“Fortunately analysis is not the only way to resolve inner conflicts. Life itself still remains a very effective therapist.”
—Karen Horney, Our Inner Conflicts

Karen Horney

In addition to the Triads, the Enneagram of personality can be divided into another three groups of three based on the work of Karen Horney (1885–1952). Karen Horney was a Neo-Freudian psychoanalyst who is best known for founding feminist psychology, kicking off the self-help movement by empowering the average person to employ self-awareness in their own treatment and for her theories on the relationship between parental indifference and neurosis. She is also responsible for changing the view of neurosis as less of a permanent, pathological state and more of a dysfunctional coping strategy that can be brought back into balance.

She theorized that children develop three coping strategies: the expansive (Aggressive) solution, the self-effacement or submission (Compliant) solution, and the resignation or detachment (Withdrawn) solution. Those falling into the Aggressive category exhibit needs for power, recognition, achievement, admiration and to exert their will over others. The Compliant category includes the needs to be liked by others, to be people-pleasing and for a partner to take care of them. The Withdrawn category includes the needs for self-sufficiency, to minimize one’s needs so as to be less dependent on others and to avoid attention.

The Enneagram and Horney’s Typology

Riso and Hudson have further developed this typology and correlated it with the types on the Enneagram. There are some differences between their work and Horney’s original definitions, however it is more the symmetry of the Enneagram lending refinement and organization to the original ideas rather than the ideas having to be modified to fit the Enneagram. It’s worth noting that Karen Horney was likely a type Four which will necessarily affect the way she saw others. Being a member of the Heart Triad, she may have interpreted others’ motives through her own lens of concern for value, recognition and mirroring. This is an example of how the organizational characteristics inherent to the Enneagram can be leveraged to remove the biases that we’re all prone to.

Follow these links to read more on the correlations between the Enneagram and Karen Horney’s typology:

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