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Description - Karen Horney by Bernard Jay Paris

Karen Horney (1885-1952) is regarded by many as one of the most important psychoanalytic thinkers of the twentieth century. Her early work, in which she quarreled with Freud's views on female psychology, established her as the first great psychoanalytic feminist. In her later years, she developed a sophisticated theory of her own which provided powerful explanations of human behavior that have proved to be widely applicable. Yet through these years of intellectual achievement, Horney struggled with emotional problems. This engrossing study of Horney's life and work draws on newly discovered materials to explore the relation between her personal history and the evolution of her ideas. Bernard J. Paris argues that Horney's inner struggles-in particular her compulsive need for men-induced her to embark on a search for self-understanding, which she recorded first in her diaries and then in her covertly autobiographical psychoanalytic writings. Although this search brought Horney only partial relief from her problems, it led her to profound and original insights into the human psyche. Paris describes Horney's life-her childhood and adolescence in Germany, marriage to Oskar Horney, motherhood, analysis and self-analysis, emigration to the United States, founding of the American Institute for Psychoanalysis, ostracism by the psychoanalytic establishment, and her many romantic liaisons. At the same time he examines the various stages of Horney's thought, showing how her experiences influenced her ideas. Focusing particularly on Horney's later work, Paris shows her mature theory to be an important contribution to the study of literature, biography, gender and culture, as well as to psychoanalysis and psychology.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780300068603
ISBN-10: 0300068603
Format: Paperback
(228mm x 152mm x 17mm)
Pages: 314
Imprint: Yale University Press
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publish Date: 1-Aug-1996
Country of Publication: United States

Book Reviews - Karen Horney by Bernard Jay Paris

US Kirkus Review » Eminently useful, although somewhat contradictory, this admiring intellectual biography of an iconoclastic psychoanalyst recapitulates the strengths and weaknesses of its subject's thought. Karen Homey (1885-1952) played a key role in the development of psychoanalysis between the wars and transcended her discipline as a feminist thinker. Homey scholar Paris (English/Univ. of Florida) surveys the psychoanalyst's ideas while locating their sources in her personal experiences. He builds on the work of previous biographers Jack Rubins (Karen Homey, 1978) and Susan Quinn (A Mind of Her Oven, not reviewed), who brought messy details of Horney's life to light without, he contends, fully relating them to her mature theory. For Paris, Horney's ideas represent her effort to come to grips with her own problems - to perform, as her best-known title has it, a "self-analysis." After a lucid account of Horney's youth in Germany, Paris treats her early, relatively orthodox essays and her subsequent development of a theory of feminine psychology. He shows how pondering social concerns led Horney to consider the cultural dimensions of neurosis and eventually to develop a new paradigm of psychological structure as a complete, ongoing system, rather than an individual story only understandable through recourse to its occluded origins. Her adult life was thorny: Paris discusses her "female Don Juanism," her battles in the bitter psychoanalytic arena, and her difficult affairs with famed rivals like Erich Fromm. Extensive commentaries on Horney's late thought tie these strands together, focusing on ideas about pride and defense strategies expressed in Our Inner Conflicts and Neurosis and Human Growth. Throughout, Paris maintains allegiance to Horney's conviction that we each have a true inner self, even while he depicts stark discontinuities among the facets of her own personality. It will take a grander synthesis than his, one that incorporates wider historical and cultural context, to really resolve this tension between Horney's thought and life. In the interim, however, this serves as a fine introduction to a stimulating thinker whose influence continues to rise as therapy becomes more pragmatic and less dogmatic. (Kirkus Reviews)

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