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Rubin, T.I. (1991). Horney, Here and Now: 1991. Am. J. Psychoanal., 51(3):313-318.

(1991). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 51(3):313-318

Horney, Here and Now: 1991

Theodore Isaac Rubin, M.D.

What's happening here and now in 1991 and where is Karen Horney relative to what is happening fifty years after she left the Freudian orthodoxy of the New York Psychoanalytic Institute? Psychiatry and in many ways psychology, too, is having a passionate love affair with genetics, organicity, pharmacology, and once again even with electricity. This affair will surely last for many years and may even turn out to be permanent. The implications and ramifications of this liaison are extremely important in their effect on all aspects of how we view human beings and in our attempted understanding of human behavior. As is often the case in professional circles, polarities are all too well delineated and extreme. Currently, most psychiatric residency training programs throughout the United States have almost obliterated psychodynamic teaching. Indeed, many “authorities” and people of great influence demonstrate outright contempt for any kind of psychodynamic paradigms.

If we are to believe that human behavior is solely the result of brain chemistry we virtually obliterate choice—perhaps our most “human prerogative.” In this approach we consign change and growth to the junk heap on any basis other than conditioned, reflex training. This means that we also must view character structure and personality influences as items dictated by genetics, glands, and chemistry. And to be consistent character structure and gender behavior must also be viewed as linked by an organic substratum with minimum cultural influence. This in effect means that unless women act “like women” and men “like men” there is something wrong with either their brain chemistry, their genetic coding, and/or the very substance of their organic makeup. In this kind of view we can once again look forward to carefully defined parameters and descriptions of what constitutes normal gender character structure and behavior. Change, if possible in this approach, would come through either chemical, surgical, or physical (electricity) intervention or genetic engineering.

In this view, relating therapy of any kind and psychodynamic applications would be and are being judged as futile and at best superficial.

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