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Paris, B.J. (1996). Introduction to Karen Horney. Am. J. Psychoanal., 56(2):135-140.

(1996). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 56(2):135-140

Introduction to Karen Horney

Bernard J. Paris

Karen Horney is a major psychoanalytic thinker who, after a period of neglect, is beginning to receive the attention she deserves. Born Karen Danielsen in a suburb of Hamburg in 1885, she studied medicine at the Universities of Freiburg, Göttingen, and Berlin. She married Oskar Horney in 1909, entered analysis with Karl Abraham in 1910, and became a founding member of the Berlin Psychoanalytic Institute in 1920. Having separated from her husband in 1926, she came to the United States in 1932, when Franz Alexander invited her to become Associate Director of the newly formed Chicago Psychoanalytic Institute. She moved to New York in 1934 and became a member of the New York Psychoanalytic Institute. In 1941 she founded the American Institute for Psychoanalysis and was dean until her death in 1952.

Karen Horney's thought went through three phases: in the 1920s and early 1930s she wrote a series of essays in which she tried to modify orthodox ideas about feminine psychology while staying within the framework of Freudian theory. In The Neurotic Personality of Our Time (1937) and New Ways in Psychoanalysis (1939), she tried to redefine psychoanalysis by replacing Freud's biological orientation with an emphasis on culture and interpersonal relationships. And in Our Inner Conflicts (1945) and Neurosis and Human Growth (1950), she developed her mature theory in which individuals cope with the anxiety produced by the frustration of basic psychological needs by disowning their real feelings and developing elaborate strategies of defense.

During her lifetime, Horney and her work were well known, but after her death, her influence gradually declined. The revival of interest in Horney began in 1967, with the publication of Feminine Psychology. This is a selection of her essays from the 1920s and 1930s, many of which were originally written in German. Disagreeing with Freud about penis envy, female masochism, and feminine development, these essays generated controversy when they first appeared, but then they were largely ignored.

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