ALFRED ADLER'S "INDIVIDUAL PSYCHOLOGY"
Second of 6 children. Adler couldn't walk until 4 years old due to rickets.
Was hit by a car at age 5. Skinny, weak, sickly, and tormented by his older
brother. Felt small, unattractive, and rejected by his mother. Idolized
his father, a personable, successful, wealthy merchant. Was jealous of his
older brother Sigmund. Felt like he was in competition with his brother.
Worked hard to overcome his handiciaps and inferiorities. Became very outgoing
and social. His brother despised him because he was different and made friends
easily with everyone -- people from all group in the multicultural neighborhood
in Vienna where he grew up.
At the University of Vienna, he became an opthalmologist. He read frued
and a criticism of Freud, and felt prompted to write a defense of Freud.
Freud wrote to him and invited him to join the Viennese Psychoanalytic Society.
Adler became one of 4 charter members of Freud's group in 1902. For about
10 years they were good friends, until he resigned his presidency of the
Society in 1911 and broke with Freud. He came to view Freud as inflexible
in his views, a power triper, and obsessed with sex and death.
Was a doctor in the Austrian Army during World War I, wrote readable popular
books, and organized child guidance clinics in the Viennese school syßtem.
Influenced Karen Horney (social factors), Gordon Allport (unity of personality),
Henry Murray (individual traits), E.C. Tolman (purpose), Julian Rotter (expectancies),
and Abraham Maslow (Self-actualization. Maslow, Rollo May, and Carl Rogers
all studied under Adler, and all gave him credit for having influenced their
thinking. He could be characterized as the forerunner of humanistic psychology.
SOCIAL CHARACTER OF LIFE.
Person must be seen in social situation. All important problems and values
are social problems and values. Adler's approach was a kind of holistic
social "field theory" that predated Lewin. .
Adler was not so interested in the unconscious or spirituality. Emphasis
on the social. He viewed people as mostly conscious rather than mostly unconscious
Referred to private logic -- our own inner chatterbox that tells us what
A COMPREHENSIVE VIEW. Like Freud, Adler gave us an all-encompassing
view of the human being. An alternative to Freud. For Adler, it was useless
to focus on drives and impulses without giving attention to how the person
creatively directs the drives.
MASCULINE PROTEST. Early in his career Adler put forth the idea of "Masculine
protest." The desire to be above, like a "real man". In so
doing he replaced biological, external, objective causal explanations with
psychological, internal, subjective causal explanation.
IN MEN: Feminine traits are carefully hidden by exaggerated masculine
wishes and efforts. This is a form of overcompensation, because the feminine
tendency is evaluated negatively in a patriarchal, masculine-dominated culture.
This can lead to setting the highest, often unattainable goals for oneself.
It develops a craving for satisfaction and triumph, intensifies both abilities
and egotistical drives, including avarice and ambition. Defiance, vengeance,
and resentment accompany it, sometimes leading to continuous conflicts.
Pathological fantasies of grandeur result from overly strong masculine protests.
The child may seek to surpass the father in every respect and thereby come
into conflict with him.
IN WOMEN. The masculine protest in women is usually covered up and
transformed, seeking to triumph with feminine means. In our culture one
may find a repressed wish to become transformed into a
man. Neurotic mechanisms such as sexual anaesthesia may result.
Comments by Adler's editors Heinz and Rowena Ansbacher: "When
the striving for superiority and overcoming replaced the masculine protest
[in Adler's thinking], the term became limited to the more restricted meaning
of the preceding paragraph. It referred to manifestations in women protesting
against their feminine role....
"When the masculine protest is increased, it produces such symptoms
as...'frigidity, few children, sometimes a late marriage, a weak husband;
and nervous disorders which are often related to the menses, pregnancy,
childbirth, and the menopause'.
But the masculine protest may also result in positive adjustment. "The
girl...develops a pronounced feeling of inferiority and pushes on vigorously.
She thus discloses a more thorough training which often gives her marked
traits of greater energy. This...can produce a vast number of both good
and bad conseqequences [including] all sorts of human excellents and shortcomings."
Adler was still thinking of the aggressive drive as the basic dynamic principle
when he was young and striving to assert his own ideas in opposition to
NEED FOR AFFECTION.
The need for social relationships is present from the start. If satisfaction
is denied to the outgoing seeking for affection, then the child may turn
in on himself or herself in narcississtic self-love.
STRIVING FOR SUPERIORITY (OR PERFECTION)
The basic dynamic force between all human activity -- striving from a feeling
of inferiority to one of superiority.
"To be a human being," he wrote, "means to feel oneself inferior."
Adler believed that inferiority felings are the source of all human striving.
All individual progress, growth and development result from the attempt
to compensate for one's inferiorities, be theyor real.
For Adler, we're all overcoming an inferiority. Feeling unattractive, or
don't belong somewhere. Not strong enough or smart enough. So everyone is
trying to overcome something that is hampering them from becoming what they
want to become.
Organ inferiorities become psychologically effective through the intervention
of feelings of inferiority.
The meaning of superiority changed through the years. Later it came to mean
perfection, completion, or overcoming. Unlike at the beginning, the frame
of reference was no longer the neurotic, but the mentally healthy individual.
It came to mean not superior over, not competition. Rather it became like
A ceaselessness and universality of striving. The striving for perfections
is innate in the sense that it is a part of life.
Trhoughout a person's life, Adler believed, he or she is motivated by the
need to overcome the sense of inferiority and strive for ever higher levels
Inferiority complex: When an inability to overcome inferiority feelings
heightens and intensifies them.
In the mentally ill, the goal of superiority turns in the direction of wanting
to domineer over others, lean on others, leave tasks of life unsolved in
order not to suffer sure defeats. These goals contradict reason.
FICTIONALISM (Hans Vaihinger)
Vaihinger defined "fictions" as ideas, incl. unconscious notions,
which have no counterpart in reality, yet enable us to deal wi_h it better
than we could otherwise. Ex: "All men are created equal". It contradicts
reality, yet as an idea has great practical value in everyday life.
Compare to a hypothesis: Whereas a hypothosis submits its reality _o
test and demands verification, the fiction is a sort of auxiliary construct.
Dogma, by contrast, refers to an idea which is considered definitly established.
FICTIONAL FINAL GOAL. Based in subjective reality. Something we are
all trying to reach, that we strive for. we have within ourselves. Child
develops this as a safeguard to deal with the world around.
Fictions are no_ reducible tocauses. They are mental states.
A fictional final goal became for Adler the principle of internal subjective
causation of psychological even_s. A basic asp´ct of our orien_ation
in the world, and one aspect of compensation for felt inferiorities.
THE "CREATIVE SELF" Known by its effects. We have freedom
to act, determine our fate, determine our personality and affect our style
of life. Creative power of the self means we consciously shape our personalities
and destinies. The creative power of the self is the essential principle
of human life. Heredity gives us "certain abilities," environment
gives us "certain imporessions, These, along with the way we interpret
and experience them, make up the bricks we use in our own creative way to
construct our individual atttudes toward life and our relaions to the outside
world. We consciously shape our personalities and destinis.
LIFE PLAN: Our strategy to deal with the world around us. Life play
and FFG are similar, they're related. In life plan the child develops a
strategy, then tries to get a handle on what's going on around them. This
becomes the fictional final goal and ultimately the lifestyle.
Adler viewed Freud as too concerned with the past. He himself was
oriented toward the future. We look to the future, to our expectations,
rather than to the past to explain our behavior.
STYLE OF LIFE . Comparable to the psyche, personality. It is what we
are, who we are, what we want to be. The life style is usually set in motion
by age 4 or 5. It is involved in the uniqueness of each person, and that
person's unique way of striving for superiority. Includes the goal, the
person's opinion of self and world, and his or her unique way of striving
for the goal in his or her particular situation.
Our basic personality, our uniqueness and how we live our life, comes from
the creative power of the self. Heredity, environment, conscious,
unconscious all contribute to this.
Everything Adler says ties into the lifestyle. For Adler, meanings are not
determined by situation, but we are self-determined by the meaning we attribute
to a situation.
Style of life is equated with self or ego, a unity of personality. Individuality
is seen as th´individual form of creative activity. There is a focus
on the direction potentialities are taking. This is heavily influenced by
SUCCESS, in Adler's terms, dealt with how we fit into the environment
while being true to ourselves. You're individual, unique. If you're successful
only in doing what others want you to, you're not really successful if it
doesn't fit you personally.
Gives us basically a positive outlook on life. An interest in furthering
the welfare of others. We can all work together toward this goal. If we
don't have a faulty lifestyle, we will progress together to help society.
IDEAL PERSONALITY: THE SOCIALLY USEFUL PERSON.
Wise socialization is achieved not through repression but through social
interest,. This is a potential to cooperate with others to achieve personal
and social goals. This became Adler's criterion for normality and maturity.
People can be trained in this direction starting in infance. Social interest
gives us basically a positive outlook on life. An interest in furthering
the welfare of others. We can all work together toward this goal. If we
don't have a faulty lifestyle, we will progress together to help society.
SOCIAL INTEREST AND INTELLIGENCE. Adler saw social interest as an important
part of a person's intelligent functioning in a given situation. The degree
of a person's social interest determines whether his or her intellectual
solution of a problem will have general validity, that is, will be reasonable
Good intellectual functioning produces solutions to problems which make
sense not only to the individual but also to the group.
GENIUS, acc. to Adler, is primarily a person of supreme usefulness.
The essence of genius lies neither in inherited qualities nor environmental
influences, but in that third sphere of individual reaction which includes
the possibility of socially affirmative action. It is only when someone's
life is recognized by others as having significance for them that we call
him or her a genius.
This is striving on the "commonly useful side."
Poor adjustment is striving on the "commonly useless side."
Mental disturbances are thus understood as disturbances not only in the
individual, but in the social situation as well.
Adler presumes an innate potential for social interest. Not to want to help
one's neighbor is one of the characteristics of maladjustment. The person
whose social interest is developed finds the solution to problems, feels
at home in the world, and perceives more clearly.
The person not interested in his or her fellows has the greatest difficulties
in life and provides the greatest injury to others. "It is from
among such individuals that all human failures spring. "
PERSONALITY PROBLEMS. Related to a faulty style of life, usually developed
COMMUNITY: People have always had to cooperate. A person must cooperate
with and contribute to society to realize both own and society's goals.
To a striving for superiorit¥ and social interest, Adler later added
a third primary motive of degree of activity.
Three things that can interfere with social interest are.
1. Organ inferiorities: People say, "poor kid," etc. Kid
starts to think, "I'm missing something that the other kids have. If
circumstance are right for it, these feelings will roll and roll like a
big snowball. If incorrectly handled by parents aroound the child, they
can lead to faulty lifestyle.
2. The pampered child. Spoiled brat. "Why should I love my neighbor
when my neighbor hasn't done anything for me? I'm here for myself, nobody
else. Can get paranoid if others don't give him or her what he or she wants.
This often occurs when the parents raised the child for themselves and their
own gratification. Didn't bring him up to be a good member of, to contribute
3. The Neglected child. Also feels cheated by life. Didn't have enough
love, caring, etc. Society owes me that. I want to get it back. They cheated
on me, so I'm getting what's mine. Like the pampered child. A self-perpetuating
The neurotic overcompensates for feeling insecure to protect self-esteem.
Points to his symptom to justify lack of social interest. Overindulged child
may become self-centered, neglected child may seek revenge against society.
The safeguarding aspect. To overcompensate for feelings of insecurity and
protect his self-esteem, a neurotic can alwa¥s point toward his s¥mptom
as justification for lack of social interest.
Neurotic approaches to life include:
1) A distancing attituded
3) A narrowed path
4) A hesitating attitude.
The person is a victim of a wrong attitude toward life that they learned
during childhood. People push their difficulties on others and evade realities.
A TYPOLOGY. Emerges from combining degrees of activity with social
Socially useful person. High social interest and high degree of activity.
Ruling person: Low social interest and high degree of activity. Out
for own self interest, not others. Might be tyrant or despot.
Getting person: Take all and give nothing.
Recluse: Low social interest and low activity.
(I have not seen high social interest and low activity mentioned.
EARLIEST MEMORIES: In his therapeutic practice this is the first question
Adler would always ask, and use it as a basis for discovering the person's
lifestyle. It doesn't matter whether it's true or not. What's important
is that you chose those words, that incient, and vocalized it. If you're
lying about it, lying and deceit probably characterize your life.
There are no chance memories, thought Adler. We consciously choose what
we want to remember, because it will help us in some endeavor.
2 functions: Problem solving
Did not deal with nightmares, so far as I know.
Dreams serve as a bridge to what we want to attain. To a certain degree
they are prophetic. They keep us moving forward. Dream could be practice
for an event thåt is coming up. When you practice something you're
moving forward and helping solve a problem.
Pioneered interest in this area. Adler posited birth order as one of
the major childhood social influences from which the individual creates
a style of life.
There is potentially a favorable or unfavorable outcome from each birth
OLDER CHILD. Can feel dethroned. Inferior to younger child
Favorable outcome -- feel responsibility, take care of others.
Unfavorable outcome: Insecure, overly reliant on rules.
MIDDLE CHILD. Has a model in the older child, must share attention from
the beginning. Doesn't realize until later that the older child was alone
Favorable outcome: Be ambitious. Want to be at least as good as the older
child. Strong social interest.
Unfavorable outcome: Rebellious and envious. Permanent tencdency to try
to surpass others. Difficulty in role of follower.
YOUNGEST. Lots of attention. Often pampered.
Favorable: Much stimulation. Many chances to compete.
Unfavorable: Feel inferior to everyone..
ONLY. Gets undivided attention, often pampered, may compete with father.
1. Understanding the specific style of life of the patient.
2). Explaining the patient to himself or herself.
3. Strenggthening the social interest in the patient.
In sum, Understand, interpret, direct.
AA: Founders talked with Jung, and probably also Adler.