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Neurotic Solution: Dependent Type 

The strategy of the Dependent solution can be interpreted from the discussion by John M.Oldham and Lois B. Morris of the Devoted personality style.

Dependent Personality Disorder
Devoted Personality Type
Self- Effacing Solution 



Neurotic Needs

Compulsive Attachments

Compulsive Aversions

  • some strong figure who will provide the resources for their survival and happiness
  • nurturance
  • support
  • help from other people
  • encouragement
  • a spouse
  • being loved
  • a competent partner or caretaker
  • staying close to the caretaker
  • an intimate relationship
  • subservience
  • a dependent relationship
  • subordination
  • placating and pleasing a caretaker
  • making decisions by oneself
  • helplessness
  • being alone
  • being abandoned
  • offending a caretaker
  • independence
  • rejection
  • criticism
  • having to do things oneself





Neurotic Solution

American Psychiatric Association (1994, pp. 668-69)


A need to be taken care of that leads to submissive and clinging behavior and fears of separation. 

  • has difficulty making everyday decisions without an excessive amount of advice and reassurance from others;     


  • needs others to assume responsibility for most major areas of his or her life;     


  • has difficulty expressing disagreement with others because of fear of loss of support or approval;    


  • has difficulty initiating projects or doing things on his or her own (because of a lack of self-confidence in judgment or abilities rather than a lack of motivation or energy);     


  • goes to excessive lengths to obtain nurturance and support from others to the point of volunteering to do things that are unpleasant;     


  • feels uncomfortable or helpless when alone because of exaggerated fears of being unable to care for himself or herself;     


  • urgently seeks another relationship as a source of care and support when a close relationship ends;     


  • is unrealistically preoccupied with fears of being left to take care of himself or herself.




Neurotic Beliefs and Attitudes 

Rationalizations and reinforcements of the compulsive attachments and aversions and the neurotic solution that they engender.

Aaron T. Beck, Arthur M. Freeman and associates (pg. 360) 

  • I am needy and weak.          
  • I need somebody around available at all times to help me carry out what I need to do or in case something bad happens.          
  • My helper can be nurturant, supportive, and confident—if he or she wants to be.          
  • I am helpless when I am left on my own.          
  • I am basically alone—unless I can attach myself to a stronger person.          
  • The worst possible thing would be to be abandoned.          
  • I must do nothing to offend my supporter or helper.          
  • I must be subservient in order to maintain his or her good will.          
  • I need others to help me make decisions or tell me what to do.          
  • I must maintain access to him or her at all times.          
  • I should cultivate as intimate a relationship as possible.          
  • I can't make decisions on my own.          
  • I can't cope as other people can.          
  • I need others to help me make decisions or tell me what to do.



Idealized Image

The particular "solution" is idealized (Horney, 1950, pg. 22)


John M.Oldham and Lois B. Morris (pp. 108-109):

Devoted types care, and that's what makes their lives worth living. You won't find anyone more loving, more solicitous of you, more concerned for your needs and feelings or for those of a group as a whole. At their best, individuals with this style are loyal, considerate, ever-so-helpful players on the team -- whether it is a couple, the family, the assembly line, the department, the religious or charitable organization, or the military unit. Their needs are those of the group or of its leader, and their happiness comes from the fulfillment of others' directives and goals. Devoted people are the ones who tell you, "I'm happy if you're happy" -- and mean it. The Devoted style is common in our society, and it occurs among both men and women. Traditionally this helping and giving personality style has been particularly encouraged and approved among women. The customary view of the good wife has been that of a tender-hearted Devoted woman who lives through her husband and relies on him to make the worldly decisions for her, while she dedicates herself to providing a fulfilling home life for the family. As views of women's roles change in this society, some women with this personality style may have mixed feelings about expressing it. Because of today's cultural pressures on women to step out of the shadows of other people, both in and out of the home, they may feel that wanting to make someone else happy is something to be ashamed of. While these women struggle to come to terms with all sides of their personality patterns, more men are feeling freer to enjoy their own domestic, nurturing Devoted tendencies. In any case, as we will see throughout this chapter, the Devoted personality plays itself out in many ways in the personality profiles of males as well as females, traditional and otherwise.



  1. Commitment. Individuals with the Devoted personality style are thoroughly dedicated to the relationships in their lives. They place the highest value on sustained relationships, they respect the institution of marriage as well as unofficial avowals of commitment, and they work hard to keep their relationships together.

  2. Togetherness. They prefer the company of one or more people to being alone.

  3. Teamwork. People with this personality style would rather follow than lead. They are cooperative and respectful of authority and institutions. They easily rely on others and take direction well.

  4. Deference. When making decisions, they are happy to seek out others' opinions and to follow their advice.

  5. Harmony. Devoted individuals are careful to promote good feelings between themselves and the important people in their lives. To promote harmony, they tend to be polite, agreeable, and tactful.

  6. Consideration. They are thoughtful of others and good at pleasing them. Devoted people will endure personal discomfort to do a good turn for the key people in their lives.

  7. Attachment. Relationships provide life's meaning for this personality style. Even after a painful loss of someone around whom their life was centered, they are able to form new meaningful bonds.


Attributes of the Idealized Image


  1. Devoutness, Self-Denial, Decency; Seriousness, Soberness, Conservatism, Self-Control, Cautiousness, Obedience; Frugality, Thriftiness.
  2. Forgiveness, Meekness, Forbearance, Patience; Humility, Modesty, Moderation, Discretion.
  3. Sociability, Tactfulness.
  4. Sincerity, Honesty, Justice; Reliability, Responsibility, Trustworthiness, Loyalty, Faithfulness.
  5. Politeness, Courtesy, Thoughtfulness.
  6. Altruism, Benignity, Gentleness, Sympathy, Sensitivity, Considerateness, Friendliness; Gratitude, Tenderness, Agreeableness, Fraternity.
  7. Attentiveness, Persistence, Perseverance; Tidiness, Orderliness, Carefulness, Meticulousness, Dutifulness, Prudence; Steadiness.
  8. Knowledgeableness, Fortitude, Stoicism, Humorousness.


Neurotic Pride


Neurotic Claims


Neurotic Search for Glory

 The neurotic search for glory is the comprehensive drive to actualize the idealized self. Besides self-idealization it consists of the need for perfection, neurotic ambition, and the drive for vindictive triumph. The need for perfection functions in the personality as, what Horney called, "tyrannical shoulds."

Tyrannical Shoulds






American Psychiatric Association (1994). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-IV. 4th ed. Washington: Author.

American Psychiatric Association (2000). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-IV-TR. 4th ed., text revision. Washington: Author.

Aaron T. Beck, Arthur M. Freeman and Associates (1990). Cognitive Therapy of Personality Disorders. New York: Guilford Press.

Terry D. Cooper (2003). Sin, Pride, and Self-Acceptance: The Problem of Identity in Theology and Psychology. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Karen Horney (1950). Neurosis and Human Growth. New York: W. W. Norton.

John M.Oldham and Lois B. Morris (1995). The New Personality Self-Portrait. Rev. ed. New York: Bantam.

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