The sometimes forgotten Karen Horney

Karen Horney remains an important figure in psychoanalysis with a unique focus on feminine psychology

Karen Horney (1885 – 1952) was a German psychoanalyst whose theories challenged Freudian views that were prevalent at the time, especially Freud’s views around sexuality. She did not believe in any inherent differences in the psychology of men and women, believing any differences were the result of society and culture.

Born in Germany, Horney lived the later part of her life in the United States, dying at the age of 67 in New York. Her early career included teaching psychoanalysis at the Institute for Psychoanalysis in Berlin and later at The New School in New York City. She later became Associate Director of the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis

Karen Horney was one of the first female psychiatrists and is considered a founder in the field of feminine psychology. Several papers she wrote between 1922 and 1937 were amalgamated into a single volume: Feminine Psychology.

Often forgotten in some counselling and psychotherapy trainings, Horney is known for her theories set out in her works, mostly written between 1925 and 1945. Many of her works are still in print today. A collection of her essays (now available from Amazon) is The Unknown Karen Horney: Essays on Gender, Culture and Psychoanalysis.

Her excellent essay entitled The Value of Vindictiveness presents an interesting psychoanalytic perspective on one of humanity’s most unpleasant characteristics, our desire for revenge.

Horney represents a relevant figure in contemporary psychoanalysis. Both her work and her personal life make interesting reading.

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