Sophia saw my last two posts about the beds and thought the idea was pretty dumb. She also thinks it is not going to “kill me” if I wait a few more weeks for her to come back to Los Angeles.
“Besides, we’re separated. Just because you moved back in for now doesn’t mean we’re together again. So, you know what that means. We can sleep in the same bed, but I’m not sure it is a good idea…”
A few minutes ago, Sophia emailed me a photo from New York as a gag, taken with her cameraphone on the street. I think it is supposed to be funny because I tried to make her feel guilty by telling her I was “horny.”
However, I don’t think Sophia knows how accurate she was with this photo. As a graduate of a fancy college, I actually KNOW who Karen Horney is — one of the most famous psychotherapists, known for her theory of neurosis.
Horney’s theory is perhaps the best theory of neurosis we have. First, she offered a different way of viewing neurosis. She saw it as much more continuous with normal life than previous theorists. Specifically, she saw neurosis as an attempt to make life bearable, as a way of “interpersonal control and coping.” This is, of course, what we all strive to do on a day-to-day basis, only most of us seem to be doing alright, while the neurotic seems to be sinking fast.
I haven’t spoke to Sophia yet. Do you think she is saying I am too horny OR that I am too neurotic, aka Horney? Or both?
Here is a list of Horney’s “neurotic needs.” It is scary how many of them I have.
What about you?
The neurotic needs are as follows:
1. The neurotic need for affection and approval, the indiscriminate need to please others and be liked by them.
2. The neurotic need for a partner, for someone who will take over one’s life. This includes the idea that love will solve all of one’s problems. Again, we all would like a partner to share life with, but the neurotic goes a step or two too far.
3. The neurotic need to restrict one’s life to narrow borders, to be undemanding, satisfied with little, to be inconspicuous. Even this has its normal counterpart. Who hasn’t felt the need to simplify life when it gets too stressful, to join a monastic order, disappear into routine, or to return to the womb?
4. The neurotic need for power, for control over others, for a facade of omnipotence. We all seek strength, but the neurotic may be desperate for it. This is dominance for its own sake, often accompanied by a contempt for the weak and a strong belief in one’s own rational powers.
5. The neurotic need to exploit others and get the better of them. In the ordinary person, this might be the need to have an effect, to have impact, to be heard. In the neurotic, it can become manipulation and the belief that people are there to be used. It may also involve a fear of being used, of looking stupid. You may have noticed that the people who love practical jokes more often than not cannot take being the butt of such a joke themselves!
6. The neurotic need for social recognition or prestige. We are social creatures, and sexual ones, and like to be appreciated. But these people are overwhelmingly concerned with appearances and popularity. They fear being ignored, be thought plain, “uncool,” or “out of it.”
7. The neurotic need for personal admiration. We need to be admired for inner qualities as well as outer ones. We need to feel important and valued. But some people are more desperate, and need to remind everyone of their importance — “Nobody recognizes genius,” “I’m the real power behind the scenes, you know,” and so on. Their fear is of being thought nobodies, unimportant and meaningless.
8. The neurotic need for personal achievement. Again, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with achievement — far from it! But some people are obsessed with it. They have to be number one at everything they do. Since this is, of course, quite a difficult task, you will find these people devaluing anything they cannot be number one in! If they are good runners, then the discus and the hammer are “side shows.” If academic abilities are their strength, physical abilities are of no importance, and so on.
9. The neurotic need for self-sufficiency and independence. We should all cultivate some autonomy, but some people feel that they shouldn’t ever need anybody. They tend to refuse help and are often reluctant to commit to a relationship.
10. The neurotic need for perfection and unassailability. To become better and better at life and our special interests is hardly neurotic, but some people are driven to be perfect and scared of being flawed. They can’t be caught making a mistake and need to be in control at all times.