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Wise is the man who says what needs to be said, but not all that could be said.

Jun 23, 2024

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About Alfred Adler

Alfred Adler

Alfred Adler

Alfred Adler (February 7, 1870 - May 28, 1937) was an Austrian medical doctor and psychologist, founder of the school of individual psychology. In collaboration with Sigmund Freud and a small group of Freud's colleagues, Adler was among the co-founders of the psychoanalytic movement. He was the first major figure to break away from psychoanalysis to form an independent school of psychotherapy and personality theory. Adler had an enormous effect on the disciplines of counseling and psychotherapy as they would develop over the course of the 20th century (Ellenberger, 1970). He influenced notable figures in other schools of psychotherapy such as Rollo May, Viktor Frankl, Abraham Maslow and Albert Ellis. His writings preceded and at times were surprisingly consistent with later neo-Freudian insights such as evidenced in the works of Karen Horney, Harry Stack Sullivan and Erich Fromm.

Adler emphasized the importance of social equality in order to prevent various forms of psychopathology and espoused the development of social interest and democratic family structures as the ideal ethos for raising children. In chapter 3 of Impact of Science on Society, Bertrand Russell said that the behavior of people in futuristic scientific dictatorships is best described by Adler's theories. His most famous concept is the inferiority complex which speaks to the problem of self-esteem and its negative compensations (e.g. sometimes producing a paradoxical superiority striving). His emphasis on power dynamics is rooted in the philosophy of Nietzsche. Adler argued for holism, viewing the individual holistically rather than reductively, the latter being the dominant lens for viewing human psychology. Adler was also among the first in psychology to argue in favor of feminism making the case that power dynamics between men and women (and associations with masculinity and femininity) are crucial to understanding human psychology (Connell, 1995). Adler is considered, along with Freud and Jung, to be one of the three founding figures of depth psychology, which emphasizes the unconscious and psychodynamics (Ellenberger, 1970; Ehrenwald, 1991).

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