Karen Horney: Intrapsychic Strategies of Defense
In a Brief Account of Karen Horney, Bernard J. Paris provides a short summary of the "intrapsychic strategies of defense" theorized by Karen Horney.
"To compensate for feelings of weakness, inadequacy, and low self-esteem [compare Niebuhr: anxiety], people develop an idealized image of themselves that they seek to actualize by embarking on a search for glory. The idealized image generates a pride system, which includes neurotic pride, neurotic claims, and tyrannical shoulds. People take pride in the imaginary attributes of their idealized selves, they demand that the world treat them in accordance with their grandiose conception of themselves, and they drive themselves to live up to the dictates of their solution. 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. The content of the idealized image is most strongly determined by the predominant interpersonal strategy, but since the subordinate strategies are also at work, the idealized image is full of inner divisions. As a result, people are often caught in what Horney calls a crossfire of conflicting shoulds. Since obeying the dictates of one solution means violating those of another, they are bound to hate themselves whatever they do."
Bernard J. Paris. "Brief Account of Karen Horney." International Karen Horney Society.
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