This book has been sitting on my shelf for years. I read part of it for a course on Horney, Freud and Jung and knew that someday I wanted to read the entire volume. I picked it up because I recently watched a fascinating documentary, The Century of the Self, which describes the influence of Freudian psychology in creating our consumer society. The documentary reminded me of the class I had taken and reawakened my interest in Horney who was one of Freud’s early followers and eventually a critic of many of his views. The Karen Horney Clinic was founded in the 50’s in New York City and is still operating today.
Horney was one of the first women to study medicine in Germany. She did her medical, psychiatric, and psychoanalytic training in Berlin in the early 1900’s. She died in 1952. She lived through both World Wars so the context of her remarkable life makes this a great read. She took on Freud in the areas of gender and the importance of society and culture as factors in normal and pathological development. In her later years, she became interested in Eastern religion and was trying to make connections between Buddhism and her own psychoanalytic theory when she died.
While Horney was not Jewish and came to the U.S. by way of invitation from the American psychoanalytic community, she came into contact with some of the great thinkers of her day who fled to New York City in fear for their lives; she was part of a rich intellectual community of friends and fellow professionals. She was very independent and took on her orthodox Freudian colleagues which impacted the course of her career.
Horney is a women well-worth knowing. Reading Quinn’s excellent biography is like reading a well-written novel. The reader gains insight into Horney’s personal life and learns how her life experiences shaped her intellectual life. It is an informative read for anyone interested in the history of psychoanalytic theory, feminism, and a glimpse of German and U.S. history from the turn of the century to the early 1950’s.