Background and Accomplishments

Horney's theories on female psychology developed from a series of papers she wrote over a thirteen-year period in response to Freud's views on female sexuality. The last paper was published after Horney emigrated to the United States from Germany at a highly productive point in her career.

One of the first women admitted to medical school in Berlin, she had completed her psychiatric and psychoanalytic training there by 1913. By that time, Freud had passed the peak of his greatest creative years. Horney was thirty years younger than Freud and a product of the twentieth century. Her views were more in tune with the relatively open structure of twentieth century science than with the more closed science of Freud's period. Horney was influenced greatly by sociologists of her time. She and other neo-Freudians, such as Harry Stack Sullivan, Alfred Adler, and Erich Fromm, were the first psychoanalysts to emphasize cultural influences on personality development.

Horney's theories grew out of a need for a feminine psychology different from male psychology. She believed that women were being analyzed and treated according to a male-oriented psychology that considered women to be biologically inferior to men. She did not find these male theories supported by what she observed in her female patients or in her own life experience.

Horney was the first woman doctor to challenge male theory and went on to take a position in the foreground of the psychoanalytic movement. In so doing, she became a role model for women in general and professional women in particular. She was a controversial figure, and her career involved many disputes with the established psychoanalytic world. She and her followers eventually were ostracized by the establishment, and for a time her name disappeared from the psychoanalytic literature. Her biographers attribute this to a fear on the part of some Freudians of being contaminated by association with her ideas.

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