Personality – Chapter 4 Textbook Notes
Interpsychic Theories – Alfred Adler
➢Shift from intrapsychic (within the psyche) to interpsychic (interpersonal) relations.
➢Human person emerges as a social & cultural creature rather than a sexual & biological one.
➢Adler believed that person must be studied as a whole and that we are motivated by social interest alone;
our primary life problems are social ones.
➢Alfred Adler (1870 -1937)
Childhood: Difficult and unhappy
Came close to death many times; had physical disabilities?
Found strength and happiness in the company of other peers
Founded his own school after split from Freud, and had many others who were by his side
Individual psychology = Adler's term for personality which emphasizes uniqueness within the
Importance of human culture and society
Evidence for this: Lower animals are based on instinctual and innate drives, but human beings
can control them. We put social relations first. This is evident when we refuse innate needs
sometimes for social reasons (refuse food due to a fight with rents)
•The urge in human nature to adapt oneself to the conditions of the social environment.
•It expresses itself subjectively in one's consciousness of having something in common
w/ other pple and of being one of them.
•Does not automatically emerge nor does it find constructive expression
•Must be nurtured & cultivated.
•Adler did not believe that behaviours are all caused by the environment
•He believed that there is motivational force that motivate us to act the way we do (to
fulfill a purpose or goal)
•Adler agreed with Jung on the concept of teleology
•Finalism: The goal that the individual pursues is the decisive factor, it's the concept of
•Guiding goals are mostly fictions
• An individual's or group's interpretations of the events of the world.
•Not exactly false or true or right or wrong; it must be judged on it's usefulness
•May be healthy or unhealthy.
•Acting in a certain way according to the presumed fiction/guiding goal within.
•Striving for Superority
•Goal of superiority: Ultimate fictional finalism for everyone; number one priority.
•Superiority does not mean competition or being better than another person
•It is the desire to competent and effective in whatever one tries to do.
•Term superiority is similar to “perfection”.
•It is human nature to move from the bottom to the top and advance ourselves
•We get the first dose of motivation towards this goal in infancy when we are totally
dependent on other people → Inferiority feelings.
•Maculine protest: The compensation for one's inferiorities.
•Adler eventually viewed women as being equal and that their inferiority was put on
them by culture.
•Style of Life
•Definition: The way in which we acquire superiority: Some do it through intellectual
skills, while others do it through physical strength.
•When does is it develop? Childhood (develops at 5, usually remains constant)
•Constant or dynamic? Remains relatively constant
•Underlying causes of it's development: Inner goal orientation of person w/ fictional
finalisms & forces of env't that affect direction of the person.
•Universality vs. Uniqueness: No 2 pple (not even identical twins) could have the very
same style of life.
•4 primary types of life-styles
•3 mistaken styles
•Ruling type: aggressive, dominating → little social interest/cultural perception
•Getting type: dependent pple who take rather than give
•Avoiding type: try to espcape life's probs & engage in little socially
•Socially-useful type: great deal of social interest and activity.
•Causes of Types:
•Birth order results in different childhood experiences
•Eldest: intellegent, achievement oriented, oriented towards past,
concern over power, etc.
•Second child: surpass first-born in terms of motivation &
achievement, not as concerned with power, always trying to catch
•Last-born: dependent and more sociable, strive for excellence &
•Only children: Similar to older children, mature quick
•Middle: Show a combination of characteristics of the oldest &
•The quality of emotional relationships among members of the
family which assists in determing whether or not the child will react
activey or passively, constructively or destructively in the quest
•Pampering vs. Neglect
•Pampering: Leads to a spoiled child who does not like social order
and does not become a useful member of society and culture
•Neglect: Leads to feelings of inferiority and a failure to find a place
in the social order.
•The Creative Self
•The clim ax of his theories
•What:It establishes, maintains, and pursues the goals of the individual.
•Believed that we make our own personalities and that it's stored in the consciousness;
we are aware of every single thing we do → Complete opposite of Freud.
•Restored consciousness as the center of personality.
•Is due to unrealistic future goals or fictional finalisms that are unattainable
•Setting extremely high standards when one is incapable
•Neurotics choose inappropriate life-styles
•Mistaken Syle of Life: They feel incapable and sometimes act as if they are doomed to
be losers → similar to self-fulfilling prophecy
•Safeguarding Tendencies → ward off feelings of inferiority in a maladaptive fashion
•Overcompensation: an exagerrated effort to cover up a weakness which is more denial
than acceptance of real situation.They tend to overcompensate for a weakness
•Feel highly inadequate and set extremely high goals
•Exagerrate own importance; have overcompensated for feelings of weekness
•Both complexes originate in a person's response to real or imagined feelings
•Aims at restoring the patient's sense of reality, examining & disclosing the errors in goals
and life-style, & cultivating social interest.
•Methods: no strict rules or methods
•Setting: No couch, face-to-face with therapist
•Frequency: Once or twice a week
•Goals: Establish contact and win confidence of patient, point out errors in person's life,
offers advice on how to cultivate skills,
•His work led to child education and rearing practices
•Adler opposed the kind of therapy which overemphasized independence & egocentricity.
ASSESSMENT AND RESEARCH IN ADLER'S THEORY
stemmed from clinical observations
Importance of non-verbal behaviour to point out person's life style.
Adler's theory on birth-order characteristics has been criticized → some believe that income is a
major reason for why this is true.
Adler believed that early memories reflect personality traits
•He does not think that society is the only thing responsible for shaping personality;
forces within the self like drive for superiority and the creative self also assist in shaping
•In the end Adler was a strong advocate of free will and he very optimistic about human
nature, seeing it as flexible and changeable.
•His ideas are incorporated into other theories
•His concept of self-interest is important cross-culturally.
•Adler saw the individual as concerned not only with the world but with the entire world.