Individual Psychology essay
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Alfred Adler is austrian psychologist, psychiatrist and philosopher, one of the progenitors of Neo-Freudianism and founder of individual psychology. His track is a best basis for creation individual psychology conception. Adler's main idea was negation of Freud's and Jung's theories of subconsciousness domination in decision accepting process. Adler thought that the main mover of behavior and lifestyle is social contacts and orientation on surrounding society. His theory of Inferiority complex is general in through all his works and experimental results.
Development of the person
Adler has shown how it is possible to learn to understand children with deviations in development and feeble-minded ones. These children aren’t adopted to environment, and one should take into consideration the specific process of how they enter mutual relations with people, in what role they see themselves in a public division of labor, how do they find themselves with an opposite sex, and how they comprehend the purpose, interests and logic of everyone. And it is possible when one considers a person as a unit. From the Adler`s point of view, a person represents the complete structure, which has hierarchy and special communications. If the person is underdeveloped, communications appear broken. And the opposite: broken communications can provide a base to judge a person`s insufficient development. Unity honors each person's individual nature, but at the same time an individual displays this unity. That is, an individual is a "picture" and an "artist" at the same time. An individual is a creator of his/her own personal, but as any artist, he/she is not faultless and not up to the end knows his/her soul and body. And from this point of view an individual is imperfect. Result of this imperfection is that the child misinterprets his/her place in society. And it in turn breaks those vital communications, which define further purposes and motives of child`s behavior.
Integrity of a person, his/her special style and purposes are always subjective. It is necessary to reckon with individual deviations in the process of personal development. This development starts in the childhood, when intellectual and mental skills start to develop and subsequent relation to life is defined, The individual psychology is based on the position asserting that each action and personal qualities reflect childhood life, and to estimate these actions and qualities it is necessary to look at a person`s past.
The individual psychology is a science and art, which excludes a stale and mechanical approach to an individual, and is based on studying various symptoms and their interrelations, interpretation of a person on the basis of objective facts, which are expression of person`s purposeful aspirations. "The mental life of a child is a surprising thing, - writes Adler, - amazing every time when you face it. But the most interesting in all this is, possibly, that to understand any episode of a child`s biography, it is necessary to develop all roles of a child life. Each action of a child is capable to reflect, as a whole, both his/her course of life and his/her personality; consequently it is difficult to understand his/her behavior without judgment of this latent underlying reason of the past life".
The base of human development, as for Adler, is dynamical and expedient aspiration of soul. Since the childhood a child is involved in constant struggle for development and this struggle is connected with subconsciously generated purpose - dream of greatness, perfection, superiority. The aspiration of superiority goes hand in hand with the innate sense of inferiority, stimulating attempts of a child to overcome this feeling. Adler calls these feelings as two sides of one medal; as if a person did not feel inferiority, he/she would not aspire to success, to overcome a difficult situation, to leave the dispute between people as a winner.
“Although Alfred Adler has had a profound effect on such later theorists as Harry Stack Sullivan, Karen Horney, Julian Rotter, Abraham H. Maslow, Carl Rogers, Albert Ellis, Rollo May, and others”(Mosak & Maniacci, 1999)
Alfred Adler considers impossible to assume that person is born with aspiration for success, and desire to be allocated somehow. He is sure that the moderate dose of ambition is necessary for each child and that only possessing that ambition a child can normally grow and develop. However, among children prevail super ambitious ones, who recognize only the result, and who are capable to gain success. Children who depend a lot on the opinion of others will have difficult time facing failures and defeats, and the impartial character traits, such as envy, a rage, vindictiveness will be formed. Super ambitious children can be revealed during a game. Such children do not wish to play a supporting role, and if they do not manage to become the leader in game, they disturb the rest. Adler notices that, being diffident, such children do not like to get to new situations which amortize and frighten them.
“Through organ dialect, the body’s organs speak a language which is usually more expressive and discloses the individual’s opinion more clearly than words are able to do” (Adler, 1956,p. 223).
Adler states that feeling (complex) of inferiority is underside of a sense of superiority. Abnormal feeling of inferiority is arising in situations when owing to any circumstances child cannot gain success. On one hand, this feeling by all means conducts to search of possible ways of indemnification, and on the other hand, interferes with success achievement, weakening confidence of own forces. Neuroses are frequent attributes of strongly developed inferiority complex. Adler gives the detailed characteristic of the neuroses and its causes, naming among the core ones impossibility to satisfy aspiration for the superiority.
The scientist cannot find the accurate response to a question what as for Adler initially play the most important role in development of a child. However, according to the latest works of Adler, paramount value for a person`s formation has aspiration for the purpose. First of all, these results come from the fact that the feeling of inferiority arises only when the aspiration for the best does not receive satisfaction. Besides, aspiration for development is a much more widespread phenomenon in life, than the feeling of inferiority.
Adler requests teachers and parents to pay attention to a problem related to the complex of inferiority that children might develop. , Children can escape from real life problems and sufferings, being diffident and living in a dreamland. It is necessary to bring up children with extra care, constantly encourage them, notice their successes, and inspire belief in their forces. Fear to seem ridiculous in other people`s eyes, the feeling of own worthlessness, and blows to the ego endured in the childhood, remain with a person during all his/her life, if no one helped a child to get rid of them in the childhood. Childhood experiences, Adler proves, stay in a person`s head subconsciously, using each opportunity again to bring up bad memories, making a person escape in a dreamland, the world where a person is released from thoughts on the personal inconsistency, tormenting him/her, just as it was in the childhood.
“The only child is mature and never dethroned from the chosen position.” (Sweeney)
If children feel neglected or pampered, their goal remains largely unconscious. Adler (1964) hypothesized that children will compensate for feelings of inferiority in devious ways that have no apparent relationship to their %uFB01ctional goal.
According to Adler to be socially active, an individual needs an ability to communicate and get on with people, to feel him/herself a part of society, in general, and of its separate group, in particular (family, school, work etc.).
It is necessary to notice that in individual psychology an indemnification principle is central. According to Adler, it is necessary to consider conflict presence between feeling (complex) of inferiority and the aspiration for superiority, generated by it, as a major factor of a person`s development. The child`s aspiration for superiority is also defined in the form of purpose which directs child`s thoughts and actions. The person`s aspiration to overcome the feeling of inferiority often leads to inadequate actions. Adler offers to neutralize the feeling of inferiority at the expense of a direction of its indemnification in a useful channel. This leads us to one more core concept of individual psychology, the feeling of community (social feeling).
Development of social feeling is, according to Adler, the major condition that will help a child to overcome the inferiority complexes. Moreover, he asserts that development of the feeling of community can help mankind in eradication of wars and crimes. The social feeling, as confirmed by Adler, is the original indicator of child`s normal development. On this principle Adler has constructed the pedagogical technology. Each infringement leading to decrease of social feeling bears huge harm to a child development.
It is necessary to notice that Adler has come to concept of social feeling much later. In the beginning his concept of a person was mechanistic. If S. Freud exaggerated value of sexual inclination, Adler gave to much value to aggression and aspiration for the superiority, as the main motive forces of a person`s development, and also to the inferiority complex with a concept of indemnification.
The concept of social feeling was found by Adler only in the 1930s. Discussions concerning definition of the feeling of community, as ideas and realities, have coincided with introduction and scientific use of philosophical concept of "social apriority" (social a-priori), though Adler reluctantly confirmed relation between these concepts.
The feeling of community is, according to Adler, crucially important for an individual. as it never leaves the person. In a person two forces are constantly struggling, the feeling of community and aspiration for superiority. These influential forces define person`s actions and behavior.
In his books A. Adler's makes comments on various situations, which "tempt" a child to refuse courage. When a child loses self-confidence, he/she chooses a way how to obtain psychological success, from his/her point of view; this way is usually aspires a child to reach relevance and superiority using even the most useless ways. Adler uses an expression a "runaway in the fiction world", which provides an explanation to erroneous behavior of a person. People constantly face different problems, some of them simple and some are more complex. The feeling of inferiority or insufficiently developed feeling of community lead to loss of courage, and an individual does not feel that he/she can overcome the problem which he/she faces. As a result, an individual starts to escape gradually from these problems, becomes irresolute, and then, unable to resist temptation, escapes to the fictional world.
Thus, the individual psychology considers a runaway to the fictional world an erroneous opinion of an individual of not being able to overcome a life problem. And if at least once a person takes this erroneous decision, it can have sad consequences. As a result, a person gets more deeply tightened in a bog of error and disputable acts.
The more considerable is a lack of a child`s social feeling, the more unproductive is his/her formation of "I".
It is important to notice that education in society and for society is considered more widely by Adler. It refers not only to a simple management of the ordered teamwork of children in obtaining knowledge and training of their tactful behavior in mutual relations with other people, but upbringing in a society, according to Adler, is education of an individual. An individual living in a normal human community in the course of self-knowledge learns also about relation with other people and actively co-operates with them.
In this paper the concept of Adler has fundamental character for humanistic education.
Adler directly connects solution of the first problem, formation of social feeling, with the second problem, self-determination in the world of trade. How to live a life? What role a person is going to play in a public division of labor? A question of choice of profession is not that not unilateral and personal as it can seem at first sight. It concerns bilateral mutual relations between person and our planet. The success in labor activity, according to Adler, is defined not only by our personal desires, but also by its conformity to requirements of an objective reality. And probably, "our rescue is to see clearly, realizing our mission and place in the universal system of communications and build the society according to it". To understand it, in my opinion, one must to pass to a higher step of development.
Adler analyzes the third problem, love and marriage; these two words and everything that is connected to them get into consciousness of children since the early childhood. A child`s attitude toward the opposite sex and toward sexual relationship, can tell much about the miscalculations made in sexual education. Adler was convinced that personal mutual relations are closely connected to public mutual relations. Love and social feeling are inseparable. As display of relationship between two people, he considers love as a part of social feeling. It has its laws and it is a necessary component for preservation of a human society. Societies without love do not exist. The one, who recognizes a society, recognizes also love. And, on the contrary, the one who is not able to love, is not ready to live in a society. For this reason, Adler pays a lot of attention to a problem of sexual education of rising generation. At the initial stage, already at the age of two years the child should realize the difference between the sexes, and that the sex of a person is invariable. In no event it is impossible to belittle a role and value of an opposite sex in opinion of a child. So, to assure boys since early years that their sex is more significant, and men should rule, will negatively affect not only girls, who will be treated by boys indulgently or in a hostile way, but also boys.
As to the physiological part of relations between genders, Adler is not supporting sexual education of children in the early childhood, though he was convinced that this issue should be also resolved by parents, instead of school. As for him, it is only possible when between parents and children there is confidential connection. If a child, especially teenager, hesitates to speak about it, and parents are assured that time has come to provide him/her with the necessary information, they should take the initiative.
Parents should, according to Adler, explain to a child that love and family are the main components of human mutual relations, display of cooperation of two people. Therefore "a person, whose social development is not high enough, has no friends, is not feeling to be a part of a society, is having problems at work, and frequently is not capable to establish normal relation with partner. Such people can hardly solve sexual problems". Proceeding from the aforesaid, Adler does a conclusion that successful, harmonious marriage and normal sexual relations depend not only on how much time and forces parents gave to a child, bringing her/him up as woman or man, but first of all on how much the person is developed socially, and from his/her ability to have contact with other people.
Adler considered interaction of sexes as one of the major problems, which should be solved by each person by all means. As Adler attached special significance to unity of people, the theories of interaction of sexes presented to it practically are original introduction in the theory of a person as a whole. Adler believed that solution of all vital problems was in reasonable distribution of forces between people, who have to be responsible and trust each other; thus, they will use best efforts and will move together to noble purposes without compulsion and incoordination.
Adler was convinced that the problem of sexual relations and marriage cannot be solved individually; and if we wish to prosper and even to survive in it, society, as a whole, and each individual, in particular, should take part in this process.
The therapist, identifying with the fears of the patient, will not feel threatened if he, like Adler, sees in all life movements an attempt to cope. Even fragmentation of the self and psychosis can represent (Mentzos 1994, S. 255)
If the therapist does not refer to the healthy portions of the ego, this can lead to therapy resignation. (Fürstenau 1994, S. 56).
To a certain extent Tenbrink (1998, S. 102) correctly argues that "a tendency is immanent" in Adler’s approach to neglect microanalysis "in favour of rather general assumptions and statements".
For Adler the estimation is important, not the facts themselves. The ability for estimation or mentalization (Dornes 2004; Fonagy et al. 2002; Köhler 2004) is built up at the age of 1½ years and depends to a considerable degree on the affectiv-interactive quality of the primary relations.
The theory of sexuality of Alfred Adler is more complex. It opposes the theory of Freud, discussion of which has developed the Adler`s theory. While Freud considered that development of a person is promoted first of all by sexual aspirations of an individual, Adler, on the contrary, confirmed that a way of life of an individual defines character of sexual aspirations.
The basic dispute between psychological schools of Adler and Freud was developed around Adler’s concepts about "the man's protest", which was presented at weekly meetings of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society in 1910-1911.
For example, a relationship between early childhood recollections and a person’s present style of life (Clark, 2002), these results do not verify Adler’s notion that present style of life shapes one’s early recollections.
For Freud, sex was the most important biological phenomenon, which presented libido and its inhibition. For Adler, sex is also an important factor for neurosis occurrence, but it is artificial in distinctions between statuses of two sexes, with fear of men that suddenly they cannot live according to their sexual or natural role, and with dissatisfaction of women their sexual role which was taken away.
Adler considered that an overall objective and the most important task of a person is his/her attempts to overcome an inferiority complex, to be strong and powerful, and to succeed as an individual. For the first time Adler saw this phenomenon in desire of patients to resemble man, instead of woman, to be courageous, instead of being seen as a woman. To this all-consuming desire Adler appropriated the term "the man's protest".
In Adlerian thought, there is no insight into a person without first seeing the person and their actions within the social context—“we must always look at the whole social context.”(Ibid, 62-63).
Both parts of this concept demand the further explanation. The word "to protest" Adler uses not only in its usual sense as the synonym to a word "to object", but also to a word "to defend". And "man's" has nothing in common with physiological sexual characteristics of a man. More likely it concerns the status of the man standard in our culture, on the level standing above female, and how an individual reacts to it.
The term "the man's protest" was presented in a work on psychological hermaphroditism (1910), which then became his most significant work. Hermaphroditism means presence of biological components of an opposite sex in each individual at various proportions and it is equated to bisexuality. Psychological hermaphroditism means presence of characteristic features of an opposite sex in a person, depending on his/her sexual constitution.
“The problem is not just what is popularly labeled ‘a failure to communicate’ but the more complex matter of expressing n words what one actually means.”(Stone, 2011)
Today, "hermaphroditism" and "bisexuality" got other values. Hermaphroditism means congenital presence of male and female features in the same individual (two-cavity), while bisexuality assumes simultaneous existence of homosexual and heterosexual relations.
Adler refused recognition of direct dependence of hermaphroditism on biological factors. Contrary to Freud (1905), he established that these factors have indirect value and that individuals of both sexes have possibility to be more "male" or "female", depending on what they prefer and on what serves their purposes in the best way. In this context becomes important that we live during an epoch of man's domination, which has created more favorable conditions and stereotypes in relation to men, rather than to women. Thus, representatives of both sexes prefer to be "as man", instead of "as woman". It also is the man's protest, which, in the light form, is extended enough in society, and, in the extreme form, is shown at neurasthenics.
Dreikurs notes that the teleological nature of Adlerian theory is the core concept that contributes to the rejection of such thoughts given that, as a philosophical paradigm, teleological thought fails to meet the scientific standards for empirical substantiation of a theory.
When Adler presented these reflections before the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society, he knew that "he mentions the most delicate part in the field of psychoanalytic research; and he was right". These opinions also have led to rupture with Freud, and work of Adler on the given theme became the one most often quoted by Freud in discussions with Adler.
"Everything that concerns libido has man's character; everything that concerns restraint of promptings has female character".
Freud's remark first results in some confusion, though it reveals a solving distinction. "Libido-restraint" concerns the main basic not realized conflicts in mental structure of a person, which is characterized by abstruse abstract terms, while when "male - female" concerns collision of compromises at psychological level and it is formulated more particularly. Though all problems are connected to the man's protest, for Freud the man's protest became the present stumbling-block in relation to Adler; and this opinion remained with him until the end of his days.
“Creative power is a dynamic concept implying movement, and this movement is the most salient characteristic of life. All psychic life involves movement toward a goal, movement with a direction” (Adler, 1964).
Despite some belittling of concept of "the man's protest", Freud nevertheless silently recognized depth of theoretical thought in Adler’s concepts, having published some of his own concepts serving the same functions.
First Freud thought that Adler’s "man's protest" was based on dialectics of male and female elements; so it was possible to reduce the term simply to his own basic concepts of that time - "libido" and "restraint of promptings". However it appeared that Freud had to develop further the theory to present an alternative to a social order, presented "the man's protest".
Thus, Adler’s concept of the man's protest meant the following: sensation of inferiority because of presence of female signs at present (thesis); purpose for achievement of man's force and superiority in the future (antithesis); aspiration and advancement from to. While achievement of prompting by the subject of satisfaction was a final phase of Freudian dynamics, for Adler the concept "purpose" meant aspiration of the person for self-improvement.
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