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Lerner, J.A. (1998). Karen Horney: A Psychoanalyst's Search for Self-Understanding. By Bernard J. Paris. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994, 288 pp., $37.50 hardcover, $17.00 softcover. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 46(2):594-596.

(1998). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 46(2):594-596

Karen Horney: A Psychoanalyst's Search for Self-Understanding. By Bernard J. Paris. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994, 288 pp., $37.50 hardcover, $17.00 softcover

Review by:
Joyce A. Lerner

As an admirer of A Mind of Her Own, Susan Quinn's outstanding biography of Karen Horney, I questioned the need for an additional study of Horney's life. Is there anything further worth saying about this highly productive, controversial, and iconoclastic forebear? In Karen Horney: A Psychoanalyst's Search for Self-Understanding, Bernard Paris shows that there is. Paris aims to demonstrate the interaction and mutual influence of events in Horney's life and the shaping of her theory. He recounts Horney's history, draws on some previously untapped sources, and approaches his subject from the vantage point of the psychoanalytically informed literary critic that he is.

Karen Danielson Horney (1885-1952) was born in a suburb of Hamburg, Germany. Her father was a sea captain of Norwegian lineage; her mother was of Dutch-German background. A brother was four years older. Their parents' marriage was an unhappy one. Karen, aligning herself with her mother, was hostile toward her father. The mother, against her husband's wishes, supported Karen's desire for a career in medicine. Paris describes Karen's transformation of feeling toward her mother when the latter opposed Karen's first love. Karen later married Oskar Horney, whom she eventually divorced after a long separation. A member of the Berlin Psychoanalytic Society, she was analyzed by Hanns Sachs and by Karl Abraham. In 1932 she joined Franz Alexander at the Chicago Psychoanalytic Institute. When in 1934 she relocated to New York, she became a member of the New York Psychoanalytic Institute, from which she later resigned when her teaching was curtailed. She took with her a number of members and candidates and formed the Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis, whose members eventually founded the American Institute for Psychoanalysis. Friction led to further splits and to the establishment of the William Alanson White Institute and the Comprehensive Course in Psychoanalysis at New York Medical College.

Paris introduces us to Horney in depth. We learn of the problematic aspects of her relationships with men, colleagues, and her own children. We also discover how she uses her suffering to advance her theorizing about psychoanalysis.

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