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On the relationship between Karen Horney's tripartite neurotic type theory and personality disorder features

Personality and Individual Differences
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/s0191-8869(00)00120-3
  • Karen Horney
  • Neurosis
  • Personality Disorders
  • Compliant
  • Aggressive
  • Detached
  • Cati
  • Hcti


Abstract Karen Horney's 1945, 1950 interpersonal theory [Horney, K. (1945). Our inner conflicts. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Co., Inc.; Horney, K. (1950). Neurosis and human growth. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Co., Inc.] postulated that individuals could move toward, move against, and move away from others as manifestations of their character development. In the present studies, it was hypothesized that Horney's tripartite theory might be useful in the elucidation of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders personality disorder features. In the first study, college students ( n=198) completed the Coolidge Axis II Inventory [CATI; Coolidge, F. L. (1999), Coolidge Assessment Battery Manual. Port Huron, MI: Sigma Assessment Systems and Coolidge, F. L., & Merwin, M. M. (1992). Reliability and viability of the Coolidge Axis II Inventory: a new inventory for the assessment of personality disorders. Journal of Personality Assessment, 59, 223–238] and Cohen's 1967 35-item test [Cohen, J. B. (1967). An interpersonal orientation to the study of consumer behaviour. Journal of Marketing Research, 4, 270–278] of Horney's three types: Compliant, Aggressive, and Detached. In the second study, another group of college students ( n=881) completed the CATI and Coolidge's 57-item test of Horney's three types. Results showed that both scales were reliable, generally similar, and numerous predicted correlational relationships were found. The usefulness of Horney's constructs in the understanding of personality disorders was discussed.

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