"The third aspect of an idealized image is neurotic pride, a false pride based, not on a realistic view of the true self, but on a spurious image of the idealized self.
"Neurotic pride is qualitatively different from healthy pride or realistic self-esteem. Genuine self-esteem is based on realistic attributes and accomplishments and is generally expressed with quiet dignity. Neurotic pride, on the other hand, is based on an idealized image of self and is usually loudly proclaimed in order to protect and support a glorified view of one's self (Horney, 1950).
"Neurotics imagine themselves to be glorious, wonderful and perfect, so when others fail to treat them with special consideration, their neurotic pride is hurt. To prevent the hurt, they avoid people who refuse to yield to their neurotic claims, and, instead, they try to become associated with socially prominent and prestigious institutions and acquisitions" (Feist, pg. 255-56).
Using Horney as a guide, Terry D. Cooper (pg. 142) has listed the key differences between healthy self-esteem and neurotic pride. This is a slightly modified representation of his table.
|Based on a realistic assessment of oneself.||Based on the creation of an imaginary self with glorified characteristics one "ought" to have.|
|Pursues goals in harmony with one's true being and potential.||Creates a false self that searches relentlessly for glory and triumph.|
|Rests primarily on qualities of character.||Rests primarily on accomplishments, attainments or relationships that have prestige value.|
|Acknowledges and accepts personal faults and liabilities without losing self-respect and self-love.||Claims unbounded virtues but needs constant affirmation, is easily hurt and is self-depreciating.|
|Accepts reality as it is.||Feels entitled to special favor, privilege and immunity.|
|Recognizes and accepts moral limitations and fallibility.||Minimizes actual moral flaws and magnifies the value of mere intellectual assent to high ideals.|
|Recognizes the activities of one's personal "dark side."||Denies, suppresses or ignores these issues, projects them onto others or justifies them as necessary for survival.|
|May suffer a temporary sense of guilt and regret when one does not live up to his or her ideals.||Wallows in shame, humiliation and self-contempt when one falls short.|
|Is concerned more about reality than image.||Is concerned more about image than reality.|
|Can embrace personal failure without feeling panic or rage.||Cannot endure anything less than perfection without extreme self-recrimination.|
|Accepts vulnerability.||Despises vulnerability and lashes back vindictively when pride is wounded.|
|Accepts responsibility for oneself.||Forgets, justifies, explains away or blames others for personal failure.|
Cooper, Terry D. (2003). Sin, Pride & Self-Acceptance: The Problem of Identity in Theology & Psychology. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
Jess Feist (1994, c.1985). Theories of Personality. 3rd. ed. Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace.
Karen Horney (1950). Neurosis and Human Growth. New York: W. W. Norton.
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