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Book Reviews   |    
The Unknown Karen Horney: Essays on Gender, Culture, and Psychoanalysis
Reviewed by Nancy Glimm, C.S.W.
Psychiatric Services 2002; doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.53.5.635-a
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by Karen Horney; edited by Bernard J. Paris; New Haven, Connecticut, Yale University Press, 2000, 384 pages, $40

This volume is a collection of previously unpublished or uncollected essays by the esteemed psychoanalyst Karen Horney. Its editor, Bernard J. Paris, is a scholar of Horney's work and author of the biography Karen Horney: A Psychoanalyst's Search for Self-Understanding (1). He also compiled and edited The Therapeutic Process (2), a collection of clinically focused essays.

The Unknown Karen Horney is organized into two parts. The first contains unpublished essays written between 1927 and 1946 on feminine psychology and the nature of male-female relations. The second part is made up of papers written between 1930 and 1952 on psychoanalytic theory, some unpublished and some never collected and organized together. Paris provides substantive introductory essays for each section.

The 11 essays and lectures in part 1 address a wide range of issues, as the following sampling of titles suggests: "The Masculinity Complex in Women," "On the Psychological Determinants of the Choice of a Marriage Partner," "Behavioral Patterns of Repressed Homosexual Women," "Psychogenic Factors in Menstrual Disorders," and "Enslavement in Marriage." These writings provide an enormously rich look into Horney's thinking. Her openness and willingness to tolerate and incorporate new ideas are in full view. Her humanity comes through clearly as she engages the complexity of the human condition with a steadfast fairness. We can sense the deep and abiding respect Horney has for the struggles of her patients as we witness how her clinical work informs her theory.

These essays also provide an opportunity to examine, from the perspective of what we know today, some inaccuracies in Horney's theory building. The limitations of the biological science and neuroscience of her time affected some of her theories, as the essay on menstrual disorders illustrates.

The limitations of the era's scientific knowledge also afforded Horney a certain amount of freedom for creative thinking. Her ideas would lead to developments in clinical theory building, research on and understanding of human suffering, interpersonal theory in psychoanalysis, family therapy theory, couples therapy, and the impact of culture on psychopathology. Her openness to her own experience as a woman, mother, wife, divorcée, immigrant, analysand, psychoanalyst, clinician, teacher, writer, and advocate of mental hygiene all contribute to these writings, directly and indirectly. Horney's humanness makes this material all the more fascinating, even if some of the theory and science are outdated.

The second part, which is more varied in content than the first, begins with a helpful introduction by Paris. The range and scope of these essays are illustrated in this sampling of titles: "Culture and Aggression: Some Thoughts and Doubts About Freud's Theory of Instinctual Drives Toward Death and Destruction," "Children and War," "The Value of Vindictiveness," "On Feeling Abused," and "The Paucity of Inner Experience." This section contains several lectures Horney gave at the New School for Social Research as well as a number of brief items.

In these essays Horney reviews her ideas about culture and aggression and distances herself from Freudian orthodoxy—a stance that would lead to her ousting from the New York Psychoanalytic Society. She and a group of colleagues then courageously—and successfully—formed the Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis. The new paradigm she embraced was open to the role of culture in the formation of neurotic defenses and conflicts.

This intellectually rich book will appeal to a broad readership. Anyone interested in the corpus of Horney's work will find this volume an important addition. Historians of psychoanalytic theory will find the essays in this collection of great value. Bernard Paris has done more than simply give us a collection of previously unpublished work. He ensured that the essays received outstanding translations, and the result is exceptional clarity and accessibility. The material is presented in an organized and thoughtful manner. Paris' informative essays demonstrate a long and devoted interest in his subject. The reader is thus given the opportunity to roam deeply and intensely with Dr. Horney, guided by skillful scholarship and editing; it is a rewarding experience. Paris could not have done a more masterly job of presenting Horney's previously unknown work.

Ms. Glimm works on the child and adolescent team at the Bronx HIP Mental Health Center.

Horney K: Karen Horney: A Psychoanalyst's Search for Self-Understanding. Edited by Paris BJ. New Haven, Conn, Yale University Press, 1994
Horney K: The Therapeutic Process: Essays and Lectures. Edited by Paris BJ. New Haven, Conn, Yale University Press, 1999


Horney K: Karen Horney: A Psychoanalyst's Search for Self-Understanding. Edited by Paris BJ. New Haven, Conn, Yale University Press, 1994
Horney K: The Therapeutic Process: Essays and Lectures. Edited by Paris BJ. New Haven, Conn, Yale University Press, 1999

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