Sunday, 12 December 2010

Movement and Coping Strategies (Karen Horney)

From her experiences as a psychiatrist, Horney named ten patterns of neurotic needs. These ten needs are based upon things which she thought all humans require to succeed in life. Horney distorted these needs somewhat to correspond with what she believed were individuals' neuroses. A neurotic person could theoretically exhibit all of these needs, though in practice much fewer than the ten here need to be present for a person to be considered a neurotic. The ten needs, as set out by Horney, (classified according to her so-called coping strategies) are as follows:[

Moving Toward People

1. The need for affection and approval; pleasing others and being liked by them.
2. The need for a partner; one whom they can love and who will solve all problems.

Moving Against People

3. The need for power; the ability to bend wills and achieve control over others—while most persons seek strength, the neurotic may be desperate for it.
4. The need to exploit others; to get the better of them. To become manipulative, fostering the belief that people are there simply to be used.
5. The need for social recognition; prestige and limelight.
6. The need for personal admiration; for both inner and outer qualities—to be valued.
7. The need for personal achievement; though virtually all persons wish to make achievements, as with No. 3, the neurotic may be desperate for achievement.

Moving Away from People

8. The need for self sufficiency and independence; while most desire some autonomy, the neurotic may simply wish to discard other individuals entirely.
9. The need for perfection; while many are driven to perfect their lives in the form of well being, the neurotic may display a fear of being slightly flawed.
10. Lastly, the need to restrict life practices to within narrow borders; to live as inconspicuous a life as possible.

Upon investigating the ten needs further, Horney found she was able to condense them into three broad categories:


Needs one and two were assimilated into the "compliance" category. This category is seen as a process of "moving towards people", or self-effacement. Under Horney's theory children facing difficulties with parents often use this strategy. Fear of helplessness and abandonment occurs—phenomena Horney refers to as "basic anxiety". Those within the compliance category tend to exhibit a need for affection and approval on the part of their peers. They may also seek out a partner, somebody to confide in, fostering the belief that, in turn, all of life's problems would be solved by the new cohort. A lack of demands and a desire for inconspicuousness both occur in these individuals.


Needs three through seven were assimilated into the "aggression" category, also called the "moving against people", or the "expansive" solution. Neurotic children or adults within this category often exhibit anger or basic hostility to those around them. That is, there is a need for power, a need for control and exploitation, and a maintenance of a facade of omnipotence. Manipulative qualities aside, under Horney's assertions the aggressive individual may also wish for social recognition, not necessarily in terms of limelight, but in terms of simply being known (perhaps feared) by subordinates and peers alike. In addition, the individual has needs for a degree of personal admiration by those within this person's social circle and, lastly, for raw personal achievement. These characteristics comprise the "aggressive" neurotic type. Aggressive types also tend to keep people away from them. On the other hand, they only care about their wants and needs. They would do whatever they can to be happy and wouldn't desist from hurting anyone.


Needs eight through ten were assimilated into the "detachment" category, also called the "moving-away-from" or "resigning" solution or a detached personality. As neither aggression nor compliance solve parental indifference, Horney recognized that children might simply try to become self sufficient. The withdrawing neurotic may disregard others in a non-aggressive manner, regarding solitude and independence as the way forth. The stringent needs for perfection comprise another part of this category; those withdrawing may strive for perfection above all else, to the point where being flawed is utterly unacceptable. Everything the "detached" type does must be unassailable and refined. They suppress or deny all feelings towards others, particularly love and hate.

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