For the neurotic, reality is an intrusion. The neurotic is the one who says: “Life is awful; it is so full of reality.”[i] There is a paradox here: Is the neurotic disturbed because of his or her rejection of reality, or is reality itself something that actually makes life awful, and, therefore, creates the neurotic who finds it intrusive? The neurotic lives an illusion: but that illusion is that things should be better.
From a moral perspective, the neurotic is right – things should be better. But, if this is the case, why can’t we learn from the neurotic? If we listen to the one who thinks things should be better, we might be able to see how better things can actually come about. Instead we nullify the neurotic mind, tranquilising its Utopian-born anxieties with drugs. Civilisation tells us that neurosis is a terrible illness, not a path to enlightenment.
But, how is neurosis an illness? According to Horney the neurotic’s problem is that he or she makes claims on things that they are not actually entitled to.[ii] The result is indignation.
It is here that we see how neurosis seeps into the very fabric of society; through the fantasy of entitlement, which is itself created by the ambiguity of that same entitlement that is fostered by civilisation. How far do our rights go? How extensive are our entitlements? What does our democratic freedom provide us with? Once one starts to attempt to answer these questions, one is pushing oneself ever closer toward a neurosis.
But inspiration itself is a neurosis forming phenomenon. The illusionary reality of the neurotic is encouraged by the System itself: “You deserve that car that you can’t afford, and because you deserve it we will give you the finance for it – all you have to do is pay us back with interest.” The luxury car, in the neurosis creating system, becomes a neurotic need. Of course it isn’t an authentic necessity for anyone, but the system tells us that it is.
The neurotic is a passive creature, “all the good things in life, including contentment of soul, should come to him,”[iii] and the neurosis creating society must also fabricate passivity. A passivity which is linked through neurosis with consumerism.
[i] K. Horney, NEUROSIS AND HUMAN GROWTH, p. 40
[ii] Ibid, p. 41
[iii] Ibid, p. 50