The Pride System and False Identification
The most important aspect of an idealized image is neurotic pride, a false pride based, not on a realistic view of the true self, but on a spurious image of the idealized self.
Neurotic pride is qualitatively different from healthy pride or realistic self-esteem. Genuine self-esteem is based on realistic attributes and accomplishments and is generally expressed with quiet dignity.
Neurotic pride, on the other hand, is based on an idealized image of self and is usually loudly proclaimed in order to protect and support a glorified view of one’s self.
Neurotics imagine themselves to be glorious, wonderful and perfect, so when others fail to treat them with special consideration, their neurotic pride is hurt. To prevent the hurt, they avoid people who refuse to yield to their neurotic claims, and, instead, they try to become associated with socially prominent and prestigious institutions and acquisitions.
In Neurosis and Human Growth, Karen Horney , German psychoanalyst (1885-1952) , who is often classified as Neo-Freudian, explains that the pride system results in a particular kind of egocentricity:
“To begin with, the pride system removes the neurotic from others by making him egocentric. To avoid misunderstanding: by egocentricity I do not mean selfishness or egotism in the sense of considering merely one’s advantage. The neurotic may be callously selfish or too unselfish – there is nothing in this regard that is characteristic for all neuroses.
But he is always egocentric in the sense of being wrapped up in himself.
This need not be apparent on the surface – he may be a lone wolf or live for and through others. Nevertheless he lives in any case by his private religion (his idealized image), abides by his own laws (his shoulds), within the barbed wire fence of his own pride and with his own guards to protect him against dangers from within an without.
As a result he not only becomes more isolated emotionally but it also becomes more difficult for him to see others as individuals in their own right, different from himself. They are subordinated to his prime concern: himself”