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The Pride System


"The idealized image generates a pride system, which includes neurotic pride, neurotic claims, and tyrannical shoulds" (Paris).

In Neurosis and Human Growth, Karen Horney explains that the pride system results in a particular kind of egocentricity:

"To begin with, the pride system removes the neurotic from others by making him egocentric. To avoid misunderstanding: by egocentricity I do not mean selfishness or egotism in the sense of considering merely one's advantage. The neurotic may be callously selfish or too unselfish -- there is nothing in this regard that is characteristic for all neuroses. But he is always egocentric in the sense of being wrapped up in himself. This need not be apparent on the surface -- he may be a lone wolf or live for and through others. Nevertheless he lives in any case by his private religion (his idealized image), abides by his own laws (his shoulds), within the barbed wire fence of his own pride and with his own guards to protect him against dangers from within an without. As a result he not only becomes more isolated emotionally but it also becomes more difficult for him to see others as individuals in their own right, different from himself. They are subordinated to his prime concern: himself" (Horney, 1950, pp. 291-92).


The pride system engenders neurotic needs.

In chapter 12, "Neurotic Disturbances in Human Relationships" of Neurosis and Human Growth, Karen Horney makes "a brief systematic summary of how in principle the pride system influences our relations to others." For instance, the pride system prevents the neurotic from seeing others as they are and makes for positive distortion in his picture of them (pg. 292).

"In part the actual distortions come in because the neurotic sees others in the light of the needs engendered by the pride system. These needs may be directed toward others or affect his attitudes toward them indirectly. His need for admiration turns them into an admiring audience. His need for magic help endows them with mysterious magic faculties. His need to be right makes them faulty and fallible. His need for triumph divides them into followers and scheming adversaries. His need to hurt them with impunity makes them "neurotic." His need to minimize himself turns them into giants" (pg. 292).




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

Bernard J. Paris. "Brief Account of Karen Horney." International Karen Horney Society.
http://plaza.ufl.edu/bjparis/horney/intro.html




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