ADLERIAN INDIVIDUAL PSYCHOLOGY




“To live is to feel inferior” “We are not merely determined by hereditary and environment, but we have the capacity to interpret, influence and create events”.

1. Introduction

Alfred Adler was born on February 7, 1870, the third child, second son, of a Jewish grain merchant. As a child, Adler developed rickets[1], which kept him from walking until he was four years old. At five, he nearly died of pneumonia. It was at this age that he decided to be a physician. He was quite outgoing, popular, and active preferred playing out door. He received a medical degree from the University of Vienna in 1895. He began his medical career as an ophthalmologist, but he soon switched to general practice, and established his office in a lower-class part of Vienna and later he turned to Psychiatry. Along with Freud and Jung, Adler was a major contributor to the development of the psychodynamic approach to therapy. The work of Adler is not easily categorized. It is sometimes listed among the psychodynamic psychologies, sometimes among the humanistic and sometimes among the cognitive-behavioral.[2] He focused on inferiority, which motivates us to strive for mastery, success, superiority etc. We are not merely determined by hereditary and environment. We have the capacity to interpret, influence and create events.

Philosophical assumptions behind the theory
Brink[3] has described five major sources or inspiration for Adler’s thought. From Pierre Janet[4], Adler took the general idea of the significance of ‘inferiority feelings’. From Friedrich Nietzsche[5], he adapted the notion of ‘striving for superiority’. From Hans Vaihinger,[6] he took the idea of the guiding fiction the ‘as if’ relativism of a subjective understanding of the person. From Marx, he absorbed the ideal of ‘service to the social order’ which came to be expressed as the concern for social interest. And from Freud, he took a general ‘dynamic orientation’, including the emphasis on early childhood experience and the purposefulness of neurotic symptoms.[7]

Adler was trying to formulate his own personality theory than that represented by Sigmund Freud which is now days called reductionistic one. Adler was influenced by the writings of Jan Smuts, the South African philosopher and statesman. Smuts felt that, in order to understand people, we have to understand them more as unified wholes than as a collection of bits and pieces, and we have to understand them in the context of their environment, both physical and social. This approach is called holism, and Adler took it very much to heart. Instead of talking about a person’s personality, with the traditional sense of internal traits, structures, dynamics, conflicts, and so on, he preferred to talk about style of life (nowadays, “lifestyle”). Life style refers to how you live your life, how you handle problems and interpersonal relations. Here’s what he himself had to say about it: “The style of life of a tree is the individuality of a tree expressing itself and moulding itself in an environment. We recognize a style when we see it against a background of an environment different from what we expect, for then we realize that every tree has a life pattern and is not merely a mechanical reaction to the environment.”[8]
Alfred Adler postulates a single “drive” or motivating force (assertiveness drive, compensation, or striving to overcome, masculine protest, striving for perfection, striving for superiority) behind all our behaviour and experience. It is very similar to the more popular idea of self-actualisation[9]. “Perfection” and “ideal” are troublesome words in psychology or has a negative connotation given by Karen Horney and Carl Rogers but Adler sees this negative kind of idealism as a perversion of the more positive understanding. The philosophical roots of Friederich Nietzsche, the will to power the basic motive of human life helped him to formulate strive for superiority which refer to the desire to be better, it also contains the idea that we want to be better than others, rather than better in our own right. Adler later tended to use striving for superiority more in reference to unhealthy or neurotic striving.

Adler believed that it is normal to have problems to cope with; in fact, life tasks are ongoing problems that every person must continually cope with, as no problem is ever solved perfectly. The healthy person is likely to have grown up in a family where the parents modelled how to choose attainable goals and effective and flexible ways of understanding and solving problems. These people are likely to have a functional, or productive, lifestyle that guides them well in dealing with life’s puzzles and problems. Most significant problems are with persons, nor with the impersonal world, which is why Adler always emphasized the social dimension of life.[10]

The lifestyle is “not merely a mechanical reaction” (The way in which Adler differs dramatically from Freud). For Freud, the things that happened in the past, such as early childhood trauma, determine what you are like in the present. Adler sees motivation as a matter of moving towards the future, rather than being driven, mechanistically, by the past. We are drawn towards our goals, our purposes and our ideals. This is called teleology.

ADLERIAN PERSONALITY THEORY MAJOR CONCEPTS

Adler’s theory of personality is an extremely economical one in the sense that a few basic concepts sustain the whole theoretical structure. For that that reason, Adler’s viewpoint can be rather quickly sketched under a few general rubrics such as (1) Functional finalism, (2) Social interest, (3) inferiority feelings and compensation, (4) Striving for superiority, (5) Style of life and (6) The creative self.

(1). Functional Finalism

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, his/her month waters and often taste the lemon "as if" there really was a lemon to lick.[11] Vaihinger, and Adler, pointed out that the fictions ‘as if’ in day to day living. We behave as if we knew the world would be here tomorrow, as if we were sure what good and bad are all about, as if everything we see is as we see it, and so on. Adler called this fictional finalism. The finalism refers to the teleology of fiction lies in the future, and yet influences our behavior today. Adler added that, at the center of each of our lifestyles, there sits one of these fictions, an important one about who we are and where we are going. [12]

(2). Social interest

Second in importance only to striving for perfection is the idea of social interest or social feeling (originally called "community feeling"). In keeping with his holism, it is easy to see that anyone "striving for perfection" can hardly do so without considering his or her social environment. As social animals, we simply don't exist, much less thrive, without others, and even the most resolute people-hater forms that hatred in a social context. Adler felt that social concern was not simply inborn, nor just learned, but a combination of both. It is based on an innate disposition, but it has to be nurtured to survive.

(3). Inferiority feelings

"To be a human being means to feel one self inferior.”[13] 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 begins to feel inferior once more and the striving for something better begins again which is the great driving force of mankind. Here we are, all of us, "pulled" towards fulfillment, perfection, self-actualization. And yet some of us -- the failures -- end up terribly unfulfilled, baldly imperfect, and far from self-actualized and all because we lack social interest, or, to put it in the positive form, because we are too self-interested. Adler says it's a matter of being overwhelmed by our inferiority. If you are moving along, doing well, feeling competent, you can afford to think of others. If you are not, if life is getting the best of you, then your attentions become increasingly focused on yourself. There is another way in which people respond to inferiority besides compensation and the inferiority complex: You can also develop a superiority complex. The superiority complex involves covering up your inferiority by pretending to be superior. If you feel small, one way to feel big is to make everyone else feel even smaller.

(4). Strive for superiority
The feelings of inferiority lead to a striving for superiority. The striving for superiority is innate and carries individuals 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.[14]

5). The style of life and (6). The creative self.

The style of life 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. This 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 the individual form of creative activity. There is a focus on the direction potentialities are taking. This is heavily influenced by childhood experiences.[15]

INDIVIDUAL PSYCHOLOGY

It is an approach to psychotherapy developed by Alfred Adler (1870-1937) that includes a model of personality, a theory of psycho-pathology, and the foundation of a treatment method.[16] Individual psychology is wholistic, underscoring the unity of the person against theories like psychoanalysis that view the person as a collection of drives or instincts divided against themselves. It also places great emphasis on the study of the client’s interpersonal transactions (e.g., sexuality, work, and one’s sense of belonging to a social group), and is concerned not only with inferiority feelings (“inferiority complex”) but also with the individual’s struggle for significance or competence. For Adlerians the individual is a creative self and often responds in ways that reflect neither genetic endowment nor social environment; that is, persons are responsible and respond in adaptive, creative ways to the social field in which they find themselves. Finally, individual psychology contends that each individual is striving toward an ideal of significance, a pattern that is evident early in life and runs as the major theme throughout one’s lifetime. Adlerians call this the “life-style” of the individual.[17] First, to reflect the idea that we should see people as wholes rather than parts, Adler decided to label his approach to psychology individual psychology. The word individual means literally "un-divided." Second, instead of talking about a person's personality, with the traditional sense of internal traits, structures, dynamics, conflicts, and so on, he preferred to talk about style of life (nowadays, "lifestyle"). Life style refers to how you live your life, how you handle problems and interpersonal relations. Here's what he himself had to say about it: "The style of life of a tree is the individuality of a tree expressing itself and molding itself in an environment. We recognize a style when we see it against a background of an environment different from what we expect, for then we realize that every tree has a life pattern and is not merely a mechanical reaction to the environment."[18]

PSYCHOLOGICAL TYPES
Although all neurosis is, for Adler, a matter of insufficient social interest, he did note that three types could be distinguished based on the different levels of energy they involved:
The first is the ruling type. They are, from childhood on, characterized by a tendency to be rather aggressive and dominant over others. Their energy - the strength of their striving after personal power - is so great that they tend to push over anything or anybody who gets in their way. The most energetic of them are bullies and sadists; somewhat less energetic ones hurt others by hurting themselves, and include alcoholics, drug addicts, and suicides.
The second is the leaning type. They are sensitive people who have developed a shell around themselves which protects them, but they must rely on others to carry them through life's difficulties. They have low energy levels and so become dependent. When overwhelmed, they develop what we typically think of as neurotic symptoms: phobias, obsessions and compulsions, general anxiety, hysteria, amnesias, and so on, depending on individual details of their lifestyle.

The third type is the avoiding type. These have the lowest levels of energy and only survive by essentially avoiding life - especially other people. When pushed to the limits, they tend to become psychotic, retreating finally into their own personal worlds.

There is a fourth type as well: the socially useful type. This is the healthy person, one who has both social interest and energy. Note that without energy, you can't really have social interest, since you wouldn't be able to actually do anything for anyone!

Adler noted that his four types looked very much like the four types proposed by the ancient Greeks. But they attributed these temperaments such as choleric (hot and dry), phlegmatic (cold and wet), melancholy (cold and dry), sanguine (warm and moist). Adler believed very strongly that each person is a unique individual with his or her own unique lifestyle. The idea of types is, for him, only a heuristic device, meaning a useful fiction, not an absolute reality.
BIRTH ORDER



Adler must be credited as the first theorist to include not only a child's mother and father and other adults as early influence on the child, but the child's brothers and sisters as well. His consideration of the effects of siblings and the order in which they were born is probably what Adler is best-known for.[19]

The effects of birth order are variable. Firstborn children are often more highly valued than are subsequent children, particularly if the first born is a male. They are more achievement oriented and have intelligence quotients (IQs). As more children enter the family, parental time for each child diminishes, prenatal stress may also increase as more children have to be cared for. Second and third children have the advantage of their parents previous experience. Younger children also learn from their older siblings. Middle children usually receive the least attention in the home and may develop strong peer relationships to compensate and the youngest children may receive too much attention to be spoiled. According to Frank Sulloway, first born children tend to be conservative and conformists by contrast youngest children tend to be independent and rebellious in regard to family and culture norms.[20] Sulloway found a high proportion of prominent people to have been last born children. he ascribes these differences to birth order and suggests that each child develops personality traits to fit and unfilled slot in the family tree.[21]
The only child is more likely than others to be pampered, with all the ill results we've discussed. After all, the parents of the only child have put all their eggs in one basket, so to speak, and are more likely to take special care - sometimes anxiety-filled care - of their pride and joy. If the parents are abusive, on the other hand, the only child will have to bear that abuse alone.

The first child begins life as an only child, with all the attention to him- or herself. Sadly, just as things are getting comfortable, the second child arrives and "dethrones" the first. At first, the child may battle for his or her lost position. He or she might try acting like the baby - after all, it seems to work for the baby! - only to be rebuffed and told to grow up. Some become disobedient and rebellious, others sullen and withdrawn. Adler believes that first children are more likely to become problem children.


The second child is in a very different situation: He or she has the first child as a sort of "pace-setter," and tends to become quite competitive, constantly trying to surpass the older child. They often succeed, but many feel as if the race is never done, and they tend to dream of constant running without getting anywhere. Other "middle" children will tend to be similar to the second child, although each may focus on a different "competitor."

The youngest child is likely to be the most pampered in a family with more than one child. After all, he or she is the only one who is never dethroned! And so youngest children are the second most likely source of problem children, just behind first children. On the other hand, the youngest may also feel incredible inferiority, with everyone older and "therefore" superior. But, with all those "pace-setters" ahead, the youngest can also be driven to exceed all of them.

Diagnosis
In the very first session the client is asked for the earliest childhood memory. He is not so much looking for the truth here as for an indication of that early prototype of your present lifestyle. If your earliest memory involves security and a great deal of attention, that might indicate pampering; If you recall some aggressive competition with your older brother, that might suggest the strong strivings of a second child and the "ruling" type of personality; If your memory involves neglect and hiding under the sink, it might mean severe inferiority and avoidance; And so on. Like Freud and Jung, dreams (and daydreams) and body language were important to Adler.

Conclusion

Adler thought that Freud had over emphasized the sexual theory of neurosis and that aggression was far more importance, specifically in its manifestation as a striving for power, which he believed to be a masculine traits.[22] He introduced the term masculine protest to describe the tendency to move from a passive and feminine role to a masculine and active role. His theories are collectively known as individual psychology. He coined the term inferiority complex to refer to a sense of inadequacy and weakness that is universal and inborn. A developing child’s self esteem is compromised by a physical defect, and Adler referred to this phenomenon as organ inferiority. He also through that a basic inferiority tied to children’s oedipal longing could never be gratified. Adler was one of the first developmental theorists to recognize the importance of children’s birth order in their family of origin. The first born child reacts with anger to the birth of siblings and struggles against giving up the powerful positions of only child. The second child must constantly strive to compete with the first born. Adler thought that a child’s sibling position results in lifelong influences on the character and life style. The primary therapeutic approach in Adlerian theory is encouragement, through which Adler believed his patients could over come feelings of inferiority. Consistent human relatedness in his view, leads to greater hope, less isolation and greater affiliation with society. He believed that patient needed to develop a greater sense of their own dignity and worth and a renewed appreciation for their abilities and strength.
Criticisms of Adler tend to involve the following issue based on, whether or not, or to what degree, his theory is scientific (operate in terms of cause and effect or scientific measurements).


BIBLIOGRAPHY
Antony, John, Psychotherapies in Counseling, Tamil Nadu: Anugraha, 2003. Eliade, mircea (ed), The encyclopedia of religion, New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1987.
Hall, Calvin S. and Gardner Lindzey; Theories of Personality, New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc, 1957.

Hunter, Rodney J. (Gen.Ed);
Dictionary of Pastoral Care and Counseling, Expanded Edition, Banglore: Theological Publications in India, 2007.
Jones, Stanton L. and Richard E. Butman, Modern psycho therapies, Illinois: Inter Varsity Press,1991.
Kaplan, Karold I. and Benjamin J. Sadock’s; Kaplan and Sadock’s Synopsis of Psychiatry Behavioural sciences/clinical psychiatry, Eight Edition, Mary Land, USA: International Student Edition, 1998.

Moddi, Salvatore R. Personality Theories: A comparative Analysis. Illinois: Dorsey Press, 1980.


WEBILIOGRAPHY
http://www.durbinhypnosis.com/adulter.htm-chapter2. IST-12/12/2007 9:10 PM.
http://www.sonoma.edu/users/d/daniels/adler.htmlIST-12/12/2007 9:10 PM.
www.durbinhypnosis.com, IST-12/12/2007 9:10 PM.
www.durbinhypnosis.com, IST-12/12/2007 9:10 PM.
www.sonoma.edu/users/d/daniels/adler.html.12/12/2007 9:10 PM.
http://ourworld.composerve.com-/ homepage/hstein/cwaa-all.htm.

htpp//www.ship.edu./adler. IST-12/12/2007 9:10 PM.




[1] A disease of children caused by a lock of good food that makes the bones become soft and badly formed, especially in the legs.
[2] Stanton L. Jones and Richard E. Butman, Modern psycho therapies, Illinois: Inter Varsity Press, 1991. P.226.
[3] Brink, T. (1985a) Adler, Alfred. In D. Benner (Ed.), Baker encyclopedia of psychology. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. Cited. in. Stanton L. Jones and Richard E. Butman, Modern psycho therapies, Illinois: Inter Varsity Press,1991.P.228.
[4] Janet, Pierre (1859-1947) French psychologist, neurologist, psychotherapist, and master hypnotist. Janet was a pupil and successor of Charcot and a prolific writer of some ninety clinically-based works, the best known of which is his attempt at classifying the forms of hysteria, The Mental State of Hystericals. Janet played a major role in forging a connection between the academic study of psychology and the clinical treatment of mental disorders. Dictionary of Pastoral Care and Counseling, p.598.
[5] Nietzsche, Friedrich (1844-1900), German philosopher and social, cultural, and religious critic. Friedrich Nietzsche is one of the most remarkable, controversial, original, and important figures in modern philosophical and intellectual history, Encyclopaedia of Religion, Nietzsche, Friedrich, Vol.10, P.438.
[6] Another major influence on Adler’s thinking was the philosopher Hans Vaihinger, who wrote a book called The Philosophy of “As If.” Vaihinger believed that ultimate truth would always be beyond us, but that, for practical purposes, we need to create partial truths. His main interest was science, so he gave as examples such partial truths as protons an electrons, waves of light, gravity as distortion of space, and so on. Contrary to what many of us non-scientists tend to assume, these are not things that anyone has seen or proven to exist: They are useful constructs. They work for the moment, let us do science, and hopefully will lead to better, more useful constructs. We use them “as if” they were true. He called these partial truths fictions. Vaihinger, and Adler, pointed out that we use these fictions in day to day living as well. We behave as if we knew the world would be here tomorrow, as if we were sure what good and bad are all about, as if everything we see is as we see it, and so on. Adler called this fictional finalism. You can understand the phrase most easily if you think about an example: Many people behave as if there were a heaven or a hell in their personal future. Of course, there may be a heaven or a hell, but most of us don’t think of this as a proven fact. That makes it a “fiction” in Vaihinger’s and Adler’s sense of the word. And finalism refers to the teleology of it: The fiction lies in the future, and yet influences our behaviour today. Adler added that, at the centre of each of our lifestyles, there sits one of these fictions, an important one about who we are and where we are going.
[7] Stanton L. Jones and Richard E. Butman, Modern psycho therapies, Illinois: Inter Varsity Press,1991.P.228.

[8] C. George Boeree htpp//www.ship.edu./adler. IST-12/12/2007 9:10 PM.

[9] “Self-actualizing or actualization” create self-awareness (Rogers) or unmet needs and deficiencies (Abraham Maslow). Abraham Maslow’s main difference with Rogers is that he sees the satisfaction of a hierarchy of needs as prerequisite for self-actualization. At the bottom of the hierarchy are basic physiological needs essential to survival. Building upon these basic needs are affiliative needs for belonging, love, and social acceptance. When these foundational needs are met, the push toward actualization of the person’s unique capabilities occurs. Critics of self-actualization argue that this theory underestimates the extent to which larger social systems or forces interfere with or block an individual’s growth.
[10] Stanton L. Jones and Richard E. Butman, Modern psycho therapies, Illinois: InterVarsity Press,1991.P.230.
[11] http://www.durbinhypnosis.com/adulter.htm-chapter2. IST-12/12/2007 9:10 PM.
[12] http://www.sonoma.edu/users/d/daniels/adler.htmlIST-12/12/2007 9:10 PM.
[13] Paul G. Durbin, PhD, President of IMDHA is Director of Clinical Hypnotherapy MHSF, affiliated with Methodist Hospital, New Orleans, LA. Alfred Adler's Understanding of Inferiority, www.durbinhypnosis.com, IST-12/12/2007 9:10 PM.
[14] Paul G. Durbin, www.durbinhypnosis.com, IST-12/12/2007 9:10 PM.
[15] Alfred adler lecture, alfred adler's "individual psychology" www.sonoma.edu/users/d/daniels/ adler.html. 12/12/2007 9:10 PM.
[16] Rodney J. Hunter (Gen.Ed); Dictionary of Pastoral Care and Counseling, Expanded Edition, Banglore: Theological Publications in India, 2007, 576.
[17] A. Adler, Problems of Neuroses (1929). R. Dreiburs, The Challenge of Parenthood (1948). T. Gordon, Parent Effectiveness Training (1970). R. Herink, ed., The Psychotherapy Handbook (1980). J. Prochacka, Systems of Psychotherapy: A Trans-theoretical Approach (1979).cited in Dictionary of Pastoral Care and Counseling, 576.
[18] htpp//www.ship.edu./adler. IST-12/12/2007 9:10 PM.
[19] Calvin S. Hall and Gardner Lindzey; Theories of Personality, New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc, 1957, 125.
[20] Karold I. Kaplan and Benjamin J. Sadock’s; Kaplan and Sadock’s Synopsis of Psychiatry Behavioral sciences/clinical psychiatry, Eight Edition, Mary Land, USA: International Student Edition, 1998, 40.
[21] Karold I. Kaplan and Benjamin J. Sadock’s; Kaplan and Sadock’s Synopsis of Psychiatry Behavioral sciences/clinical psychiatry, 40.
[22] Karold I. Kaplan and Benjamin J. Sadock’s, 223.

Dr. Binu Peniel

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