Marilyn Monroe and Karen Horney's Theory of Neuroticism

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Marilyn Monroe is one of the most famous celebrities of the 21st century (Pettinger, 2013). She appeared in 29 films throughout her career, and seemed very successful and well adjusted to outsiders. After she was found dead after an apparent suicide, the public was exposed to her inner turmoil. Monroe spent her short life dealing with problems, many stemming from her unstable childhood (Wholper & Huston, 1964) Karen Horney, 1885-1952, was a psychoanalytic psychologist who developed a theory of neurosis, and studied the ways neurotic people deal with anxiety from interacting with others. Horney deduced that childhood was a time of anxiety, and that children deal with that anxiety by being compliant, aggressive or withdrawing. If a child lives in an unstable home, they will become overly dependent on one strategy, leading to neuroticism in later years (Brenner, 2009). I believe that Monroe childhood fits into Horney’s model of neuroticism based on her tumultuous childhood, and that her behaviour displays many traits associated with excessive compliance in her later years.
Marilyn Monroe was born Norma Jean Mortenson in Los Angeles on June 1st, 1926 to Gladys Baker. She was illegitimate, so the name Mortenson was assigned by the hospital. At twelve days old, she was taken away from her mother and placed in the care of Ida and Albert Bolender where she would remain for the next seven years. At the age of two, she was nearly smothered to death by a foster grandparent, and at the age of six Monroe was not the only foster child that the Bolender’s took in; there were often three of four other children in the household. During her seven years in the Bolender’s care, Monroe had 13 foster siblings come and go. The Bolender’s we...

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Byron, Nicola C; Murphy, Robin A. (2013). It's Not Just What We Encode, but How We Encode It: Associations Between Neuroticism and Learning. Journal of Personality. Vol.81(4), pp. 345-354.
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Wholper, David L. (Producer), & Huston, Johm (Director). (1964). The Legend of Marilyn Monroe [Motion picture]. USA.

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