Karen Horney Criticism - Essay

Cyril Connolly (essay date 1940)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Psycho-analysis," in The Condemned Play-ground: Essays, 1927-1944, New York: Macmillan, 1946, pp. 227-30.

[Connolly was a very influential English critic, nonfiction writer, and literary jounal editor. In the following review, originally published in 1940, he praises the accessibility of Horney's prose in New Ways in Psychoanalysis and the humanity of her approach to psychotherapy.]

Psycho-analysis leads to the most profound discoveries man has made about himself. Yet most people would agree that its results have been disappointing. The cures are few, and seem confined to certain extreme cases, while the neurotic infirmities of human beings increase out...

(The entire section is 1306 words.)

Lionel Trilling (essay date 1942)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Progressive Psyche," in The Nation (New York), Vol. 155, No. 11, September 12, 1942, pp. 215-17.

[Trilling was one of the most respected literary critics in the United States. Among his most significant works are The Liberal Imagination: Essays on Literature and Society (1950) and Freud and the Crisis of Our Culture (1956). In the following largely negative review of Self-Analysis, he argues that Horney's criticisms of Sigmund Freud's theories represent a politically and ideologically liberal desire to view the psyche in hopeful and flattering terms. Trilling states that while Freud's view is darker than Horney's, it more adequately addresses "the savage...

(The entire section is 1824 words.)

Francis Bartlett (essay date 1945)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Recent Trends in Psychoanalysis," in Science and Society, Vol. IX, No. 3, Summer, 1945, pp. 214-31.

[In the following essay, Bartlett discusses Horney's revisions and criticisms of Freudian psychoanalysis, discussing in particular her focus on the importance of social influences on the psyche.]

In recent years, the writings of Dr. Karen Homey have become very popular. Socially minded psychoanalysts and social workers who previously relied on Freudian theories which they could never quite believe, are exceedingly enthusiastic about Horney's work. They find in it a useful theory of neuroses which includes Freud's valid observations but eliminates the fantastic...

(The entire section is 6986 words.)

Joseph Wortis, M. D. (essay date 1946)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Freud, Horney, Fromm and Others," in Science and Society, Vol. X, No. 2, 1946, pp. 176-85.

[In the following essay, written in response to Francis Bartlett's essay "Recent Trends in Psychoanalysis" (Science and Society, Vol. IX, No. 3, Summer, 1945), Wortis examines Horney's theories in relation to both the Freudian tradition she rejects and to more contemporary trends, of which she claimed to be part. Wortis argues that Horney's conception of psychiatry is not as "progressive" as she claimed it was.]

Bartlett's critique of Horney in this magazine [Science and Society] (Summer, 1945) seems to me to be basically correct and very welcome. It is...

(The entire section is 3777 words.)

D. Ewen Cameron (essay date 1953)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Karen Horney: A Pioneer in the Science of Human Relations," American Journal of Psychoanalysis, Vol. 14, No. 1, 1954, pp. 19-29.

[In the following essay, which was originally presented at a psychiatric conference on 22 April 1953, Cameron addresses the main aspects of Horney's thought and lauds her ability to incorporate into her work the social and historical issues of her time.]

Karen Horney was one of the children of her times. She walked among us distinguished by her originality of mind and by her leadership. Her life fell within a period of unusual turbulence and ferment in the world of thought. The long upward climb of humanism, which had started as far...

(The entire section is 7050 words.)

Frederick A. Weiss (essay date 1954)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Karen Horney: Her Early Papers," in American Journal of Psychoanalysis, Vol. 14, No. 1, 1954, pp. 55-64.

[In the following essay, Weiss examines some of the central ideas in Horney's thought, focusing on their expression in some of her early writings and comparing these with her later works.]

"Science has often found it fruitful to look at long-familiar facts from a fresh point of view. Otherwise there is a danger that we shall involuntarily continue to classify all new observations amongst the same clearly defined group of ideas" ["The Flight From Womanhood: The Masculinity Complex in Women, as Viewed by Men and by Women," International Journal of...

(The entire section is 5169 words.)

Jack L. Rubins (essay date 1978)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "XXI: Neurosis and Human Growth," in Karen Horney: Gentle Rebel of Psychoanalysis, New York: The Dial Press, 1978, pp. 304-17.

[In the following excerpt from his biography of Horney, Rubins discusses Neurosis and Human Growth, examining the ways in which this articulation of her psychiatric approach differs from earlier ones. Rubins also briefly addresses the extent of Horney's influence on world psychiatry.]

Neurosis and Human Growth constituted the fourth and final version of Karen's psychoanalytic theory. It showed many changes from her earlier writings: in the style of writing, in emphasis and details of the theoretical structure...

(The entire section is 5257 words.)

Patricia Meyer Spacks (essay date 1980)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Fiery Giants and Icy Queens," in The New Republic, Vol. 183, No. 19, November 8, 1980, pp. 30-3.

[In the following review of The Adolescent Diaries of Karen Horney, Spacks discusses Horney's early life and the ways in which her diaries shed light on her professional writings.]

As an adolescent, Karen Horney argued with her parents, and condescended to them, worried whether anyone would ever love her, expressed her contempt for the older generation, had crushes on her teachers, overvalued the opinions of her peers, felt a horrified fascination with the idea of sexual activity: just like everyone else. Nevertheless, her diaries are remarkable.


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Bernard J. Paris (essay date 1981)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Bargains with Fate: The Case of Macbeth" in The American Journal of Psychoanalysis, Vol. 42, No. 1, Spring, 1982, pp. 7-20.

[In the following essay, which was originally presented at a conference held in February of 1981, Paris offers an interpretation of William Shakespeare's drama Macbeth (1606) utilizing some key concepts from Horney's psychoanalytic theory.]

According to Horney, each of the interpersonal strategies of defense involves a "bargain with fate" in which if a person lives up to his shoulds, his claims are supposed to be honored. The bargain of the self-effacing individual is that if he is a good, loving, noble person who shuns...

(The entire section is 6330 words.)

Harry Keyishian (essay date 1981)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Karen Horney on 'The Value of Vindictiveness,'" in The American Journal of Psychoanalysis, Vol. 42, No. 1, Spring, 1982, pp. 21-6.

[In the following essay, which was originally presented at a conference held in February of 1981, Keyishian discusses the ways in which Horney's essay "The Value of Vindictiveness" can be used to illuminate the natures of various literary characters.]

I first came to appreciate the special value of Karen Horney's work while doing research for a study of revenge as a literary theme. Through an exploration of writings on power and punishment I progressed a certain distance with a general theory of revenge. I came to see that the main...

(The entire section is 2434 words.)

Karen Ann Butery (essay date 1981)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Contributions of Horneyan Psychology to the Study of Literature," in The American Journal of Psychoanalysis, Vol. 42, No. 1, Spring, 1982, pp. 39-50.

[In the following essay, which was originally presented at a conference held in February of 1981, Butery demonstrates some of the ways in which applying Horney's theories to the study of literary characters reveals a fuller sense of their often self-contradictory natures.]

When accepting the Nobel Prize for literature, William Faulkner said that the "only" things "worth writing about" are the "problems of the human heart in conflict with itself." He laments that too many young writers "labo[r] under a curse"...

(The entire section is 5323 words.)

Marcia Westkott (essay date 1986)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "A Social Psychology of Women," in The Feminist Legacy of Karen Horney, Yale University Press, 1986, pp. 66-87.

[In the following excerpt, Westkott offers a detailed examination of Horney's theory of neurosis, concluding that her "universalizing" of childhood experiencethat is, Horney's view that the sources of neurosis are not gender-specificis in fact a description of female psychology.]

In her later work Horney built on her critique of Freud to create an alternative explanation of character development and conflict. This was her theory of neurosis, which substituted experience for instinct in explaining psychology. But with this...

(The entire section is 6799 words.)

Marjorie B. Haselswerdt (essay date 1986)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "'Keep Your Muck': A Horneyan Analysis of Joe Christmas and Light in August," in Third Force Psychology and the Study of Literature, edited by Bernard J. Paris, Associated University Presses, 1986, pp. 206-24.

[In the following essay, Haselswerdt presents a detailed discussion of the character Joe Christmas from William Faulkner's novel Light in August (1932), analyzing his "arrogant-vindictive" personality based primarily on Horney's theories as she presented them in Neurosis and Human Growth.]


When Alfred Kazin describes the "pinched rotted look" of Faulkner's Light in August, he is referring to the influence of...

(The entire section is 9592 words.)