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Horney, K. (1932). Observations on a Specific Difference in the Dread Felt by Men and by Women Respectively for the Opposite Sex. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 13:348-360.

(1932). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 13:348-360

Observations on a Specific Difference in the Dread Felt by Men and by Women Respectively for the Opposite Sex

Karen Horney

In his ballad of The Diver Schiller tells how a squire leaps into a dangerous whirlpool in order to win a woman—at first symbolized by a goblet. Horror-struck, he describes the perils of the deep by which he is doomed to be engulfed:

Yet at length comes a lull o'er the mighty commotion,

As the whirlpool sucks into black smoothness the swell

Of the white-foaming breakers—and cleaves through the ocean

A path that seems winding in darkness to hell.

Round and round whirled the waves—deeper and deeper still driven,

Like a gorge through the mountainous main thunder-riven!

Happy they whom the rose-hues of daylight rejoice,

The air and the sky that to mortals are given!

May the horror below never more find a voice—

Nor man stretch too far the wide mercy of Heaven!

Never more—never more may he lift from the sight

The veil which is woven with Terror and Night!

Below at the foot of the precipice drear,

Spread the glowing, and purple, and pathless Obscure!

A silence of Horror that slept on the ear,

That the eye more appalled might the Horror endure!

Salamander—snake—dragon—vast reptiles that dwell

In the deep, coil'd about the grim jaws of their hell.

(Translation by BULWER LYTTON.)

The same idea is expressed, though far more pleasantly, in the Song of the Fisherboy in Wilhelm Tell:

The clear smiling lake woo'd to bathe in its deep,

A boy on its green shore had laid him to sleep;

Then heard he a melody

Flowing and soft,

And sweet as when angels are singing aloft.

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