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Chapter 6

Chapter 6 Neo-Fredians: Alfred Adler

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PSYC 370
Robert Ley

PSYC 370 – Fall 2012 Book Notes: Chapter 6 – The Neo-Freudians: Alfred Adler Alfred Adler: family-society-culture paradigm :: Sigmund Freud: personality theory - Both founders; provided the core ideas from which their respected disciplines developed and grew Alfred Adler – the first social psychological theorist - Emphasis on the social nature of the human animating the theories of Sullivan, Horney, and Fromm, who followed him - Triad: (1)family, (2)society, (3)culture – he saw the family at the center in personality development Neo-Freudian – defaced but did not destroy the psychoanalytic monument - Rejected instinctual life as the fundamental source of personality and sex as the prime mover Three Critical Assaults to Psychoanalysis 1. In stressing instinctual (very much sexual) life, Freud badly underestimated the significant dynamics of parent-child relationships o He did not grasp the real importance of the family and the parents as socializing agents in the development of the child o Freud was too entirely focused on the processes within the person and just did not give sufficient weight to family and society 2. The role of the ego o A number of analysts found it unacceptable that the hand of instinct (id) must be behind every single act o Intrinsic ego satisfactions – activity carried out for its own sake  Heinz Hartmann suggested that the ego has an independent source of energy, an endowment serving adaptation to the environment, mastery, the development of confidence, and curiosity 3. Concerns Freud’s pessimistic and conservative outlook o Freud was wrong to view human life so darkly Personal History of Alfred Adler - Born in February 1870 in Vienna - His father was a corn merchant, and his family was well-off - He was the second child of six children (4 boys, 2 girls) - At 2: sickly child who suffered from rickets, which makes bones soft - At 5: almost died from pneumonia o The doctor told his father there was no point in caring for him, he had no hope of living o When he got well, he decided to become a doctor so that should he have a better defense against the danger of death and weapons to combat it superior to my doctor’s’ - Did poor in school, especially in mathematics – but conquered his difficulties - University of Vienna for medicine - Work: briefly specialized in ophthalmology, then turned to general practice, and finally psychiatry - Joined the Wednesday (Psychological) Society in 1902, and was made president in 1910 o Adler was forced out for presenting two papers that contradicted core psychoanalytic propositions - World War I: worked as a psychiatrist serving soldiers of the Austrian Army - 1920-1933: 13 years of creativity where he developed Individual Psychology and wrote a number of books Individual Psychology A Conscious Ego - Thought, feeling, and behavior stem not from hidden or inaccessible motives or from unconscious activities of the ego but from conscious processes - Conception of mind that is mainly aware of motives, the meaning of action, and purpose The Individual in Society - Person-society theory – emphasizes that humans, individually, are by their very nature social creatures o Inborn social interest - No one can escape the essential inferiority that arises out of individual helplessness and dependence o Compensate for these feelings of inferiority by striving for superiority, a striving to conquer life’s challenges The family as a social group - i.e. effects of childrearing practices, the unique psychological situation of children in each birth position Organ Inferiority and Compensation - Organ inferiority might be betrayed by frequent illnesses, or a chronic condition such as intestinal distress - Organ inferiority as the underlying basis of neurosis o A weak or dysfunctional organ, especially in an erogenous zone, would compel the person’s attention and become a focus, resulting in neurotic preoccupation Feelings of Inferiority – may be thought of as a drive that promotes striving to overcome incompleteness - They are the cause of all improvements in the position of mankind - Governed by two things – (1) our body and (2) our childhood experience o Our body – our constitutions, the kind of physical beings we are  Developmentally, a bright and active child will compensate for inferiority feelings in ways that are distinct from those of a child less intellectually and physically capable o Our childhood experience – family, family interactions, and the child’s situation within the family as the psychological source of the ways we deal with inferiority feelings - Cooperation, courage, and hope are the true antidotes to becoming mired with inferiority and the striving for goals – neurotic ones – that are impossible to attain - Neurotic goals – reflect an inferiority complex Superiority Striving – superiority is the main goal in life - Adler thought that masculinity = power - Masculine Protest – overcompensating by engaging in behavior when in the position of being or feeling powerless o Might take a variety of forms: rebellion and defiance, extreme submission, failing to try - Superiority means the constant struggle to meet life’s problems and to do one’s part in making life better for everyone Style of Life – the system principle by which the individual personality functions; it is the whole that commands the parts - Each person develops a distinctly individual approach to living and pursuing goals which expresses the unique life approaches of all people - The way in which each person pursues the goals important to him or her, including the overriding goal of superiority - Develops in early childhood, arises out of a child’s physical traits and mental abilities, position in the family, and experience of the parents’ childrearing practices; it is largely set by age 4 or 5 - Can only be attacked by reality and common sense Fictional Finalism – goals/ends that determine one’s actions - Fictional because the goals people strive to achieve are not necessarily realistic or achievable - Subjective beliefs may exercise a strong influence on our actions, and some of them are not infrequently unnecessary and unattainable Experiences, traumata, sexual development mechanisms cannot yield an explanation, but the perspective in which these are regarded the individual way of seeing them, which subordinates all life to the final goal, can do so. Social Interest – the true and inevitable com
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