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Person of the Month:Karen Horney (1885-1952) PDF Print E-mail
Written by bhavin   
Wednesday, 01 November 2017 22:28

Ankit Patel (Clinical Psychology, Sardar Patel University, Vallabh Vidhyanagar, India)

DIP: 18.01.001/20170501


Karen Horney (nee Danielson) was born near Hamburg, Germany on September 16, 1885. Her father was a religious, authoritarian ship's captain, while her mother was a well-educated, more liberal intellectual who encouraged Danielson in her studies.  Her father was a widower with four teenage children.  Danielson was the second child from his new marriage, the first being a favoured older brother. Unflattering comments by her father relating to both her looks and her intelligence led Danielson to decide, at the age of nine, that if she couldn't be pretty, then she would be smart.  At age nine she also battled depression for the first time and would continue the battle throughout her life. At 13, Danielson decided she wanted to become a doctor - a lofty and perhaps not very realistic goal for a young woman in the late 19th century. Without her parents' support, Danielson nonetheless entered medical school in 1906 as one of the first women to enter a German university. While there, she met economics major and aspiring law student, Oskar Horney, and the two married in 1909. It was not a particularly happy marriage although it did result in three daughters born between 1910 and 1916.  Within the space of one year, Horney gave birth to her first daughter and lost both of her parents.  She sought psychoanalysis to help her cope.  Her analyst was Freud disciple Karl Abraham, who became her mentor at the Berlin Psychoanalytic Society where she became an analyst in private practice in addition to her hospital work.  She helped design and eventually directed the Society's training program, taught students, and conducted psychoanalytic research.  Her roles as woman doctor, wife, and mother inspired her research on female sexual development, writing about the castration complex in women in 1924 and asserting - contrary to Freud - which the true source of penis envy was in the way female children were treated by their parents.

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© 2017 A Patel

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Received: October 01, 2017; Revision Received: October 15, 2017; Accepted: October 25, 2017

How to cite this article:

A Patel (2017), Person of the Month: Karen Horney (1885-1952), International Journal of Indian Psychology, Vol. 5 (1). DIP:18.01.001/20170501, DOI: 10.25215/0501.001


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