Who is Alfred Adler?

Who is Alfred Adler?

November 30, 2020 Off By Felso

The founder of the school of individual psychology, who lived between February 7, 1870 and May 28, 1937, is an Austrian psychologist.

He was born in Penzing, Austria and grew up in Vienna. He studied medicine at the University of Vienna Medical School and graduated in 1895. He emphasized that starting from the first years of his career as a general practitioner, he should deal with the patient in relation to his environment and developed a humanistic, holistic and organic approach to the problems related to the individual.

He became interested in psychology in relation to bodily disorders. In 1902 he met Sigmund Freud, became his student, and together they founded the Vienna Psychoanalytical Society under Adler. After a while, differences arose with Freud. It became completely uncompromising after Adler’s book Failure of Organs, and in 1911, Adler began developing individual psychology, with his audience openly criticizing Freud.

He was influenced by Hans Vaihinger’s ideas of spiritual construction and developed the organic theory of inferiority and compensation with “Masculine Rebellion” as a natural outcome in male-dominated society. Adler disagreed with Freud’s theories, the disagreement became public at the Weimar Psychoanalytic Congress in 1911. Adler was at odds with the dominance of Freud’s sex instinct and whether the ego drive was libidinal (?), And criticized Freud’s ideas on subconsciousness. Adler believed that the subconscious theory should be replaced with the concept of ego – defensive tendencies – a neural state derived from feelings of inferiority and overcompensation of masculine rebellion, the Oedipal Complexes were insignificant. Adler left the Vienna Society and in 1912 founded the Society for Free Analytical Studies, which became the Individual Psychology Society.

In 1912 he  wrote the book “Über den Nervösen Charakter” in which he described his main ideas  . He claimed that human personality could be explained purely scientifically, stating that separate stages, suppressed by the basic goals of the unconscious core purpose of the person, transform feelings of inferiority into superiority (or competence, on the contrary). According to Adler, an inferiority complex could occur if self-aiming desires resisted social and ethnic needs, corrective factors were ignored and the person overcompensated, the person could be egocentric, power-hungry and aggressive, or worse.

His work stopped with World War I, meanwhile he worked as a doctor in the Austrian Army. His influence on the post-war 1930s grew enormously, from 1921 he established a number of child guidance clinics and became a frequent lecturer in Europe and the United States and visiting professor at Columbia University in 1927. In his therapeutic methods, he avoided focusing on the adult spirit by keeping problems in the child in advance by encouraging and rewarding social interest but avoiding pampering and neglect. Treatment in adults was based on the exclusion of blaming or striking attitudes by the person being treated, he stated that with the increase of awareness of personal behavior, resistance decreased and rejection reversed. Common therapeutic tools included the use of humor, historical moments, and illogical orders.Adler’s popularity was related to his relative optimism and the comprehensibility of his ideas compared to Freud’s and Jung’s. Adler has frequently emphasized that the analysis of the person’s behavior pattern is associated with society, work related, and gender.

In 1934, the Austrian Government closed most of Adler’s clinics because he was Jewish. Adler left Austria in 1935 as Professor of Long Island Medical College. He died in 1937 in Aberdeen Scotland.