Theories of Personality 9th Edition

(やまだぃちぅ) #1
Chapter 3 Adler: Individual Psychology 75

political prisoner of the Soviet Union in about 1942; and Cornelia (Nelly), who
aspired to be an actress.
Adler’s favorite relaxation was music, but he also maintained an active interest
in art and literature. In his work he often borrowed examples from fairy tales, the
Bible, Shakespeare, Goethe, and numerous other literary works. He identified himself
closely with the common person, and his manner and appearance were consistent with
that identification. His patients included a high percentage of people from the lower
and middle classes, a rarity among psychiatrists of his time. His personal qualities
included an optimistic attitude toward the human condition, an intense competitiveness
coupled with friendly congeniality, and a strong belief in the basic gender equality,
which combined with a willingness to forcefully advocate women’s rights.
From middle childhood until after his 67th birthday, Adler enjoyed robust
health. Then, in the early months of 1937, while concerned with the fate of his
daughter Vali, who had disappeared somewhere in Moscow, Adler felt chest pains
while on a speaking tour in the Netherlands. Ignoring the doctor’s advice to rest,
he continued on to Aberdeen, Scotland, where on May 28, 1937, he died of a heart
attack. Freud, who was 14 years older than Adler, had outlived his longtime adver-
sary. On hearing of Adler’s death, Freud (as quoted in E. Jones, 1957) sarcastically
remarked, “For a Jew boy out of a Viennese suburb a death in Aberdeen is an
unheard-of career in itself and a proof of how far he had got on. The world really
rewarded him richly for his service in having contradicted psychoanalysis” (p. 208).

Introduction to Adlerian Theory

Although Alfred Adler has had a profound effect on such later theorists as Harry
Stack Sullivan, Karen Horney, Julian Rotter, Abraham H. Maslow, Carl Rogers,
Albert Ellis, Rollo May, and others (Mosak & Maniacci, 1999), his name is less
well known than that of either Freud or Carl Jung. At least three reasons account
for this. First, Adler did not establish a tightly run organization to perpetuate his
theories. Second, he was not a particularly gifted writer, and most of his books
were compiled by a series of editors using Adler’s scattered lectures. Third, many
of his views were incorporated into the works of such later theorists as Maslow,
Rogers, and Ellis and thus are no longer associated with Adler’s name.
Although his writings revealed great insight into the depth and complex-
ities of human personality, Adler evolved a basically simple and parsimonious
theory. To Adler, people are born with weak, inferior bodies—a condition
that leads to feelings of inferiority and a consequent dependence on other peo-
ple. Therefore, a feeling of unity with others (social interest) is inherent in
people and the ultimate standard for psychological health. More specifically,
the main tenets of Adlerian theory can be stated in outline form. The following
is adapted from a list that represents the final statement of individual psychology
(Adler, 1964).

  1. The one dynamic force behind people’s behavior is the striving for success
    or superiority.

  2. People’s subjective perceptions shape their behavior and personality.

  3. Personality is unified and self-consistent.

Free download pdf