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A book that changed this rational man's life

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posted on Jun, 15 2010 @ 12:46 PM
I want to share with you all a book that has changed my life. I've already mentioned it in a couple replies to other threads. The book is called "Neurosis and Human Growth", written in the 1940s by by Karen Horney. It describes in detail how a neurotic's (a somewhat archaic term encompassing just about all "mild" mental illnesses involving chiefly anxiety) mind works, and reading it caused me to view both myself and others in a completely new light. I think just about anyone can benefit from it, as I think everybody is a little bit neurotic.

In case my first sentence sent up red flags, this book contains absolutely no New Age or spiritualistic mumbo-jumbo. It is in fact a deeply rational exposé on the human mind that Horney wrote in her later years, after decades of delving into the innermost thoughts of her patients. For a logical and critical man like me, this was precisely the book I had been searching for for so long.

I have in casual "teasing" conversations with women sometimes joked about how there seems to be a lack of truly epic genius in the female sex. I was always only half joking, as I actually have some good possible explanations for this phenomenon (based in evolution), but in any case if it's true then Karen Horney is absolutely an exception.

This book should have started a revolution in psychology. It makes me wonder if it would have had she used a male pseudonym.

In order to get the most out of this book, I recommend that the attitude you should take when reading the book is first and foremost introspection. When she talks about "the neurotic", think "me", even if you don't consider yourself to be neurotic. Secondly, read it slowly enough to comprehend it all. Don't let a sentence pass until you've comprehended what she meant. This doesn't mean be uncritical, but just the opposite: valid criticism requires understanding (and she certainly does say a few things I thought were a bit iffy).

Finally, and mods feel free to delete this paragraph if it's against the rules, I read parts of the book while under the influence of a certain popular green herb, and in that state I really got the most out of it. The herb brings you closer to your unconscious, and in that state I could really see in myself what Horney was talking about. This of course requires being somewhat experienced with the stuff, because as anyone who's used it knows, an inexperienced user cannot keep a train of thought going for any length of time.

All in all, a truly breathtaking work by a true genius. I should add that her Wiki page doesn't begin to do her justice. You really need to read her own words. She truly deserves a place with all the intellectual greats of Western civilization, and this post is perhaps my little effort in helping to get her there, in addition to its main purpose of course, which is to share a wonderful book with an open-minded group of people who I think could really benefit from it.

[edit on 15-6-2010 by NewlyAwakened]

posted on Jun, 15 2010 @ 01:24 PM
Bump, only gonna do this once or twice don't worry.


posted on Jun, 15 2010 @ 01:53 PM
Karen Horney eh, wasn't aware of this book of hers... she was always an oddball and I'd say pretty close to being out of her own mind

I'll give it a read though, been looking for a new book.

posted on Jun, 15 2010 @ 02:02 PM
Sounds like a very interesting read, will get the book, don't you think we are all neurotic to a certain degree, some call it compulsive behavior but think there is a fine line.

posted on Jun, 15 2010 @ 03:54 PM

Originally posted by Aquarius1
Sounds like a very interesting read, will get the book, don't you think we are all neurotic to a certain degree, some call it compulsive behavior but think there is a fine line.

For sure, that's why I think probably anyone can get something out of this book. I suppose if someone were truly free of internal compulsions then the book would at best help them to see how the minds of other people work, which could still be quite useful. But I think someone who is neurotic (in whatever ways, such as codependence, OCD tendencies, schizoid avoidance, compulsive drug/alcohol use, rage outbursts at hurt pride, or any of the myriad compulsions that afflict people) stands the most to gain.

Obviously, then, the introspection is important. You really have to be honest with yourself. Some parts can be downright painful to read if they hit home with you, and if you are neurotic enough you'll probably gloss over such specific sections as incomprehensible or "crazy rambling". (The magic herb helps enormously with this.)

[edit on 15-6-2010 by NewlyAwakened]

posted on Jun, 15 2010 @ 04:09 PM
I was so shocked when I saw this thread I started laughing....I guess from shock, because it just seemed so odd to see here on ATS.

This book has been in my personal library for many years, and it is fantastic. My copy is pretty thead-bare now, and I've actually even wondered if it's still in print. lol. I need a copy that's not falling apart....mine has been loaned out a great deal, too. I've always made whoever borrows it SWEAR to return it.

Karen Hornay is truly brilliant, and was such a ground-breaking pioneer in neuroses.
For decades this book was "the" definitive book on neurosis.

We don't use the term "neurotic" much anymore, almost never in a clinical sense, anyway. It's pretty outdated.

But nonetheless, the symptoms still are very much alive and well although we might call them different things.

But for anybody who wants to figure out why you are the way you are?

If you can't do it by studying this book, then you probably can't do it --
at least alone.

I do actually think it's on-line. I believe I've seen it. I'll try to find a link and put it up later if nobody beats me to it.

Right now I have to do RL junk.

posted on Jun, 15 2010 @ 07:24 PM
reply to post by ladyinwaiting

I was wondering if anyone here will have read it! Have you read Our Inner Conflicts or Self-Analysis? Those are the other two I've read; they're great too, but neither were quite the comprehensive nailing down of the mind that this book was. Of course, that might be coming from the perspective of someone who's read those books first. Heh, didn't think of that. Well, hopefully anyone interested grasps this one on the first try. :-) I thought it stood alone anyway or I would have thought to recommend the others.

Actually, something I've discovered in my reading is an understanding of the appeal psychoanalysis had back in its day. Reading the actual words of Horney, Jung, some Fromm, and some Freud paints a vastly different picture of the whole world of psychoanalysis than the characatures of its detractors, which I didn't realize until recently is all I grew up with and had taken as common knowledge.

It's as if at some point before I was born there was an academic battle between psychoanalysis and the "buy a drinking buddy for an hour, except without the alcohol" modern approach to therapy. That's been my personal experience as a patient, anyway.

If that's true, it's easy to see why the latter won. Psychoanalysis didn't promise any easy ways out, and its theories are too complicated to be easily replicated (Some concepts might require identical copies of the same person, personality and all, in order to be tested). As opposed to for example psychiatry, which has its own merits, but: What does "80% of those on the drug marked 'no' for 'Are you sad?' 30 days later" say about what's going on in the mind?.

Psychoanalysis provided a much more comprehensive picture of the workings of the mind, and having now read works of several different psychoanalyst authors, I could see their different ways of looking at the problems and their points of contention with each other (they occasionally refer to each other by name in their books), and I think that's overall given me a solid idea of what the field as a whole is about.

Anyway, my apologies if this was too much ranting. It was cool to see someone else who had read the book.

It would be great if you could find a link to the complete book. I read it at work once on Google Books but not all pages were there.

[edit on 15-6-2010 by NewlyAwakened]

posted on Jun, 15 2010 @ 09:30 PM
Hi again. I'm sorry I haven't posted the link yet...I am reasonably sure there is one. It's storming here and I have AT&T, so I can't keep a connection if the wind blows...sigh.

Psychoanalysis is still around. But insurance won't pay for it, it takes years, and is very expensive. So most practitioners have gone more to brief therapies, and yes, pharmacotherapy.

Not too much ranting at all. I've enjoyed your comments.

For the 20 year olds.....her name is pronounced Hor-NEY. Emphasis on the second syllable. She has been dead a very long time. In fact, the copyright on Neurosis and Human Growth is 1950.

But it matters not. Human Beings have not evolved so much since she studied us, that the book is no longer pertinent. It's immensely pertinent, even today. Perhaps even moreso today. You'll have to read it to see what I mean.

I'm looking at the bio on the back of the book about her, and thought some facts of her life might be interesting:

.....was born in Hamburg, Germany, in 1885 and studied at the University of Berlin, receiving her medical degree in 1913. From 1914 to 1918 she studied psychiatry at Berlin-Lankwitz, Germany and from 1918 to 1932 taught at the Berlin Psychoanalytic Institute. She participated in many international congresses, among them the historic discussion of lay analysis, chaired by Sigmund Freud.

Other tidbits: Came to the US in 1932 and worked in Chicago. Moved to NYC in 1934 and taught at the New York Psychoanalytic Institute until 1941.

In this book, she discusses the neurotic process as a special form of human development, the antithesis of healthy growth. She unfolds the different stages of this situation, describing neurotic claims, the tyranny of inner dictates, and the neurotics solutions for relieving the tensions of conflicts in such emotional attitudes as domination, self-effacement, dependency, or resignation.

....and this:

Throughout, she outlines with penetrating insight the forces that work for and against the person's realization of his potentialities.

Anybody who is interested in reading this, please don't be put off by it's age. It's rare to come across something this intelligent, that is written in a way that is very understandable, and meaningful. If you hit a bump, I would be happy to provide clarification by U2U if I can. I highly recommend it, particularly if you did not have the happiest childhood in the world.
It really, really helps you to sort through some of that....baggage, and some of those events one never forgets, and how you still carry them around without realizing you came to be the way you are.

I think it has sort of been decided that to be neurotic is pretty normal this day and age. Most of us are. This may be one of the reasons the term is archaic. We all kinda are. It's too commonplace to be a disorder, in a way. I know I am, myself, very complicated. Dr. Horney helps to unravel some of the complications, and gives them a REASON.

And actually no, I haven't read any of her other books. This one is her premiere book, for which she is known. (And it IS still in print. I checked. I'm delighted. I can get a new copy.)

My father was a psychologist, and I also have his old copy, but it's in slightly worse condition than my own.

I'm home tomorrow, so I'll still try to find the on-line book.

~my best.

posted on Jun, 16 2010 @ 10:25 AM
Great news found the book at my favorite used book store for $3.95 and almost on my way to pick it up, let you know my thoughts once I have read it, thanks for the heads up.

posted on Jun, 16 2010 @ 12:43 PM
You have intrigued me enough to purchase it as well. I have been on a little "how the human mind works" tear anyway.

"How we decide" and "Stumbling on happiness" were my last two in that vein. Both books center on decision making and how we do it, and what actually works well, but the former is more neuroscience (still a pleasurable read for a layperson) and the other is more psychology.

I recommend one or both of those to anyone interested in why we do what we do.

Now, off to order the one you recommended.

posted on Jun, 16 2010 @ 02:29 PM
reply to post by Illusionsaregrander

Wish you had posted before I went to the bookstore to pick up Neurosis and Human Growth, there were two other books by her, The Neurotic Personality of Our Time and New Ways in Psychoanalysis so I grabed those also.

Will have to check out Stumbling on Happiness and How We Deside.

posted on Jun, 16 2010 @ 02:43 PM
reply to post by NewlyAwakened

Thanks to bringing this into our attention. Google books edition preview says it's written 1951. It may be old, but you know, human psychology hasn't really changed a lot in recent few hundred years.

For those who cannot wait:

Linky - I hope it works.


posted on Jun, 16 2010 @ 04:06 PM
Just bought It used from an antiquarian, thanks for suggesting it to us!

It'll be a good reading for me after I finish Conditioned Reflex Therapy by Andrew Salter.

posted on Jun, 16 2010 @ 06:20 PM

Originally posted by v01i0
reply to post by NewlyAwakened

Google books edition preview says it's written 1951.

Thanks for the heads-up. I am not sure why I thought 40s, but the site won't let me edit the OP anymore.

posted on Jun, 17 2010 @ 12:50 PM
After being absolutely glued to the Google books preview I went ahead and ordered a copy of the book. Looking forward to reading in it's entirety. Thank you for sharing.

posted on Sep, 26 2010 @ 08:07 PM
What are the others psychology/mind/ cool books you reading lately?

Here's my list:

Robert Cialdini - Influence
Eckhart Tolle - A New Earth

posted on Sep, 29 2010 @ 09:43 AM

Originally posted by armchair-juggernaut
What are the others psychology/mind/ cool books you reading lately?

Here's my list:

Robert Cialdini - Influence
Eckhart Tolle - A New Earth


Carl Jung, "The Undiscovered Self" - Great book not just about individual psychology but also what happens to people en masse, how you get regimes like the Nazis and the Soviets, psychologically speaking. I've actually been considering doing a thread on it complete with quotes.

Daniel Dennett, "Consciousness Explained" - Materialistic view attempting to explain consciousness from the assumption of the brain as a deterministic input-output machine. I don't think it succeeds but it's still well put-together and filled with gems and thought experiments, and certainly well worth the time to read.

posted on Sep, 29 2010 @ 10:12 AM
Thanks NewlyAwakened, I will definitely get a copy of this book. IMO, introspection is the key to personal growth. So many of us seem to just ride along with life and the problems that arise within us, almost on automatic pilot. Has modern life become so difficult and tedious that people feel they don't have the time or the energy to do this kind of soul-searching? As far as Jung is concerned, one of your comments about his theories on groups makes me wonder if, in a sense, he was actually the first Sociologist. I love his usage of the term "individuation".

posted on Sep, 29 2010 @ 02:18 PM
Thank you for the referral. Too often these are subjects that can be intimidating to explore.

Here is the Scribd work that is available to be read online. One is the Summary of the Book you are referring to, Neurosis and Human Health.

Scribd Karen Horney

Summary for Neurosis and Human Health

posted on Sep, 29 2010 @ 02:53 PM
reply to post by armchair-juggernaut

Salter's work is great. Now for a little bit of bizarre tobacco substitute...yak dung. Tastes good, like a cigarette should!

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