McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Abandonment, Case, Horney, Maternal, Rage, Studies
Three of my patients presented with stories of maternal abandonment as well as struggles with rage. One struggled with a vengeful rage, which highlighted deep feelings of injustice. Characterologically he moved against people. A second showed a connection between rage and frightening dissociative episodes that left her struggling with passive fantasies of death and desertion. Characterologically she moved towards people. A third patient made use of rage as a way to stay away from people. She used intimidation as a way to characterologically move away from people, and preferred to remain alone. Although each of these clients struggled with rage tied to maternal empathic failures, they differed significantly in their character style and overall adaptation in adult life. Their styles of coping with anger corresponded to the neurotic solutions described by Karen Horney (1945) moving against people, moving towards people, and moving away from people. Within the maternal bond, these individuals experienced rage as unacceptable and treatment allowed some of their experiences a voice. This study aimed to reflect on the psychodynamic treatment of rage in each Horneyean character style. This project presents three case studies exemplifying Horney's theory, and contextualizing the function and meaning of rage in instances of perceived or actual maternal abandonment. Examining these cases through a Horneyean lens shows how her work anticipated contemporary psychoanalytic psychodiagnostics (i.e. The Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual), and how valuable her work remains to theory and treatment today.
Cuello, D. (2011). Karen Horney's Three Character Styles [Neurotic Styles] as Responses to Early Maternal Deprivation and Unmanageable Rage: Three Illustrative Case Studies (Doctoral dissertation, Duquesne University). Retrieved from https://dsc.duq.edu/etd/446