Horneys coping strategies

In the course of Horney's experience in analysis with her patients, she began to see that these neurotic needs correlated with the psychic personality development she had observed and documented earlier. She called meshing of these neurotic personality types, and the needs addressed by each behavior, "coping strategies." Her coping strategies are broken down into three types: compliance, aggression, and withdrawal.

Compliance According to Horney, compliance, or the "basic anxiety" that overcomes "basic hostility" has its origin in fears of abandonment or punishment. This abandonment or punishment would be in retaliation for the feelings of rage experienced by the child in the early years of life. It is found, she believes, in neurotic needs number one, two, and three. If in fact "basic hostility" must be hidden and the victim of parental indifference must become more loveable in order to survive, then clearly the need for acceptance and affection, even to the point of people pleasing, becomes critical. So, too, is the need for all-encompassing love. Number three—the need for simplification, the rejection of schedules and laws—initially seems the antithesis of compliance. But when this is viewed as part of the need to avoid confrontation by becoming unnoticeable, it becomes more clear. That avoidance of confrontation is yet another means of not allowing the "basic hostility" to be witnessed by others, resulting in rejection and the desertion of loved ones. Horney sometimes referred to this strategy as the "moving toward" or the "self-effacing solution."

Aggression Aggression, also called the "moving against" or the "expansive solution," is the second coping strategy and deals with neurotic needs four through eight. The requirements of having complete power over others; the ability to exploit others; and to have total (unrealistic) social recognition, admiration, and fame are obvious. The need to be fiercely competitive and always to be number one in accomplishments is equally self-evident and easily seen as aggressive behavior in this light.

Withdrawal What Horney calls withdrawal is represented, she states, by neurotic needs three, nine, and ten: To be self-sufficient and perfect clearly correlate with a retreat from being a member of the human race. The totally independent person requires no one else, never needs to ask for help from anyone, and is completely unfettered from any type of committed relationship. The perfect person, it is immediately evident, is also divorced from the rest of the human race as none of the rest of those on Earth are perfect. Interestingly, Horney added number three neurotic need because of her belief that the total independence and perfection were not possible in the neurotic's view unless limitations were put on the dimensions and complexity of life. Withdrawal is also referred to in Horney's writings as the "moving away," or "resigning solution."

In Horney's lexicon, the defensive strategies people use for dealing with the outside world are termed interpersonal strategies, while those used for dealing with the inner selves are called Horney intrapsychic processes.

Example In Our Inner Conflicts, Horney paraphrases Franz Wittels' description of the neurotic's pursuit of love: "Love becomes a phantom that is chased to the exclusion of everything else." This need for love, she asserts, is the only way that the neurotic needs to be liked and to dominate someone else can both be simultaneously fulfilled. Horney often discussed this neurotic pursuit of love in thinly disguised references to herself and a lifetime of affairs.

Main points Self-realization is the goal of psychotherapy and the benchmark of mental health. It can be defined as the restoration of the person to their "center of gravity," making it possible for them to spontaneously achieve their goals. Without gaining self-realization, people cannot attain either spontaneous enjoyment of life or accomplish their dreams and goals. The self is fluid and ever changing; it is composed of all of our genetic features—temperament, predisposition, talents, and abilities—as well as the environment in which we live. The neurotic person lacks the innate capacity to recognize self accurately, instead dividing self into "the despised self' and the ideal self.

Horney recognizes three basic coping strategies linked to the ten neurotic needs in the following ways:

• Compliance is the first of these strategies. It is related to neurotic needs for (1) acceptance and affection, (2) all-encompassing love, and (3) avoiding confrontation and having no rules or regulations.

• Aggression is the next coping strategy and is associated with the needs to (4) have control over others, (5) manipulate others, (6) to be recognized socially, (7) have others admire them, and to (8) obsessively achieve.

• Withdrawal is the last of these. It is demonstrated in the needs for (3) avoiding confrontation and having no rules or regulations, (9) having complete independence including never asking for help, and (10) the need for perfection.

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  • keith hill
    Which one is not one of the coping strategies proposed by horney's sociocultural approach?
    1 year ago
    What 3 primary techniques of karen horney as observed?
    16 days ago

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