Concept of Humanity

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Horney's concept of humanity was based almost entirely on her clinical experiences with neurotic patients; therefore, her view of human personality is strongly colored by her concept of neurosis. According to Horney, the prime difference between a healthy person and a neurotic individual is the degree of compulsivity with which each moves toward, against, or away from people.

The compulsive nature of neurotic trends suggests that Horney's concept of humanity is deterministic. However, a healthy person would have a large element of free choice. Even a neurotic individual, through psychotherapy and hard work, can wrest some control over those intrapsychic conflicts. For this reason, Horney's psychoanalytic social theory is rated slightly higher on free choice than on determinism.

On the same basis, Horney's theory is somewhat more optimistic than pessimistic. Homey believed that people possess inherent curative powers that lead them toward self-realization. If basic anxiety (the feeling of being alone and helpless in a potentially hostile world) can be avoided, people will feel safe and secure in their interpersonal relations and consequently will develop healthy personalities.

My own belief is that man has the capacity as well as the desire to develop his potentialities and become a decent human being, and that these deteriorate if his relationship to others and hence to himself is, and continues to be, disturbed. I believe that man can change and go on changing as long as he lives. (Homey, 1945, p. 19)

On the dimension of causality versus teleology, Homey adopted a middle position. She stated that the natural goal for people is self-realization, but she also believed that childhood experiences can block that movement. "The past in some way or other is always contained in the present" (Homey, 1939, p. 153). Included in people's past experiences, however, is the formation of a philosophy of life and a set of values that give both their present and their future some direction

Although Homey adopted a middle stance regarding conscious versus unconscious motivation, she believed that most people have only limited awareness of their motives. Neurotics, especially, have little understanding of themselves and do not see that their behaviors guarantee the continuation of their neuroses. They mislabel their personal characteristics, couching them in socially acceptable terms, while remaining largely unaware of their basic conflict, their self-hate, their neurotic pride and neurotic claims, and their need for a vindictive triumph.

Horney's concept of personality strongly emphasized social influences more than biological ones. Psychological differences between men and women, for example, are due more to cultural and societal expectations than to anatomy. To Hor-ney, the Oedipus complex and penis envy are not inevitable consequences of biology but rather are shaped by social forces. Homey did not neglect biological factors completely, but her main emphasis was on social influences.

Because Horney's theory looks almost exclusively at neuroses, it tends to highlight similarities among people more than uniqueness. Not all neurotics are alike, of course, and Homey described three basic types—the helpless, the hostile, and the detached. However, she placed little emphasis on individual differences within each of these categories.

Key Terms and Concepts

• Homey insisted that social and cultural influences were more important than biological ones.

• Children who lack warmth and affection fail to meet then needs for safety and satisfaction.

• These feelings of isolation and helplessness trigger basic anxiety, or feelings of isolation and helplessness m a potentially hostile world.

Chapter 6 Horney: Psychoanalytic Social Theory 183

• The inability of people to use different tactics hi their relationships with others generates basic conflict: that is, the incompatible tendency to move toward agahist, and away from people.

• Homey called the tendencies to move toward agahist, or away from people the three neurotic trends.

• Healthy people solve their basic conflict by ushig all tlnee neurotic trends, whereas neurotics compulsively adopt only one of these trends.

• The tlnee neurotic trends (moving toward agahist, or away from people) are a combination of 10 neurotic trends that Horney had earlier identified.

• Both healthy and neurotic people experience intrapsychic conflicts that have become part of then belief system. The two major intrapsychic conflicts are the idealized self-hnage and self-hatred.

• The idealized self-image results hi neurotics' attempts to build a godlike picture of themselves.

• Self-hatred is the tendency for neurotics to hate and despise their real self.

• Any psychological differences between men and women are due to cultural and social expectations and not to biology.

• The goal of Horneyian psychotherapy is to bring about growth toward actualization of the real self.

Fromm Necrophilia


Fromm: Humanistic Psychoanalysis

Overview of Humanistic Psychoanalysis Biography of Erich Fromm Fromm's Basic Assumptions Human Needs

Relatedness Transcendence Rootedness Sense of Identity Frame of Orientation Summary of Human Needs

The Burden of Freedom

Mechanisms of Escape Authoritarianism Destructiveness Conformity Positive Freedom

Character Orientations

Nonproductive Orientations Receptive Exploitative Hoarding Marketing The Productive Orientation


Personality Disorders

Necrophilia Malignant Narcissism Incestuous Symbiosis


Fromm's Methods of Investigation

Social Character in a Mexican Village A Psychohistorical Study of Hitler

Related Research Critique of Fromm Concept of Humanity Key Terms and Concepts

Chapter 7 Fromm: Humanistic Psychoanalysis 185

Why war? Why can't nations get along? Why can't people from different countries relate to one another, if not in a respectful maimer at least hi an acceptable one? How can people avoid the violence that leads to and perpetuates slaughter on the battlefield?

As the young boy pondered these questions, a war raged throughout his homeland. This war that he saw firsthand was World War I, the Great War, the War to End All Wars. He saw that the people of his country—Germany—hated people of the opposing countries—mostly France and England, and he was sure that the people of France and England hated the people of Germany. The war made no sense. Why would normally friendly and rational people revert to such senseless killing?

These questions weren't the first to have bothered the young boy. He was also at a loss in trying to understand the suicide of a beautiful young artist who killed herself immediately after the death of her father—an event that left the 12-year-old-boy confused and perplexed. The young woman—a friend of the boy's family—was both beautiful and talented, whereas her father was old and unattractive. Yet she left a suicide note stating that she wished to be buried with her father. The young boy could make no sense of either her wish or her actions. The beautiful artist seemed to have had much to live for, but she chose death rather than a life without her father. How could the young woman make such a decision?

A third experience that helped shape the young man's early life was his training by Talmudic teachers. He was especially moved by the compassionate and redemptive tone of the Old Testament prophets Isaiah, Hosea, and Amos. Although he later abandoned organized religion, these early experiences with the Talmudic scholars, combined with his distaste for war and his puzzlement over the suicide of the young artist, contributed substantially to the humanistic views of Erich Fromm.

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