Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences

Living Edition
| Editors: Virgil Zeigler-Hill, Todd K. Shackelford

Basic Anxiety (Horney)

  • Frederick L. CoolidgeEmail author
  • Shannon E. Matlock
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-28099-8_1363-1



The feelings of insecurity that arise early in childhood where children perceive that they are unloved or undervalued


Psychoanalyst Karen Horney described the concept of “basic anxiety” or “basic conflict” in her 1945 book, Our Inner Conflicts. She defined basic anxiety as the feelings that arise in a child from being unloved, unvalued, or insecure. She wrote:

[Basic anxiety] …the feeling a child has of being isolated and helpless in a potentially hostile world. A wide range of adverse factors in the environment can produce this insecurity in a child: direct or indirect domination, indifference, erratic behavior, lack of respect for the child’s individual needs, lack of real guidance, disparaging attitudes, too much admiration or the absence of it, lack of reliable warmth, having too much or too little responsibility, over protection, isolation from other children, injustice, discrimination, unkept promises, hostile atmosphere, and so on...

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Colorado – Colorado SpringsColorado SpringsUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Simon Boag
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyMacquarie UniversityNorth RydeAustralia