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Portnoy, I. (1951). Neurosis and Human Growth: The Struggle Toward Self-Realization. By Karen Horney, M.D. 391 pp. W. W. Norton & Co., $4.50.. Am. J. Psychoanal., 11(1):63-71.

(1951). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 11(1):63-71

Book Reviews

Neurosis and Human Growth: The Struggle Toward Self-Realization. By Karen Horney, M.D. 391 pp. W. W. Norton & Co., $4.50.

Review by:
Isidore Portnoy, M.D.

A fuller and deeper understanding of his own nature is properly a matter of vital concern to every human being. Second only in importance to this concern is the increasing interest being taken by many in the origin, development and character of that total disturbance of personality to which the term neurosis is given. Neurosis and Human Growth is in my opinion the most important psychoanalytic contribution to our understanding of the nature of the human organism and of its neurotic development since the basic work of Sigmund Freud.

Dr. Karen Horney, in her four previous major works, has stated her conviction that the human being is not naturally destructive. Particularly in Our Inner Conflicts did she present her view that destructiveness to self and others is a neurotic phenomenon, a result of anxiety, of neurotic conflicts and the defenses against anxiety and conflict. She contended that freed from their neurotic entanglements, human beings strive naturally to live constructively with and for themselves and others.

This optimistic and constructive view of human nature constitutes the central theme of Neurosis and Human Growth and is, I believe, its single most important contribution. The basic postulate of this view is that there exists at the core of the human personality a dynamic principle—the real self—which strives ceaselessly to realize the human potentialities inherent in it.

Self-realization is a dynamic process, an innate striving to fulfill the capacities and potentialities with which all human beings are born, as well as the individual potentialities which make each person unique.

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