Karen Horney Pioneer of modern psychology


Karen Horney was a feminine psychologist who was best noted for: (1) Theory of neurotic needs (2) Neo-Freudian psychology.  She had a tumultuous younger life in Germany where she dealt with severe depression. This came from an uncaring father who distanced himself whilst providing all the attention to her brother.  Her brother later rejected her and she was plagued with depression for her entire life. Despite these setbacks she made it to medical school in 1906. Honey married a law student Oscar Horney. In 1930 she left her husband and moved to the USA with her three daughters. (Langenderfer, 2013)


Horney made a number of important contributions to the field of psychology; particularly in areas of humanism, feminine psychology and psychoanalysis.  She made important observation on refuting Freud’s theories about women. She particularly highlighted the point that women could act as their own therapists with encouragement for self-analysis and self-help. Horney disagreed with much of Freud’s theories on feminine psychology; including the theory on penis envy, which she considered to be grossly inaccurate and demeaning towards women. Her contributions to psychology really blossomed during her time in the USA.  Here she found a new sense of liberation and surrounded herself with intellectual peers. (Hitchcock, 2009).

Freud was noted as a leading Neurologist and for most of his works conducted at the University of Vienna in Austria.  He was the founder of the Psychoanalytic School of Psychology and for his theories in the unconscious mind and the defense mechanism of repression.  Frauds significant contributions relate to that of how the human mind is organized and theories around human behavioral conditions.  He theorized that individual personality development was formed by those experiences in early childhood. This lead to a number of clinical approaches to the treatment of psychopathology. (Appignanesi, 1979).

The feminst movement really took off from the 1960’s and 1970’s when there became a change of approach and women talked freely and openly about the issues that challenged society. Although the women were dubbed as being feminists thay really were just opening up different channels and modes of inquiry. These women were educated and enlightened individuals who used knowledge to improve feminine representation in areas like sociology and psychology (DeVault.1999).

Women have made tremendous strides forwards in gaining respect in fields like psychology and sociology. As such feminism helped to resolve many issues related to gender inequalities.

Within the field of sociology criticism was made about the depoth of female knowledge and the inability to demonstrate such week was free from bias. This increased the level of scrutiny of female work. There was also a degree of steretyping against women and trying to brand them under a single classification. This was clearly a ludicrous situation but provides an indication of the prejudice against women at this time. Fortunately, we have made great strides forward in thecontribution of women not only in the sciences but many other fields too. Eminent psychologists like Horney helped to galvanise this perspective


There is no doubt that her early family life and abusive father impacted Horney’s later understanding and self-analysis in psychology.  This particular in her identification of the ten neuroses and the development of the theory of neurotic needs.  Horney had a number of published selected works and several biographies on her life and work. (Horney, 1993)


Appignanesi, R. (New York). Freud for beginners. 1979: Pantheon.

DeVault.M.L. (1999). Liberating method: feminism and social research. Temple University, 25-26.

Hitchcock, S. T. (2009). Karen Horney. New York : Infobase Publishing.

Horney, K. (1993). Feminine Psychology. New York: Norton Publishing.

Langenderfer, G. (2013, 3 6). Karen Horney. Retrieved from Psychology History: