Performing Therapy On Yourself: Self-Knowledge and Self-Realization

Why do so many people fail to flourish? And what can we do in our own life to ensure we do not succumb to the states of apathy, self-sabotage, and fear which abound in the lives of the mass of men. In a series of books, the twentieth-century psychoanalyst, Karen Horney, explored the idea that many people undermine their own well-being as a result of unconscious disturbances which influence their thoughts and behaviours. In this video, we are going to examine Horney’s ideas on why unconscious disturbances form and explore the possibility of attaining self-knowledge so as to free ourselves from their crippling influence. That many people wither rather than blossom as they age was intriguing to Horney given her belief that in every individual is an innate drive to self-realization. To help explain the nature of this drive, Horney suggested that the development of a human being is analogous to that of an oak tree. Given appropriate environmental conditions, an acorn will develop into a healthy oak tree. It will flourish and fulfill its innate potential. In a similar manner, Horney posited that every individual will tend toward self-realization; provided we are not impeded by our environment. As she explains, Unfortunately, for many people the movement towards self-realization is disrupted due to neglect, rejection, abuse or other forms of childhood trauma. The child subjected to this early wounding is unable to say “My parent has personal problems, which are having an effect on me.” but rather the child is only able to conclude that the world is unsafe, hence, they become plagued by what Horney calls “basic anxiety” which initially renders them helpless and overwhelmed but over time, propels them to find ways to cope with life despite their fears. They develop what Horney calls “unconscious neurotic trends” which sculpt their personality so as to give them the semblance of safety and what is perceived to be a threatening environment. And when they emerge into adulthood, these neurotic trends do not disappear, but rather they continue to influence their attitudes and behaviours and wreak havoc on their well-being. Rare is the individual who lives completely free from these unconscious relics left over from childhood. The type of neurotic trends which form depend upon both temperament and environmental factors. Some adapt to an unfavourable upbringing by detaching from life and other people. Others develop a neurotic need for approval and affection. Neurotic trends however are complex and individual and therefore defy rigid conceptualization. But when our behaviour is unconsciously motivated by them, we tend to develop symptoms in due time. If we are not afflicted with phobias, depression, compulsions, severe apathy, codependency, addictions, or extreme indecision, we may become plagued by an inner emptiness or feel as if there is a vital element missing in our life. Rather than focusing on the outward manifestation of our symptoms, however, Horney advises us to fixate on their underlying source. That being, the neurotic trends we developed as a means to cope with life. Psychoanalysis was founded by Sigmund Freud following his discovery that his patient’s symptoms could be cured when the unconscious factors underlying them, be it repressed memories or emotions, were made conscious. Many followers of psychoanalysis, however, believed the excavation of unconscious material could only be conducted with the help of a trained therapist. But Karen Horney was one of the few twentieth-century psychoanalysts who thought it could be accomplished alone. She called this form of therapy “self analysis” and defined it as the But Horney did not deem self analysis as merely a possibility, rather in many cases, she thought it to be more desirable than traditional therapy. The therapist always begins as a stranger who requires months, if not years, of analysis to learn of the inner workings, complexities, and depths of our mind. We, on the other hand, are intimately familiar with ourselves. Given the right attitude we can therefore explore and expose the elements of our unconscious wrecking havoc on our life more efficiently than a trained therapist. Furthermore, self-analysis has the added benefit that it can increase our strength and confidence to a greater degree than traditional therapy. Just as traversing a difficult mountain path on our own grants us a greater feeling of accomplishment than following a guide, so to Horney notes, Yet despite its benefits, self analysis does not lack obstacles. The primary of which is how difficult self-knowledge is to attain. The curative role of self-knowledge has been recognized for thousands of years. In the West, most notably, in the philosophy of Socrates in Plato and in the aphorism “Know Thyself” inscribed on the ancient Greek temple of Apollo at Delphi. But the Ancient Greeks, Horney points out, believed the attainment of self-knowledge to be far easier than we do today. Exploring our inner depths, as we now know, is no easy matter but is rather akin to an adventure into an unknown territory full of surprises and potential dangers. In his book, “The Dawn of Day”, Nietzsche echoes this sentiment by describing the vast gulf which separates the Ancient Greek conception of the mind from the modern. Another obstacle which confronts us in self analysis is fear. Many avoid descending into their depths in the apprehension that they may stumble upon a deeply disturbing insight, or worse, become lost and confused in their inner labyrinth… unable to find their way out. But Horney dismisses these fears as unfounded. Uncovering an alarming truth or repressed memory, she notes, is not just painful but also liberating and furthermore, if we come upon a disturbing insight, Horney explains, that it usually implies we are strong enough to endure and work through it. But even given its difficulties, self analysis can be highly effective and beneficial provided we have a strong incentive to grow. Horney, in fact, deems our motivation to overcome our problems as the primary determinant in whether self analysis is successful or not. Therefore, if we find ourselves overly passive, deeply unhappy, or saddled with symptoms we can’t seem to shake we could try to kindle a burning desire to find the key to our problems and set aside time for self-reflection and self observation. Shining a light on the hidden corners of our mind can be uncomfortable and painful but such a task may be necessary not only to free ourselves from the neurotic trends we developed in childhood, but also to restore the innate growth forces within and keep us steadfast on the path of self-realization, continuously growing in the words of Horney, from acorn to oak tree

100 comments

  1. Check out Horney’s book on Self-Analysis: https://amzn.to/2CDBLUL
    As always, find a gallery and links to all the art work used in this video on our website:  https://academyofideas.com/2018/09/performing-therapy-on-yourself/

  2. It sure helps that I have a head-start given the fact that I've got a graduate degree in counseling psychology and undergrad in criminal justice. So for the past 5 weeks it appears I have had to be my own therapist which means uncovering subconscious blocks that were triggered by a family situation and I had to face this. I would suggest if you don't have any education whatsoever in Psychology that you may need a trained therapist to walk you through guide you but I can give you one word of advice do some research or guess your best guess online what you think is going on and which therapist we can work with you you can read their profiles and their individual educational offers. Best to you

  3. It was only when I ditched the pills, the doctors, and the appointments that I began to actually heal. This video was like an encouraging nudge and a kind voice saying "Yeah, see? You got this. Keep digging. Keep searching."

  4. Just like kids today and many adults. Grown wounded children. Doctors make people WORSE by prescribing poisonous, addictive, brain damaging prescriptions. www.breggin.com

  5. “You need not, and in fact cannot, teach an acorn to grow into an oak tree, but when given a chance, its intrinsic potentialities will develop…” Isnt this this quote similar to wugui ( master tortoise) before he died in Kung Fu panda 1?

  6. Honestly; this does work, I’ve been doing this half my life, and I’ve been working to better myself since

  7. In this age of media messages where "normalcy" is usually about an unobtainable image of desireability, self-knowledge and self-realization is directly counter to that desirable image.
    Having worked facilitating Bereavement groups at a Hospice I can tell you that nothing is less desirable than grief. People that have grief often want to deny or stall it untill they can't. People around the greived want to put distance between themselves and that person because of their own discomfort.

    We live in a emotionally-illiterate, western culture that attempts to deny the basic human nature of grief. it goes counter to that idealized "HAPPY!!!" image. Yet the ones who self-medicate the grief can 1) develop substance abuse issue 2) mute their own emotions 3) abandon others emotionally 4) abandon themselves emotionally 5) laugh very little.

    Is the static model of a "happy" person toxic? Hell, yes!! Are humans static? Many try to be in their minds and feel shame when they don't measure up to an idealized success story.
    What happens when you stub your toe? Happy?
    What happens when you are late and you loose your car keys? Happy?
    What happens when nothing of consequence is happening? Happy?
    it seems that when some people refer to being "happy" what they are really after is the word "content." And that is much different than happy.

    And in those groups, when people start greiving and crying and showing anger with others, something else often takes place. Later on, in the same group they start laughing at something. The "mute" button has been deactivated. They have a flow of emotions. That is the beauty of being a human, when we feel the flow of our own expereinces we are never static, we feel what we feel.

    To quote Joeseph Campbell “People say that what we're all seeking is a meaning for life. … I think that what we're seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”

  8. Been at this since I was 20(35 now). I've personally found that the few times I've used a psychedelic, I've made HUGE strides in the following months. I chose to use this method to see what I might be missing or what knowledge or wisdom might be revealed. In my most recent exploration, not only did it show me numerous pieces of the puzzle, I was also "told," within the first two hours, quote "this can be your last time in, you don't need me anymore." Then I went along for a very illuminating ride. This was three weeks ago and I can't remember having this senses of clarity, purpose and cognitive agility at any other time in my life… and I'm hit with some type of new perspective or idea almost every day. I also receive more insight from videos like this I than I had previously. Just thought I'd share this here.

    This content is outstanding, by the way.

  9. I absolutely love your Channel. That said, on a separate note, I'm pretty sure that's not how you pronounce that woman's last name.

  10. Certain psychedelics make the process of self-realization and analyzing much easier but when used by unprepared people it can lead to what simple minded people call insanity, that being said I really think that if someone wants to know themselves they could benefit greatly from psychedelics and they should use them like you use a flashlight when you explore a cave.

  11. I think like self awareness can be a double edged sword when it suddenly comes to you without you fully understanding how to relieve the emotional pain of what you see you've been running away from

  12. I find your videos to be the most authentic descriptions of the true struggle. "The struggle is real". Such gratitude for your authentic interest and altrustic nature.

  13. Shining a light in the hidin corners of my mind? I wouldn’t even know where to look for hidden corners, i feel it’s inconceivable

  14. You know this reminded me of something and just made me discover something deep in myself as I am still tremendously young. I have always had a fear of going underwater and seeing what might be underneath. I didn't remember this tell one of my family member brang it up and reminded of something that happened when I was around 8 or so. I was swimming with a friend at a lake, when I went over to the dock keeping in mind I was not afraid at this age to go underwater considering the traumatic event I kept repressed in my mind tell this day. I went over only to see a corpse of a man that had drown of a heat stroke after getting drunk.
    At first I thought his arms and legs were cut off only leaving the body, only to find out that they were just underwater and the time. Now writing this I feel a sense of closure but it took someone to remind me. I totally just forgot about that traumatic event in my life and just threw it to the side instead of facing it.

  15. The strongest motivation is the desire to live a life that is more healthy and happy than your current one. If you really want this you will find ways to overcome problematic behavior like addictions or fears. Just be patient with yourself and never give up.

  16. Fitting this video popped up in my recommended…just finished reading Self Analysis by Karen Horney a couple days ago. It was an incredible read, still relevant, interesting, and probably one of the most useful books I've read (and I read a ton). This will be a book I plan on referring to on a regular basis, indefinitely.

  17. Good video! But: we are masters of fooling ourselves, so a professional therapist can be very helpful at this point and 2nd he or she becomes the object of our transference which helps to unveal our neurotic heritage.

  18. This channel contains pearls of wisdom that can change human lives for the better. Blessings and strength to those who've chosen to take the path to self realization/Christ consciousness

  19. These paintings were too creepy for me to listen to your video. Sorry, it was too disturbing for me. I’m sure the content is wonderful though, as I’m a big fan of your other videos. Please choose paintings that don’t resemble people suffering from mental illness and psychosis. Thank you.

  20. Fantastic segment. I couldn’t agree more with Horney. Self analysis and introspection with myself for decades, has finally resulted in self realization. That has helped way more than any therapist, and spiritual teacher. Because ultimately, whether you do it on your own or with the help of others, it must always go through the internal lens of your own awareness. Otherwise it’s no more than socializing, complaining, and feeding the monkey mind.

  21. You’re the best btw
    When I catch myself watching you I know I’m thinking in the right direction

  22. Look at that. Only around 1% dislikes. It's still too much, but in my experience, the average tends to be around 10%.

    You've earned every single subscriber. And, you know what, here's another one. 🙂

  23. The Ancient Egyptian and KEMET, where the First Ones who Placed KNOW THYSELF OVER ALL STRUCTURES S OF EDUCATION

  24. Why do you only display illustrations of Caucasians in your videos? I can't help but notice after watching several videos.

  25. Perceptions of the outer world could, in principle, not have any emotional content attached to them. You create emotions based upon perceptions, meaning, you interpret them, as automatic as that process may be. Make it less automatic by looking for a more satisfying interpretation. Bernardo Kastrup refers to the interpretation as a code, inputting the perceptions, outputting the emotions.

  26. I am quite good at self analysis .. I thought it was strange to do so . Now I know otherwise . Genius channel

  27. Dude you are amazing for putting this information out here. You are amazing!!! Thank you so much! Changing the world slowly but surely! Human awareness here we come.

  28. As with all psychoanalysts she deals in theories. Theories with no evidence or scientific proof. A problem that makes the theories more like thought experiments than scientific theories. That is probably why they use so many allegories. Like the oak tree (not every acorn can become an oaktree, even with good conditions, that is why an oaktree produces so many acorns. It enhances the chance of one becomming an oaktree.) It works as an allegory but not as scientific proof.
    Neurosis and the unconscoius is a way of viewing humans, but it is at best an allegory, with no scientific evidence (where is the unconscoius located?).
    If it helps you to look at humans through this lense, then you have found a suitable allegory for you.

  29. Nice reading, but you hit a pet peeve: "wreaking" is pronounced "reeking" not like "wrecking." It has a totally different definition, so your reading takes on a different meaning where it's used.

  30. Excellent theme… "…man should know his own self and recognize that which leadeth unto loftiness or lowliness, glory or abasement, wealth or poverty." ~ Baha'u'llah, Baha'i Faith

  31. You want to flourish? You're going to have to take away the prosperity of others to do so. And if you do it right, other people will offer it up willingly.

  32. Chl beh mera baab mat bnn mei kbhi kbhi bhul jaati hun ke Guru g hain YA nhi per yeh dono ko kbhi bhul nhi sakti. Woh bechare Guru g kuch bhejte nhi hsin surf wahi puraane drama ka scene bhejte jar mera DIL rulaega jaate hain jaise mein ne un per bht bada zulm. Kr diya Aww so sad… Tht poor dude I mean hus true love yaar per Co firm nhi hsin. TU hmein mat Sikhs self realisation Sab realised hain khali peeling dimaag khrab mat kar. Hum mil nhi paaye per naahi woh dhikhe baaz hsin naahi hum per kya karre saala apna toh Tim e nhi aa sakta boss. Meri shaadi hogyi naa isliye aur woh Sab samjhna YA man ne ke liye rattan hi nhi ke mein single nhi hun kya karre. Bhei un logo ki koi glti nhi hsin aur meri toh bilkul bhi nhi hain bichari badman partnering they jho bechare pyaar ki. Dorre mei fas gye waise meine sab ko iktela kar diya koi bhi mat aana yha khaayi hain per sab kudh pade aur Mujhe bhi us khaayi mein pyaar waali khaayi mein dhakkn diya gya per mein mei safely pehle se bahar thi naa. Fir mein surf sacche Ashiquo ke DIL ki khaayi mein padh gyi aur aaj talak hun I guess yeah aur hmare DIL mein bhi wahi log baste hain jho Mann ke sacche ho akl ke kacche ho u see😂😂😝😜😍😍😊kbhi kbhi Acche ldko ka pyaar dekh kar dukh hota hsin bechare jho chahiye woh zi dgi unke samne hain per chu bhi nhi sakte bht dukh hota hain rona bhi aata hsin khi meri wajh se woh bigad toh nhi gye bhei check karna padta hsin yaaro 😂😂😝😜😍😍😊

  33. Looks like Horney verbatim copied everything from Jung. Jung is the one who used the Oak tree analogy in one of his video interviews. Everything apart from the Oak tree analogy is copied as well. What a shame.

  34. Great video, but please, if you are struggling with mental illness, go see a qualified therapist. It is important to learn how to manage things on your own, but we often need outside support to guide us to that place. It is VERY easy to get caught in thought patterns or opinions that you think are helpful but are actually exacerbating the problem. I went through a period where I was sure that I could work through my own problems without help. I was wrong. Therapy helped me gain a new perspective and provided me with the tools I need to now better handle things.

  35. Great Video.. It's unfortunate that society pegs anyone that explores or go through this process as crazy. There is no monetary benefit of self analysis for big pharma and doctors…

  36. When life becomes too easy and people have too much free time on their hands, they become self-absorbed, lose their way and get themselves all twisted up in knots. The key to happinees is to stay away from the self-help industry completely.

  37. Just ordered the book from your link. Great work on brining this to light for us. You taught us to see the truth which is to make conscious the unconscious and process that but only for purposes of having a better life not nessisarily the re-excavation of all things. Inspiring logic and power framing from ancient to modern. GRATITUDE, I salute your 🦞😎 strong lobster ways 🤩

  38. I see a lot of truth in this, but after years of in-and-out therapy, some helpful, others not so much, I've done a lot of research (again), feel I've unquestionably uncovered the CAUSE of my problems stemming from a weird childhood, but still don't really know the SOLUTION to them. I guess more research is needed.

  39. This is something ALMOST ALL of do as HUMAN BEINGS in LIFE CONSTANTLY , it's a SUB CONSCIOUS HABIT WE DEVELOP in LIFE about OURSELVES as MEN and WOMEN and WE do it ALL of OUR LIFE . To REFLECT INWARD EVALUATE OURSELVES as MEN and WOMEN or to CHECK YOURSELF in LIFE as a MAN or WOMAN id ALL it is . Most do in the HOPES of SELF IMPROVEMENT or OURSELVES as MAN or WOMAN in LIFE , WE are not and NEVER be PERFECT as a MAN or WOMAN YOU n LIFE and WE ALL know this
    What can do though in LIFE is to TRY and RECOGNIZE OUR SHORT COMING in LIFE and say OPENLY and HONESTLY as a MAN or WOMAN this is a FAULT I have if I WORK on it MAYBE I can CHANGE it and in return make MYSELF a BETTER HUMAN BEING and PERSON to those AROUND ME in LIFE. Most of RECOGNIZE OUR SHOE COMES in LIFE OURSELVES as MEN and WOMEN . Sometimes it a FRIEND or FAMILY MEMBER or most YOUR PARTNER in LIFE , there are not doing it to HUMILIATE ,DEGRADE in LIFE as HUMAN BEING by telling YOU something is WRONG YOU HELP with this in LIFE thatd there JOB in LIFE as a FRIEND someone WHOM CARES in about YOU in LIFE as FELLOW HUMAN BEING in LIFE. The thing is the WAY in which YOU briing UP the CONVERSATION for YOU can TELL a MAN or WOMAN anything in LIFE it's the WAY in which TELL them that's the PROBLEM that can cause a PROBLEM.

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