The author maintains that contemporary neuroses can best be understood as grounded in the modern cleft between the self and its roles. In the absence of well-defined and strictly observed rituals and their accompanying ideologies, anxious young person s today are prone to fabricate their own myths of self-idealization in order to achieve a sense of self-worth and well-being. Not surprisingly, these youngsters tend to latch on to one of the different moral traditions embodied in Western culture. Karen H orney's three basic neurotic options--moving emotionally toward, against or away from others--can be seen to correspond, respectively, to the Judeo-Christian exultation of love and compassion, the Greco-Roman ethic of success and competition, and the West ern ideals of freedom and self-reliance. Thus, by focusing on the social structure of the self, the author is able to account for the contributions of moral traditions and social changes to contemporary neurotic processes.