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Beldoch, M. (1991). A Mind of her Own: The Life of Karen Horney: By Susan Quinn. New York: Summit Books, 1987, 479 pp., $22.95.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 39:243-247.

(1991). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 39:243-247

A Mind of her Own: The Life of Karen Horney: By Susan Quinn. New York: Summit Books, 1987, 479 pp., $22.95.

Review by:
Michael Beldoch, Ph.D.

This book will be a pleasure to read not only for the sophisticated student of the history of psychoanalytic politics, beliefs, and behaviors, but for the generally curious who want a better understanding of the personalities and events that helped shape that history. It will also delight anyone who enjoys a closeup look at the way in which the interweaving of persons and the times in which they live produces the ideas for which they later come to be known.

The book is divided into six distinct chronological and geographic parts. The first follows the birth of Karen Clemintina Theodora Danielsen just outside of Hamburg, in the fall of 1885 (while Freud was at the Salpêtrière, seeing hysteria and la chose génitale forever entwined before his eyes). She was the daughter of a largely absent sea captain and a dominating, depressed, unhappily married mother. She spent her girlhood in Hamburg, which was just then undergoing dramatic growth to become the world's third largest seaport. Horney was surrounded by social as well as industrial ferment, including an extremely active campaign by The League for Mutterschutz, a group which campaigned for many of the same demands as today's women's liberation movement, including free marriage, easily available information about conception and contraception, and the right to abortion. Incidentally, The League included male members, and Sigmund Freud was attached to a "sister" league in Austria.

Later (1906-1909), in Freiburg, she was one among only 34 women entering medical school; German universities were the last in Europe to admit women to medical studies. Freiburg was a much smaller and more provincial city than Hamburg, but the University had the distinction of being the first in Germany to graduate a woman.

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