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Kelman, N. (1952). Clinical Aspects of Externalized Living. Am. J. Psychoanal., 12(1):15-23.

(1952). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 12(1):15-23

Clinical Aspects of Externalized Living

Norman Kelman, M.D.

In a recent paper, Horney1 called attention to the frequently encountered pervasive and intense feeling of being abused and of being the victim. She also pointed out that the awareness of this feeling varied greatly, and that some persons, despite an unconscious interest in emphasizing the fact of feeling abused, may be quite unaware of such feelings. Three main reasons which might militate against awareness were suggested: 1) a fear of experiencing resentment which would be the consequence of such abused feelings, 2) a pride in invulnerability, and 3) a pride in endurance. Horney recognized that the difficulties in the analysis of these patients was due to their not experiencing any of the various components of the neurotic process: their pride, shoulds, self-accusations, etc. And this lack of experiencing inner processes was seen as an aspect of a whole way of life she called “externalized living.”

Externalization is a process by which aspects, strivings, values, needs, forces of the real self and the actual self are experienced as being outside one's self, or as affecting one's self from the outside. This outside may be other people or things, nature, fate, or some supernatural power. The purposes served by externalization are many. Thus a person's own shoulds in their entirety or in specific aspects may be externalized in order to maintain the illusion of freedom and independence, to avoid anxiety, self-hate, to maintain a behavioristic smooth functioning or to lay the basis for unconscious claims.

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