PTypes - Personality Types
PTypes Horney's Three Neurotic Solutions Self-Expansive Solution

The Resignation Solution

Moving away from others

Basic Strategy

"The movement away from others attempts to resolve anxiety through detachment or aloofness. The "solution" in this movement is evasion" (Cooper, pg. 124).

"The very essence of this solution is withdrawing from active living, from active wishing, striving, planning, from efforts and doing" (Horney, 1950, pg. 268).

"The basically detached person worships freedom and strives to be independent of both outer and inner demands. He pursues neither love nor mastery; he wants rather to be left alone, to have nothing expected of him and to be subject to no restrictions" (Paris, 1974, pg. 62).

Neurotic Needs

Horney's (1942, pp. 55-56) "Neurotic Needs"

9. The neurotic need for self-sufficiency and independence:

  • Necessity never to need anybody, or to yield to any influence, or to be tied down to anything, any closeness involving the danger of enslavement;
  • Distance and separateness the only source of security;
  • Dread of needing others, of ties, of closeness, of love.

10. The neurotic need for perfection and unassailability:

  • Relentless driving for perfection;
  • Rumination and self-recriminations regarding possible flaws;
  • Feelings of superiority over others because of being perfect;
  • Dread of finding flaws within self or of making mistakes;
  • Dread of criticism or reproaches.

"The need for superiority in the case of the detached person has certain specific features. Abhorring competitive struggle, he does not want to excel realistically through consistent effort. He feels rather that the treasures within him should be recognized without any effort on his part; his hidden greatness should be felt without his having to make a move" (Horney, 1945, pg. 80).

"Another pronounced need is his need for privacy. He is like a person in a hotel room who rarely removes the "Do-Not-Disturb" sign from his door. Even books may be regarded as intruders; as something from outside. Any question put to him about his personal life may shock him; he tends to shroud himself in a veil of secrecy" (Horney, 1945, pg. 76).

"They draw around themselves a kind of magic circle which no one may penetrate. And this is why, superficially, they may "get along" with people. The compulsive character of the need shows up in their reaction of anxiety when the world intrudes on them" (Horney, 1945, pg. 75).

Idealized Image

"His idealized image, chiefly, is a glorification of the needs which have developed. It is a composite of self-sufficiency, independence, self-contained serenity, freedom from desires and passions, stoicism, and fairness. Fairness for him is less a glorification of vindictiveness (as is the "justice" of the aggressive type) than an idealization of noncommitment and of not infringing upon anybody's rights" (Horney, 1950, pg. 277).

Neurotic Pride

The neurotic pride of the detached type is based on his arrogation of the attributes of wisdom, self-sufficiency, independence, autonomy, superiority, strength and power.

"The attributes. . . of which he is proud. . . are in the service of resignation. He is proud of his detachment, his "stoicism," his self-sufficiency, his independence, his dislike of coercion, his being above competition" (Horney, 1950, pg. 271).

Neurotic Claims

"The two outstanding neurotic claims are that life should be easy, painless, and effortless and that he should not be bothered" (Horney, 1950, pg. 264).

"He feels entitled to having others not intrude upon his privacy, to having them not expect anything of him nor bother him, to be exempt from having to make a living and from responsibilities" (Horney, 1950, pg. 271).

Tyrannical Shoulds

The detached person believes that he should be totally self-sufficient and independent.

He should never need anybody, yield to any influence, or be tied down to anything.

He should always maintain distance and separateness from others.

He should avoid needing others, ties to others, closeness to others, and love.

He should always strive for perfection, and reflect upon and correct all possible flaws.


"The pride system tends to intensify the self-hate against which it is supposed to be a defense, since any failure to live up to one's tyrannical shoulds or of the world to honor one's claims leads to feelings of worthlessness" (Paris, IKHS).


The resignation solution, or neurotic trend, seems predominant in these neurotic solutions:

Karen Horney: Intrapsychic Strategies of Defense

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

Karen Horney (1942). Self-Analysis. New York: W. W. Norton.

___________ (1945). Our Inner Conflicts. New York: W. W. Norton.

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

Bernard J. Paris (1974). A Psychological Approach to Fiction. Bloomington IN: Indiana UP.

____________. "Brief Account of Karen Horney." International Karen Horney Society.

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