No doubt because of her own life experience, Horney put great emphasis on childhood hostility developed toward rejecting parents. Because this hostility could not be safely expressed for fear of parental retaliation or abandonment, the child learns to avoid any kind of friction with the parent. This creates a psychic situation that makes it impossible for the child to stand up for his or her rights, and requires that he or she tolerate parental injustice. Desires and needs become submerged, and much of the child's energy is depleted in fighting these internal, dangerous impulses. The final result of this struggle is the crippling of personality development leading to neurosis or other psychopathological conditions. For Horney, the object of psychoanalysis was to assist her patients in being able to give up their defenses. These defenses, she believed, barred them from their real selves—from being aware of the things they innately loved, hated, feared, or wanted. This notion of self-realization would become one of the tenets of humanistic psychology. Her early espousal of, and emphasis on, self-realization as mental health makes her one of this movement's founders.
Examples Horney uses one of her patients as an example of this submersion of needs and desires. The patient's initial anxiety occurred when she wanted something for herself simply because she wanted it— not because it was necessary to her health or education. She felt rage, but suppressed it when people did not do what she wanted them to, or when she wasn't first in competitions. The unexpressed rage resulted for her in a feeling of exhaustion.
Horney cites her own lack of involvement in politics as an example of this. She states that because she was not expected to have her own opinions as a child, she did not grow up considering what opinion she should have. This is actually rather remarkable, considering that her life encompassed World War I, the Weimar Republic, and the rise of Nazism.
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