In her practice of psychoanalysis, Horney used free association and dream analysis to bring unconscious material to light. In contrast to Freud's more passive involvement with patients, she believed that the psychoanalyst should play an active role not only in interpreting behavior but also in inquiring about current behaviors that maintain unproductive patterns, suggesting alternatives, and helping persons mobilize energy to change.
Horney also made psychoanalysis more accessible to the general population. She suggested that by examining oneself according to the principles outlined in her book Self-Analysis (1942), one could increase self-understanding and gain freedom from internal issues that limit one's potential. Her suggestions indicate that a person should choose a problem that one could clearly identify, engage in informal free association about the issue, reflect upon and tentatively interpret the experience, and make specific, simple choices about altering problematic behavior patterns. Complex, long-standing issues, however, should be dealt with in formal psychoanalysis.
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