Sigmund Freud is considered the father of psychoanalysis, a clinical method for treating psychopathology and a theory of human behaviour. Though hugely controversial, his theory influenced the development of a number of psychodynamic theories of personality, which in turn have informed and shaped current understanding of personality. While rooted in Freudian psychoanalytic thought, many of these theories built on, interpreted, and at times, challenged key Freudian concepts of personality. Two such theories are Karen Horney's feminine psychology and John Bowlby's attachment theory. This essay will compare and contrast Horney's and Bowlby's key concepts of personality notably that childhood is a crucial development period for personality, that parental relationships are determinants of personality, and that poor parental relationships can adversely impact personality development. While methodological approach, evidence and supporting empirical research will be explored, consideration will also be given to the significance of each theory on current understanding of personality.
Karen Horney's (1885-1952) psychodynamic theory of personality reflects the key Freudian idea that core aspects of personality are formed in childhood, however her view was not as rigid as Freud's who stipulated a child's personality is determined by the age of five. For her, childhood was the period during which each child could become its 'real self', the endpoint of personality development. While she accepted Freud's view that unconscious conflicts shape personality, she focused more on the role of social influences. In contrast to Freud's view that the parental role facilitated children through psychosexual stages of development, instead she espoused a view that positive parenting was needed to facilitate the development of the child's 'real self' by nurturing a feeling of belonging in the child.