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Alfred Adler

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Psychology Alfred

Text of Alfred Adler

  • Individual Psychology

  • Born in Vienna in 1870 of a middle-class family

    Died in Aberdeen, Scotland in 1937 while on a lecture tour

    Received a medical degree in 1895 from the University of Vienna

    First specialized in Ophthalmology but after a period of practice in general medicine, he became a


    One of the charter members of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society and later became its President

  • He soon began to develop ideas that were at variance

    with those of Freud and others in the Vienna Society,

    and when these differences became acute, he was asked

    to present his views to the society. This was in 1911.

    As a consequence of the vehement criticism and

    denunciation of Adlers position by other members of the

    society, Adler resigned as President and a few months

    later terminated his connection with Freudian


  • Adler served as a Physician in the Austrian Army during World War I.

    He became interested in child guidance and established the first guidance clinics in connection with

    the Viennese school system.

    Inspired the establishment of an experimental school in Vienna that applied his theories of education

    In 1935, Adler settled in the United States, where he continued his practice as a Psychiatrist and served as

    Professor of Medical Psychology at the Long Island

    College of Medicine.

  • 1. The one dynamic force behind peoples behavior is

    the striving for success or superiority.

    2. Peoples subjective perceptions shape their behavior

    and personality.

    3. Personality is unified and self-consistent.

    4. The value of all human activity must be seen from the

    viewpoint of social interest.

    5. The self-consistent personality structure develops into

    a persons style of life.

    6. Style of life is molded by peoples creative power.

  • Striving for Superiority

    It is a striving for perfect completion.

    Final Goal:

    - To be aggressive

    - To pe powerful

    - To be superior

  • Fictional Finalism

    Humans are motivated more by their expectations of the future than by experiences of the past.

    (Influenced by Hans Vaihinger)

    Ex: All men are created equal.

    Honesty is the best policy.

    The end justifies the means.

    Final Goal:

    A fiction, an ideal that is impossible to realize but that nonetheless is a very real spur to human striving and the ultimate explanation of conduct. Adler believed that the normal person could free him- or herself from the influence of these fictions and face reality when necessity demanded, something that the neurotic person is incapable of doing.

  • Unity and Self-Consistency of Personality

    Thoughts, feelings, and actions are all directed toward a single goal and serve a single purpose.

    Organ Jargon or Organ Dialect

    speak a language which is usually more expressive and discloses

    the individuals opinion more clearly than words are able to do

    (Adler, 1956, p. 223)

    The disturbance of one part of the body cannot be viewed in

    isolation; it affects the entire person. The deficient organ

    expressed the direction of the individuals goal.

  • Social Interest

    Gemeinschaftsgefhl social feeling or community feeling

    - Oneness with all humanity

    consists of the individual helping society to attain the goal of a perfect society: Social interest is the true and inevitable

    compensation for all the natural weaknesses of individual

    human beings (Adler, 1929b, p. 31)

  • Style of Life

    Flavor of a persons life

    explains the uniqueness of a person

    no two people develop the same style

    established by age 4 or 5

    The whole that commands the parts.

  • Creative Power

    Each person is empowered with the freedom to create her or his own style of life. Ultimately, all people are responsible for

    who they are and how they behave.

    places people in control of their own lives, is responsible for their final goal, determines their method of striving for that

    goal, and contributes to the development of social interest

    dynamic concept implying movement, and this movement is the most salient characteristic of life

    makes each person a free individual

  • Adler (1929/1964) used an interesting analogy, which he

    called the law of the low doorway. If you are trying to walk

    through a doorway four feet high, you have two basic choices.

    First, you can use your creative power to bend down as you

    approach the doorway, thereby successfully solving the problem.

    This is the manner in which the psychologically healthy individual

    solves most of lifes problems. Conversely, if you bump your head

    and fall back, you must still solve the problem correctly or continue

    bumping your head. Neurotics often choose to bump their head on

    the realities of life.

    When approaching the low doorway, you are neither

    compelled to stoop nor forced to bump your head. You have a

    creative power that permits you to follow either course.

  • 1. Family Constellation

    Adler almost always asked patients about their

    family constellation, that is, their birth order, the gender

    of their siblings, and the age spread between them.

    Although peoples perception of the situation into which

    they were born is more important than numerical rank,

    Adler did form some general hypotheses about birth


  • Adlers View of Some Possible Traits by Birth Order

    Positive Traits Negative Traits

    Oldest Child Nurturing and protective of


    Good organizer

    Highly anxious

    Exaggerated feelings of power

    Unconscious hostility

    Fights for acceptance

    Must always be right, whereas

    others are always wrong

    Highly critical of others


    Second Child Highly motivated


    Moderately competitive

    Highly competitive

    Easily discouraged

    Youngest Child Realistically ambitious Pampered style of life

    Dependent on others

    Wants to excel in everything

    Unrealistically ambitious

    Only Child Socially Mature Exaggerated feelings of superiority

    Low feelings of cooperation

    Inflated sense of self

    Pampered style of life

  • 2. Early Recollections

    To gain an understanding of patients personality

    Although Adler believed that the recalled memories yield

    clues for understanding patients style of life, he did not consider

    these memories to have a causal effect. Whether the recalled

    experiences correspond with objective reality or are complete

    fantasies is of no importance. People reconstruct the events to

    make them consistent with a theme or pattern that runs throughout

    their lives.

  • 3. Dreams

    Although dreams cannot foretell the future, they

    can provide clues for solving future problems.

    If one interpretation doesnt feel right, try another.

  • 4. Psychotherapy

    Adlerian theory postulates that psychopathology results from lack of courage, exaggerated feelings of inferiority, and underdeveloped social interest. Thus, the chief purpose of Adlerian psychotherapy is to enhance courage, lessen feelings of inferiority, and encourage social interest. This task, however, is not easy because patients struggle to hold on to their existing, comfortable view of themselves.