Alfred adler areas of Discussion The Life and Times of Alfred Adler

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ALFRED ADLER Areas of Discussion

  • The Life and Times of Alfred Adler

  • The Big Break- Individual Psychology

  • Important Theories

  • Did you know?


  • Born on February 7, 1870 in Penzing, Austria

  • Second of six children; was raised in Vienna in the suburbs

  • Age of 5 developed pneumonia; this life threatening experience motivated Adler to pursue medicine

  • In 1895, received medical degree at University of Vienna; here he met a group of social students & his future wife, Raissa Timofeyewna Epstein, an intellect*

  • Married in 1897 and had four children

ALFRED ADLER Biography Cont’d

  • He became a physician and had an office across from a circus in a lower-class part of Vienna

  • He later turned to psychiatry as it related to physical/mental disorders

  • In 1902 he met Sigmund Freud and they formed the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society where Adler was the president

  • This led Freud to claim Adler as a disciple*


  • He passed away May 28, 1937 in Aberdbeen, Scotland from a heart attack.

ALFRED ADLER The Big Break-Individual Psychology

  • Adler was influenced by the writings of Jan Smuts, a South African philosopher

  • Smuts felt that in order to understand people,

  • “we have to understand them more as unified wholes than a collection of bits and pieces, and we have to understand them in the context of their environment, both physical and social.”- Smuts

  • This approach is called holism

  • Adler categorized the idea that we see people as wholes as Individual Psychology*

  • Individual Psychology- a school of thought stressing the influence of inferiority feelings on human behavior

  • Adler is different from other psychologist because he prefers to talk about lifestyle*

ALFRED ADLER Theory of Inferiority

  • Need for self-esteem can be thought of as one of the social needs

  • A person’s sense of self-esteem depends on feedback from others

  • The need and anxiety it produces was emphasized by Adler*

  • Everyone feels inferior to a certain degree, this motivates us to get better

  • Common cause: parental neglect

  • 5 types of inferiority:

  • Physical

  • Intellectual

  • Psychological

  • Social

  • Economical

  • 2 methods of coping with inferiority-> inferiority complex*, superiority complex*

  • to deal with inferiority, people either overcompensate* by engaging in vocal behavior* , or become lazy, tentative, and helpless

  • Overall the way people overcome inferiority provides the basis for their lifelong personality*

ALFRED ADLER Theory of Psychological Types

  • All humans have unique lifestyles

  • They include patterns of thinking, feeling, emotion, and behavior

  • The 4 types of lifestyle:*

  • Ruling Getting Avoiding Socially Useful

ALFRED ADLER Theory of Childhood Development

  • Parenting and childhood development influences one’s personality

  • Parental “overpampering”: a child becomes spoiled and may fail to find love

  • Parental neglect: a child may lack confidence in their ability to complete tasks and attract love

ALFRED ADLER Theory of Sibling Rivalry

  • Position in birth order could affect a child’s development

  • First born:

  • Case 1. May act out and misbehave to gain attention

  • Case 2. Accept authority and conservative values

  • Second born: competitive need to catch up with the first born

  • Youngest: fail to become independent while having a high self-esteem due to pampering

ALFRED ADLER Theory of Teleology and Fictional Finalism

  • Concept that we are drawn towards our goals, our purposes and our ideals

  • Teleology acknowledges life is hard, uncertain, but always has room for change*

  • In relation to teleology is Fictional Finalism

  • Hans Vaihinger, a philosopher, studied Fictions (partial truths)*

  • Finalism refers to teleology of it*

  • Fiction lies in the future and yet influences our behavior today

  • Adler notes: in the center of each of our lifestyles, there sits one of these fictions

  • “We behave as if the end of the world would be here tomorrow, as if we were sure what good and bad are all about, as if everything we see is as we see it”- Adler

ALFRED ADLER Bibliography

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