Karen Horney Theory

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Historically, theories about human nature and personality development did not reflect women’s visions, needs and opinions (Wellesley Centers for Women, 2011: Westkott 1989). However, Karen Horney, a psychoanalyst in the first half of the twentieth century began to question the concept of human nature being only associated with man and not woman (Eckardt, 2005). Through this questioning, Horney began to reinterpret Freud’s psychoanalytic theory on feminine psychology development, accumulating in fourteen papers written between 1922 and 1937 on feminine psychology (Smith, 2007). Published posthumously as Feminine Psychology (1967) these papers had a significant impact on feminist theory and have been cited as the ‘political and theoretical origins’…show more content…
Instead, Horney emphasized that sociocultural factors were the primary agent of female development and personality (Ingram, 2001; Smith, 2007). Notably, Horney focus of feminine psychology originated from her thinking that psychology was ‘androcentric’ (O’Connell, 1980). Furthermore, Horney’s essays challenged and disagreed with the Freudian concept of penis envy, female masochism and feminine personality development (Enns, 1989; Paris, 1998). In her 1926 paper on ‘The Flight from Womanhood’ Horney wrote ‘and that what women really envy is not the penis but the superior position of men in society’ (Horney, 1926, as cited in O’Connell, 1980, p. 85). On reflection of her early theories of feminine psychology, feminist ideologies are apparent. Horney attributed women’s feelings of inferiority to a patriarchal society of one-sided masculine bias which subordinates women to men (Eckardt, 2005). By voicing her concerns regarding gender-bias and gender role stereotyping; and that women should not be understood in terms of their difference and inferiority to men, she highlighted the feminist ideology of the need for men and women to have equal rights (Paris, 1989). However, although Horney’s essays were contentious and radical for her time, they were largely ignored. (Quinn, 2010). As Ingram (2001) suggests Horney tired of the disinterested…show more content…
Inspired by feminist writers who based female development on women’s experience of life, the group grounded themselves at the Stone Center of Wellesley College (Jordan, 2008). Initially theory making was not the group’s aim, however through collaborative work of human development based on the notion of ‘connectedness’, the model has evolved to a theory of social justice (Cannon, 2012). Furthermore, the core ideas of RCT are that women through mutually empathic, ‘growth-fostering’ relationships can improve and change systems of inequality and ‘disconnection’ (Cannon, Hammer, Reicherzer & Gilliam, 2012 ; Cornstock, 2008). Similarly to Horney, the Stone Center Group focuses on women’s experience however the goal of development for both Horney and RCT by the Stone Center Group differ. For Horney, the goal development represents ‘self’, in contrast RCT questions the accuracy of a separate self and instead suggests goal development represents connections with others and relationships (Westkott, 1989). In addition, Westkott (1989) described how Horney’s object of theory helped people get in touch with the ‘real self’, whereas RCT focuses instead on the ‘true relational self’, a relational value where sustaining relationships are the goal to strive for. When
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