Definition: The contention by Freud that gender is the primary determinant of main personality traits; opposed within the school of psychoanalysis by Karen Horney. Background: Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) claimed that anatomy is destiny, that is, one's gender determines one's main personality traits. Karen Horney (1885-1952), while considering herself a disciple of Freud, disagreed. Beginning in 1923, she began publishing papers arguing for culture over biology as the primary determinant of personality. Thus, if a woman feels inferior to a man, it is not due to some universal process such as penis envy. Rather, she wrote, "[t]he wish to be a man...may be the expression of a wish for all those qualities or privileges which in our culture are regarded as masculine, such as strength, courage, independence, success, sexual freedom, right to choose a partner" (1939, p. 108). For Horney, the reason psychoanalysis appears to understand men better than women is that the field, from the beginning, has been dominated almost exclusively by male thinking and thus has evolved into a masculine enterprise. Further Reading:
Boeree, C. G. (1997). Karen Horney [On-line] Available: http://www.ship.edu/~cgboeree/horney.html
Horney, K. (1967). Feminine psychology. New York: Norton. (Original work published 1923-1937).
Horney, K. (1939). New ways in psychoanalysis. New York: Norton.
Women's Page. (????). Karen Horney [On-line] Available: http://www.webster.edu/~woolflm/horney.html
Related Terms: Freud, Sigmund (1856 - 1939)
Horney, Karen (1885 - 1952)
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