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Rubin, J. (1993). Horney and Culture Chair: Benjamin Tong, Ph.D.. Am. J. Psychoanal., 53(4):362-363.

(1993). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 53(4):362-363

Horney and Culture Chair: Benjamin Tong, Ph.D.

J. Rubin

Participants had been sent short papers by Benjamin Tong (1993), Mario Rendon (1993), and James Huffman (1993) as the basis of discussion. Each paper became the focus of discussion at various points so that the meeting ranged over a broad spectrum of subjects. Indeed, it became clear that Horney's approach to culture is a starting point for a very rich and highly diverse number of areas of exploration and application. Tong's paper, “Karen Horney and the Psychology of Culture,” applies Horney's ideas about conflicting cultural imperatives to the Chinese and Chinese American communities. Huffman's paper is an excerpt from his book, In Sickness and in Health: A Psychological Approach to U.S. History and Culture, in which he explores U.S. national character along Horneyan lines with particular emphasis on expansiveness and expansive values. Rendon presented “The Psychoanalysis of Ethnicity and the Ethnicity of Psychoanalysis,” which explores the role of ethnicity in identity formation and the conflicts generated by the struggle between the need to identify with one's ethnic group versus the need to feel a part of the larger society.

There was a lively interchange of ideas and suggestions for the papers that were presented. One summary of the issues at hand focused on essentialism versus relativism. Horney, in her ideas on the real self, took an essentialist approach whereas the culturalist perspective is implicitly relativistic. All participants seemed to agree that individual uniqueness, at least potentially supersedes cultural pressures.

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