Alfred Adler, is the psychologist I have grown to admire the most. He is known most for three major concepts he presented in his life, inferiority, compensation and belongingness. He was also the president of the Psychoanalytic Society in 1910. Alfred Adler’s theoretical ideas have worked as a significant role and stepping stone in various areas such as therapy and child development as well as inspiring many other psychologists researching in fields he truly helped be what they are today. He was born in Vienna, Austria and unfortunately suffered rickets at an extremely young age which devastatingly kept him from being able to walk until he was four years old. Moreover, because of his health issues as a child, Alfred proceeded to become a physician. After his graduation in 1895 from the University of Vienna with a degree in medicine, Alfred became an ophthalmologist; but later moved into the general medicine.
As his career went on, Alder later began gaining interest in the field of psychiatry. The famous and also brilliant Sigmund Freud then requested in 1902, that he join his psychoanalytic discussion group. The new found group met each week on Wednesdays in Freud’s home and eventually grew to become the most famous Vienna Psychoanalytic Society. While serving as President of the society for some time in 1910, Adler parted ways with the group mostly because of his disagreements with almost all of Freud’s theories. While Adler played a vital piece to the development of psychoanalysis, he was also the first major figure to break away because of all the conflict to develop his own school of thinking.
He was lightning fast to bring up that he had been a colleague of Sigmund Freud, which of course turned heads although they didn’t get along very well. In the year 1912, Alfred founded a new group called the Society of Individual Psychology. His theory suggests that every person has a sense of inferiority. Starting from adolescence, people work toward overcoming this inferiority he is referring to by asserting their superiority over other human beings. Adler thought everyone to be striving for superiority and also thought that this drive was the motivating factor inside human behaviors, emotions, and thoughts.
Currently, we inhabit a challenging world, and without knowing, we almost every day incorporate Adler’s theories, or we must in order to cope with the many hindrances life has in store. Self-esteem is the crucial idea for the contemporary world and Adler’s three major concepts (inferiority, compensation and belongingness) are very related to what is almost a world-wide search for self-esteem. Adler’s concern was with a person’s feelings of self-esteem and inferiority. He is known as one of the greatest motivational theorists and he saw it quite normal for one to have feelings of inferiority. Adler believed the experiences of a child or even an adult who sees a world around him or her which is greater than them, naturally makes them feel inferior, and the feeling of inferiority can become a positive boost to the accomplishment of one’s personal goals.
Although, these certain feelings can become a heavy burden to the unmotivated individual and form neurotic or psychotic episodes and could eventually lead to the complex in which Alfred so vividly described and in turn could become disabling, producing a low self-esteem that no one wants. Moreover, a person’s self-esteem would then be in tune with their perceptions or world view according to the way they used their feelings of inferiority to either a positive or negative end. As for the neurotic individual, Alfred felt these certain disabling feelings could eventually move from negative to positive through psychotherapy, counselling and coaching all together. A central feature of the Adlerian therapy is the encouragement of the person to overcome feelings of inferiority and in turn to achieve improved self-esteem thus achieving self-actualization. Adler believed that self-esteem is not permanently damaged or low, it is very possible to recover this certain concept.
One can see that the drive to surpass emotions of inferiority can act as a spark to the advancement of personal goals. Compensation in itself, provides self-esteem to an individual. Adler referred to this as the moving from down low to up top. We have seen this concept today, Lance Armstrong, although diagnosed with cancer, he has won many races and been awarded various medals; thus proving how a person can achieve amazing results, by striving to beat a disability or inferiority. Individuals from the same family roots can react in various of different ways to the situation they are in, one can be achieving and creating self-esteem and the other becoming neurotic and condemned with feelings of inferiority.
For the wise Adler psychological health and self-esteem were intimately connected with belonging to a community or society. The origins of these certain feelings will originate in the family where there is a positive sense of belonging or the opposite. Although, through helpful activity or therapy, the healthful feeling of belongingness that everyone so dearly wants and related feelings of self-esteem that everyone should have can be created later in one’s life. This guides the individual to seek contribution to the whole community, playing his or her role in the positive life of society entirely, and through doing so acquiring an improved self-esteem.
Furthermore, Adler’s theory of Belongingness is very much still alive and extremely beneficial. If you have ever had a sense of isolation or detachment from belonging to a group or community, Adler’s method provides you with a well examined explanation and a map to healing and positive feeling again. Adler’s wise theories can bring and have brought a positive belief and route back into the nurturing that brings happiness to many individuals.
Adler’s three major ideas of inferiority, compensation and belongingness speak to our modern search for self-esteem, with an exactness and simplicity; which make them feasible and germane. He was extremely optimistic, and his form of therapy through encouragement was always meant to assist the neurotic individual to move from a negative to positive. Adler’s ideals have been presented into the mainstream of therapeutic practice everywhere and while more than usually left unacknowledged, his contribution to psychology and therapeutics, has been enormous.
1. Kendra Cherry; Psychology Expert – 2013 – A Psychoanalytic Attitude to The Great Gatsby – International Journal of Humanities and Management Sciences (IJHMS) Volume 1, Issue 1 ISSN 2320–4044
2. Alfred Adler; (Jul., 1948.) Adenet’s “Berte” and the Ideological Situation
in the 1270’s, Studies in Philology, Vol. 45, No. 3.
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