Alfred Adler Psychology

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Alfred Adler Psychology
PSY:330 Theories of Personality
Jennifer Sullivan
Instructor Gourrier
January 16, 2011

Personality is what makes everyone unique in his or her own way. Some people are extroverts, some introverts, witty, or just plain quiet. “The term personality comes from the Latin word persona, which means mask. Those defining personality as a mask view personality, as one is public self. It is that aspect of ourselves we select to display to the world” (Hergenhahn, 2007, pg.1). Many different theorists out there believe that they have the best theory about personalities. Some believe that genetics, environment, or even the unconscious determine what our personalities will grow to be. Alfred Adler was one of those theorists who believed he had the best theories for personality. “Alfred Adler’s theory is related to humanism because of its concern with the positive relationships among humans. His theory is related to existentialism because of its concern with questions concerning the meaning of human existence. Adler also believed that human are future oriented, free to determine his or her own fate, and concerned with the meaning of life. In the development of personality, he came up with three research methodologies that played a role in the development: birth order, first memories, and dreams. Through these factors, he came up with three major theories: feelings of inferiority, fictional goals and life styles, and social interest. Biography

Alfred Adler was born on February 7, 1870 in Vienna, Austria. His was father was a moderately successful grain merchant. His childhood would prove to be a hard one, but it would be one that would shape his future. “Sickly as a child, he did not walk until age four because of rickets; at age five Adler developed pneumonia and was diagnosed as unlikely to survive. He did recover, but was so profoundly shaken by the experience that he resolved to become a doctor himself someday in order to help the suffering caused by such illness and disease. This accomplishment began to look out of reach later when he was struggling in school and failing at math. The teacher suggested that young Adler be removed from school and apprenticed to a cobbler. Nevertheless, his father only scoffed at the teacher, letting the boy know how little he thought of the teacher's judgment. Adler then became determined to excel and to show the teacher just how wrong he was. He was soon at the top of his class in mathematics. Such experiences help shape Adler's theories of personality development, especially his belief that the most basic human drive is the striving from an initial state of inadequacy, or what he termed "inferiority", toward "superiority", or self-actualization. In 1895, Adler successfully earned his medical degree, graduating from the University of Vienna. In the course of his work as a physician he made study of the interplay between what he termed "organ deficiency" (illness, physical handicaps, etc.) and an individual's personality and self-image (” Adler was invited by Freud to join the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society in 1902. “He was invited by Freud after he wrote an article defending Freud’s theoretical position in Freud’s book The Interpretation of Dreams. Adler became President of this society in 1910. While in the society Adler learned that, he and Freud actually had very little in common. This became increasingly obvious through the years and after a 9-year association with the society and after being President for one year, Adler decided to resign from the society. Adler and Freud never met again” ( After breaking from the society Adler and his followers formed their own group called the Society of Free Psychoanalytic Research. He formed this group to express his contempt for the restrictive nature of the Freudian organization. They later decided to change the name to Society for Individual...
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