Alfred Adler

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Alfred Adler, born February 7th, 1870, was an Austrian physician and psychotherapist who is responsible for the introduction of individual psychology. Born the second child of seven, Alfred and his Hungarian-born Jewish family lived in Rudolfsheim near Vienna where at age four he developed a case of rickets. The doctor announced to Alfred and his parents that there was nothing he could do for him, stating to his father, “Your boy is lost”. It was this false diagnosis that led to Alfred’s decision to devote his life to becoming a physician (Boeree, 1997). Adler attended medical school at the University of Vienna, where he graduated in 1895. While attending University, Adler met his soon-to-be wife Raissa Timofeyewna Epstein, a Russian-born social activist. The two married in 1897 and had four children, two of which grew up to by psychiatrists. Adler began his medical career as an ophthalmologist, but soon switched to a general practice in the suburbs of Vienna (Boerre, 1997).

Alfred Adler is often thought to be a pupil of Sigmund Freud, but this is in fact not the case. In fact, it was Sigmund Freud who sought out Adler to invite him for an informal discussion group called “The Wednesday Society” because he was fascinated by Adler’s theories. This discussion group was comprised of several big names in the psychiatric community, and it is considered the birth place of what would eventually be called psychoanalysis. After several years as a colleague of Freud’s, Adler disassociated himself from Freud after the two had a falling out due to clashing opinions on psychoanalysis. Adler moved toward a more individualized form of therapy and founded The Society of Individual Psychology in 1912 (Fiebert, 1997). When discussing his concept of the conscious mind, Adler wrote, “Individual Psychology distinguishes the conscious and the unconscious, not separate and conflicting entities, but complimentary and cooperative parts of one and the same reality”...
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