The Personality Theory: An Outline Account
This is an outline account of the personality theory being contemplated here.
The existential condition of human beings is a juxtaposition of NATURE and SPIRIT. The result of this condition is ANXIETY. Our inevitable reaction to ANXIETY is DISTRUST OF GOD/ PRIDE — they always go together. (The Stoics would say that this represents a "failure to accept the way the world goes."). PRIDE motivates us to find our own solutions to the problem of ANXIETY. We get in the habit of desiring and pursuing certain limited goods, or, rather following the Stoics, certain indifferent things which we value as goods, to alleviate ANXIETY. These habitual desires become IRRATIONAL NEEDS, or VICES. But because the temporary satisfaction of our NEEDS does not bring us the security we desire, and because we are left feeling helpless, worthless, and insignificant, we construct (mostly unconsciously) an image of our perfect self, an IDEALIZED IMAGE, which represents the solution to our problems and the fulfillment of our NEEDS. This image is chiefly a glorification of the NEEDS that have developed. The IDEALIZED IMAGE brings with it a pride system consisting of PRIDE, CLAIMS, and SHOULDS. We take PRIDE in the imagined attributes of our IDEALIZED IMAGE. On the basis of that PRIDE we make grandiose CLAIMS on others and on life. And we make demands upon ourselves, SHOULDS, that compel us to live up to our IDEALIZED IMAGE. But if others do not honor our CLAIMS, or if we fail to live up to our SHOULDS, we hate ourselves. In reaction to this SELF-HATE we redouble our efforts and resume our SEARCH FOR GLORY. But in seeking after perfection and the absolute, we only end up sending ourselves to hell, the inner hell of self-contempt.
The overall theological psychology is Niebuhrian but much of the psychology is from Karen Horney, except for the etiology of ANXIETY, the connection of DISTRUST OF GOD and PRIDE, the idea of limited goods, and the omission of, what is crucial to Horney's theory, the "real," or potential, self.
Sin, Pride & Self-Acceptance
04 Major Concepts 3 « Karen Horney & Humanistic Psychoanalysis
Terry D. Cooper (2003). Sin, Pride, and Self-Acceptance: The Problem of Identity in Theology and Psychology. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
Bernard J. Paris (1994). Karen Horney : A Psychoanalyst`s Search for Self-Understanding . New Haven, CT: Yale UP.