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According to Karen Horney we can have two views of our self:

Who and what we actually are.


The person we feel we should be.

The real self has the potential for growth, happiness, will power, realization of gifts, etc., but it also has deficiencies.

The ideal self is used as a model to assist the real self in developing its potential and achieving self-actualization.

The neurotic person's self is split. Somehow they do not live up to the ideal self. There’s a flaw somewhere in comparison to what they "should" be. The goals set out by the neurotic are not realistic, or indeed possible.

The real self then degenerates into a "despised self", and the neurotic person assumes that this is the "true" self.

Thus, the neurotic is like a clock's pendulum, oscillating between a fallacious "perfection" and a manifestation of self-hate. Horney referred to this phenomenon as the "tyranny of the shoulds" and the neurotic's hopeless "search for glory".

She concluded that these ingrained traits of the psyche forever prevent an individual's potential from being actualized unless the cycle of neurosis is somehow broken, through treatment or, in less severe cases, life lessons.

Horney, Neurosis and human growth. Chaps. 1–5.

The Effects of Mental Illness Stigma on Hireability.ppt