Psychology for Lawyers

James R. Elkins

finding ourselves divided against ourselves



"Neurosis is a 'psychic disturbance brought by fears and defenses against these fears, and by attempts to find compromise solutions for conflicting tendencies' This describes an individual having trouble with coping and handling certain psychosocial environmental stressors resulting in problems within their selves."

--Karen Horney (1885-1952), bio compiled by Gretchen Langenderfer <website no longer available> (citing Karen Horney, The Neurotic Personality of Our Time at pp. 28-29)

"Freud has been variously quoted as saying that psychoanalysis could treat hysterical or neurotic misery, but that it could not treat ordinary human unhappiness. The most a patient of psychoanalytic therapy could hope for was deliverance from the neurotic misery; psychoanalysis, in the words of a famous novel, does not promise you a rose garden."

--Grand Strategy, a blog by J.N. Neilsen

"Chaturvedi (2000) says that over the last two centuries, the term neurosis has evolved to be used
in at least four different but related ways:

i) as a global term to indicate all non-psychotic conditions,
ii) as a term to indicate specific neurotic disorders like anxiety, depression, etc,
iii) as a term to describe assumed underlying defence mechanisms,
iv) as a maladaptive pattern of behavior (with some evidence of anxiety) following a stressful life situation, which tends to avoid responsibility and the stressful situation itself (Freeman, 1993, Chaturvedi, 1992).

Today, psychiatric classificatory systems have abandoned the category of neurosis as an
organizing principle. Neurosis was used in DSM-II but was replaced in DSM-III by anxiety
disorders, somatoform disorders and dissociation disorders.

* * * *

Current lay usage: (Example) Encyclopaedia Britannica. Neuroses are characterized by anxiety,
depression, or other feelings of unhappiness or distress that are out of proportion to the
circumstances of a person’s life. They may impair a person’s functioning, but they are not incapacitating."

A Brief Note on the Terms Neurosis and Psychoneurosis
Bill Tillier, Calgary, Alberta [citing the work of S.K. Chaturvedi, & C.P.L. Freeman, "Neurotic Disorders," in R. E. Kendell & A. K. Zealley (eds.), Companion to Psychiatric Studies 485-524 (Edinburgh: Churchill Livingston, 5th ed. (1993)]

On Neurosis

[extracted from Craig Chalquist's Karen Horney Glossary]

"Neurosis: a form of psychological suffering involving unconscious inner conflicts around basic anxiety and partially determined by cultural factors. All neuroses include anxiety, the defenses against it, numerous fears, a dissipation of energy, pretense, and impairment in vitality, spontaneity, freedom, enjoyment, and achievement. "The neurotic personality of our time" refers to the similarities in neuroses in a given culture; in ours, they include an excessive dependence on affection or approval, feelings of inferiority or inadequacy, inhibited self-assertion, hostility, inhibited or compulsive sexual activity, and competitiveness. Origin: lack of warmth and affection in childhood (children who feel wanted can healthily endure trauma and frustration) kept alive and urgent by present-day defenses.

The essence of a neurosis is the neurotic character structure whose focal points are neurotic trends organized around the central inner conflict between neurotic and healthy dynamics. These in turn constitute three early relationship-management strategies: moving toward people (emphasizes the helplessness aspect of basic anxiety ), against people (hostility), or away from people (isolation). The first tend to be dependent personalities, the second narcissistic, and the third schizoid. These attempts at solution gradually harden into personality traits and pervade the entire character structure.The healthy counterpart is growing with people .

Three later, more internal solutions to conflict correspond with the three earlier ones and provide a rough diagnostic typology: the self-effacing solution , in which love is sought via "morbid dependency"; the expansive solution , in which one identifies with the glorified self (includes narcissistic, perfectionistic, and arrogant-vindictive types); and the resignation solution , in which one withdraws, becomes an onlooker, and resists closeness (subgroups include persistent resignation, rebellion, and shallow living).

Unless treated, neuroses tend to worsen over time because 1. whatever is repressed tends to call forth reinforcing reactions from the environment, and 2. defenses create vicious circles that increase the underlying anxiety."

--Craig Chalquist, A Karen Horney Glossary

Reference: Readings|Web Resources

Psychoanalysis, Neurosis and Self after Freud
[Ken Sanes, Transparency Now]

Neurosis: A Freudian Perspective

Neurosis: A Jungian Perspective

[Daryl Sharp's Jung Lexicon]

Jung's Theory of Neurosis


Karen Horney

Reference: Videos

Performing Therapy On Yourself: Self-Knowledge and Self-Realization
[8:19 mins.] [Academy of Ideas] [the ideas of Karen Horney; "unconscious neurotic trends"; self-analysis]

The History of Psychology: Freud, Jung, Psychoanalysis
[34:33 mins.] [the brief commentary on neurosis ("pursuing something you don't really want") begins at 23:04 mins. and ends at 24:27 mins.] [references: Darwin & evolutionary psychology--4:41 mins. to 9:16 mins.; Freud on ego, superego, and id.--24:39 mins. to 26:12 mins.; C.G. Jung--27:32 mins.; Jung's psychological types--29:27 mins. to 30:43 mins.]

The "Mature" Personality Theory of Karen Horney
[3:59 mins.]

Neurosis and Human Growth: The Struggle toward Self-Realization
[3:23 mins.] [audio; reading from Karen Horney's book]

Freud, Adler, Jung, Horney and Klein
[33:19 mins.] [commentary on Horney begins at 25:02 mins.]

Neurosis and Psychosis
[3:43 mins.] [audio] [definitional/informational]

Neurosis vs. Character Disturbance: Anxiety
[8:18 mins.] [George Simon, author of Character Disturbance: The Phenomenon of Our Age (Parkhurst Brothers Publ., 2011)]

Games People Play
[28:00 mins.] [Jordan Peterson]

Contact Professor Elkins