The Acorn Metaphor

The existential psychotherapist Irvin Yalom recounts in  his book The Gift of Therapy (New York: HarperCollins, 2009) how he encountered Karen Horney’s Neurosis and Human Growth as a “young psychotherapy student” (p. 1). What motivated Yalom was Horney’s insight that human like is like an acorn that has the potential to grow into a tree, if the obstacles can be removed. The acorn metaphor was a guiding principle for Yalom to develop insights and action strategies for clients to consider. James Hillman also uses the acorn metaphor in his book The Soul’s Code: In Search of Character and Calling (New York: Random House, 1996).