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Karen Horney

  • Is not the tremendous strength in men of the impulse to creative work in every field precisely due to their feeling of playing a relatively small part in the creation of living beings, which constantly impels them to an overcompensation in achievement?

    • Karen Horney,
    • "The Flight From Womanhood," Feminine Psychology ()
  • There is no such thing as a normal psychology that holds for all people.

  • ... a normal human being ... does not exist.

  • The conception of what is normal varies not only with the culture but also within the same culture, in the course of time.

  • Because it corresponds to a vital need, love is overvalued in our culture. It becomes a phantom — like success — carrying with it the illusion that it is a solution for all problems.

  • We may feel genuinely concerned about world conditions, though such a concern should drive us into action and not into a depression.

  • ... miracles occur in psychoanalysis as seldom as anywhere else.

  • ... the idea of a finished human product not only appears presumptuous but even, in my opinion, lacks any strong appeal. Life is struggle and striving, development and growth — and analysis is one of the means that can help in this process. Certainly its positive accomplishments are important, but also the striving itself is of intrinsic value.

  • There is no good reason why we should not develop and change until the last day we live.

    • Karen Horney,
    • speech ()
  • Let me say to begin with: It is not neurotic to have conflict ... Conflicts within ourselves are an integral part of human life.

  • Through the eclipse of large areas of the self, by repression and inhibition as well as by idealization and externalization, the individual loses sight of himself; he feels, if he does not actually become, like a shadow without weight and substance.

  • Fortunately analysis is not the only way to resolve inner conflicts. Life itself still remains a very effective therapist.

  • To experience conflicts knowingly, though it may be distressing, can be an invaluable asset. The more we face our own conflicts and seek out our own solutions, the more inner freedom and strength we will gain. Only when we are willing to bear the brunt can we approximate the ideal of being the captain of our ship. Spurious tranquillity rooted in inner dullness is anything but enviable. It is bound to make us weak and an easy prey to any kind of influence.

    • Karen Horney
  • Life as a therapist is ruthless; circumstances that are helpful to one neurotic may crush another.

  • The most comprehensive formulation of therapeutic goals is the striving for wholeheartedness: to be without pretense, to be emotionally sincere, to be able to put the whole of oneself into one's feelings, one's work, one's beliefs.

  • That many-faceted thing called love succeeds in building bridges from the loneliness on this shore to the loneliness on the other one. These bridges can be of great beauty, but they are rarely built for eternity, and frequently they cannot tolerate too heavy a burden without collapsing.

    • Karen Horney,
    • "The Distrust Between the Sexes" (1931) Feminine Psychology ()
  • The neurotic . . . feels caught in a cellar with many doors, and whichever door he opens leads only into new darkness. And all the time he knows that others are walking outside in sunshine.

  • Every person, to the extent that he is neurotic, is like an airplane directed by remote control.

Karen Horney, German-born U.S. psychoanalyst, writer

(1885 - 1952)

Full name: Karen Clementine Danielson Horney.