PTypes - Personality Types
PTypes Horney's Three Neurotic Solutions Self-Effacing Solution

The Expansive Solution

Moving against others

Basic Strategy

"Moving against others is an attempt to alleviate interpersonal anxiety by conquering, defeating and dominating others. An excessive need to control one's surroundings is typical of this trend. Pride or excessive self-regard seems dominant. (Cooper, pg. 115).

Neurotic Needs

Of Horney's (1942, pp. 52-55) "Neurotic Needs"

4. The neurotic need for power:

  • Domination over others craved for its own sake;
  • Devotion to cause, duty, responsibility, though playing some part, not the driving force;
  • Essential disrespect for others, their individuality, their dignity, their feelings, the only concern being their subordination;
  • Great differences as to degree of destructive elements involved;
  • Indiscriminate adoration of strength and contempt for weakness;
  • Dread of uncontrollable situations;
  • Dread of helplessness.

4a. The neurotic need to control self and others through reason and foresight (a variety of 4 in people who are too inhibited to exert power directly and openly):

  • Belief in the omnipotence of intelligence and reason;
  • Denial of the power of emotional forces and contempt for them;
  • Extreme value placed on foresight and prediction;
  • Feelings of superiority over others related to the faculty of foresight;
  • Contempt for everything within self that lags behind the image of intellectual superiority;
  • Dread of recognizing objective limitations of the power of reason;
  • Dread of "stupidity" and bad judgment.

4b. The neurotic need to believe in the omnipotence of will (to use a somewhat ambiguous term, an introvert variety of 4 in highly detached people to whom a direct exertion of power means too much contact with others):

  • Feelings of fortitude gained from the belief in the magic power of will (like possession of a wishing ring);
  • Reaction of desolation to any frustration of wishes;
  • Tendency to relinquish or restrict wishes and to withdraw interest because of a dread of "failure";
  • Dread of recognizing any limitation of sheer will.

5. The neurotic need to exploit others and by hook or crook get the better of them:

  • Others evaluated primarily according to whether or not they can be exploited or made use of;
  • Various foci of exploitation--money (bargaining amounts to a passion), ideas, sexuality, feelings;
  • Pride in exploitative skill;
  • Dread of being exploited and thus of being "stupid."

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.

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").

Idealized Image

"In the expansive solutions the individual prevailingly identifies himself with his glorified self. When speaking of 'himself' he means, with Peer Gynt, his very grandiose self. Or, as one patient put it, 'I exist only as a superior being'. The feeling of superiority that goes with this solution is not necessarily conscious but -- whether conscious or not -- largely determines behavior, strivings and attitudes toward life in general. The appeal of life lies in its mastery. It chiefly entails his determination, conscious or unconscious, to overcome every obstacle -- in or outside himself -- and the belief that he should be able, and in fact is able, to do so. He should be able to master the adversities of fate, the difficulties of a situation, the intricacies of intellectual problems, the resistances of other people, conflicts in himself. The reverse side of the necessity for mastery is his dread of anything connoting helplessness; this is the most poignant dread he has" (Horney, 1950, pp. 191-92).

Neurotic Pride

The expansive type takes pride in his strength, leadership, heroism, and omnipotence. (Cooper, pp. 115).

Neurotic Claims

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

The expansive person believes that others should defer, submit, and subordinate themselves to him.

He believes in the omnipotence of intelligence and reason and denies the power of emotional forces.

He believes in the omnipotence of the will.

He believes that others are here to be exploited.

He believes that others should recognize and accept his high status.

He believes that others should respect and admire him.

He believes that others should not interfere with, but should assist him in, his personal achievement.

Tyrannical Shoulds

The expansive person believes that he should be able to master everything in his life. (Cooper, pg. 115).

He should be able "to overcome every obstacle -- in or outside himself . . . He should be able to master the adversities of fate, the difficulties of a situation, the intricacies of intellectual problems, the resistances of other people, conflicts in himself" (Horney, 1950, pg. 192).


"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).


The expansive solution, or neurotic trend, seems predominant in these neurotic solutions:

Karen Horney: Intrapsychic Strategies of Defense

Terry D. Cooper (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 (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.

____________. "Brief Account of Karen Horney." International Karen Horney Society.

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