the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

I’m Not Horney!

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?

Karen Horney

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.


  1. Roberta

    I actually do not have that many of them… and I was convinced I was going to tank. But some of it is that I am historically an underacheiver.

    However, Horney could add one more to her list. Something about, being someone who is so attached to her laptop that she is the first one to comment on CotM. Twice in a row.

  2. Viscountess of Funk

    Six out of ten. You?

  3. Neil

    I’m seven of them… except 4,5, and 9. I’m too easy-going to strive for POWER (I wish I wasn’t, though).  My neurotic need number 10 is always pulling me down!

  4. kristen

    I know where that Horney institute is which must mean I’m neurotic…..don’t you just love me now? No really don’t you?

  5. elle

    No you’re not horney… not a bit.

  6. Dagny

    Crap. Guess I still need some therapy. 7 out of 10. Although I did notice one that has dropped off the list so maybe I am getting better. Oh, and 4, 5, and 9 are the important ones. I’m never giving those up. I need them if I am ever going to achieve global domination.

  7. Dustin

    Don’t worry about #10, it missed you by a mile.

  8. Nancy


    Only you would know this person.


  9. danielle

    Horny, horney, and horneeeeeey. 6 for me.

  10. othurme

    All the Horney people in the house say YEAH!

  11. Pearl

    Subliminal suggestion perhaps by Sophia?

  12. Alexandra

    I’m so psyched! I thought you hadn’t posted in a few days but it just turns out I needed to reload my page! BTW, Karen Horney’s work actually is great. I was blown away at her insights in Our Inner Conflicts. I love neuroses! Can you imagine your writing without your steady flow of them?

  13. Neil

    Of course you love neuroses, Alexandra.  They pay your bills!

  14. Tara

    Ach, everyone is shot full of neuroses.

    You can’t really be both 2 and 9 both at the same time can you?

  15. Fitena

    Wow! I guess to sum it up all of the above, which I am to one degree or the other (apart #4 and 5) is allriight as long as it’s not overdone!


  16. V-Grrrl

    OK, I read the whole list and thought: Is it possible I’m NOT neurotic? None of these sound like me.

    Maybe that means I’m DELUSIONAL.

  17. rach

    I’m number 9 with huge mo fo bells on. Think I may need some therapy now

  18. girlgoyle

    I guess I’m the ultimate Horney…I got them all…maybe not all at the same time but they flare up and take turns.

  19. ElizaF

    I would be neurotic but it looks like it takes up waaaay too much energy and time… going for a nap now 🙂 E.

  20. Lux Lisbon

    jesus, mary and joseph! i only had 2 out of 10. i think this is the ONLY thing NOT wrong with me. *wipes brow*

  21. tamarika

    Groupie is as groupie does.

    Never mind “neurotic and horney,” which sounds pretty delicious to me, but after reading your posts, I just have to say it (and am apprehensive to because I know how Danny hates this stuff),

    … but, Neil, I just *love* reading your blog!

  22. Justrun

    Hmmm, and here I thought I was neurotic.

  23. M.A.

    I’m just going to accept the fact that I too am a neurotic. It’s easier.


    10/10! I think I did better on the Horney test than anyone else, except GirlGoyle, but I’m sure I have more flair ups. Wait, maybe I’m not supposed to brag about this, but I need the recognition.

  25. mmariem3

    By Horney’s list of neurotic needs, we are then all indeed neurotic.

  26. Cover Your Mouth

    Other than the occasional bout with #1, none of these really apply to me. I’m apparently much less neurotic than I thought, which is sort of disappointing. I propose #11 – The neurotic need to view oneself as neurotic.

  27. jamelah

    …and now I feel insane.

  28. Non-Highlighted Heather

    Dude, it’s like she knows you.

    And Jam? Well, duh.

  29. amanda

    i INSTANTLY recognized the locale. i used to live RIGHT around the corner from the karen horney clinic. yay! now i know all about it!

  30. Jody

    You are separated and sleep togehter?

  31. Wendy

    Um, all of em? *sigh* so sad when I can be pegged so easily psychologically… and on the other hand, I love horny neil! so don’t stop!

  32. OldOldLady Of The Hills

    Guess what Neil? My mother went to Karen Horney!!! Yes, she was a patient of Horney’s back in 1941-42 and Horney eventually sent her to another shrinker—a man. She thought my mother would do better with him. But before she suggested this, she told my mother that my father was ‘a hopeless neurotic and would never change’. He was going to her, too…at my mother’s insistance.

    What she said makes a lot more sense in light of these things that you detailed….It seems we are all hopeless neurotics and will never change.  In retrospect, I think what Horney told my mother was quite profound….trying to remind her that WE cannot change people, you know?  Interestimg to read about Horney all these many years later. Thanks for this.

  33. Melissa

    I didn’t go to a fancy college… this one sailed right over my head.

  34. Neil

    Melissa — I’m there for you.  As we spoke about on an earlier date, we’re not all lucky enough to have attended an “elite” college.  To be honest, sometimes I don’t get some of your “smutty” posts, but I don’t give up so easily.  Let me help explain my post.  “Horny” is a term sometimes used as a way of describing a strong desire for “intimate” relations.  “Horney” is the name of a famous psychoanalyst who developed a theory of neuroses, of which most of us seem to have a lot of — including “wanting a partner” to resolve the id’s innate “horniness.”  If you need, later on I can draw you a more detailed chart of what I am speaking about.

  35. bookfraud

    #1, check; #2, check; #3 check…i just couldn’t keep reading. it’s too damn depressing. all the times i’ve seen that sign, and didn’t know what it meant. kinda wish that i didn’t.

  36. Tatyana

    One of my dearest friends just described her skirt as “black with scattered neurotic flowers, sweeping- the-floor-length”.
    How neurotic is that?

    The question arised, after reading the list of sympthoms: who decides what constitute “normal reaction” and “neurotic trait”?

  37. sbukophile

    Oh boy, I thought I had enough on my plate with anxiety and depression–now reading this and I’m neurotic too? Good thing I’m back in therapy.

  38. Think Frustrated

    I think I am six out of ten, too.

    The fact that she sent you that picture, and that you knew so much about it, and that it was about neurotic tendencies, proves that there couldn’t be a more appropriate example of serendipity when she came across that building.

  39. Nance

    Can you be all over #9 and still have a happy marriage? Because I have this “friend”…

  40. 2nd Pearl Past the Post

    wow, finally a test for neuroticism that I score low on. 🙂

  41. 2nd Pearl Past the Post

    btw, Do you know the song by Richard Cheese, Me So Horny?

  42. Paris Parfait

    That photo threw me for a loop. I have a friend who lives around the corner from that building and I once worked for Warner LeRoy, whose office building is nearby.

  43. Paris Parfait

    Whoops! It was so long ago, I got the name wrong. Mervyn LeRoy, who owned Maxwell’s Plum and Tavern on the Green.

  44. CrankMama

    Overachiever. Totally

  45. Melissa

    You dick. I got your post. But you can draw me really dirty pictures if you like.

  46. better safe than sorry

    i think you’re neurotically horny.

  47. Jocelyn

    Couldn’t you just be horny, Neil? Did I need to know that 1 & 2 are off the chart?

  48. Brooke

    Your neuroses are making me neurotic.

  49. Lord Chimmy

    I noticed you didn’t make any effort to clarify the pronounciation of Karen’s last name. You know…there are a lot of people who read your blog who might go away thinking it is pronounced Horn E when it is actually Horn Eye.

  50. Jeff

    If your horney, enjoy it. If your neurotic, don’t obsess over it. Like Zorg said in the movie “Fifth Element”, “Never be ashamed of who you are”.

  51. Caitlinator

    All these years I thought I was neurotic and it turns out I’m normal? Weird.

  52. RC of strangeculture

    Yikes, poor Karen H.


  53. deannie

    wow, this was really interesting. I scored three out of 10. If I can then I would have NONE! 😉

  54. Hanna

    10/10 oh man… not only does this make me Horney, it makes me realise my fellow neurotics, that we are all so transparent. We are indeed empty beings that are not living just existing… hey now thats just the neurosis talking! It always is.

  55. Neil

    Hanna — see a therapist, quick!

  56. Hanna

    Nah too scared, i know i probably should though. Yeah i was really depressed when i wrote that. I think being conscious of it helps, coz you can catch out your neurotic voice speaking when you should be- meds and therapy i think are the only cure though.

  57. Danny Honey


    My Last name is HORNEY and Im not sure if I am related to Karen in any “great-great-great,ect..” Way!?

    However, my name is a gift and curse, if ya wanna know. I dont mind it but often ponder how much my life has been altered by some jackass making a pretty poor slang term for wanting sex a hundred fucking years ago, ya know!?! HAHA…

    Still, nice post. A little late but I Was EGO SURFING and found this.

    OH YEAH! EGO SURFING with this last name is hilarious! Almost impossible to make ones way through the jungle that is misspelled internet porn.

    Horny = I Want sex.

    Horney = some poor idiots last name that actually means something cool in German.



  58. chard

    i think karen’s theory …… is ok in terms of percepting the neurotic needs of a person.

  59. chard

    thats not true hanna… meds and therapist are not the only cure for whatever problem arises to a person whether he or she has a neurosis. u ur self can help diminished or even eliminate the said neurosis, just by staying healthy and think for the happy and u mingled with people and dont take problem seriously u take it as a motivating factor to u. ok hope it helps

  60. Kelly

    Honestly if I said that I would think I was hilariously funny and sarcastic. Obviously being far away she couldn’t do anything about it but make a joke.

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