PTypes - Personality Types
PTypes Horney's Three Neurotic Solutions Sin, Pride & Self-Acceptance

Compensatory Narcissistic Character Type

The Expansive Solution

Narcissistic type

Compensatory Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Basic Strategy

The basic strategy, or search for glory, as Karen Horney calls it, of the compensatory narcissistic person, is an attempt to alleviate anxiety by obtaining social recognition and prestige.

Neurotic Needs

Of Horney's (1942, pp. 51-56) "Neurotic Needs"

6. The neurotic need for social recognition or prestige (may or may not be combined with a craving for power):

  • All things--inanimate objects, money, persons, one's own qualities, activities, and feelings--evaluated only according to their prestige value;
  • Self-evaluation entirely dependent on nature of public acceptance;
  • Differences as to use of traditional or rebellious ways of inciting envy or admiration;
  • Dread of losing caste ("humiliation"), whether through external circumstances or through factors from within.

1. The neurotic need for affection and approval:

  • Indiscriminate need to please others and to be liked and approved of by others;
  • Automatic living up to the expectations of others;
  • Center of gravity in others and not in self, with their wishes and opinions the only thing that counts;
  • Dread of self-assertion;
  • Dread of hostility on the part of others or of hostile feelings within self.

7. The neurotic need for personal admiration:

  • Inflated image of self (narcissism);
  • Need to be admired not for what one possesses or presents in the public eye but for the imagined self;
  • Self-evaluation dependent on living up to this image and on admiration of it by others;
  • Dread of losing admiration ("humiliation").

8. The neurotic ambition for personal achievement:

  • Need to surpass others not through what one presents or is but through one's activities;
  • Self-evaluation dependent on being the very best--lover, sportsman, writer, worker--particularly in one's own mind, recognition by others being vital too, however, and its absence resented;
  • Admixture of destructive tendencies (toward the defeat of others) never lacking but varying in intensity;
  • Relentless driving of self to greater achievements, though with pervasive anxiety;
  • Dread of failure ("humiliation").

10. The neurotic need for perfection and unassailability:

  • Relentless driving for perfection;
  • Rumination and self-recriminations regarding possible flaws;
  • Feelings of superiority over others because of being perfect;
  • Dread of finding flaws within self or of making mistakes;
  • Dread of criticism or reproaches.

Idealized Image

The idealized image of the compensatory narcissist is of someone who has attained high social recognition, status and prestige.

He is loved and approved of by high status individuals.

He is admired and envied generally.

He has very high standards.

His personal achievement is great.

"In the expansive solutions the individual prevailingly identifies himself with his glorified self" (Horney, 1950, pg. 191).

"I use the term narcissism with some hesitation, because in the classic Freudian literature it includes rather indiscriminately every kind of self-inflation, egocentricity, anxious concern with one's welfare, and withdrawal from others. I take it here in its original descriptive sense of being "in love with one's idealized image. More precisely: the person is his idealized self and seems to adore it. This basic attitude gives him the buoyancy or the resilience entirely lacking in the other groups. It gives him a seeming abundance of self-confidence which appears enviable to all those chafing under self-doubts. He has (consciously) no doubts; he is the anointed, the man of destiny, the prophet, the great giver, the benefactor of mankind. All of this contains a grain of truth. He often is gifted beyond average, early and easily won distinctions, and sometimes was the favored or admired child.

"The unquestioned belief in his greatness and uniqueness is the key to understanding him. His buoyancy and perennial youthfulness stem from this source. So does his often-fascinating charm. Yet clearly, his gifts notwithstanding, he stands on precarious ground. He may speak incessantly of his exploits or of his wonderful qualities and needs endless confirmation of his estimate of himself in the form of admiration and devotion. His feeling of mastery lies in his conviction that there is nothing he cannot do and no one he cannot win. He is often charming indeed, particularly when new people come into his orbit. Regardless of their factual importance for him, he must impress them" (pp. 193-94).

Neurotic Pride

The compensatory narcissist is proud:

  • of being socially recognized and having high status and prestige
  • of being loved and approved of by high status individuals
  • of being admired and envied generally
  • of his very high standards
  • of his great personal achievement

The compensatory narcissistic type prides himself on his inventiveness, hope, idealism, ambition, assertiveness, competitiveness, wittiness, intelligence, originality, analytical ability, ingenuity, contrivance, competence, industry, and enterprise.

Neurotic Claims

The needs of the compensatory narcissistic individual become claims to which he feels entitled.

He believes that it is very important for him to get recognition, praise, and admiration.

He believes that he must be loved.

He believes that he has so many faults that he must be approved of in other ways.

He believes that he needs to be necessary to people.

He believes that other people don't deserve the admiration or riches that they get.

Tyrannical Shoulds

The compensatory narcissistic person believes that he should seek social recognition, status and prestige.

He will accept nothing less than perfection from himself

He believes that in order to be loved and successful, he must be perfect.

He believes that he needs to please others to gain their acceptance.

He believes that he should be able to dominate life.

He believes that it's up to him to give others a sense of security.

He believes that he must be a personage, one who is never thought of apart from what he's done.

He believes that he must transform the world around him to confirm his own personality.

He has an all-consuming need for identity.


"The pride system tends to intensify the self-hate against which it is supposed to be a defense, since any failure to live up to one's tyrannical shoulds or of the world to honor one's claims leads to feelings of worthlessness" (Paris, IKHS).


These are individuals who I believe share the Compensatory Narcissistic Character Type:

Karen Horney: Intrapsychic Strategies of Defense

Terry D. Cooper (2003). Sin, Pride, and Self-Acceptance: The Problem of Identity in Theology and Psychology. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Jess Feist (1994, c.1985). Theories of Personality. 3rd. ed. Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace.

Karen Horney (1942). Self-Analysis. New York: W. W. Norton.

___________ (1945). Our Inner Conflicts. New York: W. W. Norton.

___________ (1950). Neurosis and Human Growth. New York: W. W. Norton.

Bernard J. Paris (1974). A Psychological Approach to Fiction. Bloomington IN: Indiana UP.

Bernard J. Paris. "Brief Account of Karen Horney." International Karen Horney Society.

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This article is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. (See Copyrights for details.)


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