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Sermier, M. (2001). The Unknown Karen Horney—Essays on Gender, Culture and Psychoanalysis, edited by Bernard J. Paris, Yale University Press, 2000, 384 ps.. Am. J. Psychoanal., 61(3):313-314.
    

(2001). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 61(3):313-314

Book Reviews

The Unknown Karen Horney—Essays on Gender, Culture and Psychoanalysis, edited by Bernard J. Paris, Yale University Press, 2000, 384 ps.

Review by:
Martha Sermier, R.N.

When Robert Motherwell interviewed Joan Miro, he said of the painter, “Miro is a brave man, of dignity and modesty. He has the advantage of liking his origins…. He believes that one's salvation is one's own responsibility and follows his own line of grace and felt satisfaction, indifferent to others’ opinions. One might say that originality is what originates in one's own being.”

It didn't surprise me that I kept recalling this quote as I read The Unknown Karen Horney. One can read these collected essays in the way that one might read an abundantly illustrated monograph that focuses on an artist in any medium. This is not to say that Dr. Paris is attempting a form of psychohistory. Rather, in his introductions to the essays he gives the reader a glimpse of how a creative person uses her own life to make something new.

As we read the essays in the order in which Dr. Paris presents them, we see how Dr. Horney's life informed her work. Without belaboring the point, Dr. Paris suggests how Dr. Horney's concerns originated in the particular life that she lived as a woman, as a person who moved from one culture to another, and as a practicing psychoanalyst in what was a very intense time in the history of psychoanalysis.

He has, in what seems to be a companion volume to The Therapeutic Process: Essays and Lectures, let Karen Horney speak for herself and from her own experience as she moved away from orthodox analytic generalizations and toward ideas rooted in the particularities of individual experience. That some of the individual experience was her own, originating with her and transformed by her into ideas that spoke to many is evidence of her bravery as well as her creativity.

For the Horneyan analyst, some of the essays will be familiar but remarkably fresh seeming despite the time that has passed since they were written and first read. For those less familiar with Horney's work, they will enjoy, I think, what is characteristic of her, the expression of complex ideas in clear language and graceful prose.

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