In the novel Our Inner Conflicts by Karen Horney, it creates and explains a theory of neurosis based on attitudes either moving toward, away, or against people. The author Karen Horney was a German psychoanalyst who also had a first-hand experience with depression in her childhood. She dedicated her time and work into school. Horney also went against Freud’s views, she believed that culture, not anatomy, was the cause of differences between woman and men. She attended medical school at the beginning of the 1900s and eventually developed a theory of neurosis. Horney’s theory states that we have a couple of ways that we view ourselves; ideal image, despised Image, the actual self, and the real self. This is the person, putting themselves in the middle of ideal and despised image. When an individual is not living up to their perfect image this will cause anxiety and the individual may start feeling bad about themselves and their image. She came up with three neurotic trends to help combat anxiety. The main point was the basic conflicts and the solutions used to try to resolve such conflicts. Neurotic conflicts can only be changed by changing your personality, not by your rational decision.
Horney explains that neurosis results from anxiety created by relationships, and that neurosis is a problem when a person is faced with a conflict concerning human relationships. As stated in the book, “It is the prerogative as well as the burden of human beings to be able to exert choice, to make decision. We may have to decide between desires that lead in opposite directions.” Decision making is hard when you are in conflict between two sets of values. Her theory explains strategies used to cope with people’s inner conflicts. Anxiety can result from a bunch of different factors such as, indifferences, hostile atmosphere, discrimination, and many more. The anxiety results in some of the individuals to overthink and come up with ideas and images about themselves. Some individuals go through self-realization and they see their actual self. Others come up with an idealized image of who they want to be, these individuals have a personal standard of perfection. Its exaggerated and an unrealistic view for the individual compared to their behaviors, appearance and thinking ability. Lastly a despised image is when the individual feels like they can’t live up to all their standards. These individuals look down on themselves and think of themselves as weak and worthless. Horney came up with solutions to help individuals fight their anxiety and deal with their inner conflicts. The first one is moving towards people which would be the individual seeking acceptance from others, people might think these individuals are clingy or needy but they just are looking for love, acceptance and approval; which is the self-effacing solution. As stated in the book, “when moving towards people he accepts his own helplessness, and in spite of his estrangement and fears tries to win the affection of others and lean on them.”
Once you accept your downfalls, and get support and people motivate you, you can only go up from there and better yourself. Furthermore, the next one would be moving away from others, these individuals are antisocial and hostile, people would describe them as indifferent and cold, they need self-sufficiency and perfection, this is the detached or the resigned solution. As stated in the book, “when moving away from people he wants neither to belong nor to fight, but keep apart. He feels he has not much in common with them, they do not understand him anyhow. He builds up a world of his own- with nature, with his dolls, his books, his dreams.” The individual feels better off on their own because they do not feel connected with others, they use imagination to create nonliving things. The last one moves the individual against others, this results in them trying to control other people. Often, these individuals can be described as unkind, difficult, and in need of power; this is the expansive solution. As stated in the book, “when he moves against people he accepts and take for granted the hostility around him, and determines, consciously or unconsciously, to fight. He implicitly distrust the feelings and interventions of others towards himself. He rebels in whatever ways are open to himself.”
The individual wants to protect himself and be stronger and defeat them. The three solutions Horney came up with can be broken up into two separate kinds of strategies involving other people or a conflict within yourself. Therefore, I agree with Horney’s theory about neurosis. This book explains a significant amount about human nature and character. It may be hard and uncomfortable to admit and bring awareness to the conflicts that you may have. You may think that if you push it to the side enough and try not to think about it than it may just disappear and go away. It does not work like that, one of the biggest conflicts that humans must face is a conflict that they have within themselves. These problems are fought within our mind. Her three solutions are based to solve the conflicts that individuals face every day.