My College Class Notes

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Adler, Horney, and Erickson: Social Influences

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Adler’s Individual psychology

Adler, with his Individual psychology, rejected Freud’s emphasis on sexuality and instead emphasized striving for superiority and social interest.


Alfred Adler

Austrian psychologist and psychiatrist Alfred Adler studied under Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, before developing his own theories about human behavior. Adler’s best-known theories stress that individuals are mainly motivated by feelings of inferiority, which he called an inferiority complex.

Alfred Adler (1870-1937), Austrian psychologist and psychiatrist, born in Vienna, and educated at Vienna University. After leaving the university he studied and was associated with Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis. In 1911 Adler left the orthodox psychoanalytic school to found a neo-Freudian school of psychoanalysis. After 1926 he was a visiting professor at Columbia University, and in 1935 he and his family moved to the United States.

In his analysis of individual development, Adler stressed the sense of inferiority, rather than sexual drives, as the motivating force in human life. According to Adler, conscious or subconscious feelings of inferiority (to which he gave the name inferiority complex), combined with compensatory defense mechanisms, are the basic causes of psychopathological behavior. The function of the psychoanalyst, furthermore, is to discover and rationalize such feelings and break down the compensatory, neurotic will for power that they engender in the patient. Adler’s works include The Theory and Practice of Individual Psychology (1918) and The Pattern of Life (1930).


Individual psychology 

The term used for Adler’s approach to psychodynamic theory.

Rejected Freud’s focus on sexuality.

Emphasized the innate tendency to be cooperative and psychologically tuned in to other people.

Adler believed that individuals encounter problems in life because they developed inappropriate goals and patterns of living that block the realization of their social interest.

Theory remains largely unsupported. 

Written by Joseph Eulo

May 28, 2008 at 6:52 am

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