Karen Horney


Biography of Karen Horney

Karen Horney born Danielsen (16 September 1885 – 4 December 1952) was a German psychoanalyst. Her theories questioned some traditional Freudian views, particularly her theory of sexuality, as well as the instinct orientation of psychoanalysis and its genetic psychology. As such, she is often classified as Neo-Freudian.

Horney was born Karen Danielsen on 16 September 1885 in Blankenese, Germany, near Hamburg. Her father, Berndt Wackels Danielsen (1836–1910), was a ship's captain, a traditional devout with a patriarchal thinking (his children nicknamed him "the Bible-thrower"). Her mother, Clotilde, née van Ronzelen (1853–1911), known as "Sonni", was very different, being much more open-minded than Berndt. Horney's elder brother was also named Berndt, and Karen cared for him deeply. She also had four elder half-siblings from her father's previous marriage.

According to Horney's adolescent diaries her father was "a cruel disciplinary figure" holding his son Berndt in higher regard than herself. Instead of being offended or feeling indignation over Karen's perceptions of him, her father brought her gifts from far-away countries. Despite this, Karen always felt deprived of her father's affection and instead becoming attached to her mother.

From roughly the age of nine Karen changed her perspective on life, becoming ambitious and somewhat rebellious. She felt that she could not become pretty and instead decided to vest her energies into her intellectual qualities—despite the fact she was seen by most as pretty. At this time she developed a crush on her older brother, who became embarrassed by her attentions—soon pushing her away. She suffered her first of several bouts of depression—an issue that would plague her for the rest of her life.

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