Adlers Theory Of Personality

The Austrian psychoanalyst Alfred Adler (1870-1937) received his medical degree in 1895 from the University of Vienna with a specialty in ophthalmology but then changed to psychiatry after practicing in general medicine. Adler was one of the charter members of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society, serving as its president in 1910, but resigned from the society in 1911 because of theoretical differences with Sigmund Freud. Adler went on to establish his own school, called the Society for Free Psychoanalytic Research (later called the Society of Individual Psychology) which attracted followers throughout the world and inspired, also, the establishment of an experimental school in Vienna that employed his theories of education. Adler's theoretical approach to personality generally emphasized the concepts of goal striving, unity, and active participation of the individual and stressed the cognitive rather than the unconscious processes of personality. Adler's theory of personality is an extremely "economical" one where a few basic assumptions sustain the whole theoretical structure: (1) fictional finalism - humans are motivated more by their subjective expectations of the future than by their objective experiences of the past; (2) striving for superiority (formerly called the "will to power" by Adler) - humans' final goal is to be aggressive, powerful, and superior where one strives for perfect completion and is driven upwardly toward higher goals; (3) inferiority feelings and compensation (Adler accepted being called the "father of the inferiority complex") - humans are motivated by the need to overcome any perceived or felt level of inferiority that arises from a sense of incomple-tion or imperfection in any area of their lives (cf., Adler's term masculine protest which denotes a cluster of personality traits in either gender arising as overcompensation for feelings of inferiority and rejection of the feminine role); (4) innate social interest - humans' striving for superiority becomes socialized where working for the common good permits individuals to compensate for their weaknesses; (5) style of life - the system principle, or self-created life plan, by which the unique individual personality achieves a higher level of functioning in life and where all the person's drives, feelings, memories, emotions, and cognitive processes are subordinate to that individual's lifestyle; (6) the creative self - this doctrine asserts that humans construct their own personalities out of the raw material of heredity and experience and that one's creative self gives meaning to life by creating the goals themselves, as well as the means to get to the goals in life; the creative self is the "active" principle of human life and is not unlike the older concept of the soul. Adler's theory of therapy emphasizes the goals of the therapist to be the establishment of a relationship of trust, to discover and understand the patient's "assumptive universe," to reveal these assumptions to the person is such as way that they become subject to self-correction and facilitate change, to convey a sense of worth and faith in the person's inner strength, and to offer the patient a model for good behavior and effective coping strategies. Adler's personality theory exemplifies a humanistic orientation toward individual development that is contrary to Freud's more materialistic conception of the person and gives humans the characteristics of altruism, cooperation, humanitarianism, awareness, uniqueness, dignity, and creativity. Adler's work and concepts (while yet unrecognized by some psychologists) have been validated generally, have influenced most current personality theories (including psychoanalytic approaches), and have led to a continuation of the Adlerian tradition in this country. See also ALLPORT'S THEORY OF PERSONALITY; BIRTH ORDER THEORY; FREUD'S THEORY OF PERSONALITY; MASLOW'S THEORY OF PERSONALITY; ROGERS' THEORY OF PERSONALITY. REFERENCES

Adler, A. (1912). The neurotic constitution.

New York: Arno Press. Adler, A. (1929). Problems of neurosis. London: Kegan Paul. Adler, A. (1930). Individual psychology. In C.

Murchison (Ed.), Psychologies of 1930. Worcester, MA: Clark University Press.

Adler, A. (1939). Social interest: A challenge to mankind. New York: Putnam. Adler, A. (1957). The education of children. London: Allen & Unwin.



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