Theories of Personality 9th Edition

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Chapter 3 Adler: Individual Psychology 87

Pampered Style of Life

A pampered style of life lies at the heart of most neuroses. Pampered people have
weak social interest but a strong desire to perpetuate the pampered, parasitic rela-
tionship they originally had with one or both of their parents. They expect others
to look after them, overprotect them, and satisfy their needs. They are characterized
by extreme discouragement, indecisiveness, oversensitivity, impatience, and exag-
gerated emotion, especially anxiety. They see the world with private vision and
believe that they are entitled to be first in everything (Adler, 1927, 1964).
Pampered children have not received too much love; rather, they feel unloved.
Their parents have demonstrated a lack of love by doing too much for them and
by treating them as if they were incapable of solving their own problems. Because
these children feel pampered and spoiled, they develop a pampered style of life.
Pampered children may also feel neglected. Having been protected by a doting
parent, they are fearful when separated from that parent. Whenever they must fend
for themselves, they feel left out, mistreated, and neglected. These experiences add
to the pampered child’s stockpile of inferiority feelings.

Neglected Style of Life

The third external factor contributing to maladjustment is neglect. Children who
feel unloved and unwanted are likely to borrow heavily from these feelings in
creating a neglected style of life. Neglect is a relative concept. No one feels totally
neglected or completely unwanted. The fact that a child survived infancy is proof
that someone cared for that child and that the seed of social interest has been
planted (Adler, 1927).
Abused and mistreated children develop little social interest and tend to cre-
ate a neglected style of life. They have little confidence in themselves and tend to
overestimate difficulties connected with life’s major problems. They are distrustful
of other people and are unable to cooperate for the common welfare. They see
society as enemy country, feel alienated from all other people, and experience a
strong sense of envy toward the success of others. Neglected children have many
of the characteristics of pampered ones, but generally they are more suspicious and
more likely to be dangerous to others (Adler, 1927).

Safeguarding Tendencies

Adler believed that people create patterns of behavior to protect their exaggerated
sense of self-esteem against public disgrace. These protective devices, called
safeguarding tendencies, enable people to hide their inflated self-image and to
maintain their current style of life.
Adler’s concept of safeguarding tendencies can be compared to Freud’s
concept of defense mechanisms. Basic to both is the idea that symptoms are
formed as a protection against anxiety. However, there are important differences
between the two concepts. Freudian defense mechanisms operate unconsciously
to protect the ego against anxiety, whereas Adlerian safeguarding tendencies are
largely conscious and shield a person’s fragile self-esteem from public disgrace.
Also, Freud’s defense mechanisms are common to everyone, but Adler (1956)

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