Essay, Research Paper: Distrust Between Sexes


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A woman gets pregnant, and her boyfriend leaves her. In Karen Horney`s The
Distrust Between the Sexes, she explains how a person`s psychological history
causes him/her to distrust people of the opposite sex because of certain
expectations they might have. Longings for happiness, childhood reflections, and
childhood conflicts are all things that invent these expectations. First off,
people are longing for happiness, while setting their expectations at high.
Horney states, All of our unconscious wishes, contradictory in their nature and
expanding boundlessly on all sides, are waiting here for their fulfillment
(341). Children are raised to believe that relationships with the opposite sex
are their doorway to happiness. Horney says, The partner is supposed to be
strong, and at the same time helpless, to dominate us and be dominated by us, to
be ascetic and to be sensuous (341). People expect their partners to be too many
things, which will lead them to disappointment. Horney states, We take the
magnitude of such overvaluation for the measure of our love, while in reality it
merely expresses the magnitude of our expectations (341). Society`s longing for
happiness has so many expectations of what love should be that, in the end, all
one has is one`s expectations. Next, childhood reflections cause a certain
number of expectations that are handed down by generations. Horney states, Thus
far, our reflections certainly have been neither new nor specifically analytical
and have often been better formulated in the past (341). Reflections that people
have from their childhood carve the person into what they are as an adult.
Horney explains, The paradise of childhood is most often an illusion with which
adults like to deceive themselves(341). Adults remember their childhood as a
fantasy and try to live their lives around that fantasy. Horney says, We need
only recall the capacity that children posses even in their very early years,
for passionate and instinctive sexual desires similar to those of adults and yet
different from them (342). Children and adults are very different, but if a
person finds the similarity, it will help them throughout their lives. Last,
childhood conflicts give a person certain expectations of how the opposite sex
will treat a person. Horney states, Let us further assume that the latter wish
was repressed due to anxiety from a guilty conscience; then we have here the
fundamental constellation for the formation of certain type of woman who is
unable to relate to the male because she fears that every male will suspect her
of wanting something from him (343). Children have many conflicts, which affect
part of their adult lives. Horney explains, Or by completely projecting onto him
her repressed wishes, she will imagine that every male merely intends to exploit
her, that he wants from her only sexual satisfaction, after which he will
discard her (343). If a person`s opposite sex hurts them in any way, then that
person will believe that the opposite sex will always hurt them. Horney states,
⌠Or let us assume that a reaction formation of excessive modesty will mask
the repressed drive for power (343). Children develop at different ages;
therefore, modesty levels are different for the opposite sex. Distrust between
the opposite sexes is the effect from psychological history because of certain
standards and expectations people set for themselves and others. Expectations
that contribute to the distrust between the sexes are caused by longings for
happiness, childhood reflections, and childhood conflicts.
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