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Rendon, M. (1991). Hegel and Horney. Am. J. Psychoanal., 51(3):285-299.

(1991). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 51(3):285-299

Hegel and Horney

Mario Rendon, M.D.

In reading a psychoanalytic pioneer such as Karen Horney, one always wonders who influenced her thinking and what was her frame of reference. There is no evidence in reading Horney's biographies that she may have been interested in philosophy or that she may have read Hegel. However, the similarity between some of Hegel and Horney's concepts, as we will see, make it plausible to speculate that, perhaps indirectly, she was influenced by the great German philosopher. We do not know how much regular German education emphasized Hegel at the time of Horney's studies. We know that Horney had a close friendship with Erik Fromm, who, as a member of the so called Frankfurt School, was quite familiar with Hegel. We do not know to what extent Horney's concepts were influenced by her friendship with Fromm. Fromm and Horney's common ground is perhaps best seen in the elaboration of the concept of alienation, a Hegelian concept. This paper will present a brief introduction to Hegel's philosophy emphasizing the psychological component and particularly those concepts commonly utilized by both Hegel and Horney.

Hegel'S Background

Hegel was trorn in 1770, at a time when the German culture was entering a period of intellectual and artistic ferment called Sturm und Drang. Hegel's generation, strongly affected by the French revolution, would cause commotion in the intellectual circles in Germany and bring about the greatest philosophical upheaval since Descartes. As we will see, Hegel did not only set the foundations for psychoanalysis as a science, but produced the first blueprint of a psychoanalysis-like psychology. By looking at all previous philosophers as engaged in a common task—the manifestation of the Spirit—Hegel was the first philosopher to see philosophy as a single process with each previous philosopher in history being a meaningful step. The Spirit, for Hegel, was at once God and the human Spirit, and the Mind or Psyche.

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