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Patriarchy and self-hate: Mary Daly's psychological assessment of patriarchal religion appraised and critiqued in the context of Karen Horney's psychoanalytic theory.

By Paula Hope. Durham


Mary Daly's psychological description of the pathology of patriarchal religion and her conclusions about the source of the pathology: misogyny, and its cure: Biophilic women's separatism, have received mixed reviews among scholars. In light of my research into the psychological theory of Karen Horney on the source, structure, and cure of psychological pathology, I find myself disagreeing with Daly's description of both cause and cure. Therefore, an evaluation of Daly's psychological theory in light of Horney's suggested itself. How would the hatred of women as the source of pathology stand up against Horney's theory of basic anxiety resulting in self-hate as pathology's source? How would Daly's biophilic separatism stand up as a cure over against Horney's view of health as imbued with wholeheartedness and compassion and a willingness to accept one's share of the blame? Put simply, Daly's psychological paradigm is built on a view of patriarchy and patriarchal religion as misogynist to its very core, producing masochistically self-hating women and sadistic, misogynist self-hating men. The cure is for women to remove themselves physically but above all psychically from patriarchal religions and all the institutions of patriarchy and to heal themselves in a biophilic community of women-only. Men who remain within any of the patriarchal institutions would be incurable. Men who leave patriarchal institutions behind would have to form their own separate community and heal themselves. Daly does not hold out much hope for the latter. Karen Horney's psychological paradigm, on the other hand, is built on a non-gendered view of pathology rooted in inadequate parenting that drives a person to abandon his or her real spontaneous, limited self in exchange for a false one that seems better suited to meet the exigencies of the immediate childhood situation. This abandonment of the real self is, for Horney, self-hate. From this move three modi operandi slowly emerge: the aggressive-vindictive, the compliant-morbidly dependent, and the detached-resigned. Each of these coping strategies moulds the false self into an idealized self while simultaneously crushing the real self. This idealized self arrogates to itself characteristics and privileges that belong to all, while projecting responsibilities and liabilities onto others that belong to all. The movement out of pathology toward health demands a deconstruction of the idealized self and an emerging acceptance of the real self with its shared privileges, responsibilities, good qualities and faults. When these paradigms are put side-by-side, an interesting parallelism occurs. Daly's sadistic misogynist patriarchal male and Horney's aggressive-vindictive type have much in common. Daly's masochistically self-hating patriarchal woman and Horney's compliant-morbidly dependent type have many things in common with a significant difference in reference to personal responsibility. Daly's Biophilic, separatist woman has much in common with Horney's third pathological type, the detached-resigned type. In this thesis I will argue that the failures and inadequacies of Daly's psychological paradigm are quite apparent when it is compared to Karen Horney's psychological paradigm. I will argue that Daly's conclusion that misogyny is the source of patriarchal pathology rather than a gender-free category like Horney's self-hate, leads her to a very one-sided psychological description of both men and women within patriarchy, and women within separatist Biophilic communities, and therefore that her conclusions regarding both the cause and cure of the pathology within patriarchy, religious or otherwise, need to be more carefully scrutinized

Topics: Religion, General.
Publisher: University of Ottawa (Canada)
Year: 1997
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Provided by: Recherche uO Research
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