TRIBUTE to ALFRED ADLER
CHAPTER 2 ‑ Birth Order, Fictional Finalism, Theory of Psychoanalysis
CHAPTER 3 ‑ Style of Life and Social Interest
CHAPTER 4 ‑ Inferiority, Compensation and Superiority
CHAPTER 5 ‑ What Others say about Adler’s Theories
CHAPTER 6 ‑ Questions for Individual Psychologist
CHAPTER 7 ‑ Organ Inferiority and Compensation
CHAPTER 8 ‑ Fictionalism and Finalism
CHAPTER 9 ‑ Striving for Superiority and Style of Life
CHAPTER 10 ‑ Social Interest from an Adlerian Perspective
CHAPTER 11 ‑ Fundamentals of Adlerian Psychology
CHAPTER 12 ‑ Notes From “Understanding Human Nature”
CHAPTER 13 ‑ Style of life
CHAPTER 14 ‑ Individual Psychological Treatment
CHAPTER 15 ‑ Individual Psychological Therapeutics
CHAPTER 16 ‑ Summary of Adler’s Teachings
CHAPTER 17 ‑ Beverly’s Case History and Adler Bibliography
In 1972 and 1973, I went through four quarters of Clinical Pastoral Education (C.P.E.) at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C. When I went there, I was a very outgoing person but inside, l felt inferior. When someone gave me a compliment, I would smile and say “Thank you,” but inside I would discount the compliment.During the second quarter of C.P.E., our supervisor Chaplain Ray Stephens assigned each student, two pioneer psychologist to present a class on each. I was assigned to report on Alfred Adler and Viktor Frankl. As I prepared those two classes, I began to notice a change in how I felt about myself. I recognized that I could overcome my inferiority feelings (Adler) and that I could have meaning and purpose in my life (Frankl). As a result of those two classes, I went from low man on the totem pole to a class leader. The transformation I experienced (physically, emotionally and spiritually) could be compared to a conversion experience. Adler and Frankl (Article on Frankl will follow) have contributed to my understanding of human personality and how I relate to an individual in the therapeutic situation.
Thyra Boldes once wrote of Adler that he was real, whether he was joking or serious, whether in private discussion or lectures, his real personality always seemed to say, “Life is holy. Have reverence for life. Every thing which happens is important.”
In his youth, Adler was a sickly child which caused him embarrassment and pain. These early experiences with illnesses and accidents probably account for his theory of organ inferiority and were the foundation for his theories on inferiority feelings. According to Adler, each individual has a weak area in their body (organ inferiority) which tends to be the area where illness occurs ‑ such as the stomach, head, heart, back, lungs, etc. Adler said that to some degree every emotion finds expression in the body. From his understanding of organ inferiority, Adler began to see each individual as having a feeling of inferiority. Adler wrote, “To be a human being means to feel oneself inferior.” The child comes into the world as a helpless little creature surrounded by powerful adults. A child is motivated by feelings of inferiority to strive for greater things. Those feelings of inferiority activate a person to strive upward so that normal feelings of inferiority activate a person to strive upward so that normal feelings of inferiority impel the human being to solve his problems successful, whereas the inferiority complex impedes or prevents him from doing so.
The healthy individual will strive to overcome her inferiority through involvement with society. She is concerned about the welfare of others as well as herself. She develops good feelings of self‑worth and self‑assurance. On the other hand, some are more concerned with selfishness than with social interest. She may express this selfishness in a need to dominate, to refuse to cooperate, wanting to take and not to give. From these unhealthy responses, the person develops an inferiority complex or a superiority complex. A superiority complex is a cover up for an inferiority complex. They are different sides of the same coin. The person with the superiority complex has hidden doubts about her abilities.
Adler developed a theory of personality based upon: (1) inferiority feelings and inferiority complex, (2) striving for superiority, (3) style of life, (4) social interest, (5) birth order, (6) fictional finalism, (7) the creative self, (8) masculine protest, (9) the interpretation of dreams, and (10) theory of psychotherapy. I will discus how some of these theories have affected me. Adler said, “We do not flatter ourselves, we have not explored the last and ultimate facts, nor have we voiced the last truth. All we have attained cannot be more than part of the present knowledge and culture. And we are looking forward to those who are coming after us.” If we, as hypnotherapists, would take that statement to heart; we would be much better off as a profession. Adler describes four basic life styles: (1) The first type is well‑adjusted and does not strive for personal superiority but seeks to solve his problems in ways that are useful to others as well as himself. (2) The second type wants to prove his personal superiority by ruling others. (3) The third type wants to get everything though others without an effort or struggle on his own (4) The fourth type avoids every decision.
Adler believed that an almost radical change in character and behavior will take lace when the individual adopts new goals. The way to help a person with any negative responsive life style is to help the person move form reacting wrongly to life by changing his way of viewing life. People can change, the past can be released so that the individual is free to be happy in the present and future. Adler’s Fictional Finalism is an interesting concept for hypnotherapist. Fictional finalism simply states that people act as much from the “as if” as from reality. One of my understandings of the subconscious mind is that whatever the subconscious mind accepts as true, it acts “as if” it is true whether it is or not. When one imagines tasting a lemon, he month waters and often taste the lemon “as if” there really was a lemon to lick.
According to Adlerian counseling, the counselor explores the current life situation as it is viewed by the client to include his complaint, problems and symptoms. The client’s early life and position in the family constellation are discussed. Adler believed that the order of birth is an important determiner of personality. The first born is given a great deal of attention until the second child is born and the first is dethroned. The dethroning experience may affect the child in a number of ways such as hatred for the second child, conservatism, insecurity, or may cause a striving to protect other and be a helper. The second child is in a different situation for he shares attention from the beginning which may cause him to be more cooperative or competitive. He may strive to surpass the older child. All other children are dethroned but never the youngest who is often spoiled. He may seek to be taken care of by others or strive to overcome all others.
Some favorite questions of Adler were: “And why do you feel like that?” “What purposed does your illness serve?” “What do you think is the reason for your reacting that way?” The interpretation puts an emphasis on the individual’s goal and life style. The Mirror Technique is used whereby the individual looks at himself. Adler compares the client with a person who is caught in a dark room and cannot find an exit. The therapist helps the client illuminate the room so that she can find a way out to a new way of dealing with the problem. Adler wrote, “Every individual represents both a unity of personality and the individual fashions that unity. The individual is thus both the picture and the artist.” Therefore if one can change her concept of herself, she can change the picture she is painting.
Adler had very little to say about hypnosis, but what little he did say indicates that he did not understand the clinical possibilities of hypnosis. He recognized that no one can be hypnotized against his will. He did believe that the individual who allowed himself to be hypnotized placed himself under the power of the hypnotist. In spite of his misunderstanding of hypnosis, he offers a lot to the hypnotherapist with his Fictional Finalism, Mirror Technique, Family Constellation, and his understanding of Inferiority Feelings and Inferiority Complex.
CHAPTER 2: BIRTH ORDER, FICTIONAL FINALISM AND THEORY OF PSYCHOANALYSIS
Adler stressed that the order of birth was an important determiner of personality. In spite of their common heritage, siblings are usually very different from each other. It is not the child’s position in the successive births that influences his character, but the situation into which he is born and the way in which he interprets it. For instance: if two children of a family are born much later than the earlier ones, the oldest of the two may develop like a first born and the younger one as a second child.The first born child is given a great deal of attention until the second child is born and then the first is dethroned from his favored position. This dethroning experience may affect the child in a number of ways. It may cause him to protect himself against reversals, be conservative and insecure or it may cause him to develop a striving to protect others and be a helper. “If the parents have allowed the first‑born to feel sure of their affection, if he knows that his position is secure, and above all, if he is prepared for the arrival of the younger child and has been trained to cooperate in its care, the crisis will pass without ill effects.”
The second child is in a different situation for he shares attention with another child and is therefore a little more likely to cooperate than the oldest child. He has a sibling that is older than he is and who is ahead of him so the strives to catch up. Adler used the Biblical account of Jacob and Esau as an example for the second child’s striving to surpass the older sibling. The second child may continue his exaggerated struggle for equally with the older child or his ambitiousness may result in worthwhile achievement.
All other children may be dethroned but never the youngest who is always the baby of the family and often spoiled in the process. As he has no followers but many pacemakers, he may strive to overcome them all. Again Adler uses the Bible to illustrate his point as he refers to Joseph and David. He includes Joseph because he was 17‑years‑old when his younger brother, Benjamin, was born. Adler believed that the oldest child would most likely become a problem child and a neurotic maladjusted adult with the youngest following closely behind. The second child is by and large better adjusted than either his older or younger siblings.
The only child has problems of his own for the mother often pampers him. She is afraid of losing him, so spoils him as a results of her over protectiveness. As he has no siblings, his feelings of competition is often directed against his father or a girl against her mother. In later years when he is no longer the center of attention, he may have difficulties.
Adler was influenced by the philosopher Hans Vaihinger whose book, The Psychology of the “As If” was published in 1911. In this book, Vaihinger proposed that people live by many fictional ideals that have no relations to reality. These are ideas that cannot be tested and confirmed. Some of these are “all men are created equal,” “honesty is the best policy,” and “the end justifies the means.” The fictions may help people to deal more effectively with the reality or may hinder his efforts to accept reality. Adler took this idea and came to the conclusion that people are motivated more by their expectations of the future than they are by the past. If a person believes that there is heaven for those who are good and hell for those who are bed, it will probably affect how he lives. An ideal or absolute is a fiction. Adler’s Fictional Finalism is an interesting idea for hypnotherapist. Fictional Finalism simply states that people act as much from the “as if” as from reality. One of my understandings of the subconscious mind is that whatever the subconscious mind accepts as true, it acts “as if” it is true whether it is or not. When one imagines tasting a lemon, his month waters and often he tastes the lemon “as if” there really was a lemon to lick.Ansbacher states that there are five points to Adler’s understanding of Fictional Finalism: (1) The fictional final goal became for Adler the principle for internal, subjective causation of psychological events, (2) The goal represented a creation of the individual and was largely subconscious, (3) It also became the principle of unity and self‑consistency of the personality structure: from the point of the view of the subject, the fictional goal was taken (4) as the basis for orientation in the world and (5) as one aspect of compensation for felt inferiority.
THEORY OF PSYCHOANALYSIS:
The Adlerian Therapist departed from Freud’s method of having the client recline on a couch while the therapist sits behind the client. Adler preferred to face the client and engage in free discussion, not free association. There are four phases of counseling for the Adlerian: (1) the relationship, (2) the investigation of dynamics, (3) interpretations to the client and (4) reorientation.The relationship with the client that the Adlerian seeks to establish is one of friendliness and cooperation. Adler places a high value on the social relationship between the therapist and the client.
He believed that this relationship could serve as a reeducation bridge to other relationships. He felt that all people who fail are deficient in concern and love for their fellow human beings. He spent a lot of time in an attempt to help the client develop social interest. The Adlerian’s concept of cooperation follows as the therapist sets the example of love, concern and friendship. Adler personally emanated a quiet magic and one felt his inner warmth and interest so strong that there was immediate rapport between him and the client. The investigation phase explores the current life situation as it is viewed by the client to include his complaints, problems, and symptoms. The functioning of the individual in the three major areas of life (work, social, and sex) are investigated and discussed. The patient’s early life, position in the family constellation, and his relationships to siblings and parents are discussed. The following questions and similar ones are often asked, “And why do you feel like that about it?” “What do you think is the reason for your reacting that way?” “What purpose does your illness serve?” Gradually the client realizes how he got into his way of making inappropriate reactions to his problem. Knowing why he reacts as he does, he has the opportunity to change. As he changes, he is in a position to substitute a wise for a foolish reaction, a courageous for a cowardly one, a normal for a hysterical one.
The interpretation phase put an emphasis on the goals and style of life of the client. The therapist has the client look at his feelings and the purpose for his feelings. The client will not be told what to do but is shown how he is living out his style of life and what it cost the client to do so. The mirror technique is used by which the individual looks at himself. In the reorientation stage, the client is encouraged to drop the old style of life and take up another that will help him to deal with the realities of life and receives satisfaction from living. The Adlerian uses encouragement extensively in their therapy. The purpose of this encouragement is to help the patient make the transfer from a style of life that is faulty to one that is healthy. Encouragement is given with the understanding that the client must gain for himself an attitude toward life that will allow him to approach and overcome his problems in a realistic manner. To be healthy, the client must learn to handle his problems with common sense and social interest instead of fantasy. The therapist should be optimistic, cheerful, tolerant, active and have empathy. Clients should find the therapist a dependable and benevolent human being. Adler compares the individual who has a faulty style of life with a person who is caught in a dark room and cannot find an exit. The therapist helps the client illuminate the room so that he can find a way out to a new way of dealing with his problems. Adler wrote, “Every individual represents both a unity of personality and the individual fashions that unity. The individual is thus both the picture and the artist. Therefore if one can change his concept of himself, he can change the picture that he is painting.”
CHAPTER 3: THEORY: STYLE OF LIFE AND SOCIAL INTEREST
“Style of life” or “life style” are common terms for us today. It may come as surprise to many that Alfred Adler coined those phrases. “Style of life” was the slogan of Alder’s Individual Psychological and personality theory. It is the recurrent theme in all of Adler’s later writings and the most distinctive feature of his psychology. In his writings, Adler used the terms “style of life,” “pattern of life,” “life plan,” “Life scheme,” and “line of movement” interchangeably. For Adler, the individual’s STYLE OF LIFE is one’s personality, the unity of the personality, the individual form of creative opinion about oneself, the problems of life and his whole attitude to life and others. During the first few years of life, each individual develops a style of life that greatly influences his behavior. Adler wrote, “If we know the goal of a person, we can undertake to explain and to understand what the psychological phenomena want to tell us why they were created, what a person had made of his innate material, why he had made it just so and not differently, how his character traits, his feelings and emotions, his logic, his morals, and his aesthetic must be constituted in order that he may arrive at his goal. If we could infer the individually comprehended goal from the ornaments and melodies of a human life and, on this basis, develop the entire style of life (and the underlying individual law of movement), we could classify a person with almost natural‑science accuracy. We could predict how a person would act in a specific situation.” The life style of the individual is considered the key to his behavior. His major goal is superiority and compensation for his feeling of inferiority, but he may achieve this goal in a great variety of ways. The striving for superiority is based on the human’s ability to be aware of himself, of his ability to remember past experiences and to imagine himself in the future. The individual’s life style is determined by his inventive and creative power and is an expression of his uniqueness. Each person develops his concept of self and of people and of the environment which surrounds him in his own unique and personal way.
Each person has a specific goal that is all his own and make him different from any other person. As he follows that goal, he adapts early in life a specific technique for attaining it. The child may feel that he is helpless and that he can have life only by gaining the support of others. Throughout his life he will be unable to assert himself constructively, to take direct initiative for his own destiny. He may develop an illness or disability that demands the care of others. As the illness develops, it becomes a compensation for the individual’s failure. He may then say, “If I didn’t have this illness, I could succeed as easily as anyone else.” The style of life becomes fixed for the individual must cling to his illness or the bluff of his claim of possible accomplishment would be recognized. The illness must be convincing enough, both to himself and others, to maintain the pretence. The patient is not consciously aware that his illness is an excuse for none fulfillment. Adler wrote, “His chief occupation is to look for other people to take his burden into account and thus wins his way to privilege life, judged by more lenient standard than others. At the same time, he pays the cost of it with his neurosis.” No one is forced to continue all his life in one direction for when he realizes his mistakes, he can change his style of life and rid himself of those barriers to a meaningful life. Adler believed that the spoiled child seeks to be the center of attention. The hated child adopts the goal of escaping to a safe distance from others. The eldest child adopts the attitude of keeping what is his, the second child seeks to surpass, and the only child assumes that others will serve and he will rule. Childhood experiences which often, but not necessarily, predispose the child to a faulty style of life are children with inferiorities, spoiled children and neglected children. These conditions often produce erroneous conceptions of the world and results in a pathological negative style of life. Children with physical or mental infirmities are likely to have a greater feeling of inferiority than others in meeting the task of life. Unless they make proper compensations for their inferiority, they will have difficulty in enjoying a meaningful life. Adler believed that pampering a child was the greatest curse that could be experienced by a child. They are potentially the most dangerous to society for they expect others to conform to their self‑centered wishes. Pampering robs the child of his independence. He is not given the opportunity to accomplish something for himself. This prevents him using his own power and from learning to cooperate with others. The neglected child, who was badly treated in childhood, may become an enemy of society.
Basic life styles: (1). The well‑adjusted does not strive for personal superiority, but seeks to solve his problems in ways that are useful to other as well as himself. (2). The second type wants to prove his personal superiority by ruling others. (3). The third type is the getting type. They want to get everything through others without any effort or struggle of their own. (4). The fourth tries to avoid every decision. They are the avoiding type. Adler believed that the style of life came from early experiences but unlike Freud, the determinist, Adler wrote, “We do not suffer from the shock of our experience, the so‑called trauma, but we make out them just what suits our purpose. We are self‑determined by the meaning we give our own experiences. We are masters of our own actions.”
Adler believed that an almost radical change in character and behavior would take place when an individual adopted new goals. Adler said that man is not bad by nature. Whatever his faults have been, faults due to erogenous conception of life, he must not be oppressed by them. He can change. The past is gone and with a change in his life style, the individual is free in the present and future to experience happiness and bring happiness to others.
The style of life is influenced mostly by the quality of the individual’s SOCIAL INTEREST. Adler wrote, “Social interest is the true and inevitable compensation for the natural weakness of individual human beings.” Social interest is inborn but that inborn quality is brought to its fullness by guidance and training. The child comes into this world completely dependent upon others. A person’s style of life cannot be understood without considering the people whom he comes in contact. Relationships with mother, other family members and society affects an individual in his choice of a style of life. In order to understand an individual, it is necessary to consider his attitude toward his fellowman and himself.
The normal person with a well‑developed social interest will adopt a useful style of life by contributing to the common welfare and thus overcoming his feelings of inferiority. On the other hand, the impaired individual is characterized by his inferiority feelings, underdeveloped social interest and in uncooperative goals of superiority. The impaired solves his problems in a self‑centered, private‑sense rather than a task‑centered, common‑sense fashion. In regards to the person who spends much time in support of public causes, but has little concern for the individual, Adler wrote, “It is easier to embrace the world than a single human being.” As one learns to contribute to the common welfare, he comes to have a feeling of worth and value and begins to feel at home in life. Social interest enhances one’s intelligence, heightens his self‑esteem, and enables him to adjust to unexpected misfortune. Social interest gives meaning and purpose to life
CHAPTER 4: ALFRED ADLER’S INFERIORITY, COMPENSATIONS AND SUPERIORITY
Over the past years, I have conducted several seminars and written articles on Alfred Adler that were received warmly. As a result, I am witting a series of articles on Adler’s theories that have had an influence on my understanding of human nature and use of hypnotherapy. Adler did not have a proper understanding of hypnosis. He understood that one could not be hypnotized against his will, but once hypnotized, the individual was under the control of the hypnotist. We are now aware that one is not under the control of the hypnotist for one will not do anything against his will under hypnosis.
When you hear terms like inferiority feelings, inferiority complex, superiority complex, compensation, style of life, goal‑directed, family constellation, fictional finalism, the relationship between body, mind, and spirit, and psychiatry as the science of interpersonal relations, to mention only a few, you are encountering ideas developed by Alfred Adler. These ideas and theories were developed from 1907 when his first book was written until his death in 1937. Adler felt that there is a unity of body and soul so that the psychic attitude affects the physical and the physical affects the psychic. Adler believed that to a certain degree every emotion finds some body expression. The individual will show his emotion in some visible form: perhaps in this posture and attitude, perhaps in his face, perhaps the trembling of his legs and knees. Similar changes could be found in the organs themselves. The circulation of blood is affected as shown when a person blushes or turns pale. In anger, anxiety, sorrow, or any other emotion, the body always speaks and each individual’s body speaks a language of its own.
When one person is afraid, he trembles, the hair of another will stand on end, and a third person will have palpitations of the heart. Still others will sweat or choke or tremble or speak in a hoarse voice. Some people react to stress with lose of appetite, while other overate. One people feel the effect of stress in the head, another in the stomach, another in the bladder, another in the back, or another in some other part of the body. If examined closely, we shall find that every part of the body is involved in an emotional expression and that those physical expressions are the consequences of the action of the mind and the body. The understanding of the relationship between the mind, body, spirit is one of Adler’s contribution to Human Trinity Hypnotherapy.
A ground breaking area in the theory of human nature for Adler was his understanding of INFERIORITY FEELINGS, COMPENSATION AND STRIVING FOR SUPERIORITY. Inferiority feelings and compensation originated with Adler’s early studies of organ inferiority and compensation. In his book, Study of Organ Inferiority and Its Physical Compensation (1907), Adler described the process of compensation for physical disabilities or limitations. Depending on the attitude one takes toward his defects, his compensation for disabilities or limitations will be satisfactory or unsatisfactory. Favorite examples for Adler were Demosthenes, who became a great speaker in compensation for an early defect in speech; Annette Kellerman, who became a champion swimmer not so such despite as because of bodily weakness; the limping Nurmi, who become a famous runner. Others with similar problems did not compensate by excelling but used their defect as an excuse to preserve their fantasy that they would have gained prestige had they not had the defect.
From his understanding of organ inferiority, Adler began to see each individual as having a feeling of inferiority. Adler wrote, “to be a human being means to feel oneself inferior. The child comes into the world as a helpless little creature surrounded by powerful adults. A child is motivated by his feelings of inferiority to strive for greater things. When he has reached one level of development, he began to feel inferior once more and the striving for something better begins again which is the great diving force of mankind.” Every person has inferiority feelings whether he will or can admit it. Adler says that since the feeling of inferiority is regarded as a sign of weakness and as something shameful, there is naturally a strong tendency to conceal it. Indeed, the effort of concealment may be so great that the person himself ceases to be aware of his inferiority as such, being wholly preoccupied with the consequences of the feeling and with all the objective details that subserve its concealment. So effectively may an individual train his whole mentality for this task that the entire current of his psychic life flows ceaselessly form below to above, that is, from feeling of inferiority to that of superiority, occurs automatically and escapes his own notice. It is not surprising that we often receive a negative reply when we ask a person whether he has a feeling of inferiority. It is better not to the press the point, but to observe his psychological movements, in which the attitude and individual goal can always be discerned.
Both healthy individual and the neurotic individual cope with their feeling of inferiority by compensatory action through gaining power to overcome the sense of weakness. These aggressive reactions often lead to considerable success in terms of recognized achievement in some area of life; some accomplishment of power over others. The healthy individual will strive to overcome his inferiority feelings through involvement with society. He is concerned about the welfare of others as well as himself. He develops good feelings of self‑worth and self‑assurance.
The negative responses to these feelings of inferiority become the inferiority complex or the superiority complex. Both reflect feelings of inferiority for they are two sides of the same coin. There are those who act and feel inferior and those who feel inferior but in denial try to lord it over others. The interesting thing is that they are both symptoms of a poor self‑image. The individual with a superiority complex is more concerned with attaining selfish goals than with social interest. He may express this selfishness in a need to dominate, to refuse to cooperate, or he may want to take and not to give. Feelings of inferiority activate one to strive upward so that normal feelings of inferiority impel the human being to solve his problems successfully. On the other hand, the inferiority complex and superiority complex impedes or prevents him from doing so.
Be it noted that feelings of inferiority can be expressed in many different ways. Adler liked to tell this story about three children who visited the zoo for the first time. As they stood before the lion’s cage, one of them shrank behind his mother’s skirts and said, “I want to go home.” The second child stood where he was, very pale and trembling, and said, “I’m not a bit frightened.” The third glared at the lion fiercely and asked his mother, “Shall I spit at it?” All three children really felt inferiority, but each expressed his feelings in his own way, consonant with his style of life.
These feelings of inferiority lead to a STRIVING FOR SUPERIORITY. The striving for superiority is innate and carries the individual from one stage to the next. This striving can and does manifest itself in many different ways and each person has his own way of attempting to achieve perfection. This idea progressed through three stages. Adler first came to the conclusion that aggression is more important than sexuality. The aggressive impulse was followed by the “will to power” and finally “striving for superiority.” Many people reading Adler come to the wrong conclusion that striving for superiority is equated with “striving for power.” Adler described the striving for power as a source of neurosis and crime. He pointed out that striving for power drives people in useless directions. Power‑lust is a mental disorder or disease.
All people wish to overcome the difficulties and problems of their life. Each individual would like to reach a point in life when he feels strong and complete. Adler wrote, “We shall always find in human being this great line of activity; this struggle to rise from an inferior to a superior position, from defeat to victory, from below to above. It begins in earliest childhood and continues to the end of our lives.” The healthy individual will strive for superiority through his involvement with society. He will have a concept of superiority that includes the welfare of others as well as himself. The neurotic lives his life in constant fear of loss that will express itself in the need to dominate, to refuse to cooperate, to aggressive and antisocial behavior. Regarding both the health and neurotic striving for superiority, Adler writes, “If an individual, in the meaning he gives to life, wishes to make a contribution, and if his emotions are all directed to this goal, he will naturally be bound to bring himself into the best shape. He will begin to equipment himself to solve the three problems of life (behavior toward others, occupation and love) and to develop his abilities.” If he works to ease and enrich others as well as himself, he shall enrich his own life and others. If he develops his personality without regards to others, he will make himself unpleasant and seek to solve the problems of life in unhealthy ways. Understanding feelings of inferiority, compensation, and striving for superiority should be an asset in counseling your clients. Certainly one of the biggest problems in our society is the inappropriate handling of feelings of inferiority. It is our opportunity as therapist and counselors to help people find ways to best use their feelings of inferiority to benefit themselves and society.
CHAPTER 5: WHAT OTHER SAY ABOUT ADLER’S THEORIES
MORE ON ALFRED ADLER:
(When source is known, credit will be given.) Development of Faulty Lifestyles: due to three faulty childhood conditions: Physical Inferiority: Sometimes can lead to healthy compensation, but sometimes leads to strangulation of social feelings. Instead of focusing of adjustment to society, they become continually preoccupied with themselves and the impression they have on others. Neglect: Neglected children have never known what love and cooperation are like. They feel worthless and express inferiority complexes through suspiciousness, isolation, and maliciousness. Pampering (spoiling): The most serious of all parental errors. Pampering robs children of their independence and initiative, shatters their self‑confidence, and creates the parasitic impression that the world owes them a living. Note: Adler considered Freud’s patients to be mainly pampered adults, maybe even Freud himself.ALFRED ADLER: SOCIAL FEELING INTEREST:
(By Erick Pettifor): We cannot judge a human being except by using the concept of social feeling as a standard, and measuring their thought and action by this standard. We must maintain this point of view because every individual within the body of human society must subscribe to the oneness of that society. We have to realize our duty to our fellow human beings. We are in the very midst of a community and must live by the logic of communal existence. This logic determines the fact that we need certain known criteria for the evaluation of our fellows. The degree to which social feeling has developed in any individual is the only universally valid criterion of human values. We cannot deny our psychological dependency upon social feeling. No human being is capable of ignoring her social feeling completely. For we all know we have a duty to our fellow human beings. Our social feeling constantly reminds us of the fact. This does not mean that social feeling is constantly in our conscious thoughts; but it does require a certain amount of determination to deny it and set it aside. Furthermore, social feeling is so universal that no one is able to begin any activity without first being justified by it. The need for justifying each act and thought originates in our unconscious sense of social unity. At the very least it is the reason why we seek extenuating circumstances to excuse our actions. Interestingly enough, social feeling is so fundamental and important that, even if we have not developed this ability to consider others as fully as most people have done, we still make efforts to appear as if we had done so. This means that the pretense of social feeling is sometimes used to conceal the antisocial thoughts and deeds that are the true expressions of a personality. The difficulty lies in differentiating between the false and the genuine; it is this very difficulty that raises the understanding of human nature to the plane of a science.GUIDED AND EIDETIC IMAGERY:
(Henry T. Stein) [Refer to http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/hstein/homepage.htm The Alfred Adler Institute of San Francisco] For many clients, cognitive insight and new behavior lead to different feelings. Some clients need additional specific interventions to access, stimulate, or change feelings. Guided and eidetic imagery, used in an Adlerian way, can lead to emotional breakthroughs especially when the client reaches an impasse. Eidetic imagery can be used diagnostically to access vivid symbolic mental pictures of significant people and situations that are often charged with emotion. Guided imagery can be used therapeutically to change the negative imprints of childhood family members that weigh heavily on a client and often ignite chronic feelings of guilt, fear, and resentment. These techniques are typically used in the middle stages of therapy. Alexander Muller recommended the use of imagery when a client knew that a change in behavior was sensible, but still didn’t take action (Muller 1937). Some clients need a vivid image of themselves as happier in the future than they presently are, before they journey in a new direction that they know is healthier.TWELVE STAGES OF CLASSICAL ADLERIAN PSYCHOTHERAPY:
(James Wolf): [Refer to http://home.att.net/~Adlerian/ The Alfred Adler Institutes of Northwestern Washington and San Francisco] Classical Adlerian psychotherapy is characterized by a diplomatic, warm, empathic, and Socratic style of treatment. This climate embodies the qualities of respect and equality necessary for building a trusting cooperative, relationship. A full psychotherapy can be envisioned as a progression though twelve stages. These stages should be considered as teaching guidelines and should not be interpreted as a systematic procedure. Psychotherapy is an art that must be practiced creatively. The best therapeutic strategy is frequently a unique invention for the individual client.1) Empathy and Relationship Stage: Establishing an empathic, cooperative, working relationship. Offering hope, reassurance, and encouragement. 2) Information Stage: Unstructured gathering of relevant information. Details of presenting problem and overview of general functioning. Exploration of early childhood situation, memories, and dreams.
3) Clarification Stage: Clarifying vague thinking with Socratic questioning. Evaluating consequences of ideas and behavior. Correcting mistaken ideas about self and others.
4) Encouragement Stage: Encouraging thinking and behavior in a new direction. Beginning to move in a new direction, away from life style. Clarifying feelings about effort and results.
5) Interpretation and Recognition Stage: Interpreting inferiority feelings, style of life, and fictional final goal of superiority. Identifying what has been in avoided in development. Integrating birth order, earliest recollections, and dreams.
6) Knowing Stage: Reinforcing client’s self‑awareness of life style and feelings about new successes. Client knows what needs to be done but may feel blocked.
7) Emotional Breakthrough Stage: When needed, promoting emotional breakthroughs with “missing experiences” that correct past or present negative influences. Use of role‑playing, guided imagery, and group dynamics.
8) Doing Differently Stage: Converting insight into a different attitude. Experimenting with concrete actions based on abstract ideas. Comparing new and old behavior.
9) Reinforcement Stage: Encouraging all new movements toward significant change. Affirming positive results and feelings. Evaluating progress and new courage. 10) Social Interest Stage: Using client’s better feelings to extend cooperation and caring about other people. Learning to give generously of oneself and to take necessary risks. Awakening feeling of equality.
11) Goal Redirection Stage: Challenging client to let go of self and the old fictional goal. Dissolving the style of life and adopting new values. Discovering a new psychological horizon.
12) Support and Launching Stage: Launching client into a new, creative, gratifying way of living for self and others. Learning to love the struggle and prefer the unfamiliar. Promoting a path of continual growth for self and others. Alfred Adler ‑ (Gaspare Birbiglia): Adler disagreed with the sexual etiology of neuroses and belief that individuals were motivated by social responsibility and need achievement, not driven by the inborn instincts. Adler felt that humans were motivated by social, interpersonal factors. He saw people as having control over their lives, with each individual developing a unique lifestyle. Adler’s emphasis is on the conscious rather than unconscious, process, with individuals assuming responsibility for their life decisions. Adler’s most useful contribution was his observation of family constellation and birth order. The concept of family constellation has to do with the child’s interactions with and perceptions of the family group. Adler associated characteristics with position in birth order. First children have to be first in order to maintain superiority. Second children never have their parents undivided attention. The youngest child resembles an only child and is usually spoiled. Alder’s contributions: 1. The Adlerian view of human nature is essentially positive. 2. The relationship between the counselor and the client is valued. 3. The concept of family constellation has been useful and has yielded important research investigations. 4. Adlerian theory is used by parent‑education groups. 5. The concept of natural consequences has influenced child‑rearing practices.
SELECTIONS FROM FUNDAMENTALS OF ADLERIAN PSYCHOLOGY
: (Rudolf R. Dreikurs): The human community sets three task for every individual. They are: work, which means contributing to the welfare of others, friendship, which embraces social relations with comrades and relatives, and love, which is the most inmate union with some one of the other sex and represents the strongest and closest of emotional relationships which can exist between two individuals. (p 4‑5) Social interest is expressed subjectively in the consciousness of having something in common with other people and of being one with them.” AA man who thinks only of himself, of how he is to uphold his own dignity and of the role he means to play, is sure to cause trouble within his circle of friends and acquaintances. (p 5) People who make it their object to get as much as possible are always clutching emptiness. None but those who can seek their happiness as part of the whole, that is to say, in the contribution they themselves can make to the common‑wealth, can feel satisfied with themselves and their lives. The social interest is therefore expressed by willingness to contribute without thought of reward. (p 6)With regard to man in particular, Alfred Adler declares that it is impossible for us to understand his behavior and actions unless we know his goal. (p 10) He is not driven through life by his past but impelled to go foreword into the future ‑ and the force that impels him is not an external force. He moves of his own accord. All his actions, emotions, qualities and characteristics serves the same purpose. They show him trying to adapt himself to society. Character is not determined causally by equipment or instincts. Neither is it formed by environment, which would bring us back once more to causal determination. (p 23‑14)
SELECTIONS FROM ALFRED ADLER: THE MAN AND HIS WORK
: (Hertha Orgler) No one is forced to continue all his life in one direction, no matter what the direction is. As soon as he realizes his error he can change his style of life and rid himself of these faults. (p 30) It is evident here that a human being’s development is not influenced by facts, but the opinion he has of these facts. (p 31) Adler calls the following methods the three entrance gates to the mental life. (1) the position of the child in the relation to his brothers and sisters; (2) the first childhood memory; (3) dreams. (p 32) Adler has emphasized the fact that all children grow up in completely different situation and that the position of the child in the constellation of children is of the utmost importance in the development of its character. Three positions are of special interest: that of the oldest, of the second and of the youngest. (p 33) Even in sleep the human being is still occupied with his problems. The impetus which the dream gives him is intended to help him solve his immediate problems more easily. The dream is also directed toward the future; here the direction forward a goal can be perceived. The choice of the dream pictures gives us a key to the life‑style of the dreamer. (p 54) Only when it is realized that the Superiority Complex covers an Inferiority Complex can one understand that to those possessed with such striving for power can never be satisfied with what they have achieved. The deeply hidden doubt of their own abilities spurs them on to prove always anew that they are superior to others and never allows them any rest. (p 80)Thyra Boldsen wrote, “Dr. Adler was real. Whether he was joking or serious, whether in private discussions or in lectures, his real personality always seemed to say: ‘Life is holy, have reverence for life, everything which happens is important.’ When he lectured you felt: He is truly a prophet of righteousness and kindness, teaching these laws which govern human fate to happiness for obedient and to self‑destruction for the disobedient.” (p 185)
BASIC PROPOSITIONS OF ADLER’S INDIVIDUAL PSYCHOLOGY: FROM THE INDIVIDUAL PSYCHOLOGY OF ALFRED ADLER
: HEINZ L. ANSBACHER, PH.D. AND ROWENA R. ANSBACHER, PH.D.A summary of the theory of Individual Psychology might well be helpful to the reader as an initial orientation to the work of Alfred Adler. To serve this purpose we submit the following set of propositions which have suggested themselves to us.
1)There is one basic dynamic force behind all human activity, a striving from a felt minus situation towards a plus situation, from a feeling of inferiority towards superiority, perfection, totality.
2) The striving receives its specific direction from an individually unique goal or self‑ideal, which though influenced by biological and environmental factors is ultimately the creation of the individual. Because it is an ideal, the goal is a fiction.
3) The goal is only “dimly envisaged” by the individual, which means that it is largely unknown to him and not understood by him. This is Adler’s definition of the unconscious: the unknown part of the goal.
4) The goal becomes the final cause, the ultimate independent variable. To the extent that the goal provides the key for understanding the individual, it is a working hypothesis on the part of the psychologist.
5) All psychological processes form a self‑consistent organization from the point of view of the goal, like a drama which is constructed from the beginning with the finale in view (1912a, p. 46) . This self‑consistent personality structure is what Adler calls the style of life. It becomes firmly established at an early age, from which time on behavior that is (p 1) apparently contradictory is only the adaptation of different means to the same end. 6) All apparent psychological categories, such as different drives or the contrast between conscious and unconscious, are only aspects of a unified relational system ( 1926b, p. 402) and do not represent discrete entities and quantities.
7) All objective determiners, such as biological factors and past history, become relative to the goal idea; they do not function as direct causes but provide probabilities only. The individual uses all objective factors in accordance with his sty1e of life. “Their significance and effectiveness is developed only in the intermediary psychological metabolism( so to speak” ( 1926b, p. 402) .
8) The individual’s opinion of himself and the world, his “apperceptive schema,” his interpretations, all as aspects of the style of life, influence every psychological process. Omnia ex opinione suspensa sunt was the motto for the book in which Adler presented Individual Psychology for the first time (1912a, p. 1) .
9) The individual cannot be considered apart from his social situation. “Individual Psychology regards and examines the individual as socially embedded. We refuse to recognize and examine an isolated human being” (1926a, p. ix). 10) All important life problems, including certain drive satisfactions, become social problems. All values become social values.
11) The socialization of the individual is not achieved at the cost of repression, but is afforded through an innate human ability, which, however, needs to be developed. It is this ability which Adler calls social feeling or social interest. Because the individual is embedded in a social situation, social interest becomes crucial for his adjustment.
12) Maladjustment is characterized by increased inferiority feelings, underdeveloped social interest, and an exaggerated uncooperative goal of personal superiority. Accordingly, problems are solved in a self‑centered “private sense” rather than a task‑centered “common sense” fashion. In the neurotic this leads to the experience of failure because he still accepts the social validity of his actions as his ultimate criterion. The psychotic, on the other hand, while objectively also a failure, that is, in the eyes of common sense, does not experience failure because he does not accept the ultimate criterion of social validity.
CHAPTER 6: QUESTIONNAIRE FOR INDIVIDUAL PSYCHOLOGISTS: FROM SOCIAL INTEREST: A CHALLENGE TO MANKIND
: ALFRED ADLER: Capricorn books, New York. 1964:For the understanding and treatment of difficult children. Compiled and annotated by the International Society for Individual Psychology.
I. How long have the troubles lasted? In what situation was the child, materially and mentally, when the failings became noticeable? (The following are important: changes in surroundings, starting school, change of school, change of teacher , birth of younger members of the family, setbacks at school, new friendships, illnesses of the child or of the parents, etc. )
2. Was there anything unusual about the child previously? Due to bodily or mental weakness? Cowardice? Carelessness? Desire to be alone? Clumsiness? Jealousy? Dependence on others at meals, in dressing, washing, going to bed? Is he afraid of being left alone? Afraid of darkness? Has he a clear idea of his sex? Any primary, secondary, and tertiary sexual characteristics? How does he regard the other sex? How far has his instruction in (p 299) sexual questions proceeded? Step‑child? Illegitimate? Boarded out? What were his foster‑parents like? Is he still in touch with them? Has he learned to walk and speak at the normal time? Does he do this without mistakes? Was the teething normal? Had he any noticeable difficulties in learning to write, calculate, draw, sing, swim? Has he had any special attachment to any one mother, father, grandparents, nurse? (Care should be taken to discover the establishment of a hostile attitude to life, anything that might rouse feelings of inferiority, tendencies to exclude difficulties and persons, traits of egotism, irritability, impatience, heightened emotion, activity, eagerness, caution.)
3. Has the child caused much trouble? What things or persons does he fear most? Does he cry out at night? Does he wet his bed? Does he want to domineer? Over strong, or only over weak persons? Has he Shown a particular fondness for lying in the bed of one of his parents? Is he awkward? Intelligent? Was he much teased and laughed at? Does he shows excessive vanity about his hair, clothing, shoes? Does he pick his nose? Bite his nails? Is he greedy at table? Has he stolen anything? Has he difficulties at the stool? (This will show clearly whether he has given evidence of more or less activity in striving for pre‑eminence. Further, whether obstinacy has prevented the cultivation of his instinctive activity. )
4. Did he make friends easily, or was he unsociable, and did he torment people and animals? Docs he attach himself to younger persons, older, girls (boys)? Is he (p 300) inclined to take the lead? Or does he stand aside? Does he collect things? Is he niggardly? Fond of money? (This will show his ability to make contact with other persons, and the extent to which he is discouraged.)
5. How does the child conduct himself at present in all these relationships? How does he behave at school? Does he attend willingly? Does he arrive too late? Is he agitated before going to school; does he hurry? Does he lose his books, satchel, and papers? Does he get excited about school tasks and examinations? Does he forget or refuse to do his home‑lessons? Does he waste his time? Is he grubby? Indolent? Has he much or little concentration? Does he disturb the lessons? Attitude to his teacher? Critical? Arrogant? Indifferent? Does he seek help from others in his work, or does he always wait for them to make the offer? Is he keen about gymnastics and sport? Does he consider himself partly or entirely devoid of talent? Does he read a great deal? What sort of reading does he prefer? Is he backward in every subject? (These questions will give an insight into the child’s preparation for school life and into the results of experiments at school on the child. They will also show his attitude towards difficulties.)
6. Correct information regarding his home conditions, illnesses in the family, alcoholism, criminal tendencies, neurosis, debility, syphilis, epilepsy, standard of living? What deaths have there been? How old at the time? Is the child orphaned? Who rules in the family? Is the upbringing strict, fault‑finding, pampering? Are the children (p 301) frightened at life? How are they looked after? Stepfather or mother? (This gives a view of the child in his position in the family and enables an estimate to be made of the influences that have helped to form the child.)
7. What is the place of the child in the family succession? Is he the oldest, second, youngest, or an only child? Any rivalries? Frequent crying? A spiteful laugh? Tendency to depreciate other persons without cause? (Important for characterology; throws light on the child’s attitude to other persons.) 8. What kind of ideas has the child at present about his future calling? What does he think about marriage? What are the professions of the other members of the family? What are the marital relations of his parents? (From the answers it is possible to draw conclusions about the child’s courage and his hope for the future. )
9. Favorite games? Favorite stories? Favorite characters in history and poetry? Is he fond of interrupting the games of other children? Does he become lost in fantasies? Day‑dreams? (This indicates his prototypes in his striving for superiority.)
10. Earliest recollections? Impressive or frequently recurring dreams? (Of flying, falling, being hindered, arriving too late for a train, running a race, being imprisoned, anxiety dreams. ) (One often finds in these a tendency to isolation; warning voices that lead the child to take excessive (p 302)caution; ambitious impulses and the preference for certain persons, for passivity, etc. )
11. In what respect is the child discouraged? Does he feel himself slighted? Does he react favorably to appreciation and praise? Has he superstitious notions? Does he retreat from difficulties? Does he begin to do various things and then Soon leave them alone? Is he uncertain about his future? Does he believe in the injurious effects of heredity? Was he systematically discouraged by those around him? Has he a pessimistic outlook on life? (This will give important viewpoints for discovering whether the child has lost confidence in himself and is seeking his path in a wrong direction. )
12. Additional faults: Does he make grimaces? Does he behave himself stupidly, childishly, comically? (Rather uncourageous attempts to draw attention to himself.)
13. Has he defects in speech? Is he ugly? Ungainly? Club‑footed? Rickets? Knock‑kneed or bow‑legged? Badly developed? Abnormally stout, tall, small? Defects in the eyes or the ears? Is he mentally arrested? Left‑handed? Does he snore at night? Is he strikingly good‑looking? (Here we are dealing with difficulties in life which the child as a rule exaggerates. These may lead to a chronic state of discouragement. A similar mistaken development often occurs in the case of very handsome children. They get the idea that everything must be given them to be retained without effort and in this way they neglect to make the right preparation for living.) (p 303)
14. Does the child speak openly of his lack of ability, of his ‘not being gifted enough’ for school, for work, for life? Has he thoughts of suicide? Is there any connection in point of time between his want of success and his mistakes? (Neglect, forming gangs.) Does he place too great value on material success? Is he servile? Hypocritical? Rebellious? (These are expressive forms of a deep‑seated discouragement. They often occur after vain attempts to excel which have come to grief not only on account of their inherent aimlessness, but also as the result of want of understanding on the part of those round the child. After the failure there comes the search for a substitutive gratification in another field of struggle. ) 15. The child’s positive achievements? Type? Visual, acoustic, kinesthetic? (An important finger‑post, since possibly the interest, inclination and preparation of the child point in another direction than that formerly taken. )
On the basis of these questions, which should not be put point by point, but conversationally, never mechanically, but always naturally and progressively, there is always formed a picture of the child’s personality. By this the child’s errors, though they are certainly not justified, will be made quite intelligible. When mistakes are discovered they should always be explained in a friendly manner, patiently and without threats.
In connection with the mistakes of adults I have found (p 304) the following model of examination to be of some value. By adhering to it the expert will gain well within half an hour a penetrating insight into the individual’s style of life.
Certainly my own inquiries do not always keep to the rule of the following sequence. The expert will not fail to notice its agreement with a medical questionnaire.
By following it the Individual Psychologist, on account of the system by which he works, will gain from the answers many a hint that would otherwise have remained unnoticed. The following is approximately the sequence:
1. What are your complaints?
2. How were you situated when you noticed your symptoms?
3. How are you situated now?
4. What is the nature of your calling?
5. Describe your parents in relation to their character, health, the illness of which they died, if they are not alive; what was their relation to yourself? 6. How many brothers and sisters have you? How are you placed among them? What is their attitude towards you? How are the others placed in life? Do they also have any illness?
7. Who was your father’s or your mother’s favorite?
8. Look for signs of pampering in childhood ( timidity, shyness, difficulties in forming friendships, disorderliness, etc.).
9. Illnesses and attitude to illnesses in childhood?
10. Earliest recollections of childhood? (p 305)
11. What do you fear, or what did you fear the most?
12. What are your ideas about the other sex, in childhood or in later years? 13. What ca1ling would have most interested you, and in the event of your not having adopted it, why did you not do so?
14. Ambitious, sensitive, inclined to angry outbursts, pedantic, domineering, shy, impatient?
15. What sort of persons are around you at present?
Impatient? Bad‑tempered? Affectionate?
16. How do you sleep?
17. Dreams? (Of falling, flying, recurrent dreams, prophetic, about examinations, missing a train, etc.) 18. Illnesses in the family tree? I should like at this point to give my readers an important hint. Any one Who has Come thus far and has not completely grasped the significance of these questions ought to begin again from the start and reflect whether he has not read this book with alack of proper attention, or‑God forbid !‑with a hostile bias. If I had to explain here the meaning of these questions for our knowledge of the formation of the style of life, I should have to repeat the whole book. So this sequence of questions and the children’s questionnaire may very well serve as a test, since the result will show whether the reader has gone along with me, that is, whether he has acquired an adequate amount of social feeling. That, indeed, is the most important object of this book. It is meant to (p 306) enable the reader not only to understand other persons, but to grasp the importance of social feelings and to make it living for himself. (p 307)
CHAPTER 7: ORGAN INFERIORITY AND COMPENSATION: FROM THE INDIVIDUAL PSYCHOLOGY OF ALFRED ADLER: HEINZ L. ANSBACHER, PH.D. AND ROWENA R. ANSBACHER, PH.D.
The following selections on organ inferiority establish Adler as a field theorist from the very beginning of his work. Written by a physician who until a few years earlier had been a general practitioner, they are a contribution to the theory of disease, according to which diseases can no longer be understood as separate entities. A disease afflicts only the inferior organs. But what constitutes an inferior organ? Inferiority is a relative concept, relative to the environmental demands, to the total situation. In this way, outcomes previously understood as due to independent agents are now seen as the result of the interaction of forces. The various aspects of such interaction refer to: the organism and the physical environment, the organism and the social (p 22) environment, the separate organs with one another, and body and mind. From the point of view of the psychologist, then, the significance of these selections is, firstly, that they represent an exposition of field theory, albeit in terms of medical material.
The significance of these selections is, secondly, that they present the first formulation of Adler’s theory of compensation. It in the organ‑environment interaction, the balance threatens to turn against the organism, it responds through attempts at compensation. Through the superstructure of the central nervous system the mind, as part of the entire organism, will play its part in the process of compensation or maintenance of equilibrium. Thus Adler arrived at the concept of psychological compensation. The theory of compensation is similar to that of homeostasis which Walter B. Cannon presented twenty‑five years later, and when Cannon’s The Wisdom of the Body appeared, Adler wrote an enthusiastic review of it ( 1933d) . This relationship between compensation and homeostasis was recognized in a paper by John M. Fletcher entitled “The Wisdom of the Body,” where he states: “I am not sure but that in Adler’s mechanism of compensation we have a phenomenon which may be subsumed under what is described by Cannon as homeostasis” (30, p. 14) . In another paper Fletcher explains: “Compensation. . . becomes at once much more intelligible when conceived as hemostatic defense reaction” (29, p. 86). Since compensation, like homeostasis, aims at maintenance of equilibrium, it would as the dominating dynamic principle belong to a relatively static, closed system. Adler’s theory, however, developed into a completely open system of dynamics in which the dominating force was a ceaseless upward striving and in which compensation then assumed a secondary role. Thirdly Adler’s writings on organ inferiority are of significance in that they are an early discussion of the problem of psychosomatic disorders. In the foreword to a reprint edition of the Study of Organ Inferiority, Nolan D. C. Lewis concludes: “This little book has not only an important historical value but it presents a number of foci for future research. A thorough investigation of organ inferiority concepts should be undertaken and included as a part of the present day trends in psychosomatic medicine” (72,p.ix).
The selections below cover the theoretical essence of the material contained in the Study of Organ Inferiority ( 1907a ), Adler’s first major contribution, but are for the most part taken from a summary presented by him in a lecture held the same year. This lecture contains all the (p 23) theoretical points while omitting the detailed medical material which represents the greater part of the original study.
In conclusion of this introduction we should like to point out that the term inferiority feeling, an integral part of Adler’s psychology, is not to be found in the Study of Organ Inferiority or its summary . The concept of inferiority feeling did not appear until three )’ears later ( 191oa: see pp. 44‑45) . The understandable mistake has frequently been made of assuming that the Study includes the discussion of inferiority feelings. Yet at this time Adler still confined himself to objective terms and was not concerned with anything so subjective as feelings.
As a general remark, we should add that the selections here and throughout this chapter, aside from the aspects which became integrated in Adler’s system, tend to be expressed in terms of outdated physiology and deal with drive psychology which Adler subsequently attacked severely.
Despite tendencies pointing toward unity of the personality, the self is still absent from the discussion.
ORGAN INFERIORITY AND ITS OUTCOMES
: The inferiority to which I refer applies to an organ which is developmentally retarded, which has been inhibited in its growth or altered, in whole or in part. These inferior organs may include the sense organs, the digestive apparatus, the respiratory tracts, the genito‑urinary apparatus, the circulatory organs, and the nervous system. Such inferiority can usually be proved only at birth or often only at the embryonic stage. The innate anomalies of organs range from malformation to slow maturation of otherwise normal organs. Since there is a strong relationship between inferiority and disease, we may expect that an inherited inferiority corresponds to an inherited disease.The fate of the inferior organs is extremely varied. Development and the external stimuli of life press toward overcoming the expressions of such inferiority . Thus we may find approximately the following outcomes with innumerable intermediate stages: inability to survive, anomaly of form, anomaly of function, lack of resistance and disposition to disease, compensation within the organ, compensation through a second organ, compensation through the psychological superstructure, and organic or psychological overcompensation. We find pure, compensated, and overcompensated inferiorities. (p 24) T
HE RELATIVITY OF ORGAN INFERIORITY TO EXTERNAL DEMANDS:
One way by which organ inferiority itself is through localization of a disease in that specific organ. This occurs when the inferior organ reacts to pathogenic stimuli from the environment‑ We wish to replace the obscure concept of “pathological disposition” by the following proposition: Disease is the resultant of organ inferiority and external demands. The latter are limited in duration and to a particular cultural environment. Changes in external demands represent cultural progress, changes of the mode of living, or social improvements. They are the work of the human mind and, in the long run, tend to curb excessive straining of the organs. The external demands are related to the developmental potentialities of the organs and their nervous superstructure, and they condition the relative inferiority of an organ when their requirements exceed a certain measure. Within these observations chance, as the correcting factor in development, seems to be precluded. A clear example would be Professor Habermann’s observation that members of occupations such as blacksmiths and artillery gunners, who are exposed to loud noises, are prone to diseases of the ear. It can easily be seen that not every auditory apparatus is suited for such occupations. But it is also clear that such injuries regularly give cause for technical changes in industrial procedure, that continuous employment in certain occupations changes the affected organs, and that health hazards exist on the path to parity (Vollwertigkeit ) .In summary, we may say that hygiene and preventive medicine are subject to the conditions of compensation. All therapeutic methods are likewise aimed at the compensation of organ inferiority which has become visible. FORMS OF COMPENSATION: As soon as the equilibrium, which must be assumed to govern the economy of the individual organ or the whole organism, appears to be disturbed due to inadequacy of form or function, a certain biological process is initiated in the inferior organs. The unsatisfied demands increase until the deficit is made up through growth of the inferior organ, of the paired organ, or of some other organ which can serve as a substitute, completely or in part. This compensating for the defect through increase (p 25) in growth and function may, under favorable circumstances achieve overcompensation; it will usually also include the central nervous system in its increased development. If reflex anomalies of the mucous membranes have been definite1y shown to be re1ated to the psyche, then this holds even more for chi1dhood disorders, such as retarded speech development, stammering, blinking, thumb sucking, and eating difficulties. These are the visible expressions of an a1tered functioning of inferior organs and represent striking disturbances in the process of compensation.
Usually, however, the normal grow of the superordinated nerve tracts, that is, simple compensation through growth, seems to be sufficient to bring about normal functioning. In this event the organ anomaly remains the same, and upon closer examination we very often find that unextinguishable remnants last throughout life. In other cases the defect may have been overcome for all normal conditions only. It reappears as soon as psychological tension arises but remains hidden at times of rest. Frequent examples of this are: blinking in bright light, squinting during close work, stammering during excitement, and vomiting during emotion. This confirms our guess that compensation is due to overperformance and increased growth of the brain. This strengthening of the psychologica1 superstructure is shown by the successful outcome; its relation to steady exercise is easily guessed. Thus a1so in the central nervous system the same relationships of inferiority and compensation prevail.
In favorable cases of compensation, the inferior organ has the better developed and psychologically more potent superstructure. The psychological manifestations of such an organ may be more plentiful and better developed as far as drive, sensitivity, attention, memory, apperception, empathy, and consciousness are concerned. In the favorable case, an inferior nutritive apparatus may muster the greater psychological potency in all re1ations to nourishment. But it may also be superior in everything related to the gaining of food, since its superstructure will dominate and draw the other psychological complexes into its orbit. The food drive will dominate to such an extent that it may find expression in all personal and social relations, as in gourmandism, acquisitiveness, parsimony, and avarice. The same holds true for other inferior organs. This may lead to a more extended sensory life and a more carefu1 and correct appraisal of the world as far as it is accessible to the organ in question.
Through this process psychological axes develop according to which the individual is oriented. This a1ways takes p1ace in dependency on one (p 26) or more inferior organs. The striving to gain pleasure for these organs becomes noticeable also in dreams and fantasy, as well as in play and occupational preference and choice, because in the case of an inferior organ, primitive activity of the organ ( drive) is always associated with pleasure. Certain childhood disorders point to this pleasure with such clearness that they are mistaken for sexual activity . If we carry this thought further, we ultimately arrive at the supposition that the psychological superstructure of the organ largely functions as a substitute for the deficiencies of the organ in order to gain its pleasure in relation to the environment.
COMPENSATION AND THE SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT:
Since the inferiority of the deviating organs comes from the external environment, changes of the environment, organ inferiority, and corresponding ameliorating brain compensation all take place under mutual influence. This point of view of mutual interaction seems applicable also to the origin of highly cultivated psychomotor achievements, to the origin and development of language and art, to the nature of genius, and to the birth of philosophical systems and world philosophies. I trust that it will prove its worth also in respect to the invention and solution of new problems. This point of view forces us much more clearly than any other to avoid the pitfalls of abstraction and to observe the phenomena in their context and in flux. I have pursued it in the field of medical science;perhaps my modest suggestion will meet with approval elsewhere as well. But the picture of the world which is founded in brain compensation cannot develop unlimitedly, for it cannot give free reign either to its drives or to its unconscious component. Rather its expressions are limited by the social environment and by the culture, which, through the drive for self‑preservation, permit the expressions of the psyche to unfold only when they can fit themselves into the frame of the culture. Nonetheless the strengthened superstructure of the inferior organ often assumes new and valuable modes of operation. To be sure, these ways may also be pathological ways, as in the neuroses. (p 27)
OUTCOMES OF OVERCOMPENSATION:
When overcompensation attempts to assert itself in a cultural manner and in this effort enters into new, although difficult and often inhibited, paths, the very great expressions of the psyche arise which we must attribute to genius. Lombroso in his theory of genius dealt only with the mixed cases and thus arrived at a false conception of the pathological genius. The inferior organ is not a pathological formation, although it represents the basic condition for pathology . Under favorable conditions the impulse toward brain compensation can end in an overcompensation which shows no trace of pathology .The outcome of overcompensation depends on several conditions; in other words, it is overdetermined. As one of these conditions we have met the limitations of culture. Another determiner is the chaining of the dominant superstructure to other psychological fields. For example, the visual superstructure may be chained to the auditory organs and to the superstructure of the language organs. Only these multiple compensations, their confluences and mutual inhibitions give us an adequate picture of the psyche. The outcome of an overcompensation depends, thirdly, on its stamina. Nature very often fails in the correction of the inferior organ, in these cases creating transitory compensations which easily succumb to attacks. Inability, neurosis, psychological disease, in short, pathological forms may appear in this event. A small sample from the analysis of paranoia may serve as illustration. The overcompensation of the inferior visual apparatus plays an outstanding part, in addition to other apparatus. The drive to see, for example, has become highly developed in a great part of paranoiacs and has exhausted all visual possibilities in the world. Then an unfavorable constellation sets in and the weakness of the overcompensation expresses itself in hallucinatory fits and visual appearances. The forces constituting reason soon show a similar fallibility, the patient regarding himself as the object of the visual drive of others.
The positive counterpart may be shown in a small aspect of the psyche of the poet Schiller for which I am indebted to the Viennese writer Rank, who is familiar with my views. I should like to preface this example by stating that I must attribute especially to the dramatic poet a particular and unique overcompensation of the visual organ. In such overcompensation is founded his scenic power, the selection and elaboration of his material. In the drama of the marksman William Tell, Schiller reveals a large (p 28) number of allusions to the overcompensation of the visual organ, phrases which concern the eye and its functions. I wish furthermore to point out the blinding of Melchthal and the hymn to the light of the eyes in William Tell. Schiller himself had weak eyes, suffered from inflammation of the eyes, and, until adulthood, from the childhood disorder of blinking. He was much interested in hunting. Weltrich relates that the family of Schiller received its name on account of strabismus ( schielen ) . This would be of interest for the study of heredity . I mention this to call attention to the relationship of the poet to the inferior organ. Signs of an inferior visual apparatus playa large part in the development of painters ( see also Reich, J ., “Kunst und Auge.” Oesterreichische Rundschau, Vienna, 1908) . Guercino da Centa, 15th century, was given his name because he squinted. Piero de la Francesca, who is particularly credited with the art of perspective, became blind in old age, according to Vasaris. Among the more modern painters Lenbach had only one eye. Mateyko was extremely myopic. Manet suffered from astigmatism. Among art students, approximately seventy per cent have been found to suffer from some optical anomalies.
Among orators, actors, and singers, I have also very often found signs of organ inferiority. The Bible reports about Moses that he had a heavy tongue, whereas his brother Aaron had the talent of talking. Demosthenes, became the greatest orator of Greece. Camille Demoulin who usually stuttered is reported by his contemporaries to have been very fluent when he made a speech. Musicians quite frequently suffer from ear afflictions. Beethoven and Robert Franz, both of whom became deaf, are well‑known examples. Klara Schumann reports hearing and speech difficulties in childhood.
Myths have also, since time immemorial, taken hold of the phenomenon of the inferior organ and its overcompensation. The myth of the blind marksman who always hits the target is related to the William Tell saga. The following quotation from Grimm’s German Mythology bears witness to how closely our conception of compensation and overcompensation of the inferior organ corresponds to the popular feeling: “We find want of limbs in the heroes as well as in the Gods. Orin is one‑eyed, Tyr ‑ one‑handed, Loki ‑ lame, Hoeder ‑ blind, Vidar ‑ dumb, Hagano also one‑eyed, Walkeri ‑ one‑handed, Gunther and Wieland are lame; and there are a goodly number of blind and dumb heroes.” (Tyr likeness)
Far from offering those details as complete proof, the example are intended only to direct the (p 29) theory of organ inferiority and its relation to philosophy, psychology, and aesthetics.
Confluence and Transformation of Drives (1908): COMMENTS: It was in fact dealt with already in the preceding part, for both interaction of forces and compensation imply the unity of the organism. Adler’s next contribution, presented below, was more specifically concerned with unity, which he conceived in the form of a “confluence of drives.” At this time, Adler was still a member of the Freudian circle and still subscribed to drive psychology and hedonism; he still had the natural‑science approach, seeking to explain mental life as caused by physiological processes.
In the same paper, he also described the “transformation of drives,” an idea which came to be of the greatest importance in Freud but which in Adler merely foreshadowed his later view that all causal factors, including drives, are relative to the individual’s ultimate goal and style of life.
CHAPTER 8: FICTIONALISM AND FINALISM: FROM THE INDIVIDUAL PSYCHOLOGY OF ALFRED ADLER
: HEINZ L. ANSBACHER, PH.D. AND ROWENA R. ANSBACHER, PH.D.When Adler separated from Freud, he had developed away from a biologically oriented, elementaristic, objective drive psychology and toward a socially oriented, subjectivistic, holistic psychology attitudes. The present chapter will show the part which Hans Vaihinger’ s fictionalism, “idealistic positivism,” played in Adler’s further development in this direction. Vaihinger’ s work appeared in 1911, the same year in the beginning of which Adler withdrew from the psychoanalytic circle. When Adler presented in the following year, 1912, his “Comparative Individual Psychology” in The Neurotic Character, his most important book, this was replete with evidence of Vaihinger’ s influence and contained several sincere acknowledgments of this, such as: “It was good fortune which made me acquainted with Vaihinger’ s ingenious Philosophy of “As If” (Berlin, 1911) , a work in which I found the thoughts familiar to me from the neurosis presented as valid for scientific thinking in general” ( 1912a, p. 22).
In our experience, it is impossible to gain a complete understanding of Adler’s theory, especially with respect to his important concept of j the “fictional goal,” without 3 knowledge of Vaihinger’s fictionalism. Accordingly, we will deal with brief presentations of Vaihinger through selections from his book, and secondly, with Adler’s own fictional finalism. (p 76)
A. Fictionalism By Hans Vaihinger: Fictions, according to Vaihinger, are ideas, including un‑yet serve the useful function of enabling us to deal with it better than we could otherwise. This statement, “All men are created equal” would be an example of a fiction. The statement is in contradiction to realize; yet, as an ideal, it is of great practical value in everyday life. This sort of fiction comes close to a working hypothesis which is adopted as a basis for action because it works in practice, although its truth is dubious. Such fiction can better be understood by comparing it to hypothesis; while the hypothesis submits its reality to the test and demands verification, the fiction is a mere auxiliary construct, a scaffolding to be demolished if no longer needed. As distinguished from both fiction and hypothesis, dogma refers to an idea which is considered definitely established. Another aspect of the fiction, helpful in understanding the concept, is its subjective character. According to Vaihinger the subjective is fictional.
The main influence of Vaihinger on Adler was to provide him with a philosophic foundation for his developing subjective finalism, as will be shown in the selections from Adler in the second part of this chapter. Beyond this, however, Adler adapted a number of concepts from Vaihinger to his theory of personality and abnormal psychology; this will be shown in the comments after some of the selections from Vaihinger which follow.
THE MEANING OF FICTIONS:
The mind is not merely appropriative, it is also assimilative and constructive. In the course of its growth, it creates its organs of its own accord in virtue of its adaptable constitution, but only when stimulated from without, and adapts them to external circumstances. Such organs are, for example, forms of perception and thought, and certain concepts and other logical constructs.Our subject is the fictive activity of the logical functions; the products of this activity‑fictions. The fictive activity of the mind is an expression of the fundamental psychical forces; fictions are mental structures. The (p 77) psyche weaves this aid to thought out of itself for the mind is inventive. Fictio means, in the first place, an activity of fingere, that is to say, of f constructing, forming, giving shape, elaborating, presenting, artistically fashioning, conceiving, thinking, imagining, assuming, planning, devising, inventing. Secondly, it refers to the product of these activities, the fictional assumption, fabrication, creation, the imagined case. Its most conspicuous character is that of unhampered and free expression.
The organic function of thought is carried on for the most part unconsciously. Should the product finally enter consciousness also, this light only penetrates to the shallows, and the actual fundamental processes are carried on in the darkness of the unconscious.
Nominalism naturally declared all general ideas to be ficta, fictiones, without, however, attaching to fiction the positive meaning which it has for us. The negative sense of the fiction we call the assumption, for instance, that general ideas are expressions for something unreal, that is, definitely invented and fabricated; whereas by its positive sense we mean the realization that these fictions have nevertheless great practical value, that they serve as the means for acquiring knowledge.
For us the essential element in a fiction is not the fact of its being a conscious deviation from reality, a mere piece of imagination‑but we stress the useful nature of this deviation. If we simply say, “The whole world is our idea and all forms are subjective,” we get an untenable subjectivism. But if we say: “Conceptual forms and fictions are expedient psychical constructs,” then these are closely related to “cosmic agencies and constituents” ( Lass) , for it is they that call these expedient forms into existence in the organic being. The ”as if” world, which is formed in this manner, the world of the “unreal” is just as important as the world of the so‑called real or actual ( in the ordinary sense of the word) ; indeed it is far more important for ethics and aesthetics. This aesthetic and ethical world of ”as if,” the world of the unreal, becomes finally for us a world of values which particularly in the form of religion, must be sharply distinguished in our mind from the world of becoming. It is senseless to question the meaning of the universe, and this is the idea expressed in Schiller’s words: “Know this, a mind sublime puts greatness into life, yet seeks it not therein” (Huldigung del Kiinste, 1805). This is positivist idealism. (p 78)
THE FICTIONAL FINAL GOAL:
Freud’s biologica11y oriented system tacitly accepted a mechanistic, reductionistic positivism; it looked for ultimate causes in the past and in objective events. As we have seen, Freud held that “in the psychological field the biological factor is rea11y the rock‑bottom” ( see Fp. 51‑52) , and he anticipated that we may reach ” a (p 87) position to replace the psychological terms by physiological or chemical ones” ( see pp. 60‑61). Adler’s subjectivism, where values, goals, and secondary motives had replaced drives and primary motives in importance, was not a physiological reductionism. If mental events cannot be reduced to physiological events, systematization is possible only by establishing a hierarchy of these mental events, that is, a hierarchy of values and goals. This leads to the philosophical position of teleology and finalism, the determination by final causes. But in this position there lay the danger of parting from the scientific basis and approaching theology. It was in Vaihinger s idealistic positivism that Adler now found for his subjectivistic and finalistic psychology a philosophical foundation which was acceptable, encouraging, and stimulating.The influence of Vaihinger on Adler finds its most obvious expression in his term fictional. Three attributes of Vaihinger’s term are important for the understanding of Adler’s use of it.
1) From the psychological, not logical point of view, Vaihinger s concept of fiction comes very close to what one would today call the subjective or the personal frame of reference or the phenomenal field. Vaihinger say’s that the fictional includes the subjective, “subjective is fictional” (see p. 83) . 2) Fictions are not reducible to objective causes. According to Vaihinger Fictions are mental structures. The psyche weaves this aid to thought out of itself; for the mind is inventive” ( see pp. 77‑78) . Fictional structures are thus creations of the individual.
3) Thought processes, including the fictional activity, are fundamentally “carried on in the darkness of the unconscious” ( see p. 78) . When Adler combined the concept of the fiction with that of the goal, as in fictional goal or the guiding fiction, he implied that his view of causality was subjectivistic, that it was deterministic only in a restricted sense, and that it took unconscious processes into account. These three points may be expanded as follows.
1) Adler had already taken the observable forward orientation of the individual and his concern with the future as the center of his dynamic psychology. By now describing goals and the future as fictional, he expressed in effect that this future was not the objective future but a subjective future as experienced in the present. Thus he avoided the teleological dilemma of the determination of present events by something which remains in the future. This solution is, of course, the one generally (p 88) accepted today in one form or another. Wolfgang Kohler stated it most succinctly from the point of view of Gestalt psychology when he said: “It is not the actual future, the future as such, toward which we are directed in our planning, and in which we perceive our goals; it is that part of an actually present phenomenal field which we call the ‘future’ ” (62, p. 380) . Adler’s fictional or subjective finalism or teleology does not violate Kurt Lewin’s principle of the contemporaneity of motivation (68, p. 34) . Adler’s fictional (subjective) goal is a present one; it derives its great importance from the postulate that it is an ever‑present goal ( 1930a, p. 5), although it is not necessarily present in consciousness. “We can comprehend every single life phenomenon, as if the past, the present, and the future together with a superordinated, guiding idea were present in it in traces” (1912a, p. iii). If we translate “as if” into “subjective” we find that this sentence refers to the subjective past, present, and future as being present in the phenomenological field in trance.
2) The term fictional goal also expressed Adler’s conviction that the origin of the goal is, in the last analysis, not reducible to objective determiners. Although the objective factors of heredity and environment, organ inferiorities, and past experiences are utilized by the individual in the process of forming his final goal, the latter is still a fiction, a fabrication, the individual’s own creation. Such causality corresponds to “soft” determinism, that is, “determinism from the inner nature of life,” as contrasted to “hard” determinism “from external pressures alone” (William James, according to Murphy, 84, pp. 644‑645) . Adler was not aware of the term “soft” determinism, nor of Jaspers’ distinction between external, objective causation and internal, subjective causation ( see pp. 13‑14) . When Adler rejects causality without qualification, he is in fact rejecting “hard” determinism or external causation. Thus each time the word cause or any of its derivatives is found below, the reader should understand it to signify external, objective causation, the old causa efficiens. It is only this which Adler rejected and not internal causation or the old causa finalis.
3) Finally the fictitiousness of the goal also implies its unconscious nature. Adler’s goal concept is characterized particularly by the fact that the individual is largely unaware of his goal, that it is a hidden or unconscious goal, a goal which the individual does not understand. It is the true nature of the individual’s hidden goal which constitutes, according to Adler, the essential content of the unconscious. (p 89)
As the five sections within this part will show: (1) the fictional final goal became for Adler the principle of internal, subjective causation of psychological events, similar to Jaspers’ concept of the schema: (2) the goal represented a creation of the individual and was largely unconscious: (3) it also became the principle of unity and self‑consistency of the personality structure; from the point of view of the subject, the fictional goal was taken as the basis for orientation in the world; and (5), as one aspect of compensation for felt inferiorities.
One more characteristic of fictional which played a part in Adler’s use of the word should be mentioned. This characteristic, which belongs to the logical, not to the psychological, properties, is that a fiction can also be a working hypothesis, as in the case of the “heuristic fiction” (see p. 80). Accordingly, the fictional goal was at first used by Adler also as a heurisbc concept in that he regarded the individual ”as it” he were striving toward a final goal. Several years later, Adler dropped this last, logical connotation troll his use of the word fictional. “Our experience and our impressions strengthen in us the conviction that this heuristic method represents more than an auxiliary method of research, and that it fundamentally coincide to the largest extent with real events of psychological development, which are partly consciously experienced and partly deducible from the unconscious. The goal‑striving of the psyche is consequently not only our view but also a basic tact” ( 1927a, pp.56‑57). Eventually Adler relinquished the term fictional altogether when speaking of the goal. However, the three psychological meaning of the term fictional, as subjective created and unconscious, remained the most essential components of Adler’s goal concept. (p 90)
CHAPTER 9: STRIVING FOR SUPERIORITY AND STYLE OF LIFE: FROM THE INDIVIDUAL PSYCHOLOGY OF ALFRED ADLER:
HEINZ L. ANSBACHER, PH.D. AND ROWENA R. ANSBACHER, PH.D.We have seen that Adler tended from the beginning toward a theory of the unity and self‑consistency of the personality. I Such a theory would need a prepotent dynamic force. This was at first ) described as the aggression drive, the outcome of a confluence of drives. After Adler had abandoned drive psychology, it became the “wanting to be a real man” of the masculine protest. With Adler’s full commitment to fictional finalism in 1912, the fictional goal became the principle of unity of the personality and the striving toward this goal the prepotent dynamic force.
While in the preceding chapter our selections were concentrated on the theoretical significance of the goal, its origin, and its functions for the subject, and we omitted as much as possible discussion of the content of the goal and the goal striving itself, still it became evident that the goal is one of superiority, that consequently the striving is toward I superiority, and finally that the striving is compensatory, originating in a feeling of inferiority .
From then on and throughout the years of Adler’s writings the general description of the governing dynamic force as one of striving from inferiority to superiority, from “below” to “above” remained the same. But the meaning of superiority, or above, that is, the specific goal point, underwent an important change.
At first, above meant being a real man, power, self‑esteem, security; all these goal points were expressed in terms of the individual. But in these early days, Adler as a psychiatrist, wrote in terms of the neurotic patient; it was the neurotic whom Adler showed as striving for enhancement of his self‑esteem or for the safeguarding of it. When he generalized from the neurotic, he described the normal individual as behaving in the same way, only less clearly so and to a lesser degree. The neurotic was the frame of reference, the standard of comparison so to speak. (p 101)
Later, above came to mean perfection, completion, or overcoming, goal points which are no longer fully expressed in terms of the self but which can be applied to outside objects also. While overcoming may refer to internal obstacles, it usually refers to external ones; completion usually, refers to a task; and perfection to an achievement or a product. When Adler wrote in these terms, the frame of reference was no longer the neurotic, but man in general, the mentally healthy individual. When he now generalized, it was from the normal to the abnormal; the abnormal also strives for perfection, although it may hardly recognized as such.
What brought about this change in frame of reference from the abnormal to the normal? Originally Adler had drawn his inferences from his patients; regarding normal individuals, he only knew that they must be similarly motivated. The difference between the two was one of degree, the normal showing a less accentuated, less dogmatized, goal of superiority and less urgency in leaching it than the abnormal. The greater motivation of the neurotic came from his greater inferiority feeling. But Adler had not answered the question: In what respect, if any, is the normal more motivated than the neurotic? This question would certainly need to be answered since the normal would seem to strive as much as the abnormal, certainly at least in many instances. The change and the answer were made possible by the fact that Adler developed a criterion for normality, during the period roughly from 1920‑1930. Once he had such a criterion, he could rewrite his motivational theory in terms of the normal. Adler’s ultimate concept of social interest becomes this criterion. The ideally normal individual has an ideal amount of social interest. Thus, while the neurotic is more concerned with his self‑esteem, and has a personal goal of superiority, the normal individual, due to his greater social interest, is more concerned with gaining satisfaction by overcoming difficulties which are appreciated as such by others as well. He has a goal of superiority which includes the welfare of others. The difference in motivation between the normal and abnormal then became primarily one of kind of instead of degree. While the abnormal is more motivated in the direction of a private intelligence and is more self‑centered in his striving, the normal is more motivated in the direction of common sense that is, he is more task‑centered in his striving. When Adler replaced the earlier formations of the meaning of superiority by striving for perfection, he did not leave the earlier out of account; they were given a subordinate position in his system, just as he (p 102) had given the drives and heredity and environment a subordinate place.
Our reason for beginning the presentation of the selections on the striving for superiority with Adler’s late writings is that thereby we can best present the entire picture, with all the parts organized according to their relative significance.
Accordingly, the first part of the present chapter will deal with the striving for superiority in terms of perfection, and the second part in terms of self‑enhancement. This will be followed by the discussion of the inferiority feeling, the origin of all the striving, according to Adler , while the last section will deal with his further views on the position of drives in human dynamics. (p 103)
Man as an everstriving being cannot be like God. God who is eternally complete, who directs the stars, who masters fates, who elevates man from lowliness to Himself, who speaks from the cosmos to every single human soul, is the most brilliant manifestation of the goal of perfection to date. In God’s nature, religious mankind perceives the way to height. His call it hears again the innate voice of life which must have its direction towards the goal of perfection, toward overcoming the felling of lowliness and transitoriness of the existence here below. The human soul, as part of the movement of life, is endowed with the ability to participate in the uplift, elevation, perfection, and completion. (p 107)
THE THREE GENERAL SOCIAL TIES:
One of Adler’s favorite devices for teaching and preaching the “absolute truth” of social embeddedness and the resulting necessity of a well‑developed social interest was to point out that all the main problems in life are problems of human cooperation. Although Adler does not say so, he implies that in present society the satisfaction of almost all conceivable needs depends on the solution of these problems of cooperation. These problems represent the ties of the individual to social life and are somewhat loosely classified into problems of occupation, social relations in general, and love and marriage.At this point Individual Psychology comes into contact with sociology. For a long time now I have been convinced that all the questions of life can be subordinated to the three major problems ‑ the problem of communal life, of work, and of love. These three arise from the inseparable bond that of necessity links men together for association, for the provision of livelihood, and the care of offsprings.
These three ties in which human beings are bound set the three problems of life, but none of these problems can be solved separately. Each of them demands a successful approach to the other two.
a. Occupation: The first tie sets the problem of occupation. We are living on the surface of this planet, with only the resources of this planet, with the fertility of its soil, with its mineral wealth, and with its climate and atmosphere. It has always been the task of mankind to find the right answer to the problem these conditions set us, and even today we cannot think that we have found a sufficient answer. In every age, mankind has arrived at a certain level of solution, but it has always been necessary to strive for improvement and further accomplishments.
When somebody makes shoes, he makes himself useful to someone else, and he has the right to a sufficient livelihood, to all the advantages (p 131) of hygiene, and to a good education of his children. The fact that he receives payment for this is the recognition of his usefulness in an age of developed trade. In this way, he arrives at a feeling of his worth to society, the only possible means of mitigating the universal human feeling of inferiority. The person who performs useful work lives in the midst of the developing human society and helps to advance it.
b. Society: The second tie by which men are bound is their membership in the human race and their association with others of their kind. The attitude and behavior of a human being would be altogether different if he were the only one of his kind alive on earth. We have always to reckon with others, to adapt ourselves to others, and to interest ourselves in them. This problem is best solved by friendship, social feeling, and cooperation. With the solution of this problem, we have made an incalculable advance towards the solution of the first. It was only because men learned to cooperate that the great discovery of the division of labor was made, a discovery which is the chief security for the welfare of mankind. Through the division of labor we can use the results of many different kinds of training and organize many different abilities, so that all of them contribute to the common welfare and guarantee relief from insecurity and increased opportunity for all the members of society.
Some people attempt to evade the problem of occupation, to do no work, or to occupy themselves outside of common human interests. We shall always find, however, that if they dodge this problem, they will in fact be claiming support from their fellows. In one way or another, they will be living on the labor of others without making a contribution of their own.
c. Love: The third tie of a human being is that he is a member of one of the two sexes and not of the other. On his approach to the other sex and on the fulfillment of his sexual role depends his part in the continuance of mankind. This relationship between the two sexes also sets a problem. It, too, is a problem which cannot be solved apart from the other two problems. For a successful sol1,tion of the problem of love and marriage, an occupation contributing to the division of labor is necessary, as well as a good and friendly contact with other human beings. In our own day, the highest solution for this problem, the solution most coherent with the demands of society and of the division of labor, is monogamy. In the way in which an individual answers this problem the degree of his cooperation can always be seen. These three problems are never found apart, for they all throw (p 132) cross‑lights in on another. A solution of one help toward the solution of the others, and indeed we can say that they are all aspects of the same situation and the same problem ‑ the necessity for a human being to preserve life and to further life in the environment in which he finds himself. (p 133)
STYLE OF LIFE:
Style of life is variously equated with the self or ego (1931b, p. 4: 1935a, p. 7), a man’s own personality (1931a, p. 200), the unity of personality (1935a, p. 7), individuality (1931b, p.4), individual form of creative activity (1935a, p. 8), the method of facing problems (1933a, p 16), the whole attitude to life (1920c, p. 135) and others.Although in Adler’s earlier writings the emphasis was on the goal, he had from the beginning used several terms foreshadowing the style of lite. When he was still mechanistically and biologically oriented and attempted to express the unity of the individual through the concept of the confluence of drives, he was also aware of the uniqueness of the individual and of the need to give this idea an expression. This he did at first with the term psychological main axis. In 1912, in The Neurotic Character, the main axis became the guiding idea which provides the approach to the fictional goal through the life plan: “We may look upon every single manifestation of life as it in its past, present, and future there were contained traces of a superordinated guiding idea. . . Comparative Individual Psychology sees in every psychological process the imprint, a symbol so to speak, of the se1t‑consistently oriented life plan” ( 1912a, p. iii) . In 1927 we find schema of life (Lebens‑Schablone) and line of movement used synonymously with style of life ( 1927a, p. 3) . Finally, in 1933 Adler proposed the individual’s law of movement as underlying the style of life (see pp. 195‑196).
Unity and Sovereignty of the Self: The child is constantly confronted afresh with every‑varying problems. Since these can be solved neither by conditioned reflexes nor by innate abilities, it would be extremely hazardous to expose a child who is equipped only with conditioned reflexes or with innate abilities to the tests of a world which is continuously raising new problems. The solution of the greatest problem would always be up to the never‑resting creative mind. This remains pressed into the path of the child’s style of life, as does everything that has a name in the various schools of psychology, such as instincts, impulses, feeling, thinking, acting, attitude to pleasure and (p 174) displeasure, and finally self‑love and social interest. The style of life commands all forms of expression; the whole commands the parts. In real life we always find a confirmation of the melody of the total sell, of the personality, with its thousand fold ramifications. If we believe that the foundation, the ultimate basis of everything has been found in character traits, drives, or reflexes, the self is likely to be overlooked. Authors who emphasize a part of the whole are likely to attribute to this part all the aptitudes and observations pertaining to the sell, the individual. They show “something” which is endowed with prudence, determination, volition, and creative power without knowing that they are actually describing the sell, rather than drives, character traits, or reflexes.
Individual Psychology goes beyond the views of philosophers like Kant and newer psychologists and psychiatrists who have accepted the idea of the totality [wholeness] of the human being. Very early in my work, I found man to be a [sell‑consistent] unity. The foremost task of Individual Psychology is to prove this unity in each individual ‑ in his thinking, feeling, acting, in his so‑called conscious and unconscious, in every expression of his personality. This (self‑consistent) unity we call the style of life of the individual. What is frequently labeled the ego is nothing more than the style of the individual. The very first requisite for a science of psychology is missing from psychoanalysis, namely, a recognition of the coherence of the personality and of the unity of the individual in all his expressions.
Gestalt psychology shows a better understanding of this coherence. But we are not satisfied with the Gestalt alone or, as we prefer to say, with the whole, once all the notes are brought into reference with the melody. We are satisfied only when we have recognized in the melody the author and his attitudes as well, for example, Each and Each’s style of life. (p 175)
CHAPTER 10: SOCIAL INTEREST FROM AN ADLERIAN PERSPECTIVE: FORM FUNDAMENTALS OF ADLERIAN PSYCHOLOGY
: By Rudolf R. Dreikurs, M.D. Alfred Adler Institute, Chicago, Ill. 1953:What forms the personality of a human being? What makes a man act as he does? What forces govern all the activities of the human mind? These are the fundamental questions which psychology tries to answer. So many people are now exploring them and there are so many theories that we are apt to feel confused. Some assume that the life of each individual is determined by the experiences and desires of his ancestors (lung). Others regard the Psyche as the battlefield of a variety of instincts, corresponding to various forms of the sexual instinct (The Psycho‑Analysis of Freud) . Many think that the most complicated behavior patterns are the outcome of the automatic action of certain reflex mechanisms, which are built up and maintained by habit (The Reflexology of Bechterev). others look upon man with all his functions as the mere product of his environment, which through the medium of education directs his behavior (The Behaviorism of Watson). A number of other theories have been advanced by different pioneers in order to explain psychic phenomena. The leading idea of the Individual Psychology of Alfred Adler is found in his recognition of the importance of human society, not only for the development of the individual character, but also for the orientation of every single action and emotion in the life of a human being.
There are certain species that cannot exist without close contact with their kind. Man belongs to these. Nature has not fitted him to survive singlehanded. He is not equipped in the same way as other animals for the struggle tor existence. He neither has weapons of attack in the form of sharp teeth, great physical strength and powerful claws, nor is he able to defend his life by (p 1) extraordinary swiftness or inconspicuous smallness. It seems that men formed herds exactly like other herding animals simply because this was necessary in order to preserve existence. [1 It is a well‑known fact that birds fitted to share the struggle for existence and to rear their young in pairs. gather together in flocks before undertaking the difficult task which a long journey involves. Likewise weak, defenseless animals form herds in order to organize a better defense. The formation of a community is a very effective way of preserving existence, and therefore it is often adopted. but it is not the only way. Animals similar to those living in communities are also frequently found leading a solitary mode of existence ( wild elephants).]
Most of us have no adequate idea of the extent to which man nowadays depends on co‑operation with his fellow men. We have only to think of the thousands of people whose labor we employ each day, or need only consider how many people have co‑operated to provide our houses, clothing, food, and a thousand other necessities of our daily lives. For thousands of years man has lived in more or less close social relations with his fellow men and has adapted himself to a system of division of labor and mutual assistance. The human infant is one of the most defenseless creatures in the world. He cannot find his food without help, nor even move alone. In exercising all his functions he depends on the co‑operation of others.
The question now arises: to what extent can living in a closely knit community form the character of an individual? It might seem, as Freud maintains, that human instincts adapt themselves only incompletely and faultily to the reality of close social relationships, and that the human Psyche is indeed at the mercy of incompatible demands‑the need for adjustment to the community, and the needs of innate instincts. [2 Throughout the book the reader will find several references to the basic differences between Freud’s Psycho‑Analysis and Adler’s Individual Psychology. Such references are indicated because of the affinity and contradictions between these two schools of thought, which often puzzle the student. A thorough comparison cannot be presented in this book, but a few indications of the different aspects presented by each may contribute to some clarification. At this point we may refer to one of the basic differences. For Freud all human conflicts are intra‑personal, caused by opposing conflicts within the personality structure, i.e., between the person’s Ego, Super Ego and Id, the unconscious. For Adler, all problems and conflicts are inter‑personal. This implies a different emphasis on both the origin of conflicts and on therapeutic procedures. For Freud, the maladjustment with its consequent disturbance of human relationships originates in the inner‑personal conflicts, while for Adler the inner conflicts express disturbed human relationships. Freud emphasizes the inner needs, while Adler emphasizes the significance of the attitude toward others.] Observation shows that not only among men, but also among animals, close social relationships, with the very delicate adjustment to (p 2) the claims of others which is involved in such relationships, decisively affect the nature and characteristics of species, and even enable some individuals to free themselves from laws of nature which otherwise prove generally irresistible. All living creatures feel a compulsion to maintain life, which causes them to seek for food, and a desire to propagate themselves, which finds its fulfillment in sex. And yet under certain circumstances men refuse to obey their natural instincts. Children may choose to refuse food if they think such tactics are the best they can adopt in a struggle with their parents. Prisoners starve themselves as a form of protest. Thousands upon thousands of people who wish to evade the claims of a love relationship suppress every sexual desire. Man has tamed his natural instincts and subordinated them to his attitude to his environment; and we find that the bees go to even greater lengths. They have reduced the sexual instinct‑‑0therwise an all‑powerful instinct, dominating the whole animal kingdom‑to a precisely ordered function, which they regulate in accordance with the needs of their commonwealth at any given moment. They not only command means enabling them to produce males or females, according to the needs of the group, but they can also allot the sexual function to certain individuals and deprive others of it by simple changes in the diet. Thus creatures like bees, who live in the most closely knit communities known to us, can reverse generally valid biological laws. This supports Alfred Adler’s view of the importance of society for the development of individual character among human beings.
When we observe people we find that the nature, character (p 3) and action of an individual are determined by experiences he encounters in the community within which he grows up. Here we have seem to approach Watson’s theory of Behaviorism, according to which man is the mere product of his environment. But if we look deeper we find that in addition to the influence of environment another vitally important circumstance remains to be considered. Different people respond in different ways to the same experience and influences. Man does not merely react. He adopts an individual attitude. The attitude adopted depends on the impressions the individual forms in early childhood. Environment is indeed a forceful factor. Yet this environment is no the individual’s real environment, but merely his environment as it appears subjectively to him. Therefore the decisive factor for the development of character is not the influence of environment, but the attitude to environment which the individual take up. Man develops his characteristic behavior ‑ by opposition or support, negation or affirmation, acceptance or non‑acceptance of the group into which he is born. Man’s urge to adapt himself to the arbitrary conditions of his environment is expressed by social interest innate in every human being. But this innate social characteristic, which is common to all, must be developed if the individual is to be qualified to fulfill the complicated demands of the community in which he lives.
The human community sets three tasks for every individual. They are: work, which means contributing to the welfare of (p 4) others, friendship, which embraces social relationships which comrades and relatives, and love, which is the most intimate union which some one of the other sex and represents the strongest and closest emotional relationship which can exist between two human beings. These three tasks embrace the whole of human life with all its desires and activities. All human suffering originates from the difficulties which complicate the tasks. The possibility of fulfilling them does not depend on the individual’s talents nor on his intelligence. Men of outstanding capacity fail where others with far inferior powers achieve relative successes. It all depends on social interest. The better this is developed and the happier the relationship between the individual and the human community , the more successfully does he fulfill the three life tasks, and the better balanced his character and personality appear.
Social interest is expressing subjectively in the consciousness of having something in common with other people and of being one of them. People can develop their capacity for co‑operation only if they feel that in spite of all external dissimilarities they are not fundamentally different from other people‑if they feel belonging. A man’s ability to co‑operate may therefore be regarded as a measure of the development of his social interest. A specific example will help us to visualize the situation more clearly: A man becomes a member of a group, a club, a political party or some other association. His social interest expresses itself subjectively in his consciousness of being a part. Expressed objectively it will show how far he is able to co‑operate there. On his social interest depends how soon he makes contact with others, whether and to what extent he can adapt himself to others, whether he is capable of feeling with and understanding other members. A man who thinks only of himself, of how he is to uphold his own dignity and of the role he means to play, is sure to cause trouble within his circle of friends and acquaintances. (p 5)
Readiness to co‑operate, which is one of the characteristics of a good comrade, is tested most rigorously in difficult situations. Most people are perfectly willing to co‑operate so long as everything is to their liking. It is much more difficult to remain a good comrade in an uncongenial situation. If the tie which binds a man to a group is weak, he will easily break away as soon as anything he does not like happens. The stronger his feeling of membership, the more surely will he remain loyal to the group, even when he cannot enforce his own wishes. We never find conditions which entirely conform to our wishes in any human relationship, be it friendship, the family, love or work. Sooner or later, therefore, we are bound to become involved in critical situations, and the way we behave then will show whether we are community minded or not. Another characteristic of the good comrade is his readiness to demand less than he offers. Nowadays most people brought up in large towns are spoiled children, who measure their happiness and satisfaction only by what they get. This is a grave error, for which thousands pay in unhappiness and suffering. People who make it their objective to get as much as possible are always clutching emptiness. They are insatiable. Only a rare and brief moment of attainment rewards months or years of covetousness and ambition. None of these who can seek their happiness as part of the whole, that is to say, in the contribution they themselves and their lives. The social interest therefore is expressed by willingness to contribute with thought of reward.
We shall have a sufficiently reliable criterion as to whether any given action takes into account the needs of the commonweal, if we observe to what extent the action is objective. Objective action implies suitable and right behavior in any situation. It is impossible to prescribe how anyone should behave in this or that situation. Every situation involves a special and very complicated set of circumstances, and no one can say (p 6) beforehand how they should be handled. The crucial questions are:‑Have the rules of community life been observed? Is the individual ready to subordinate himself to them? If so, he will know more or less the right course to adopt in any situation, no matter how difficult, because he will be able to regard his problems objectively. He will never be baffled if he can subordinate ego‑centric wishes to the objective needs of the group.
In spite of the apparent chaos of present‑day social relationships we have rules to guide us. These rules are clear to everyone even though they have never been definitely formulated.
Each person becomes aware of the relentless logic of social life as soon as he tries to escape it. Success or failure is the answer given by the society to fulfillment or non‑fulfillment of the life tasks.
Frequently a man whose contacts with the community are superficial appears to be consistently successful, while another who always seemed to have adapted himself sufficiently to the needs of society may suddenly break down. The explanation is that the strength of the social interest is not always put to the proof. If a man is spared by favorable circumstances from undergoing rigorous tests, he may easily give others the impression of being able to solve every problem. He is like a pupil who for some time escapes examinations. His knowledge is taken for granted. If a man has to endure great hardships his lack of training for life will be revealed more quickly. But sooner or later everyone has to show how far his social interest has developed. This moment decides whether his life can be happy or not. Therefore disaster and misfortune are not inevitable causes of suffering and discouragement, but test situations, which prove whether people are ready to co‑operate. While one accepts defeat, another keeps a brave heart. He never loses his feeling of comradeship with other people and in the end he wins through.
Yet the social interest does not mean, as misrepresentations of the teachings of Alfred Adler often incorrectly state, simply a feeling of belonging to a certain group or class of people, or (7) benevolence towards the whole race. Sometimes the interests of various groups conflict. (This is the dilemma of a workman on strike, who may hesitate between his family’s welfare and the need for solidarity with his fellow workers. ) In such perplexing situations the social interest causes us to see that the interests of the super‑ordinate group, which are justified on the ground of objective needs, have the first claim on us. We certainly want to do what we can to help men to found a society embracing the whole human race, to whose interests all the special interests of individuals and groups would be subordinated. But in practice we are still a long way from realizing this ideal. The social interest has no fixed objective. Much more truly may it be said to create an attitude to life, a desire to co‑operate with others in some way and to master the situations of life. Social interest is the expression of our capacity for give and take. (p 9)
CHAPTER 11 FUNDAMENTALS OF ADLERIAN PSYCHOLOGY
: By Rudolf R. Dreikurs, M.D. Alfred Adler Institute, Chicago, Ill. 1953:THE LIFE PLAN AND THE LIFE STYLE: At birth the child encounters an unknown world and a mode of life which he has to learn. Above all he has to learn the rules of the human community , to perform functions and master the tasks set by life. At first the child sees only that part of life and of the human community which is bounded by his environment, the family in which he is living. To him this environment means “life” and the members of the family seem to be “society” and he attempts to adapt himself to them.
He seeks to maintain himself within this concrete group by means of a variety of acquired accomplishments, characteristics, modes of behavior, capacities and artifices. The difficulties he encounters have been outlined in previous chapters. If we now examine the situation more closely we find that the child is bound to get the impression that the difficulties he personally experiences are the absolute difficulties of life. He does not realize that the other people round about him are involved in conflicts of an entirely different nature. His growing intelligence prompts him to overcome the difficulties of his position, so far as this appears possible, unaided and alone.
This explains why every individual by the time he is four to six years old has developed a definite character and why any fundamental change of character after the fourth to sixth year is almost impossible without outside aid through psychotherapy. Character is therefore simply the manifestation of a certain plan which the child has evolved and to which he will adhere throughout the rest of his life.
A child’s life plan does not grow out of a certain peculiarity nor out of isolated experiences, but out of the constant repetition of the difficulties, real or imagined, which he encounters. Each individual will find out special ways and means which appear to be serviceable for his special plan. Out of the individual’s (p 43) special life plan develops the life style which characterizes him and everything he does. His thoughts, actions and wishes seize upon definite symbols and conform to definite patterns. The life style is comparable to a characteristic theme in apiece of music. It brings the rhythm of recurrence into our lives. Everyone offers the stoutest opposition to any attempt that is made for whatever reasons to change his life style. So we can understand why an only child becomes timid if he feels that to be alone and unaided is the greatest hardship in life‑a difficulty which cannot be surmounted, and why he betrays himself at every turn if he rates his importance in the community in terms of the recognition and consideration he gets. We can understand why the eldest child of a family may live in constant dread of being supplanted and why a second child may always feel at a disadvantage. It also becomes clearer why in later life these people continue to behave as though they were still living in the same situation as in childhood.
In addition to the difficulties encountered within the family circle, the child’s social environment plays an important part in fixing the life plan. The family’s position in the community may cause the child to conclude that community life involves certain social and economic dangers. Social conditions may determine the ideas he forms about his position in relation to his comrades and playmates‑in short, in relation to all his fellow beings. In order to contend with all these dangers he tries to evolve a definite plan. An imaginary example may make the situation plainer. Let us picture a child growing up in a colony of thieves. He learns that if he is to maintain himself at all he must keep a careful watch on his property, distrust others and defend himself against their predatory tendencies. Later on he is able to leave the colony and live in the ordinary world where thieves do not compose the entire population. But he continues to behave as before, because his chief fear in life is to become the victim of a thief. He does not believe the assurances other people give him that this fear is excessive, and is always looking out for incidents (p 44) which appear to justify his behavior. Whenever anything is stolen he feels triumphant. If on the other hand he hears of an honest finder who has given up his find, he is inclined to dismiss the report as untrue and say that he is not simpleton enough to believe such a fantastic story . And if sooner or later it becomes impossible for him to doubt a person’s honesty, he gets out of his dilemma in another way. This man, he says, must certainly be crazy‑at least, he is different from normal people.
Probably, however, his companions will appeal to his better nature and tell him that he really must give up his unreasonable mistrust. He may then try to prove that he is broad‑minded and actually give his confidence to some person; but it is practically certain that the first person he trusts will turn out a thief ‑partly because people of this type have been familiar to him from childhood and he feels secretly at home with them, and partly because he can turn the incident to account as an irrefutable argument: “There now, you see what happens if I believe what you say!” After this he can continue to practice without let or hindrance the rules of conduct he learned as a child and hold the wickedness of other people responsible for all the disagreeable experiences he goes through in consequence.
This obviously imaginary example of a single peculiar circumstance exaggerated out of all proportion to the real conditions of life illustrates firstly the importance of the life plan. Secondly it shows that it is possible to persist in the course first chosen only by grossly misrepresenting facts encountered later. We are forced to regard everything we see and all our experiences from a biased standpoint if we wish to preserve intact the mistaken ideas about life and ourselves which we formed as children. The private logic which each person evolves appears to justify his mistaken behavior, and prevents him from seeing that most of the difficulties and disappointments in his life are the logical consequences of mistakes in his life plan. We “make” our experiences according to our “biased apperception” and can learn by experiences only if no personal bias is involved. (p 45)
THE FAMILY CONSTELLATION:
The theory that each person has an innate individuality from birth would appear to find confirmation in the fact that children in the same family ate different from each other. It is indeed admitted by those who uphold this theory that the parents’ behavior can influence the child’s attitude, and through this the development of his character, but they say that the parents treat all the children alike and that therefore the differences between the children must be attributed to their equipment. Upon closer examination, however, it is found that each child has an essentially different position in the family and must see all the circumstances of his childhood in an entirely different light. Besides, in practice the parents never treat two children alike, but behave very differently to each. There may be a difference in the affection they feel for the children, and there certainly will be in the opinions they hold about them. At this point it might be useful to suggest briefly some points of view which are characteristic of the different children in a family.Let us begin with the eldest child. The outstanding fact of his childhood is that at first, though only for a limited period, he was the only child. While he is the only child he is likely to get far too much spoiling. He is the center of attraction and the special object of his parents’ care. Then he suddenly finds himself in the midst of a tremendous experience. A brother or sister is thrust upon him. Even if the first child is already a few years old he is hardly ever able to gauge the situation correctly. He notices only that another child now monopolizes his parents, especially his mother, who devotes herself to him, and lavishes any amount of time and care on him. He readily believes that the newcomer will rob him of her love. He cannot know, of course, that he was once looked after by his mother in exactly the same way and that all the care she bestows on the second (p. 37) child does not mean that she loves him more. So, feeling that he has been set aside, the eldest child frequently shows understandable jealousy when another child is born, even if before the birth of this child he longed for a brother or sister.
If the mother can make the elder child aware of his undiminished value by pointing out to him his importance as the elder and therefore more advanced child. and so enlist his will to co‑operate. he will adapt himself to the new situation with comparative ease.. But the parents may not understand what is going on in the elder child’s mind and may grow impatient over his unfounded jealousies and ailments. If, as is most probable, they then take the younger child under their protection in order to defend him against the elder child’s overbearing conduct, the elder child may easily give up trying to win good opinions by making himself useful, as he probably could do, but become obstinate and try to take up his parents’ attention by resorting to every possible trick that naughtiness can suggest to him.
Even if under the most favorable circumstances two children of the same parents manage to live together in apparent harmony they may become involved in a competition which, though not always openly declared is none the less deadly. The elder child tries either to preserve his superiority or, if it is already endangered, at least to prevent the younger child from attaining superiority. The older the second child becomes and the greater the part he takes in activities which formerly appeared to be the prerogative of the elder child, the more reasonable seems the latter’s fear of being overtaken and surpassed. He endeavors in every way to safeguard his superior position as the elder and more advanced child.
What has been said about the first child suggest the situation which the second child meets. He never loses sight of the brother or sister who has got a short start of him. He fully realizes that the elder child is endeavoring to impose his superiority on him. He resents the imputation that he is less important. He regards everything the other child can do and he himself cannot do as an indication of his own inferiority. So (p 38) every second child tries to catch up with the first child. This explains why second children are generally much more active than first children, whether they choose the line of useful achievement or naughtiness.
The outcome of the competition between the first and second child depends mainly on the support each child gets from others. The one who has the parents on his side is, of course, in a stronger position. Occasionally also an elder child, like Esau in the Bible, may renounce his birthright because he simply gives up trying to hold his position against the attacks of thee younger child. The child who emerges victorious from the struggle is more likely to be successful throughout the remainder of life than the other, who will always accept defeat too easily. The duel between the first two children generally decides the whole subsequent course of their lives.
As frequently observed, however, one child is not always victorious in everything and the other defeated in everything. One achieves superiority in one activity and the other in another. When this happens we have the plainest proof that the development of individual character is influenced even in the smallest detail by the attitude to environment adopted in childhood. It is not too much to say that we usually find a fundamental difference both as regards nature and character between the first two children. This becomes easy to understand if we remember that each of the two tries to achieve superiority in the very field where the other encounters difficulties. The younger child in particular develops an almost uncanny power for detecting the elder child’s weak points and proceeds to win praise from parents and teachers by achieving brilliant successes where the other has failed. When there is keen competition and only a slight disparity of ages between two children of the same parents, we often find that later on at school each does particularly well in subjects in which the other does badly. If one child is puny and ailing the other grows up robust and hardy. If one is exceptionally clever at lessons the other tries to win recognition by success in something else. A child whose rival is (p 39) very attractive in appearance will probably try to impress people with his intelligence or courage; but obviously it would be impossible to enumerate all the variations produced by this preference for the opposite. The difference in character, temperament and interest between the first and second child often seems to be based on inherited capacities, especially if each of the children appears to take after a different parent. But a child’s psychological attitude can make the physical likeness to one parent more pronounced. A certain similarity may result from imitation of this parent’s facial expressions, gestures, attitudes and peculiarities of speech; for a characteristic cast of features is gradually formed by constant repetition of the same facial movements.
To a far greater extent, however, similarity of nature and character is the outcome of the child’s special training. It is true that we cannot tell beforehand why the child should imitate this particular trait. We can only be wise after the event. Often the child tries to acquire the characteristics of the parent whose ally in family quarrels he has become.1 He seizes on these characteristics because he hopes to reach the goal of superiority (p 40) by evincing like the parent who is his ally a definite character as against the other members of the family. Actuated by the same desire to gain power, many children imitate the parent with whom they are in direct conflict. The parent who counters many wishes and is very severe is the child’s conception of power. This explains why children may imitate the parent they fear. They merely wish to have this parent’s power. So we are able to formulate the only fundamental law governing the development of the child’s character: he trains those qualities by which he hopes to achieve significance or even a degree of power and superiority in the family constellation.
In a large family of children the conflict between the first and second child is repeated under some form or other lower down in the family, but it generally tends to be less fierce. Consequently children who come in the middle of a family usually develop more balanced characters. The third child frequently sides with one of the two elder children. Often two children lower down in the family treat each other as competitors like the first and second children. If there are four children, the middle child finds himself in a characteristic situation. He has neither the same rights as the older nor the privileges of the younger. Consequently, a middle child often feels squeezed out between the two. He may become convinced of the unfairness of life and feel cheated and abused. In some instances, the middle child can overcome his predicament by pushing down his two opponents and elevating himself through special accomplishments. The position of a middle child is accentuated when three children follow one another closely, when a girl is between two boys, or vice versa.
The youngest child has a special role to play. Not merely one child, but all the other children are ahead of him. All the other members of the family spoil him and regard him as the little one. He generally develops characteristics which make it likely that other people will help him to shape his life, such as helplessness, a winning nature and whimsicality. But youngest (p 41) children often prove very clever if their smallness becomes an impulse for outstanding achievement.
A boy in a family of girls and vice‑versa one girl in a family of boys is in a special position. These children will form a characteristic appreciation of their roles and will develop qualities which help them to play these roles. They often overestimate the importance of the role of their own sex, because this represents the essential difference between themselves and all the other children. Naturally the importance they attach to the role played by their own sex also depends on the value attached to it within the whole family and above all on the value attached by the parents to their own sex roles, with the possible superiority of either the father or the mother.
So it becomes understandable why people adopt a certain attitude to their fellow beings in childhood, and why above all they get a definite idea of themselves. We must now try to see why a line of conduct which was reasonable and understandable in childhood is pursued throughout the rest of life. (p 42)
THE FICTIVE GOALS ‑ THE MASCULINE PROTEST:
As we have seen, what most often endangers the success of the individual’s attempts to fit into the community and his hope of living a sane and happy life is the feeling of his own inferiority. So each human being’s chief problem is the problem of his own value. As long as his value remains unchallenged be is in no danger of creating problems for himself‑not even when he encounters external difficulties which do not involve psychological problems but most often provide a stimulus for consistent effort. Uncertain people who come into sharp conflict with their surroundings, including neurotics of all kinds, have the greatest difficulty in solving this problem of their own value. But no human being is entirely free from neurosis, least of all the modern city dweller, since the first human community he knew was most probably the discordant family of the present day.In obedience to the human law of overcompensation, every human being’s life is directed toward the goal of increased personal importance. As the individual, while remaining unconscious that he has set this goal before himself, nevertheless gives a bias to his whole life and to all his action in his endeavor to reach it, this fictive goal is the key to the riddle of his whole personality . The stronger his feeling of inferiority the more complicated his behavior becomes.
The child who has a constitutional inferiority‑we may include the ugly child, the pampered child and the child who bas been brought up too strictly in the same group‑will make great efforts to escape the many hardships of his life and to ward off the danger of a defeat which seems to threaten at some distant future date. He feels that he needs a signpost to keep in view (p 46) because he has no sense of direction. So he has recourse to a helpful fiction. He regards himself as unskillful, inferior, subordinated and uncertain in judgment. He finds a guiding line which becomes the normal line followed by his thoughts and actions when he takes as his second fixed point his father or mother, whom he endows in imagination with all the power in the world. He then tries to rise above his uncertainty to the supposed security of his all‑powerful father, and even surpass him.
All feelings of uncertainty and inferiority give rise to a need for an objective to guide, reassure and make life bearable. The result is the crystallization and hardening of every characteristic which represents a guiding line in the chaos of life and so lessens uncertainty . In the many complications and perplexities of life the guiding lines are intended to divide right from wrong and above from below.
In the eyes of the child brought up in the modern civilized world the concepts masculine and feminine are just such a pair of contraries corresponding to above and below. Our civilization is mainly a masculine civilization, and the child gets the impression that while all adults enjoy superior powers the man’s position is superior to the woman’s. Although she occasionally manages to encroach on his privileges, he still appears to be more powerful, more important and more fortunate. He has greater physical strength; he has the advantage in height; he has a more powerful voice. As soon as the child is able to appreciate the numerous social privileges enjoyed by men he may easily come to regard the male as the symbol of power. His concept of masculine will include whatever is “above” and his concept of feminine whatever is “below.” The woman’s role seems to be one of service and long suffering. The boy’s goal of superiority prompts the resolve: “I’m going to be a real man.” From this standpoint he protests against any treatment which seems likely (p 47) to lower his value. So the “masculine protest” may become the main fiction of his whole personality . We find that women also have masculine goals if they are unwilling to accept their sex role. Some desire power, knowledge or strength as an expression of the masculine ideal. In fact, most people have a masculine goal or an equivalent of a masculine goal.
The masculine goal is, of course, only a fiction, which determines what is “above’; and what “below.” and enables the individual to select a guiding line. Every child creates any pairs of contrary concepts of “above” and “below,” as his own experiences in life suggest. Even normal children want to be tall and strong and take command in something‑”like father,” and this final goal influences their behavior. Any child who feels small and helpless may accept the guiding fiction that he should behave as if his role was to be superior to everybody.
The neurotic is not alone in trying to make his life conform to fictions which increase his sense of personal importance. The healthy person also would have to give up all hope of orientation in the world if he did not try to make his picture of the world and his experiences conform to fictions. These fictions assume very definite shape in times of uncertainty, and find expression in the individual’s opinions, beliefs and ideals.
The fiction of a final goal of power attracts all human beings, especially people who feel uncertain of themselves, such as neurotics. The influence of this fictive goal is enormous. It draws all psychic forces in its direction. A human being’s fictive goals and the guiding lines by which he hopes to reach his goals remain unchanged throughout his life as long as they are not disclosed by unusually penetrating self knowledge. That he must have if he is to change them. A human being’s character is the outcome of his life plan, fictive goals and guidelines. Passions and “instincts” are exaggerated and intensified approaches. An apparently spontaneous change of character may occasionally be observed, but if it was not due to the exercise of an unusual degree of insight, but to external (p 48) influences, such as a change of environment, it generally proves to have been superficial. The most cherished goals were not abandoned. Consequently the fundamental nature of the personality remained unaffected. The change was merely a change in the choice of means.
An individual may consider being the first as essential for maintaining any position in the group, because that was how he defeated his competitors as a child. In that situation he has concluded he was lost and utterly worthless unless he was first. The way in which he maintains his primacy depends on the situation in which he finds himself. If he has a chance to be first in his class, he may study hard to maintain this position. If unable to do so in a higher school of learning, he may switch to another activity in which he still can succeed over all others, either by athletic achievements, popularity , sexual attraction or some other achievement which he then may cultivate. If there is no chance‑according to his own evaluation of the situation‑to be the first by useful achievement, he may shift to the useless side and become the “worst,” either by misbehavior, drinking, gambling or illness. The destructive powers of a patient who wants to be the worst patient are as unlimited as the amount of work and effort which an over ambitious “successful” person uses to stay on top. (p 49)
CHAPTER 12: NOTES FROM UNDERSTANDING HUMAN NATURE: ALFRED ADLER
: FACETT, Greenwich, Conn.THE FAMILY CONSTELLATION:
We have often drawn attention to the fact that before we can judge a human being we must know the situation in which he grew up. An important moment is the position which a child occupied in his family constellation. Frequently we can catalogue human beings according to this view point after we have gained sufficient expertness, and can recognize whether an individual is a first‑born, an only child, the youngest child, or the like. People seem to have known for a long time that the youngest child is usually a peculiar type. This is evidenced by the countless fairy tales, legends, Biblical stories, in which the youngest always appears in the same light. As a matter of fact he does grow up in a situation quite different from that of all other people, for to parents he represents a particular child, and as the youngest he experiences an especially solicitous treatment. Not only is he the youngest, but also usually the smallest, and by consequence, the most in need of help. His other brothers and sisters have already acquired some degree of independence and growth during the time of his weakness, and for this reason he usually grows up in an atmosphere warmer than that which the others have experienced. Hence there arise a number of characteristics which influence his attitude toward life in a remarkable way, and cause him to be a remarkable personality. One circumstance which seemingly is a contradiction for our theory must be noted. No child likes to be the smallest, the one whom one does not trust, the one in whom one has no confidence, all the time. Such knowledge stimulates a child to prove that he can do everything. His striving for power becomes markedly accentuated and we find the youngest very usually a man who has developed a desire to overcome all others, satisfied only with the very best this type is not uncommon. One group of these youngest children excels every other member of the family, and becomes the family’s most capable member. But there is another more unfortunate group of these same youngest children; they also have a desire to excel, but lack the necessary activity and self‑confidence, as a result of their relationships to their older (p 123) brothers and sisters. If the older children are not to be excelled, the youngest frequently shies from his tasks, becomes cowardly, a chronic plaintiff forever seeking an excuse to evade his duties. He does not become less ambitious, but he assumes that type of ambition which forces him to wriggle out of situations, and satisfy his ambition in activity outside of the necessary problems of life, to the end that he may avoid the danger of an actual test of ability, so far as possible.It will undoubtedly have occurred to many readers that the youngest child acts as though he were neglected and carried a feeling of inferiority within him. In our investigations we have always been able to find this feeling of inferiority and have been able also to deduce the quality and fashion of his psychic development from the presence of this torturing sentiment. In this sense a youngest child is like a child who has come into the world with weak organs. What the child feels need not actually be the case. It does not matter what really has happened, whether an individual is really inferior or not. What is important is his interpretation of his situation. We know very well that mistakes are easily made in childhood. At that time a child is faced with a great number of questions, of possibilities, and consequences. What shall an educator do? Shall he impose additional stimuli by spurring on the vanity of this child? Should he constantly push him into the limelight so that he is always the first? This would be a feeble response to the challenge of life. Experience teaches us that it makes very little difference whether one is first or not. It would be better to exaggerate In the other direction, and maintain that being first, or the best, is unimportant. We are really tired of having nothing but the first and best people. History as well as experience demonstrates that happiness does not consist in being the first or best. To teach a child such a principle makes him onesided; above all it robs him of his chance of being a good fellow man.
The first consequence of such doctrines is that a child thinks only of himself and occupies himself in wondering whether someone will overtake him. Envy and hate of his fellows and anxiety for his own position, develop in his soul. His very place in life makes a speeder, trying to beat out all others, of the youngest. The racer, the marathon runner in his soul, is betrayed by his whole behavior, especially in little gestures which are not obvious to those who have not learned to judge his psychic life in all his relationships. These are the children, (p 124) for instance, who always march at the head of the procession and cannot bear to have anyone in front of them. Some such race‑course attitude is characteristic of a large number of children.
This type of the youngest child is occasionally to be found as a clear‑cut‑type example, although variations are common. Among the youngest we find active and capable individuals who have gone so far that they have become the saviors of their whole family. Consider the Biblical story of Joseph! Here is a wonderful exposition of the situation of the youngest son. It is as though the past had told us about it with a purpose and a clarity arising in the full possession of the evidence which we acquire so laboriously today. In the course of the centuries much valuable material has been lost which we must attempt to find again.
Another type, which grows secondarily from the first, is often found. Consider our marathon runner who suddenly comes to an obstacle which he does not trust himself to hurdle. He attempts to avoid the difficulty by going around it. When a youngest child of this type loses his courage he becomes the most arrant coward that we can well imagine. We find him far from the front, every labor seems too much for him, and he becomes a veritable “alibi artist” who attempts nothing useful, but spends his whole energy wasting time. In any actual conflict he always fails. Usually he is to be found carefully seeking a field of activity in which every chance of competition has been excluded. He will always find excuses for his failures. He may contend that he was too weak or petted, or that his brothers and sisters did not allow him to develop. HIS fate becomes more bitter if he actually has a physical defect, in which case he is certain to make capital out of his weakness to justify him in his desertion. Both these types are hardly ever good fellow human beings. The first type fares better in a world where competition is valued for itself. A man of this type will maintain his spiritual equilibrium only at the cost of others, whereas individuals of the second remain under the oppressive feeling of their Inferiority and suffer from their lack of reconciliation with life as long as they live.
The oldest child also has well‑defined characteristics. For one thing he has the advantage of an excellent position for the development of his psychic life. History recognizes that the oldest son has had a particularly favorable position. Among many peoples, in many classes, this advantageous status has (p 125) become traditional. There is no question for instance that among .the European farmers the first born knows his position from his early childhood and realizes that some day he will take over the farm, and therefore he finds himself in a much better position than the other children who know that the must leave the father’s farm at some time; in other strata of society it is frequently held that the oldest son will some day be the head of the house. Even where this tradition has not actually become crystallized, as in simple bourgeois or proletarian families the oldest child is usually the one whom one accredits with enough power and common sense to be the helper or foreman of his parents. One can imagine how valuable it is to a child to be constantly entrusted with responsibilities by his environment. We can imagine that his thought processes are somewhat like this: “You are the larger, the stronger, the older, and therefore you must also be cleverer than the others.” If his development in this direction goes on without disturbance then we shall find him with the traits of a guardian of law and order. Such persons have an especially high evaluation of power. This extends not only to their own personal power, but affects .their evaluation of the concepts of power m general. Power IS something which is quite self‑understood for the oldest child, something which has weight and must be honored. It is not surprising that such individuals are markedly conservative.
The striving for power in the case of a second‑born child also has its especial nuance. Second‑born children are constantly under steam, striving for superiority under pressure: the race‑course attitude which determines their activity in life is very evident m their actions. The fact that there is someone ahead of him who has already gained power is a strong stimulus for the second born. If he is enabled to develop his powers and takes up the battle with the first born, he will usually move forward with a great deal of elan, the while the first born, possessing power, feels himself relatively secure until the second threatens to surpass him.
This situation has also been described in a very lively fashion m the Biblical legend of Esau and Jacob. In this story the battle goes on relentlessly, not so much for actual power, but for the semblance of power; in cases like this it continues with a certain compulsion until the goal is reached and the first born is overcome, or the battle is lost, and the retreat, which often evinces itself in nervous diseases, begins. The attitude of the (p 126) second born is similar to the envy of the poor classes. There is a dominant note of being slighted, neglected, in it. The second born may place his goal so high that he suffers from it his whole life, annihilates his inner harmony in following, not the veritable facts of life, but an evanescent fiction and the valueless semblance of things.
The only child of course finds himself in a very particular situation. He is at the utter mercy of the educational methods of his environment. His parents, so to speak, have no choice in the matter. They place their whole educational zeal upon their only child. He becomes dependent to a high degree, waits constantly for someone to show him the way, and searches for support at’ all times. Pampered throughout his life, he is accustomed to no difficulties, because one has always removed difficulties from his way. Being constantly the center of attention he very easily acquires the feeling that he really counts for something of great value. His position is so difficult that mistaken attitudes are almost inevitable in his case. If the parents understand the dangers of his situation, to be sure, there is a possibility of preventing many of them, but at best it remains a difficult problem.
Parents of “only” children are frequently exceptionally cautious, people who have themselves experienced life as a great danger, and therefore approach their child with an inordinate solicitude. The child in turn interprets their attentions and admonitions as a source of additional pressure. Constant attention to health and well being finally stimulate him to conceive of the world as a very hostile place. An eternal fear of difficulties arises in him and he approaches them in an unpracticed and clumsy manner because he has tested only the pleasant things in life. Such children have difficulties with every independent activity and sooner or later they become useless for life. Shipwrecks in their life’s activity are to be expected. Their life approaches that of a parasite who does nothing, but enjoys life .while the rest of the world cares for his wants.
Various combinations are possible in which several brothers and sisters of the same or opposite sexes compete with each other. The evaluation of anyone case therefore becomes exceedingly difficult. The situation of an only boy among several girls is a case in point. A feminine influence dominates such a household and the boy is pushed into the background, particularly if he is the youngest, and sees himself opposed by a closed phalanx of women. His striving for recognition (p 127) encounters great difficulties. Threatened on all sides, he never senses with certainty the privilege which in our retarded masculine civilization is given to every male. A lasting insecurity, an inability to evaluate himself as a human being, is his most characteristic trait. He may become so intimidated by his womenfolk that he feels that to be a man is equivalent to occupying a position of lesser honor. On the one hand his courage and self‑confidence may easily be eclipsed, or on the other the stimulus may be so drastic that the young boy forces himself to great achievements. Both cases arise from the same situation. What becomes of such boys in the end is determined by other concomitant and closely related phenomena. We see therefore that the very position of the child in the family may lend shape and color to all the instincts, tropisms, faculties and the like, which he brings with him into the world. This affirmation robs of all value the theories of the inheritance of especial traits or talents, which are so harmful to all educational effort. There are doubtless occasions and cases in which the effect of hereditary influences can be shown, as for instance, in a child who grows up removed entirely from his parents, yet develops certain similar “familial” traits. This becomes much more comprehensible if one remembers how closely certain types of mistaken development in a child are related to inherited defects of the body. Take a given child who comes into the world with a weak body which results, in turn, in his greater tension toward the demands of life and his environment. If his father came into the world with similarly defective organs and approached the world with a similar tension, it is not to be wondered at that similar mistakes and character traits should result. Viewed from this standpoint it would seem to us that the theory of inheritance of acquired characteristics is based upon very weak evidence.
From our previous descriptions we may assume that whatever the errors to which a child is exposed in his development, the most serious consequences arise from his desire to elevate himself over all his fellows, to seek more personal power which will give him advantages over his fellow man. !n our culture he is practically compelled to develop according to a fixed pattern. If we wish to prevent such a perilous development we must know the difficulties he has to meet and understand them. There is one single and essential point of view which helps us to overcome all these difficulties; it is the view‑point of the development of the social feeling of this development succeeds, obstacles are insignificant, but since the (p 128) opportunities for this development are relatively rare in our culture, the difficulties which a child encounters play an important role. Once this is recognized we shall not be surprised to find many people who spend their whole life fighting for their lives and others to whom life is a vale of sorrows. We must understand that they are the victims of a mistaken development whose unfortunate consequence is that their attitude toward life also is mistaken.
Let us be very modest then, in our judgment of our fellows, and above all, let us never allow ourselves to make any moral judgments, judgments concerning the moral worth of a human being! On the contrary, we must make our knowledge of these facts socially valuable. We must approach such a mistaken and misled human being sympathetically, because we. are ma position to have a much better idea of what is going on within him than he is himself. This gives rise to important new points of view in the matter of education. The very recognition of the source of error puts a great many influential instruments for betterment into our hands. By analyzing the psychic structure and development of any human being we understand not only his past, but may deduce further what his future probably will be. Thus our science gives us some conception of what a human being really is. He becomes a living being for us, not merely a flat silhouette. And as a consequence we can have a richer and more meaningful sense of his value as a fellow human than is usual in our day. (p 129)
CHAPTER 13: THE STYLE OF LIFE: FROM SOCIAL INTEREST: A CHALLENGE TO MANKIND: ALFRED ADLER
: Capricorn books, New York. 1964:We will summarily reject no method and no way of discovering the attitude of the individual to the questions of life and of finding out the meaning which life wants to disclose to us. The individual’s interpretation of the meaning of life is not a trivial matter, for it is ultimately the plumb‑line of his thinking, feeling, and acting. The real meaning of life, however, is shown in the opposition that meets the individual who acts wrongly. The task of instruction, education and healing is to bridge the distance between the real instruction, education, and healing is to bridge the distance between the real meaning of life and the erroneous action of the individual. Our knowledge of man as an individual has existed from time immemorial To give only a single instance, the historical and personal narratives of ancient peoples‑the Bible, Homer, Plutarch, and all the Greek and Roman poets, sagas, fairy‑tales, fables, and myths‑‑show a brilliant understanding of the human personality. Until more recent more recent times it was chiefly the poet who best succeeded in getting the clue to a person’s style of life. Their ability to show the individual living, acting, and dying as an (p 32) indivisible whole in closest connection with the problems of his environment rouses our admiration to the highest pitch. There can be no doubt that there were also unknown men of the people who were in advance of others in their knowledge of human nature and who passed on their experiences to their descendants. Plainly, both these men and the great geniuses in the knowledge of humanity were distinguished by their more profound insight into the connection of the mainsprings of human action with one another. This talent could only have sprung from their sympathetic bond with the community and from their interest in mankind. Their wider experience, their better knowledge, their more profound insight, came as the reward of their social feeling. There was one feature of their work that could not be missed: that was their ability to describe the myriad, incalculable expressive movements of the individual in such a way that others were able to comprehend them without needing to have recourse to weighing and measuring.
This power was due to their gift of divination. Only by guessing did they come to see what lies behind and between the expressive movements, namely, the individual’s law of movement. Many people call this gift ‘intuition’, and believe that it is the special possession only of the loftiest spirits. As a matter of fact, it is the most universal of all human gifts. Every one makes use of it constantly in the chaos of life, before the abysmal uncertainty of the future.
Since all our problems, the least as well as the greatest, are always new and always modified, we would (p 33) constantly be involved in fresh mistakes if we were forced to solve them by one single method‑for instance, by ‘conditioned reflexes’. This perpetual variety in our problems imposes on us ever fresh demands, and forces us to test anew any mode of conduct we may have adopted hitherto. Even in a game of cards ‘conditioned reflexes’ are not of much use. Correct guessing is the first step towards the mastery of our problems. But this correct guessing is the specially distinctive mark of the man who is a partner, a fellow man, and is interested in the successful solution of all human problems. Peculiar to him is the view into the future of all human happenings, and this attracts him whether he is examining human history in general or the fortunes of a single individual.
Psychology remained a harmless art until philosophy took charge of it. A scientific knowledge of human nature has its roots in psychology and in the anthropology of the philosophers. In the manifold attempts to bring all human events under a comprehensive, universal law the individual man could not be disregarded. The knowledge of the unity of all the individual’s expressive forms became an irrefutable truth. The transference to human nature of the laws governing every event resulted in the adoption of varied points of view, and the unfathomable, unknown regulating force was sought for by Kant, Schelling, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Hartmann, Nietzsche, and others in some unconscious motive power that was called either moral law, will, , will to power, or the ‘unconscious’. Along with the transference of general laws to human activity introspection came into vogue. (p 34) By this human beings were to be able to predicate something about psychical events and the processes connected with them. This method did not remain long in use. It fell rightly into discredit because there could be no assurance of obtaining objective reports from anyone.
In an age of technical development the experimental method was extensively used. With the help of apparatus and carefully selected questions, tests were arranged that were meant to throw light on the functions of the senses, on the intelligence, character, and personality. By this method knowledge of the continuity of the personality was lost, or could only be restored by guessing. The doctrine of heredity which later on came to the fore gave up the whole attempt and contented itself with showing that the main thing was the possession of capacities and not the use made of them. The theory of the influence of the endocrine glands also pointed in the same direction, and concentrated on special cases of feelings of inferiority, and their compensation in the event of organic inferiority.
Psychology underwent a renaissance with the advent of psycho‑analysis. This resurrected the omnipotent Ruler of human destiny in the from of sexual libido and conscientiously depicted in the unconscious the pains of hell, and original sin in the ‘sense of guilt’. Heaven was left out the account, but this omission was afterwards rectified by the creation of the ‘ideal‑ego’, which found support in Individual Psychology’s ‘ideal’ goal of perfection. Still, it was a notable attempt to read between the lines of consciousness ‑ a step forward towards the (p35) re‑discovery of the style of life‑of the individual’s line of movement‑and of the meaning of life, although the author of psycho‑analysis, reveling in sexual metaphors, did not perceive this goal that hovers before humanity. Besides, psycho‑analysis was far too cumbered by the world of spoiled children, and the result was that it always saw in this type the permanent pattern of the psychical structure, and the deeper layers of the mental life as apart ofhuman evolution remained hidden from it. Its transitory success was due to the predisposition of the immense number of pampered persons who willingly accepted the views of psycho‑analysis as rules universally applicable, and who were thereby confirmed in their own style of life. The psycho‑analytic technique was directed, with great energy and patience, towards showing that expressive gestures and symptoms were connected with the sexual libido, and making human activity appear to be dependent on an inherent sadistic impulse. Individual Psychology was the first to make it sufficiently clear that these latter phenomena were artificially produced by the resentment of spoiled children. Still there is here also an approach to the recognition of the evolutionary impulse‑a tentative adjustment to it. The effort is, however, unsuccessful; in the usual pessimistic fashion the idea of the death‑wish is taken as the goal of fulfilment. But this is not an active adaptation; it is simply the expectation of a lingering death founded on the somewhat doubtful second basic law of physics.
Individual Psychology stands firmly on the ground of (p 36) evolution and in the light of evolution regards all human striving as a struggle for perfection. The craving for life, material and spiritual for perfection. The craving for life, material and spiritual, is irrevocably bound up with this struggle. So far, therefore, as our knowledge goes, every psychical expressive form presents itself as a movement that leads from a minus to a plus situation. Each individual adopts for himself at the beginning of his life, a law of movement, with comparative freedom to utilize for this impressions of his environment. This law of movement is for each individual different in tempo, rhythm, and direction. The individual, perpetually comparing himself with the unattainable ideal of perfection, is always possessed and spurred on by a feeling inferiority. We may deduce from this that every human law of movement is faulty when regarded sub specie aeternitatis, and seen from an imagined standpoint of absolute correction.
Each cultural epoch forms this ideal for itself from its wealth of ideas and emotions. Thus in our day it is always to the past alone that we turn to find in the setting‑up of this ideal the transient level of man’s mental power, and we have the right to admire most profoundly this power that for countless ages has conceived a reliable ideal of human social life. Surely the commands, ‘Thou shalt not kill’ and ‘Love thy neighbor’, can hardly ever disappear from knowledge and feeling as the supreme court of appeal. These and other norms (p 37) of human social life, which are undoubtedly the products of evolution and are as native to humanity as breathing and the upright gait, can be embodied in the conception of an ideal human community, regarded here as the impulse and the goal of evolution. They supply Individual Psychology with the plumb‑line by which alone the right and wrong of all the other goals and modes of movement opposed to evolution are to be valued. It is at this point that Individual Psychology becomes a ‘psychology of values’, just as medical science, the promoter of evolution by its researches and discoveries, is a ‘science of values’.
The sense of inferiority, the struggle to overcome, and social feelings ‑ the foundation upon which, the researches of Individual Psychology are based ‑ are therefore essential in considering either the individual or the mass. The truth they represent may be evaded or put into different words; they may be misunderstood and attempts may be made to split hairs about them, but they can never be obliterated. In the right estimate of any personality these facts must be taken into account, and the state of the feeling of inferiority, of the struggle to overcome, and of the social feeling must be ascertained. But just as other civilizations under the pressure of evolution drew different conclusions and followed wrong courses, so does every single individual. It is the child’s work to create, in the stream. of development, the mental structure of a style of life and the appropriate emotions associated with it. The child’s emotional, and as yet barely grasped, capacity of action, serves him as a (p 38) standard of his creative power in an environment that is by no means neutral, and provides a very indifferent preparatory school for life. Building on a subjective impression, and guided often by successes or defeats that supply insufficient criteria the child forms for himself a path, a goal, and a vision of a height lying in the future. All the methods of Individual Psychology that are meant to lead to an understanding of the personality take into account the meaning of the individual about his goal of superiority, the strength of his feeling of inferiority, and the degree of his social feeling. A closer scrutiny of the relation of these factors to one another will make it clear that they all contribute to the nature and extent of the social feeling. The examination proceeds in a way similar to that of experimental psychology , or to that of functional tests in medical cases. The only difference is that it is life itself that sets the test, and this shows how strong the bond is between the individual and the problems of life. That is to say, the individual as a complete being cannot be dragged out of his connection with life ‑ perhaps it would be better to say, with the community. His attitude to the community is first revealed by his style of life. For that reason experimental tests, which at the best deal only with partial aspects of the individual’s life, can tell us nothing about his character or even about his future achievements in the community. And even Gestaltphsychologie needs to be supplemented by Individual Psychology in order to be able to form any conclusion regarding the attitude of the individual in the life process. (p 39)
The technique of Individual Psychology employed for the discovery of the style of life must therefore in the first place presuppose a knowledge of the problems of life and their demands on the individual. It will be evident that their solution presumes a certain degree of social feeling, a close union with life as a whole, and an ability is lacking in it innumerable variations together with its consequence. This in the main will take the form of evasiveness and the ‘hesitant attitude’. The interrelated bodily and mental phenomena that make their appearance with it I have called an ‘inferiority complex’. The unresting struggle for superiority endeavors to mask this complex by ‘superiority complex’, which, ignoring social feeling, always aims at the glitter of personal conquest. Once all the phenomena occurring in a case of failure are clearly understood, the reasons for the inadequate preparation are to be sought for in early childhood. By this means we succeed in obtaining a faithful picture of the homogeneous style of life, and at the same time in estimating the extent of the divergence from social feeling in the case of a failure. This is always seen to be a lack of ability to get into contact with other people. It follows from this that the task of the educationist, the teacher, the physician, the pastor is to increase the social feeling and thereby strength the courage of the individual. He does this by convincing him of the real causes of his failure, by disclosing his wrong meaning ‑ mistaken significance he has (p 40) foisted on life ‑ and thus giving him a clearer view of the meaning that life has ordained for humanity.
This task can only be accomplished if a thoroughgoing knowledge of the problems of life is available, and if the too slight tincture of social feeling both in the inferiority and superiority complexes, as well as in all kinds of human errors, is understood. There is likewise required in the consultant a wide experience regarding those circumstances and situations which are likely to hinder the development of social feeling in childhood. Up till now my own experience has taught me that the most trustworthy approaches to the exploration of the personality are to be found in a comprehensive understandings of the earliest childhood memories, of the place of the child in the family sequence, and of any childish errors; in day and night dreams, and in the nature of the exogenous factor that causes the illness. All the results of such an investigation‑and along with these the attitude to the doctor has also to be included‑have to be assessed with great caution, and the conclusion drawn from them has constantly to be tested for its harmony with other facts that have been established. (P 41)
CHAPTER 14 INDIVIDUAL PSYCHOLOGICAL TREATMENT
NOTES FROM INDIVIDUAL PSYCHOLOGICAL TREATMENT
: By Erwin Wexberg, M.D. Translated by Arnold Eiloart, B.Sc. Ph.D., Revised by Bernard H. Shulman, M.D. First edition published 129 and second edition 1970 by Alfred Adler Institute of Chicago.Introduction: In the year 1907 the Vienna physician, Dr. Alfred Adler, published a monograph entitled, “A Study of the Inferiority of Organs.” This paper represented a successful attempt to place constitution‑pathology on a new basis. With the help of a wealth of clinical material, Adler proved [Adler first published his work on organ inferiority in 1907.It was published in English translation as Study of Organ Inferiority and Its Psychical Compensation. New York: Nervous and Mental Disease Publishing Co., 19l7. The word “proved” is much too strong Adler’s monograph provides much presumptive evidence and contains impressive descriptive material. The work has never had adequate follow‑up studies.] It is an excellent example of an early approach to psychosomatic studies. that weakness of certain organ systems, e.g., of the digestive tract, of the urogenital tract, etc., creates a predisposition to disease in the regions of the respective organ‑system without regard to any extraneous causation of the disease in question; and that this is the case whether the weakness be hereditary or caused by injuries suffered early in life‑within the womb or in early childhood. Thus one finds families in which kidney diseases of the most varied kind are constantly occurring: chronic nephritis, nephrolithiasis, tubercLl1osis of the kidneys, may alternate in such families. A special form of organ‑inferiority was shown to be segmental‑inferiority, a congenital weakness of certain metamers of the body in which diseases and anomalies occur in the derivatives of all three germinal layers in the realm of the segment affected. Characteristic (p 1) is, e.g., the occurrence of naevi on the breast and on the skin of the back in the case of lung troubles or of individuals disposed to lung disease. Finally, Adler, in this paper, already indicated the possibility of the organism physiologically and psychologically compensating and overcompensating for organ‑inferiorities. The striking phenomenon that among painters, e.g., one finds many with congenital anomalies of vision, was, he said, evidently to be interpreted as such a compensation of the organic defect, a compensation effected within the psychic superstructure. [The term ‘.psychic superstructure” may imply that the psychic apparatus is grafted on to the top of a somatic substrate. This editor prefer” to think of psyche and soma as two manifestations of an overall pattern.] The idea of organ‑inferiority, originating with Adler’s study of it, forms today an established component of the accepted constitution‑pathology. In the course of developments Adler himself turned his attention to psychology and entered into close relations with Sigmund Freud and the then unimportant psychoanalytic school, whose views he in part adopted, without however, yielding his independence within the realm of psychoanalysis. This independence of Adler’s ideas which had their origin directly in the theory of organ inferiority and its compensation, and had developed from that, led finally to the breaking of his connection with psychoanalysis. In the year 1912 Adler left the Vienna Psvchov v analytic Union and joined with a number of collaborators and friends (who, in part, were also drawn from the Freudian group) , for the further investigation of the way opened by him, the way of “Comparative Individual Psychology.” Since then the new school has more and more withdrawn from psychoanalysis, and holds aloof from the essential theses of both the Freudian and the Jungian schools. [It would be more correct to say it holds aloof from many of the essential theses. In some points, as eve Wexberg later admits, Individual Psychology owes a considerable debt to Freud. In other ways IP is in agreement with Jung.] In particular, it rejects the Freudian instinct doctrine, the libido theory and the allied psychoanalytic pan‑sexualism. On the (p 2) other hand, Individual Psychology has retained the real starting point of the Freudian instinct doctrines, the thesis of “Psychic determinism” and of the possibility of explaining all mental expressions, including those apparently independent of the will; and, accordingly, it avails itself of the Freudian interpretative technique in the realm of dream psychology, of the “psychopathology of everyday life,” and of the neuroses doctrine. This doctrine of psychic determinism represents from the point of view of the individual psychology school the really great and imperishable achievement of Sigmund Freud, but it is otherwise with his libido theory, which has nothing to do with the former, and which is regarded as a mistake by the representatives of Individual Psychology. [For the Individual Psychologist, psychic determinism applies to parapraxes, dreams, neurosis and almost all behavior. However, the basic determinants are not the vicissitudes of the instinctual drives, but the Life Style, which shapes and patterns the drives. Since the Life Style differs from individual to individual, the determini5m itself differs. Furthermore, Individual Psychologists speak of soft determinism. A “life style” is an open system and patterns of behavior can be changed. If the Life Style changes, new psychic determinants (i.e., new goals) can appear. Thus. the basic philosophic position of Individual Psychology is “indeterministic.” At the time Wexberg wrote, the concept of unconscious motives for behavior was not yet so accepted as today.]
Individual Psychology has for its aim, besides the scientific development of Adler’s ideas, their propogation and their working out in the practice of almost all walks of life. This movement, completely neutral in politics and religion, is in many ways equivalent to an ethical reform tendency, although Individual Psychology neither includes nor assumes any sort of doctrine of morals. [Not strictly true. Adler’s concepts of the “logic of social living.” his division of behavior into socially useful and useless; his concept of social interest (gemeinschaftsgefiihl, communal feeling) and his description of the neurotic, psychotic ana criminal as various ways of “failing” in life‑all have moralistic overtones.] Individual Psychology may with some justice be described as a normative science, but it is normative only in the sense in which scientific hygiene is normative when it studies the bacterial flora of drinking water with the admitted purpose of avoiding as far as possible (p 3) any injury to health by bad water, and accordingly prescribes how a well “should” be situated, or a water supply constructed.
Normative in this sense every psychology must be which claims to be able to investigate the conditions of mental disease, because from the knowledge of the cause of the neurosis naturally follows the theory of how to avoid it. These norms, however, are altogether relative, valid only under the assumption that the hygienic aim of Individual Psychology is recognized‑and to this, of course, no one can be compelled. But that the individual‑psychologic norms are in many ways closely related to the behests of every community ethic is clearly shown by this: that prophets and founders of religions have in great part framed their revealed ethics in harmony with an obscurely felt mental hygiene whose aim is one in principle with that of Individual Psychology. Only, they have given their maxims the form of categorical imperatives having a transcendental basis, which in fact constitutes the essence of ethics as distinguished from the mental hygiene of Individual Psychology. (p 4)
CHAPTER 15: INDIVIDUAL PSYCHOLOGICAL THERAPEUTICS:
NOTES FROM INDIVIDUAL PSYCHOLOGICAL TREATMENT
: By Erwin Wexberg, M.D. Translated by Arnold Eiloart, B.Sc. Ph.D., Revised by Bernard H. Shulman, M.D. First edition published 129 and second edition 1970 by Alfred Adler Institute of Chicago.Individual Psychology claims to have made clear the mental relation between the human being and the world about him, and by tracing it back to a few biological principles to have shown it to be an essential component of the natural history of man. As above set forth, it sees in psychoneurosis above all, a disturbance in the relations of the individual to the community. Hence, it follows that the therapeutics based on individual psychologic data must be an etiologic therapeutic in the proper sense of the word, so far as the hypotheses of individual psychology are correct. Individual psychological therapeutics aims directly at correcting the faulty community relation of the individual. [“The individual psychological treatment of the nervous, of the discouraged ambitious people, consists in discovering their mistakes, in diminishing their striving for power, in increasing their community feeling” (Adler. “Advances in Individual Psychology,” Ztschr. f. Individualpsychologie, vol. ii, p. 1, 1923) .Neuroses and psychoses are modes in which discouraged people express, themselves. He who has realized this fact of Individual Psychology will do well to avoid accompanying discouraged people on long excursions into mystical psychic regions. Conjectures as to primary psychic phenomena even if incidentally correct, would only be a welcome excuse for them to evade important problems of life. One thing effective and helpful which may, nevertheless, result is, as in suggestive and hypnotic therapeutics, the encouragement which flows uncomprehended (unconsciously? ) from the kindliness and patience of the physician. It is only in the rarest cases that this form of partial encouragement suffices; and it is never to be compared with our method, which creates independence and self‑confidence. because it removes the real causes of the discouragement” ( Adler, ibid.). “The therapeutically incomparable value of this investigation lies in the fact that it shows the patient his fictitious, uncomprehended and logically contradictory guiding idea, and does away with the resulting obstinate rigidity in thinking. At the same time it cautiously draws the patient out of his irresponsible position and compels him to take the responsibility even for his pretexts (fictions) , which are now no longer unconscious,” Adler, “Nervous Disturbances of Sleep,” Ztschr. f. Individualpsychologie, vol. i, p. 65.] (p 24)
Step by step, therefore, it pursues this fault, which manifests itself in the neurotic symptom, to its source, i.e. to the original inferiority feeling of the child. The first correction has to begin here.
Theoretically considered, it should not be difficult to prove the falsity of the suppositions on which the reinforced inferiority feeling of the future nervous patient is built up. In many respects the discouragement of the child seen from its own perspective, appears not to lack justification. So far as the inferiority of the child in relation to the adult is a fact, so far it cannot be denied that the child is at a disadvantage in comparison with the healthy people around it, the poor compared with the rich, the unprotected and neglected child of intemperate people compared with the well‑guarded and carefully trained child of parents conscious of their responsibilities. All the evils with which fate has burdened an unhappy childhood, as well as any misfortune in later life, are cited to the physician by the neurotic who seeks to justify his attitude, to show that he is right. Only, be it remembered that these facts, in themselves incontestable, may be estimated at any importance which the patient chooses to accord them. He will overestimate them just in proportion as he needs them. Here the objection suggests itself: If Individual Psychology is right in considering all those factors which are calculated to strengthen the child’s inferiority feeling as etiological factors of the neurosis, then we are faced with a res judicata; in these unfortunate constellations of a childhood nothing can be altered; conditioned by these, the development to neurosis goes forward without pause; an etiological therapeutics is impossible. In this case what individual psychology could achieve would be only a sort of mental orthopaedics, never a restitutio ad integrum.
This objection cannot be sustained, for the following reason: because the first link of the etiologic chain is formed not by the objective facts of the child’s experiences, but by their subjective elaboration in the child’s mind; and because we can fix the first error as early as we please. If we consider the course of events from without, then naturally the regression in the series of causes will go back beyond the (p 25) subjective apperception attitude of the child and will stop only at the objective facts‑the indeterminism of the objective view. But from within, seen from the patient’s point of view, these objective facts exist only the form of their subjective appearance; he lacks the standard for deciding whether he has estimated rightly or under or overestimated. In the very perception of the objective his responsible personality is already concerned; truth and error, thus seen, are unreal conceptions. It is the determinism of the subjective experience.’:’ Thus it comes to this, that everyone might acquit the neurotic of all original guilt and recognize the necessary course of the phenomena in the neurosis as in all Nature‑but the patient himself would not be entitled to do this. He has no legitimate cause of complaint because he is not free of participation in bringing about those facts which he seeks to make his excuses. For no power in the world could have compelled him to assimilate his experiences in precisely such a way‑ and not otherwise. And so in spite of everything there attaches to him‑not the ethical‑the logical responsibility for a course of life wrong from the beginning, though the error may have been suggested to him by objectively unfavorable conditions of life. But a logical error may have been corrected even subsequently, and all false conclusions arising from it may be eliminated as invalid. In this sense, the Individual Psychological treatment is to be regarded as really etiological therapeutics. [“The causality which we find in the psychic does not consist in a relation as of cause and effect, but we make something into the cause and make the effects follow” (Adler, “Neurosis and Crime”). “Now, as for the causes of the discouragement: they are always mistaken. A completely adequate cause for discouragement does not exist. Only this error justifies us in undertaking a radical therapeutic, of neurosis” (Adler. “Advances in Individual Psychology”) “Up to the present there is not the slightest proof that a heredity, or an experience, or an environment must necessarily result in neurosis, much less in a particular neurosis. This etiologic necessity, which is never free from personal tendencies. exists rather in an assumption of the patient, an assumption which has become petrified” (Adler. “Life‑lie and Responsibility in Psychosis,” Ztschr. f. Individualpsychologie, Year 1, p. 44, 1914).] (p 26)
The correction of these errors in apprehension of life represents, then, the analytical part of psychotherapy. This part of the treatment is a sort of individual psychologic instruction on life. According to the quantity of material for study with which the patient supplies the therapist, success is sooner or later attained in making the patient see that the individual‑psychological interpretation of his previous course of life is the only plausible one. [Wexberg exaggerates. Even the best therapist does not always, achieve this success. Wexberg seems to call this the “analytical part of psychotherapy. It would seem more appropriate to consider this part the re‑educative aspect of psychotherapy.]
Here occurs the second objection: are we not perhaps imposing on the patient a one‑sided tendentious conception of his personality? One does not need actually to distort or to suggest to the patient memories which he never had; it is sufficient to emphasize the factors in his life which seem to us important and to disregard the others, and already the proof of our conception of the case is supplied ‑ or insinuated. To this it must be replied: the systematic application of the individual‑psychologic principle is no more an insinuation than the celebrated jest with the Columbus egg was a swindle; it would have been so only if a definite method of standing the egg on its end had been expressly prescribed to Columbus. But his achievement consisted precisely in applying a method of startling novelty. That the egg then stood on its end was, surely, no trick. It was a matter of course. Just so the novelty of Individual Psychology consists precisely in the “one‑sided” application of the individual psychologic optics as a heuristic principle. It admittedly employs a section taken in a quite definite direction for the investigation of the structure of a personality; that then everything that lies in this section is to be seen in this section, i.e. that all the patient’s experiences seen from the individual psychologic point of view are subject to the individual psychologic interpretation is certainly not to be wondered at. Individual psychology would be in the wrong only (p 27) if its point of view were logically untenable, or if it attempted to deny that these facts might be considered from other points of view, e.g. from that of the instinct theory, of the physiology of the senses, of the psychology of thinking, and so on. But this is by no means denied. That in the course of individual psychologic treatment, however, the specific point of view of Individual Psychology is explained to the patient, is a quite essential part of the treatment. [This does not mean that the patient is taught the theory of Individual Psychology, but is allowed to see the therapist’s way of looking at his situation. The therapist does so because he believes a new point of view will help the patient to understand himself and correct his errors. The Individual Psychologist believes that neurosis is error, a “faulty” relation of the patient to the community.]
It is, in fact, an absolute necessity to convince the patient, with the aid of the material which he himself contributes, of the significance (not of the unique nature) of the individual psychologic standpoint. We use the most active persuasion and dialectics where it is a question of imparting to the patient the individual psychologic view of things. For we cannot reasonably demand that every patient shall discover Individual Psychology anew for himself. For good or evil we shall be obliged to impart our views to him.
It is a case of a sort of individual psychologic education where we shall not ignore the principles of a modern pedagogy, which demands, inter alia, that the student shall make the material to be learned his own by assimilating it. Theoretical lectures, are here unsuitable, and where it is possible with the help of some practical example, some experience which he has himself related, to make plain to the patient the individual psychologic view so that he finds it by himself, there much is gained. With advanced practitioners this method is a matter of course. As soon as the patient understands and appreciates the principles of the teaching he must be brought to apply it independently to the special case as each new fact comes up for discussion. It is in the nature of the case that only seldom will even intelligent patients quickly become apt pupils. For it is easy to understand that (p 28) there will be a certain resistance to the individual psychologic view of their own experiences, even in the case of patients who can see the mote in their neighbor’s eye and can judge it individual‑psychologically just as well as we ourselves can. We shall honor the truth and facilitate the patient’s task if we admit to him in this respect we are ourselves not much better; and far removed from infallibility. (p 29)
CHAPTER 16: SUMMARY OF ADLER’S TEACHING
(Author Unknown) 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 handicaps 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 Freud 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 system. 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 creatures
Referred to private logic ‑‑ our own inner chatterbox that tells us what to do. 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.
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 Freud. 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 narcissistic 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 feelings are the source of all human striving. All individual progress, growth and development result from the attempt to compensate for one’s inferiorities, be they or 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 self‑realization.
A ceaselessness and universality of striving. The striving for perfections is innate in the sense that it is a part of life. Throughout 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 of development. 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.
(Hans Vaihinger) Vaihinger defined “fictions” as ideas, incl. unconscious notions, which have no counterpart in reality, yet enable us to deal with 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 hypophysis submits its reality test and demands verification, the fiction is a sort of auxiliary construct. Dogma, by contrast, refers to an idea which is considered defiantly 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 to causes. They are mental states. A fictional final goal became for Adler the principle of internal subjective causation of psychological events. A basic aspect of our orientation 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 impressions, 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 attitudes toward life and our relations to the outside world. We consciously shape our personalities and destinyLIFE 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 th1individual form of creative activity. There is a focus on the direction potentialities are taking. This is heavily influenced by childhood experiences.
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 infancy. 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 or not. 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.POOR ADJUSTMENT:
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 in childhood.Community: People have always had to cooperate. A person must cooperate with and contribute to society to realize both own and society’s goals. Activity. To a striving for superiority 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 around 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 to society. 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 situation.NEUROTIC BEHAVIOR
. 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 always point toward his symptom as justification for lack of social interest.Neurotic approaches to life include:
1) A distancing attitude
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 interest. 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 incident, 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. Forward moving.
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 that is coming up. When you practice something you’re moving forward and helping solve a problem.
BIRTH ORDER: 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 order place.
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 before. Favorable outcome: Be ambitious. Want to be at least as good as the older child. Strong social interest.
Unfavorable outcome: Rebellious and envious. Permanent tendency 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. PSYCHOTHERAPY: Includes
1. Understanding the specific style of life of the patient.
2. Explaining the patient to himself or herself.
3. Strengthening the social interest in the patient. In sum, Understand, interpret, direct.CHAPTER 17: BEVERLY’S CASE HISTORY AND ADLER BIBLIOGRAPHY
Beverly, a 22‑year‑old single female who worked as a dental assistant, came to the hospital for a skin graft to cover a large scar on her left leg. Following high school, Beverly joined the army and spent four years on active duty. Shortly after her release from the army, she had an accident while riding a bicycle that was the cause of the scar on her leg. She was very self‑conscious about the scare and believed that people stared at her. She was hurt and embarrassed by their staring at her leg. After that experience, she would not leave her home without a bandage over the scar or she would ware slacks. I was consulted to work with her for pain management and self‑esteem. To help her cope with her situation, I used several techniques and appropriate scripts for pain management and increasing self‑confidence and self‑esteem.1. (PRE‑SCHOOL PERIOD): Beverly was an illegitimate child who was raised by her grand parents until she was 13 years old. Though she knew who her mother was, she called her grandmother, “mother.” She said that her relationship with her grandfather was good but she felt closer to her grandmother. Her grandparents were strict, setting limits and wanting to know where she was and what she was doing. Looking back on their concern, she felt that their limits were an indication of their love for her. “I had the hurts and accidents of childhood but grandmother and grandfather were always there to show me love.” Beverly remembers an incident when she was crying which made a lasting impression on her. Her grandmother tried to get her to stop crying but she would not. Beverly’ s grandmother said, “I am leaving you in this room so you can cry as long and as loud as you like, but no will hear you.” This experience really frightened Beverly. After that experience, she was always “very good so that grandmother would know that I love her.”
2. (ELEMENTARY SCHOOL PERIOD): Beverly looked forward to beginning school. Throughout school, Beverly made above average grades. “I really enjoyed learning under all my teachers except three who did not motivate me.” Until Kay’s death two years before Beverly’s hospitalization for the graft, Beverly had a very close friend, Kay, who was two years older and “like a sister.” It was Kay, rather than her grandparents, who told her about sex and to whom she sent for sexual advice. “Grandmother never knew exactly how to talk with me about sex so I would go to Kay with my questions.” Beverly had not been given any instructions concerning menstruation, so she was very frightened when she first stated at age 11. Kay told her what was happening and then everything was all right.
Beverly masturbated occasionally throughout her teenage years. It began out of curiosity and experimentation. Referring to the first time she masturbated to orgasm, “I did not know what was happening. It was kind of like an explosion, but it felt good and I enjoyed it.” Beverly had little guilt when she masturbated for she considered it as a natural part of growing up. As she began to develop, Beverly felt good because she wanted to catch and keep up with Kay. “She was like a sister to me and I wanted to keep up with her. I felt really grown up. It was kind of exciting. When I started to develop, I said, “Great, now I am catching up with Kay, now everybody will be proud of me.”
3. (HIGH SCHOOL PERIOD): At the age of 13, Beverly went to live with her mother. Due to financial reasons and the health of her grandparents, she was forced to live with her mother and stepfather. Beverly often had conflicts with her mother for “she was very temperamental. I was not used to her and she scared me. She did not trust me with boys even though I gave her no cause to be untrustful of me. I felt she was judging me by what she had done.”
Beverly had a very good relationship with her stepfather. He understood her and she could take with him. He would take her to the movies and swimming. “Mother would not go. She could have but would not.” Beverly’s stepfather helped her and her mother adjust to one another. “I could not have asked for a better stepfather. I felt accepted by him.”
4. (POST HIGH SCHOOL PERIOD): After high school, Beverly decided to join the army with the promise that she would be trained as a dental assistant. After her basic and technical training, she was stationed in Germany. She met a soldier, Tom, and this friendship developed into intimacy. After courting for several months, she had her first sexual experience with this soldier. “Though I enjoyed sex, it was not until the third experience with Tom that I reached a climax. When I think of that experience, it was like rockets going off inside me. It was a wonderful experience.”
After departed Germany, Tom and Beverly corresponded for several weeks until he quite writing.
In addition to Beverly’s normal feelings of inferiority, she had to live with the fact that she was an illegitimate child and was deserted by her mother as an infant. Due to the love and concern that she experienced from her grandparents, she was able to develop without her feelings of inferiority becoming an inferiority complex.
The scar on her leg had given her some feelings of inferiority. Though she experiences some self‑consciousness about the scar, she has adjusted well to life with it. Beverly compensates for her scar by being the “best dental assistant that I can be” and by wearing slacks. Her need to wear a dress with any boy that she likes is an effort to check out his reaction to the scar. Beverly wants the boy to know early in their relationship so that she will not be hurt if he should reject her because of it.
Beverly’s striving for superiority and her style of life is expressed in being a good girl so that her grandparents and others will love her. She did not strive for personal superiority but solved the problem in a way that was useful to others as well as herself. In becoming a dental assistant, she chose a helping professional which shows her interest in others.
Though Beverly was an only child in the home of her grandparents, they did not spoil her. They were strict but caring and this was experienced by Beverly as an expression of their love and concern. Beverly was able to develop a very close relationship with a neighbor, Kay, who as like an older sister. Through their relationship, Beverly developed a sense of cooperation with others. Characteristics of a second or younger child can be seen in Beverly’s relationship with Kay. Beverly refers to Kay as “being like a sister.” In this relationship, Beverly show an ambition to catch up with and perhaps go ahead of Kay.
I believe that Beverly’s greatest fear is in being deserted by those with whom she develops a close relationship. This fear is based on her mother deserting her at birth, her grandmother deserting her at the age of 13, Kay’s deserting her by death, and Tom deserting her after she got out of the army. In spite of these reversals, Beverly makes friends with ease and has a great deal of social interest. She said, “I know that I should not become so attached to people because they can leave and hurt you, but I love people enough to take the risk. I think that it worth the effort.”
In addition to helping her with pain management, I worked with her to improve her self‑confidence, self‑esteem, and feelings of self‑worth. Basically Beverly feels good about herself and has a style of life under girded with social interest. As she has a concern for others as well as herself, I believe that she will probably have a very satisfying life. Beverly is a well‑adjusted person who can function well in society.
(Alfred Adler relaxing and talking with friends)
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