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Martin, A.R. (1975). Karen Horney's Theory in Today's World. Am. J. Psychoanal., 35(4):297-302.

(1975). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 35(4):297-302

Karen Horney's Theory in Today's World

Alexander Reid Martin, M.D.

Karen Horney introduced me to psychoanalysis. Beginning in 1934 I was in training with her for over five years and was closely associated with her until her death in 1952. This long, intimate association with Dr. Horney I will always regard as my greatest good fortune. All that she and I shared and all that I subsequently shared with my numerous colleagues who were directly and indirectly related to her gave me a great wealth of lasting impressions, memories, feelings, thoughts, and strong opinions and beliefs.

Tonight I am going to try to distill and extract from this experience of over forty years what I think are some of the essential elements in Dr. Horney's philosophy, elements to which I attribute much of the effectiveness and appeal of her therapeutic approach and that account for much of the strength and the extent of her influence.

Karen Horney was primarily a therapist. She described a therapist as someone who did not treat an ailment, but treated an individual who had an ailment — a hint of what later would characterize her whole approach. Originally a Freudian, she agreed with Freud that psychoanalysis in its best and widest sense and application was a form of self-education. She believed with the ancient Greeks that an unexamined life is not worth living and saw in psychoanalysis her preferred way to “know thyself.”

She appreciated the value of psychoanalysis long before an antagonistic medical world accepted it. Freud's radically new conception and approach to the so-called psychotics and neurotics had changed the whole course of psychiatry and brought new life and hope to millions of sufferers from mental and emotional illness who previously had been ostracized and stigmatized as evil and crazy.

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