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Eckardt, M.H. (1975). Life is a Juggling Act: Our Concepts of “Normal” Development — Myth or Reality?. Am. J. Psychoanal., 35(2):103-113.

(1975). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 35(2):103-113

Twenty-Third Annual Karen Horney Lecture

Life is a Juggling Act: Our Concepts of “Normal” Development — Myth or Reality?

Marianne Horney Eckardt, M.D.

I appreciate the honor of your invitation to give this year's Karen Horney Lecture, which I have accepted with pleasure. These lectures are a testimony to her creative personality and her seminal writings, and they are our response to and affirmation of her spirit of passionate commitment to the search for scientific truth by observations, questions, answers, new observations, and revisions of answers.

I shalI speak to you as her daughter, who hopes to convey to you a flavor of her ever alert, ever inquiring, gifted mind, and I shall speak to you out of my own professional experience, probing questions of importance to me.

My mother was a very private person. Only few friends have had the privilege of knowing her well. I myself did not know her well. Among the things she left-were some tattered diaries. These were collecting dust until one day my younger sister began to leaf through them. Totally fascinated by them, she transcribed them and in the process discovered her mother. I, too, shared her fascination.

She began writing in her diary when she was thirteen years old and continued off and on until she was twenty-four. One of her last entries is in the form of a letter to her psychoanalyst, Dr. Karl Abraham, considering termination of treatment. The diaries are not publishable at this time, but I shall share with you a few stories, in translation, which reveal her inquiring spirit at an early age.

Her home situation was difficult. School was the center of her life and passion. I do not wish to imply that her vivid intellectual curiosity was enhanced by a difficult home situation. The brightness of her mind would have emerged under any circumstances. The diary has a delightful style and makes the reader an easy participant. The diary is her friend, a person whom she engages in a dialogue. “My dear diary,” she writes, “I have been unfaithful to you. A whole year has gone by since I last confided in you.” Another entry ends with this hope: “More another time. There is an endless amount to tell.”


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