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De Rosis, L.E. (1973). Self-Esteem, Dignity, or the Sense of Being. Am. J. Psychoanal., 33(1):16-27.
    

(1973). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 33(1):16-27

Self-Esteem, Dignity, or the Sense of Being

Louis E. De Rosis, M.D.

IN “Neurosis and Human Growth,” Karen Horney1 refers to neurosis as a special form of human development. While this rather ambiguous statement is reassuring insofar as it suggests that neurosis is limited in its scope, I feel that it obfuscates the larger truth that neurosis describes the human situation. Neurosis is ubiquitous rather than special. Neurosis pertains to the many, if not all, rather than a “special” few.

From a romantically idealized position, we tend to call others neurotic, thus believing that we, the labellers, are ourselves liberated from a sense of being the same. We all feel “better” when we diagnose illness of this kind in others — that is, we feel better until there comes to us, unbidden, from an unknown recess, a sensation that the same could be our lot.

What is neurosis — this malaise which, I contend, in varying degrees touches us all and to which we are all variably prey from time to time? I shall attempt here to demonstrate that there can be no winners and no losers in being, and that neurosis is nothing more than the passionate struggle to win. Even as we engage in that struggle, our access to humanness is being lost; we are cut off from the most precious attribute, one's sense of being.

Years ago, Einstein showed that inanimate matter must suffer relationship all the time. Even light with its almost inconceivable speed must bow to mass as it travels the universe. Surely human beings, who are the most influenceable of all creations, are required to do the same.

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