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Needs of the Sensitive Type


The needs of the Sensitive type are derived from John M. Oldham's description of the Sensitive style. In Stoic philosophical and psychological theory these needs are vices. They are analogous to Karen Horney's neurotic needs, which are better called irrational needs. They are irrational because they require things not in our power and involve false judgment of what is good or evil. (see G. Sterling).

Irrational needs are vices. The vices listed below are based on certain false values. The source of every vice is a false judgment of what is good or evil. But our judgments are in our power. Therefore, our vices are in our power.

The idealized image is chiefly a glorification of the needs which have developed (Horney, pg. 277).

  • needs familiarity, where their world is small and they know the people in it (Oldham, 180)
  • needs to avoid a wide social network and celebrity (180)
  • needs an emotionally secure environment with a few dear family members or friends (180)
  • needs the known rather than the unknown; needs habit, repetition, and routine (180)
  • needs other people to think well of them (180)
  • needs to behave with deliberate discretion in their dealings with others (180)
  • needs to be courteous and self-restrained (181)
  • needs scripted settings vocationally and socially; needs to know precisely what is expected of them, how they are supposed to relate to others, and what they are expected to say (181)
  • needs to avoid sharing their inner thoughts and feelings with others (181)
  • needs to be cautious and hold themselves in reserve (181)
  • needs to gain emotional security by building a small world they can call their own (181)
  • needs to avoid the possibility of surprise; needs to prepare for any contingency (185)
  • needs the approval of others in order to feel best about themselves and comfortable in the world (186)
  • needs to feel that they have made a good impression (186)
  • needs to build their lives around a few people with whom they are happy (186)
  • needs to be able to trust a new person's feelings for them; needs to seal off their emotions and confidences behind a polite, well-mannered, emotionally distant facade (186 )
  • needs to hold themselves in reserve and avoid being themselves (187)
  • needs to put on a facade to impress somebody new (187)
  • needs to measure up to what the other person wants (187)
  • needs to avoid the disapproval and criticism of others (188)
  • needs to try to improve their behavior or performance in order to win back the favor of the person who is important to them (188)
  • needs to structure their lives around comfort and predictability (188)
  • needs to have one close person in their lives to rely on (188)
  • needs to avoid going out and meeting new people (188)
  • needs to avoid making waves and calling attention to themselves (188)
  • needs to avoid going beyond the limits of their territory; needs to stick close to home (189)
  • needs to try hard to do good work (190)

Avoidant personality, or character, disorder is comprised of these and other irrational needs, or vices.

Values of the Sensitive Type

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: Why You Think, Work, Love, and Act the Way You Do. Rev. ed. New York: Bantam.

Grant Sterling (2005). "Core Stoicism." International Stoic Forum.

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Key to the Stoic Philosophy of Epictetus