Karen Horney's Personality Theory

Karen Horney strongly believes that neurosis is caused by anxiety, which is caused by human interpersonal relationships. Erie has proposed that the strategies used for coping with anxieties can be beneficial and can cause the appearance of requirements. Based upon the analysis of Horney, it is that basic anxiety and hence neurosis can be the result of a variety of factors that comprise direct and indirect domination, highly erratic behaviour, indifference, chances of disrespect from the individual requirements of the child, the lack of guidance, highly disparaging attitudes, and admiration of some reliable need and warmth.

Neurotic Needs in Shaping Personalities

Based upon the description of Karen Horney, there are three types of personality: aggressive, compliant, and detached. Different neurotic requirements can be classified into different categories. The various types of neurotic requirements help individuals seek acceptance and affirmation from other people. They are also described as clingy or needy as they seek love and approval. The neurotic need that makes people move away from one another requires hostility and perceives antisocial behaviour. This individual is often indifferent, cold, and detached from everything. The neurotic requirement that makes people move against one another results in hostility and instigates people towards controlling others.

The neurotic conditions come into existence due to a person's compulsive and intensive pursuit that results from their satisfaction. It is the only way to go out of anxiety. The fulfilment of specific requirements will make people feel secure and safe and will aid in the desire to escape discomfort caused by high anxiety. Gratification is pursued by any condition and is used only for coping with anxiety.

People need to focus on any requirement that will compulsively work towards meeting the satisfaction of all situations. Aggressive and rational personalities will have their satisfaction while finding superiority affirmed by others and receiving excellent recognition. Some detachable personalities derive pleasure from being self-sufficient, which aids in gaining emotional distance from those around them.

People with a compliant nature and character seek satisfaction from the approval and affection they receive from the people around them. People with compliant personalities always tend toward achieving their goals by manipulating others, presenting their situation in need, or being helpless. They always work towards hiding their desire for exploitation and control.

Theories Related to Neurotic Needs

The theories of Karen Horney, in contrast with Freud, powerfully describe how the instinctual motivation of a person leads to psychological characteristics and behaviour, especially in neurosis, which helps shape their personality. She has recognized the demand of culture towards understanding a person's personality and defining the aspects that are normal and against their norms. Karen believed that the requirement for affection and power are the two driving forces that are representative of a person's personality.

Those ten neurotic requirements of a person that could affect their personality comprise the requirements for affection, recognition, personal achievement, perfection, independence, partner, admiration, and so on. A person's possible and real self is made with the help of some intrinsic potential that will help them flourish in life depending upon the circumstances of their life. A person's behaviour shows their characteristics or personality, and it reflects how they behave with other people and in different environments. All this starts from the very childhood of the individual.

People require a comfort zone that will provide them with the freedom to express feelings and build healthy relationships to be their true selves. Despite the realization of themselves, people who are neurotic always search for glory. quote, the fulfilment of their idealized self. The idealized or actual self exists during the moment, which comprises a person's weaknesses, strengths, achievements, and failures. People who are moving towards the development of some compliant behaviour and personalities with the idealization of self are people who are valued and loved.

There are some situations when a person tends to show aggressive behaviour, making them feel unloved and unappreciated by others. Freedom from any constant does not mean being proven right about the actual image of a person. People with aggressive personalities are perfectionists, narcissists, or vindictive arrogant. A child who is growing up being admired and pampered by adults grows up into an arrogant human being.

The personalities of perfectionists set a high standard for themselves and expect the world to treat them based on their set boundaries. If they fail to achieve any goal, it translates into the arrogance of attaining perfection. Specific research has suggested that people are most prone to showing negative behaviour or emotions. It leads to a greater chance of showing feelings of anger, depression, self-consciousness, and irritability. It is also associated with health issues like low immunity power, increasing worries, problems related to work, and a depleting quality of life.

A practice of mindfulness is a practice that will make people more aware of their feelings towards a person. People with a personality of general pride can exploit other people by manipulating them. People with a character that depicts helplessness, limitation, and uncontrollable situations are considered to have vulnerable personalities.


It can be concluded that the personality of human beings, according to Karen Horney, depends on several factors. The upbringing of a child in a particular society and the intrinsic factors present in it also shape their responsibility. People sometimes tend to shift towards patterns that can undermine their relationships with others.


Simply Easy Learning