Accounting for Neurosis
Karen Horney's work of non-fiction, Neurosis and Human Growth, is many different things. It is an astute analysis of the self -- both as it exists inwardly and externally. It is a comparative effort on some of the most eminent theories pertaining to Sigmund Freud. It also offers more than a little advice for how to account for life and the feelings of fulfillment and completeness towards which most people strive. In addressing all of these various aspects of human existence, the author relies on the conception of the neurotic as a fundamental starting point for how the self operates, what it accounts for, and how it ultimately plays out in the lives of any different number of individuals. This reliance on the neurotic as the touchstone for the author's myriad concepts discussed in this book function as the central takeaway of a work that actually spans in many different directions.
It is important to realize that Horney views neuroticism as a reactionary aspect of human life and not an immanent one. This point is tremendous and actually helps to focus the scope of the book and the vast majority of the notions the author addresses in this manuscript. In fact, what Horney is actually alluding to by offering this idea is the fact that human nature in and of itself is not base, self-serving, or looking for simple carnal gratifications (all tenets which are central to many of Freud's most popular theories about people and human nature in general). Instead, the author postulates that all people have an inner self -- described as a "central inner force" (Horney) that is buoyant, positive, and which seeks to help them grow and achieve a sort of independence which realizes the true sense of completion and meaning of human existence. However, the author believes that there is a process of deliberate world at large. As such, that self is constantly trying to be something that it is not, and there are no small number of different ways in which a person will attempt to create perfection -- and his or her role in it -- in order to live up to these standards which are not truly his or hers. It is this sense of falsehood in the self of the individual that leads to a sense of the neurotic, since that person is ultimately trying to become someone he or she is not to account for the external world, as opposed to nurturing and growing his or her own intrinsic self. Again, it is crucial to realize that according to Horney, all people begin their lives with a unique perspective and means of viewing the world and their own selves. Neuroticism and neurotic behavior -- described as "neurotic drives" (Horney), however, are merely coping mechanisms to adapt to the surrounding world. These points are so vital because of their implications which are largely at variance…
Horney, Karen. Neurosis and Human Growth. New York: W.W. Norton and Company. 1991. Print.
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