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A Mind of Her Own: The Life of Karen Horney

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Here is a biography of Karen Horney, a bold, complex, independent woman who became one of the preeminent figures in psychoanalysis. A vivid and convincing portrait of a woman whose struggles and passions speak to us today with astonishing immediacy. Black-and-white photographs.


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Here is a biography of Karen Horney, a bold, complex, independent woman who became one of the preeminent figures in psychoanalysis. A vivid and convincing portrait of a woman whose struggles and passions speak to us today with astonishing immediacy. Black-and-white photographs.

30 review for A Mind of Her Own: The Life of Karen Horney

  1. 5 out of 5

    Clif

    You've likely heard of Occam's Razor - the idea that when there are multiple explanations for something, the simplicity of an explanation is a reason to prefer it. At one point in the history of astronomy the accepted explanation for the motion of the planets across the night sky was a complex system of "deferents and epicycles" that not only accounted for the motion but allowed the earth to remain as the center of the solar system. Later came the far simpler system of the sun as the center of a You've likely heard of Occam's Razor - the idea that when there are multiple explanations for something, the simplicity of an explanation is a reason to prefer it. At one point in the history of astronomy the accepted explanation for the motion of the planets across the night sky was a complex system of "deferents and epicycles" that not only accounted for the motion but allowed the earth to remain as the center of the solar system. Later came the far simpler system of the sun as the center of a system of planets orbiting around it. Of course we know now that the epicycle theory was false because we've been able to verify the actual paths that the planets take. The epicycle theory was a construct of the human mind that only appeared to explain things. In psychiatry, I would equate Freud's theory to the epicycle theory. Freud produced a huge volume of work that appeared to explain the operation of the mind based on his ideas about its immature state and a construction of ideas (id, ego, superego) that determined one's mental processes as an adult. Freud offered what seemed like a solid handle on our innermost conflicts, fears and our relationships to others. It was a comprehensive system that supplied a framework for therapy and for the lack of any competing system, took off like wildfire in Western cultures that were awash in anxieties created by the loosening of the religious grip by science. And like the church, Freud's ideas drew the faithful and from the faithful came those determined to defend the theory above all. Karen Horney was one of the early supporters who had doubts and over time became more bold in asserting them, supporting only the parts of Freudian theory that she thought were supported by her own practice of therapy. These days, Freud's ideas have been absorbed into mainstream thought. Who hasn't heard of the ego and who doesn't believe it provides a good way to look at how people behave? But who takes penis envy seriously? Horney was concerned with the present rather than the early childhood of patients. She defied the Freudian therapeutic practice of remaining aloof and removed from the patient, preferring to relate to them in a personal way. This book is a study in orthodoxy and rebellion. The account of the psychiatric societies that were formed in the United States is a perfect example of how people band together with enthusiasm only to be riven with discord ending in expulsions or rebellion, and at bottom are the egos of those involved. Does it really matter what the system of belief may be? It is drive for success by individuals that comes through. Who better than psychiatrists to be armed with the knowledge of the mind so as to see what is going on and take measures against it? Read this book and you will see that they are no better equipped than any other group of people to control themselves and, in fact, can use Freud as a stick to beat their own colleagues. Horney's was one of the first women to break the barrier of sex. She never looked back and to the end was driving forward with an insatiable curiosity. A heavy smoker, she succumbed to cancer, but was fortunate to be up and about and ignorant of her illness until just a few months before her death. Quinn doesn't dive deeply into psychiatry, so don't expect to learn a great deal about psychoanalysis here. The most interesting part of the book comes when Horney is exposed to Zen and decides to take a trip to Japan to visit Buddhist shrines in the company of an expert on them. Who wouldn't delight in this opportunity? The attempt by Horney to reconcile Zen with psychiatry are most interesting. While one would expect WWII and the Nazi reign to play a big role in Horney's life, they have remarkably little direct impact. She does move to the US but well before Hitler's apogee and not because of him. She gains from getting established before a flood of refugee analyists arrive from Europe to compete. The devastating Weimar period leaves her relatively unscathed, protected by the wealth of her husband in a bucolic retreat far from the strife. Time and again she bounces up when adversity knocks. This is no epic but the account of someone who never hesitated to grasp opportunity, and succeeded in both Germany and the United States as a result.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Xenia Frahm

    A well written and interesting bio with a good introduction to the works of B Horney and the context of the era

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kiera

    I rarely enjoy biographies, but this one is so well-written that I couldn’t put it down. I agree with another reviewer who said it is probably most interesting to readers who have backgrounds and interest in psychoanalysis, but the author does an excellent job of explaining concepts and context so that you wouldn’t need to know anything before reading the book. Karen Horney herself is a very compelling person who you can see as human and flawed, but continue to root for throughout the story of h I rarely enjoy biographies, but this one is so well-written that I couldn’t put it down. I agree with another reviewer who said it is probably most interesting to readers who have backgrounds and interest in psychoanalysis, but the author does an excellent job of explaining concepts and context so that you wouldn’t need to know anything before reading the book. Karen Horney herself is a very compelling person who you can see as human and flawed, but continue to root for throughout the story of her life. I save 5 star ratings for books that really change my life or way of thinking, and this one earned that rating.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Julia

    3 stars means I enjoyed reading it but I wouldn't recommend it unless you're interested in psychoanalysis. If you are then you should know some things about Karen Horney, and this is a good book to learn it from :) 3 stars means I enjoyed reading it but I wouldn't recommend it unless you're interested in psychoanalysis. If you are then you should know some things about Karen Horney, and this is a good book to learn it from :)

  5. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    A Mind of Her Own: The Life of Karen Horney (Hardcover) by Susan Quinn

  6. 4 out of 5

    El Cummings

  7. 5 out of 5

    Alba Lucart

  8. 4 out of 5

    xtina ferguson

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ana Paula

  10. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie A. DenDooven

  11. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte

    I read this book back in February of 1988, long before I had heard of Goodreads. I read it because I remembered the author from our high school days in my hometown. I have also been fascinated by psychology since my high school days so I was interested in the topic of this book. To be honest, I can't say now that at the time I read it I wouldn't have given it 5 stars. Going through some old letters today I found a note that I had finished the book at 1:00am on the morning of February 8, 1988. I I read this book back in February of 1988, long before I had heard of Goodreads. I read it because I remembered the author from our high school days in my hometown. I have also been fascinated by psychology since my high school days so I was interested in the topic of this book. To be honest, I can't say now that at the time I read it I wouldn't have given it 5 stars. Going through some old letters today I found a note that I had finished the book at 1:00am on the morning of February 8, 1988. I must have liked the book quite a bit to stay up till 1:00 reading it on a day I had to go to work. Perhaps I will read it again.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mary L. Kohnstamm

  13. 5 out of 5

    Claudia

  14. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Murray

  15. 5 out of 5

    Amber M. McCarter

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jim Brown

  17. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Blair

  18. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

  19. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Roum

  21. 5 out of 5

    Leonard

  22. 5 out of 5

    Monique

  23. 5 out of 5

    Vita Wells

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lisa V. Munoz

  25. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Cotterill

  26. 4 out of 5

    Hazel

  27. 4 out of 5

    Luk Asz

  28. 4 out of 5

    Colleen Newell

  29. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sue

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