our chief interest is to milk the placenta dry and then discard it.

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