Basic hostility

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Basic hostility is a psychological concept first described by psychoanalyst Karen Horney. Horney described it as a bad attitude which child develops as a result of "basic evil". Horney generally defines basic evil as "invariably the lack of genuine warmth and affection".[1] Basic evil includes all range of inappropriate parental behavior – from lack of affection to abuse

The pattern of basic hostility[edit]

  • The child wants to leave, but cannot. Although the child wants to avoid the abuse, his parents are perpetrating it.
  • The child cannot move away or fight back against his parents because he is dependent on them.
  • The child therefore redirects his feelings and expressions of hostility toward people he does not depend on for support.

According to Horney, some children find Basic Hostility to be an aggressive coping strategy and continue using it to deal with life's problems.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Horney, Karen. The neurotic personality of our time. WW Norton & Company, 1994.