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Karen Horney

History and Correlation

With Naranjo

Karen Horney is a german psychoanalyst who was important for her work in neo-Freudianism and object-relations currents in Psychology, whose deviation from original Psychoanalysis was incurred by a fundamental disagreement with the way Freud characterized women in his theories. As an object-relations theorist she had a great influence on the modern Enneagram of Personality; much of her assertions about the origin and nature of neurosis are echoed throughout the works of Naranjo, Maitri, Riso, and so on, and her own development of a typology already provides a clearer basis for categorizing the nine enneatypes.

In her deviations from Freud she has done what many object-relationists would also come to do, forsake the entire concept of libido and instinctual drives as a primary source of conflict, and evolve the idea that neurosis is very much based on culture and human relationships.

My own starting point was a different one. Freud's postulations in regard to feminine psychology set me thinking about the role of cultural factors. Their influence on our ideas of what constitutes masculinity or femininity was obvious, and it became just as obvious to me that Freud had arrived at certain erroneous conclusions because he failed to take them into account. My interest in this subject grew over the course of fifteen years. It was furthered in part by association with Erich Fromm who, through his profound knowledge of both sociology and psychoanalysis, made me more aware of the significance of social factors over and above their circumscribed application to feminine psychology. And my impressions were confirmed when I came to the United States in 1932. I saw then that the attitudes and the neuroses of persons in this country differed in many ways from those I had observed in European countries, and that only the difference in civilizations could account for this. My conclusions finally found their expression in The Neurotic Personality of Our Time. The main contention here was that neuroses are brought about by cultural factors—which more specifically meant that neuroses are generated by disturbances in human relationships.

Our Inner Conflicts

This coincides with Naranjo's own conception of the Enneagram, as he writes "We are all moved by love. Each form of disturbed personality is an alteration in the way we act to find love. One acts too cute or too good at school, another is too perfect in his morality, and so on" (27 Personalities in Search of Being). Each of these things, which are simplified references to specific types, are all solutions to the dynamic equation of human relations, just as Horney proposes that her neurotic types are all engaged in an effort towards solving their anxiety.

Compulsive drives are specifically neurotic; they are born of feelings of isolation, helplessness, fear and hostility, and represent ways of coping with the world despite these feelings; they aim primarily not at satisfaction but at safety; their compulsive character is due to the anxiety lurking behind them.

Then I began to recognize the amazing amount of energy and intelligence that was invested in more or less desperate efforts to "solve" the conflicts or, more precisely, to deny their existence and create an artificial harmony.

Our Inner Conflicts

This introduces the concept of a "solution" to each of the neurotic trends, where the neurotic in question builds a mental structure of solutions to problems in relationships that arose during their childhood. These solutions are consciously satisfactory to the neurotic individual because they convey an idea of safety, and although in some people it may appear as though these solutions are a path to happiness and self-fulfillment, it really is an avoidance of pain. In this avoidance, the pain, the conflict, never gets solved, and it self-perpetuates. Such is the idea conveyed in the Enneagram. It begins with unconsciousness, and then the development of an ego occurs and conscious material is brought forth, becoming a neurotic solution (fixation) to the unconscious conflict (passion) which is being pushed further into psychic obscurity and self-perpetuates until an objective view of the conflict is regarded. 

This can also be explained as the backwards law, "The more you pursue feeling better all the time, the less satisfied you become, as pursuing something only reinforces the fact that you lack it in the first place" (Alan Watts). It is not a constructive solution towards happiness, it is only a solution that avoids pain.

It is important to note, however, that Enneagram is not entirely based on the object-relationist approach to Psychoanalysis, rather, it gathers various theories of the origin of neurosis and works them together as a more complete model. 

The theory proposed here acknowledges three basic instincts and goals behind the multiplicity of human motivation (purely spiritual motivation excluded): survival, pleasure, and relationship. I think that though some today (such as Gestaltists) may prefer to employ cybernetic language and say that neurosis implies a perturbation of organismic self-regulation, few would question the great importance of sex, preservation, and the relationship drive and their joint centrality as pervasive goals of behavior. Though Marx's interpretation of human life emphasized the first, Freud's the second, and present day Object-Relations theorists the third, I do not think that anybody has embraced a view that explicitly integrates these three fundamental drives.

Character and Neurosis, Claudio Naranjo

Naranjo summarizes the development of the Hornevian types as such:

In “Neurosis and Maturity”, Karen Horney explains that every child develops a basic anxiety that leads them to experience the world as threatening and unreliable. This feeling prevents him from relating to others with the spontaneity of his real feelings and forces him to develop defensive strategies, which he divides into two types: interpersonal and intrapsychic. A new typology appears based on how people deal with their basic anxiety:

 Obedient or self-nullifying solution, which leads them to approach others.
 Aggressive or expansive solution, which leads them to move against them.
 Detached or resigned solution, which leads them to move away from human contact.

La Pereza Psicoespiritual

One more detail that is more explicitly echoed in modern Enneagram -  and in particular, Naranjo's work -  is the emphasis of a "character neurosis." Naranjo explicates in Character and Neurosis, "While the sum total of such pseudo-adaptive learning as I have described is commonly designated in the spiritual traditions as 'ego' or 'personality' (as distinct from the person's 'essence' or soul), I think it is most appropriate to give it also the name of 'character.' [...] A derivative from the Greek charaxo, meaning to engrave, 'character' makes reference to what is constant in a person, because it has been engraved upon one, and thus to behavioral, emotional and cognitive conditionings."

In modern terms, every neurosis, no matter what the symptomatic picture, is a character neurosis.

Our Inner Conflicts, Horney

With Ichazo

Ideational Progression

Horney: man is distinguished from the animal kingdom for their dominance of consciousness -> This consciousness is comprised of the capacity to make decisions and weigh them with reason -> conflict between desires and decisions is defined by society.

Ichazo: man is distinguished from the animal kingdom for their dominance of reason -> reason is the condition for decision, holding both the reason-value and decision-value -> every ego-point on the symbol is within each person, but each person orbits one as a “home base,” therefore society is comprised of different conflicting types.

”There is no doubt that choices like these have to be made very often by people living in our civilization, and one would therefore expect conflicts along these lines to be quite common. But the striking fact is that most people are not aware of them, and consequently do not resolve them by any clear decision. More often than not they drift and let themselves be swayed by accident. They do not know where they stand; they make compromises without being aware of doing so; they are involved in contradictions without knowing it. I am referring here to normal persons, meaning neither average nor ideal but merely non-neurotic.”


“Even if we recognize a conflict as such, we must be willing and able to renounce one of the two contradictory issues. But the capacity for clear and conscious renunciation is rare, because our feelings and beliefs are muddled, and perhaps because in the last analysis most people are not secure and happy enough to renounce anything.”

Our Inner Conflicts

Similarly, this is the entire idea behind the ego of the Enneagram who is unconscious of their “essence” or deep repressed and unresolved contradictions. So when we fail to renounce anything we are not acknowledging what choices we are limited to, and live fairly passively to true conflicts that need to be resolved. This is the basis of Ichazo’s Enneagram, as he explicates "When we know our limitations, we can begin an impartial study of ourselves. If the limits are unknown, we cannot start any study at all. Seeing our life as a journey, we can view it in the form of a circle. We move along the radius to the circumference; when the farthest limit is touched, the return to the center is inevitable.”

Karen Horney's three neurotic types are originally referred to as "neurotic trends" and they constitute a generalized solution to basic inner conflicts that arise from a disturbance in social relations and an imbalance of all of the neurotic trends, fitting in nicely with the Enneagram's pre-established use of the Law of Three. Simply to reiterate, the neurotic trends are moving-againstmoving-away, and moving-towards.






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