June 18, 2009
Introduction and Background:
Adlerian theory is historically noted for being the first major philisophical theory to break from the beliefs of Sigmund Freud. Originated by Alfred Adler, who was born on February 7, 1870 and raised in a middle-class Hungarian-Jewish family, this theory is deeply rooted in the early life experiences of it’s founder. Aldler’s formative years were riddled with illnesses and traumatic experiences which he would later view as inferiorities and use as the basic premise of his theories – that human beings are constantly striving to overcome their weaknesses (inferiorities) and grow stronger (more superior).
In this paper I will explain the background of Adlerian theory, give an overview of the key elements that make up this theory, and then reflect on my personal interpretation of Adlerian theory.
There are four major tenets that comprise Adler’s theory of psychology: style of life, social interest, striving for superiority, and birth order. The first tenet, style of life, is a way of adapting to life that is developed at an early age and like Freud, Adler believed that this style of life would be fully formed by the age of six. Every action and reaction after the age of six would be a reflection of one’s lifestyle. Alder believed the style of life is formed as a direct result of challenges faced in one’s life. In his case, developing rickets which is a deficiency of vitamin D may have affected his self image and in combination with two near death experiences, a severe case of pneumonia and other physical weaknesses as a child (Sharf 112), Adler believed that his drive for superiority had to directly counterbalance his inferiorites. There are five overlapping categories that Adler (and later Adlerians) identified that make up one’s lifestyle: occupation, society, love, self...