PSYC231 – Chapter 5: Karen Horney: Neurotic Needs and Trends
The Childhood Need for Safety
Horney believed in the importance of childhood on shaping the adult personality, but unlike Freud placed
emphasis on social forces vs. biological. Did not believe in conflicts of universal developmental stages.
Rather, focused primarily on the social relationship between child and parents.
Safety Need: a higherlevel need for security and freedom from fear. Dominates childhood.
Sense of security depends entirely on how parents treat child ▯ mainly whether the child feels loved
o Believed children had the ability to withstand traumas as long as they felt loved and secure
o Children know when love is sincere and when it is fake
o Parents can undermine security in many ways including preference for a sibling, ridicule,
unfair punishment, etc
If children are kept in an excessively dependent state with low security, it increases helplessness and
decreases chances of rebellion, hostility, etc.
Hostility towards parents becomes suppressed because:
Child fears consequences
Child fears losing caregiver they are dependent on
Child fears losing the little (even if not genuine) love parents display towards them
Child made to feel guilt when expressing hostility
All these repressed hostilities undermine the child’s need for safety (“basic anxiety”)
Basic Anxiety: The Foundation of Neurosis
Basic Anxiety: a pervasive feeling of loneliness and helplessness; the foundation of neurosis
In childhood, we try to protect ourselves from basic anxiety in 4 ways:
Securing affection and love ▯ doing anything to get people to love you, which ensures your security
Being submissive ▯ avoid doing anything to antagonize others, complying with everyone’s wishes
Attaining power ▯ attaining success & power over others
Withdrawing ▯ withdrawing from people psychologically, not depending on them to meet any needs, guards
against being hurt
Ultimate goal: guard against pain, not seek pleasure
These mechanisms reduce anxiety, but impoverish our personality
Trying to use more than 1 mechanisms at once can lead to incompatibility of the two, causing internal
conflict, followed by neurosis Neurotic Needs and Trends
Neurotic Needs: 10 irrational defenses against anxiety that become a permanent part of personality
and that affect behaviour
Affection and Approval
A dominant Partner
Achievement or ambition
Narrow limit to life
All of these relate to 1 of the 4 anxiety defenses above
We all experience these needs at some point, but when these needs become too intense and a
compulsive way of solving problems, they become neurotic
This need begins to dominate the personality
Satisfying needs will not help us feel safe but only aid in our desire to escape anxiety
Neurotic Trends: 3 categories of behaviours and attitudes toward oneself and others that express a
person’s needs; Horney’s revision of the concept of neurotic needs.
Compliant personality: behaviours and attitudes associated with the neurotic trend of moving toward
people, such as a need for affection or approval.
Compulsive need to be loved, protected, etc. Behaves in ways that try to achieve this goal
Concerned with living up to others’ ideals and expectations, often acting extremely nice, polite, etc.
Can manipulate people to satisfy their needs
View themselves as weak and needing security, and always inferior to others. Need constant approval &
Subordinate to the desires of others, never assertive or demanding
Compliant personality stems from repressed hostility and defiance. Have a secret desire to control and
exploit others, but repress this and act oppositely.
Aggressive personality: behaviours and attitudes associated with the neurotic trend of moving
against people, such as a domineering and controlling manner. Must not show weakness. By excelling and receiving recognition, they find satisfaction in having their
superiority reaffirmed by others.
Goal is to surpass & domineer others. No effort to appease anyone. Judges people based on their
usefulness to attain success
Detached personality: behaviou s and attitudes associated with the neurotic trend of moving away
from people, such as an intense need for privacy
Ultimate goal: not depending on anyone for anything and having no contact with others. Total self
Feel superiority by feeling unique
Deny any feelings or commitment to other people. Place importance on reason, logic, and intelligence
All 3 exist in all neurotic people, but one is always dominant. If a nondominant personality tries to influence
the person’s behaviour, internal conflict occurs
Note: many of us experience all these things but to a mild degree. A person becomes neurotic
when these needs/trends become intensely compulsive
The Idealized SelfImage
The Idealized SelfImage: for normal people, the self0image is an idealized picture of