The devil's pact has been a subject of interest to many throughout the ages. Many great novels have been built around this theme. It has remained for Horney to shed the light of modern psychoanalysis on this crucial problem, to confirm it clinically, to link it with other basic elements in the neurotic character structure, and finally, to see its crucial significance for therapy of the neuroses.
When the neurotic individual attempts to escape from his inner conflicts by self-glorification and the erection of an idealized self, he takes a step which has disastrous consequences for his life. His reality, with its flaws and limitations, comes to be hated and contemptible to him. He turns away from it, but it remains to mock his visions of glory. Vindictively, he turns aginst this despised self and attempts to destroy this crowning insult to his pride. Attempting to escape the terror of his self-destructiveness, he renounces both his neurotic as well as his healthy human strivings. The self, though it has been greatly weakened during the course of the neurotic character development, nevertheless remains alive. Each assertion of this aliveness evokes a destructive reaction from its implacable enemy, the pride, and finally the self succumbs. Raphael is, of course, his own executioner, and his death is a suicide.