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Horney, K. (1934). The Overvaluation of Love. A Study of a Common Present-Day Feminine Type. Psychoanal Q., 3:605-638.

(1934). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 3:605-638

The Overvaluation of Love. A Study of a Common Present-Day Feminine Type

Karen Horney

Woman's efforts to achieve independence and an enlargement of her field of interests and activities are continually met with a skepticism whose burden is that such efforts are impelled merely by the pressure of economic necessity, and that they run counter, besides, to her inherent character and her natural tendencies. Accordingly, all efforts of this sort are said to be without any vital significance for woman, whose every thought, in point of fact, centers exclusively upon the male or upon motherhood, in much the manner expressed in Marlene Dietrich's famous song, "I know only love, and nothing else."

Various sociological considerations immediately suggest themselves in this connection, of too familiar and obvious a character, however, to require time spent upon them. This attitude towards woman, whatever its basis and however it may be assessed, represents the patriarchal ideal of womanhood, of woman as one whose only longing it is to love a man and be loved by him, to admire him and serve him, and even to pattern herself after him. Those who maintain this point of view mistakenly infer from external behavior the existence of an innate instinctual disposition thereto; whereas, in reality, the latter cannot be recognized as such, for the reason that biological factors never manifest themselves in pure and undisguised form, but always as modified by tradition and environment. As Briffault has recently pointed out in some detail in The Mothers, the modifying influence of "inherited tradition", not only upon ideals and beliefs but also upon emotional attitudes and so called instincts, cannot possibly be overestimated.

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