The Idealized Self Image

Horney believed that human behigs, if given an environment of discipline and warmth, will develop feelings of security and self-confidence and a tendency to move toward self-realization. Unfortunately, early negative influences often hnpede people s natural tendency toward self-realization, a situation that leaves them with feelings of isolation and inferiority. Added to this failure is a growing sense of alienation from themselves.

Feeling alienated from themselves, people need desperately to acquire a stable sense of identity. This dilemma can only be solved by creathig an idealized self-image, an extravagantly positive view of themselves that exists only in their personal belief system. These people endow themselves with infinite powers and unlimited capabilities; they see themselves as "a hero, a genius, a supreme lover, a saint, a god" (Horney, 1950, p. 22). The idealized self-image is not a global construction. Neurotics glorify and worship themselves hi different ways. Compliant people see themselves as good and saintly; aggressive people build an idealized hnage of themselves as strong, heroic, and omnipotent; and detached neurotics pahit their self-portraits as wise, self-sufficient, and independent.

As the idealized self-hnage becomes solidified neurotics begin to believe hi the reality of that image. They lose touch with their real self and use the idealized self as the standard for self-evaluation. Rather than growhig toward self-realization, they move toward actualizing then idealized self.

Horney (1950) recognized three aspects of the idealized hnage: (1) the neurotic search for glory, (2) neurotic clahns; and (3) neurotic pride.

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