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van den Daele, L.D. (1979). Horney's Theory of Neurosis: A Developmental-Structuralist Interpretation. Am. J. Psychoanal., 39(1):23-36.

(1979). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 39(1):23-36

Horney's Theory of Neurosis: A Developmental-Structuralist Interpretation

Leland D. van den Daele, Ph.D.

However diverse the theoretical orientation of psychoanalysts and however dogmatic the factionalism which separates various schools of enquiry, psychoanalysis as a theoretical construction is an effort to explicate psychoanalytic observation and process. The perceptions, feelings, and thoughts of the analysand and the reciprocal response of the analyst occur not only at a time, but in time, so psychoanalytic observation embodies the successive mental and emotional states of the analyst and analysand and their relations and transformations.

How psychoanalytic observation and process is understood or embodied in a particular theory depends upon a plethora of factors—the ethos of the times and the sociohistorical milieu, as well as current models of scientific thought. Science, including psychoanalysis, is not a static entity, but a framework of constant revision to account for an increasingly broad array of observation. This framework of constant revision coordinates a body of observation to current scientific paradigms and thereby functions to insure connectedness with the larger scientific community.1 Insularity from current paradigms begets isolation, and isolation begets stagnation. The vitality of psychoanalysis may ultimately reside in the richness of psychoanalytic observation, but without the assimilation of this information to current modes of understanding, psychoanalytic discourse assumes the quality of a literature of antiquarian interest.2

Horney's departure from accepted psychoanalytic tenets more than four decades ago seems, retrospectively, a theoretical reformulation wholely compatible with theoretical innovations in current linguistics, semantics, and psychology. Since the 1940s, psychoanalysis itself has become steadily more heterodox with an increasing theoretical emphasis on the investigation of the self, as well as cultural and historical influences on personality.3-5

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