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4. Chapter Alfred Adler[*] Corbis/Bettmann Chapter Outline Biographical Sketch Organ Inferiority and Compensation Feelings of Inferiority Vaihingers Philosophy of As If Fictional Goals and Lifestyles Social Interest Mistaken Lifestyles Creative Self Safeguarding Strategies Goal of Psychotherapy Methods of Research Summary of the Differences between Adler and Freud Evaluation Summary Experiential Exercises Discussion Questions Glossary In many ways, Adlers theory of personality is the opposite of Freuds. Freud viewed individuals constantly in conflict with one another and with society, whereas Adler viewed them seeking companionship and harmony. Freud ignored questions concerning lifes meaning and the effects of future aspirations on ones life, whereas Adler made these questions a central part of his theory. Freud saw the mind as consisting of different components often in conflict with one another, whereas Adler viewed the mind as an integrated whole working to help attain the future goals of the person. So by choosing the term individual psychology for his theory, Adler by no means intended to imply that people are selfishly motivated to satisfy their own biological drives. Rather, he meant that although individuals are unique, they are characterized by inner harmony and a striving to cooperate with fellow humans. Adlers 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 shared with the existentialists the belief that humans are future oriented (a belief shared by Jung), free to determine their own fate, and concerned with the meaning of life. Clearly, little similarity exists between Adlers individual psychology and Freuds psychoanalysis. 95 Biographical Sketch Alfred Adler was born in a suburb of Vienna, Austria, on February 7, 1870. His father, Leopold, was a moderately successful grain merchant. Adler grew up under comfortable physical circumstances and was able to enjoy the open spaces, relative freedom from want, and a city (Vienna) that was one of the great cultural centers of Europe. In addition, he was able to share his love of music with his entire family. Despite apparent physical comfort, however, Adler looked on his childhood as miserable. He thought of himself as undersized and ugly. He was the third of seven children and had a major rivalry with his older brother, who apparently was very athletic and a model child. Adlers mother seemed to prefer his older brother to him, but Adler got along very well with his father. Chapter 4 1 Adlers views of himself were not without foundation. He was a sickly child who was unable to walk until he was 4 years old. He suffered from rickets that prevented him from engaging in any strenuous physical activity. One of my earliest recollections is of sitting on a bench bandaged up on account of rickets, with my healthy elder brother sitting opposite me. He could run, jump, and move about quite effortlessly, while for me, movement of any sort was a strain and an effort. Everyone went to great pains to help me and my mother and father did all that was in their power to do. (quoted in Bottome, 1957, pp. 3031) When Adler was 5, he caught pneumonia and almost died. In fact, he heard the doctor say to his parents, Your boy is lost (Orgler, 1963). This illness, the death of a younger brother in a bed next to his when he (Adler) was 3, and being run over twice caused in him an awareness and a fear of death. He decided to become a physician when he grew up, believing that such a profession would provide a means of conquering death. Contrary to what one may think, Adler remained a friendly, sociable child with a genuine love for people (traits he retained all his life). His unhappiness continued in school where he began as a poor student (especially in mathematics). One of his teachers counseled his parents to train him as a shoemaker because he apparently was not qualified for anything else. Eventually, however, Adler became one of the best students in his class. Adlers childhood ambition was realized when he obtained his medical degree from the University of Vienna (Freuds alma mater) in 1895. He first specialized in ophthalmology (diseases of the eye) and later changed to general practice and finally to psychiatry. Two years after his graduation from medical school, he married Raissa Epstein, a rich Russian girl who came to Vienna to study. Raissa was a particularly liberated, domineering woman who was a militant socialist. It is interesting to note that, perhaps under his wifes influence, Adlers first publication came the year after he married Raissa, and it concerned the terrible working conditions of independent tailors and the need for socialized medicine for the poor. Marxism remained an influence in Adlers life and it influenced his theory of personality. From Marx, Adler learned that the social context within which one lives can significantly influence ones personality. Marxs philosophy also supported Adlers deep concern for common people. 96 The Adlers had four children. One daughter (Alexandra) and his only son (Kurt) became psychiatrists and continued their fathers work in individual psychology. Adlers wife died on April 21, 1962, at the age of 89 in New York City. Adler read Freuds book The Interpretation of Dreams and wrote an article defending Freuds theoretical position. On the basis of this defense, Adler was invited by Freud to join the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society in 1902. Adler accepted Freuds invitation, thereby becoming one of Freuds earliest colleagues. Adler became president of the society in 1910, just a year before his official break from the Freudian group. It appears now that joining the group may have been a mistake from the beginning because Adler had little in common with Freud. This incompatibility became increasingly obvious and, in 1911, while he was still president of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society and after a 9year association with Freud, he resigned from the society. The two men never met again. Chapter 4 2 The differences between Adler and Freud that caused this separation were numerous and are reviewed at the end of this chapter, but the following quotation from Freuds biographer, Ernest Jones, lists a few of Adlers beliefs that were contrary to Freuds. Sexual factors, particularly those of childhood, were reduced to a minimum: a boys incestuous desire for intimacy with his mother was interpreted as the male wish to conquer a female masquerading as sexual desire. The concepts of repression, infantile sexuality, and even that of the unconscious itself were discarded so little was left of psychoanalysis. (1955, p. 131) Freud characteristically had a low tolerance for defectors, and he remained hostile to Adler all his life. Adler was the pigmy in Freuds statement, I made a pigmy great (Wittels, 1924, p. 225). Adler said of Freuds theory that it was founded on the mythology of sex and that psychoanalysis was stimulated by the selfishness of a pampered child. Freud, who could not understand the grief a friend was suffering over the death of Adler, said, I dont understand your sympathy for Adler. For a Jewish boy out of a Viennese suburb a death in Aberdeen is an unheard of career in itself and a proof of how far he had got on. The world really rewarded him richly for his service in having contradicted psychoanalysis (quoted in Jones, 1957, p. 208). Fiebert (1997) provides interesting details concerning Adlers initial professional involvement with Freud, the sources of dissension between Adler and Freud, and the nature of the relationship between the two following Adlers excommunication. After breaking with the Freudians, Adler and his followers formed a group first called the Society of Free Psychoanalytic Research to express their contempt for the restrictive nature of the Freudian organization. However, they soon changed their name to Society for Individual Psychology because they did not want to be perceived as simply rebels against psychoanalysis. Because the term individual psychology can be easily misunderstood, the next section in this chapter clarifies its meaning. Adler served as a physician in the Austrian Army during World War I and, following his release, he was asked by the government to open several child-guidance clinics in Vienna. This was one of Adlers early efforts to apply his theory to the problems of childrearing, education, and other everyday problems. Many of his books, articles, and lectures (of which there were hundreds) were directed either toward teachers or toward the general public. Adlers fame quickly spread and, in Vienna, he was surrounded by many students, friends, and admirers. Freud, disturbed by all this, proclaimed (incorrectly) that Adlers theory was actually nothing but psychoanalytic knowledge that Adler had labeled his own by changing its terminology. 97 In 1926, Adler first visited the United States and was warmly received by educators. In 1927, he was appointed lecturer at Columbia University, and in 1932 he became a professor of medical psychology at the Long Island College of Medicine in New York. In 1935, partially because of the Nazi takeover in Europe, Adler made the United States his permanent home. He died of a heart attack on May 28, 1937, in Aberdeen, Scotland, while on a lecture tour there. One peak in the popularity of Adlerian psychology was in 1930 when 2,000 people attended the fifth International Congress of Individual Psychology in Berlin (Ansbacher, 1983). Another peak is more recent. According to Ansbacher: Chapter 4 3 The Adlerian movement today numbers several thousand members in the United States, Canada, and European countries, especially Germany. It is composed of psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, counselors, and educators, as well as lay people who accept the theory and apply the method of Adlerian psychology to family life and personal development. (1983, p. 76) Adlers theory continues to be promoted today by the American Journal of Individual Psychology and by the American Society of Individual Psychology. Heinz and Rowena Ansbacher summarized many of Adlers ideas in two volumes (1956, 1979). Adler was a strong believer in bringing his ideas to nonprofessionals, a task perpetuated by Rudolf Dreikurs (1957, 1964). Organ Inferiority and Compensation In 1907, Adler published his now famous essay entitled Study of Organ Inferiority and Its Physical Compensation. In this essay, Adler put forth the idea that people are especially vulnerable to disease in organs that are less developed or inferior to other organs. For example, some persons are born with weak eyes, others with weak stomachs, others with weak hearts, and still others with damaged limbs. These biological deficiencies cause problems in the persons life because of the stresses put on them by the environment. These organic weaknesses inhibit the person from functioning normally and, therefore, must be dealt with in some way. Because the body acts as an integrated unit, a person can compensate for a weakness either by concentrating on its development or by emphasizing other functions that make up for the weakness. For example, someone with a frail body may work hard to overcome this frailty. Likewise, a blind person may concentrate on developing auditory skills. In both cases, a biological weakness is compensated. In some cases, a person may overcompensate by converting a biological weakness into a strength. Two examples are Teddy Roosevelt, who was an extremely frail child, becoming a hardy outdoorsman, and Demosthenes, who overcame a speech impediment to become a great orator. At this early stage in the development of his theory, Adler emphasized biological inferiority, compensation, and overcompensation. 98 Feelings of Inferiority In 1910, Adler shifted his emphasis from actual organ inferiority to subjective inferiority, also called feelings of inferiority. Now compensation or overcompensation was directed toward either real or imagined inferiorities. At this point in his theorizing, Adler left the biological sciences and entered psychology. Anything that caused inferiority feelings was worthy of study. Adler pointed out that all humans start life with feelings of inferiority because we are completely dependent on adults for survival. Children feel completely helpless compared to the powerful adults on whom they depend. This feeling of being weak, impotent, and inferior stimulates in the child an intense desire to seek power, thereby overcoming feelings of inferiority. At this point in the evolution of Adlers theory, he stressed aggression and power as a means of overcoming feelings of inferiority. Unfortunately, but mainly because of cultural conditions at the time that Adler was writing, he equated power and strength with masculinity and inferiority with femininity: Any form of uninhibited aggression, activity, potency, power, and the traits of being brave, free, rich, aggressive or sadistic can be considered masculine. All inhibitions and deficiencies, as Chapter 4 4 well as cowardliness, obedience, poverty, and similar traits, can be considered as feminine. (1956b, p. 47) According to Adler, every person has feelings of weakness (femininity) and an impulse to become strong (masculinity) and, in that sense, all humans are bisexual. For Adler, however, bisexuality was primarily psychological whereas for Freud it was primarily biological. That is, Adler did not believe that anatomy is destiny; rather, he believed that attitudes toward ones self and toward others are destiny. In any case, at this stage in Adlers theorizing, to become more powerful meant to become more masculine and, consequently, less feminine. He referred to this striving to become more masculine as the masculine protest. Because both men and women seek to become powerful enough to overcome inferiority feelings, both attempt to approximate the cultural ideal of masculinity. In other words, both men and women engage in the masculine protest. Adler believed, however, that the cultural overvaluation of masculinity over femininity was not positive for either men or women: What I have said concerning the hatreds and jealousies between nations and groups also holds good of the bitter struggle between the sexes, a struggle that is poisoning love and marriage and is ever born anew out of the inferior valuation of woman. The idealized picture of overestimated masculinity imposes both on the boy and the grown-up man the obligation of appearing, if not being, superior to woman. This causes him to distrust himself, to exaggerate his demands on life and his expectations from it, and increases his sense of insecurity. On the other hand, a girl feels that she is valued less than a boy, and this may stimulate her either to exaggerated efforts to make up for her inadequacy and to fight real or apparent depreciation on all sides, or else may cause her to resign herself to her supposed inferiority. (1956c, p. 452) 99 The masculine protest occurs in any culture where power is associated with males and weakness with females. In any culture where females are perceived as powerful, the situation is reversed and there is a feminine protest. For Adler, then, sexuality was important because of what it symbolized within a culture rather than because of biological gender differences. Feelings of Inferiority as Motivational Are feelings of inferiority bad? No, said Adler. In fact, being human means feeling inferior. It is a condition common to all humans and, therefore, is not a sign of weakness or abnormality. In fact, such feelings are the primary motivating force behind all personal accomplishments. One feels inferior and is therefore driven to accomplish something. A short-lived feeling of success exists after such an accomplishment but in light of the accomplishments of others, one again feels inferior and again is motivated to accomplish more, and on it goes without end. However, even though feelings of inferiority act as a stimulus for all positive growth, they also can create neurosis. A person can become overwhelmed by feelings of inferiority at which point he or she is prevented from accomplishing anything. Under these circumstances, feelings of inferiority act as a barrier rather than as a stimulus for positive accomplishment. Such a person is said to have an inferiority complex. According to Adler, all humans experience the feeling of being inferior but in some it stimulates neurosis and in others it creates a need to succeed. We have something to say about what makes the difference later in this chapter. Striving for Superiority Chapter 4 5 Adler modified his theoretical position to state that it is not more aggression, power, or masculinity that we seek but superiority or perfection. Adler now referred to striving for superiority as the fundamental fact of life. Adlers theory had evolved from the point at which it emphasized compensation for organ inferiority, to that at which subjective inferiority was compensated through aggression and power, to that at which the fundamental fact of life is that all humans strive for superiority-perfection. What is the origin of this striving for perfection? According to Adler, it is innate to all humans: It runs parallel to physical growth. It is an intrinsic necessity of life itself. . . . All our functions follow its direction; rightly or wrongly they strive for conquest, surety, increase. The impetus from minus to plus is never-ending. The urge from below to above never ceases. Whatever premises all our philosophers and psychologists dream ofself-preservation, pleasure principle, equalizationall these are but vague representations, attempts to express the great upward drive . . . a fundamental category of thought, the structure of our reason . . . the fundamental fact of our life. (1930b, pp. 398399) In his final theoretical position, Adler retained striving for superiority as the master motive but he changed from striving for individual superiority to striving for a superior or perfect society. As we have seen, Adler believed that feelings of inferiority could result in positive growth or in an inferiority complex. Adler also believed that striving for superiority could be beneficial or harmful. If a person concentrates exclusively on his or her own superiority while ignoring the needs of others and of society, he or she may develop a superiority complex. A person with a superiority complex tends to be domineering, vain, boastful, arrogant, and depreciative of others. According to Adler, such a person lacks social interest (discussed in a later section) and is, indeed, undesirable. 100 Vaihingers Philosophy of As If In 1911, Hans Vaihinger (18521933) published The Philosophy of As If: A System of the Theoretical, Practical and Religious Fictions of Mankind. Vaihingers major premises were: (1) We can only be certain of sensations, that is, the subjective conscious elements provided by sensory stimulation and the relationships among them because we experience the physical world only indirectly through sensations; and (2) in order to make sense of our sensations we invent terms, concepts, and theories that give them meaning. According to Vaihinger, such inventions or fictions make all of civilized life possible. Thus, although the fictions by which humans live are figments of the imagination, they have great practical value: The principle of fictionalism is as follows: An idea whose theoretical untruth or incorrectness, and therefore its falsity, is admitted, is not for that reason practically valueless and useless; for such an idea, in spite of its theoretical nullity may have great practical importance. (Vaihinger, 1952, p. viii) Although it is true that conscious experience consists only of sensations, there is an innate tendency to assign meaning to those sensations: Just as [the clam] when a grain of sand gets beneath its shining surface, covers it over with a selfproduced mass of mother-of-pearl, in order to change the insignificant grain into a brilliant pearl, so, only still more delicately, the psyche, when stimulated, transforms the material of sensation which it absorbs into shining pearls of thought. (Vaihinger, 1952, p. 7) What are these fictions invented by the imagination? According to Vaihinger (1952), they include all laws, generalizations, abstractions, models, theories, typologies, concepts, ideals, symbols, ideas, and Chapter 4 6 even words. Vaihinger claimed that most communication among humans would be impossible without the use of fictions: Most of the phrases of social intercourse are fictions, but [they are] necessary fictions, without which the more refined types of social intercourse would be impossible (p. 83). By now it should be clear that for Vaihinger the term fiction is not derogatory; it refers to an expedient invention. Science would be impossible without such fictions as matter (e.g., atoms) and causality; mathematics would be impossible without such fictions as zero, perfect lines and geometric forms, imaginary numbers, and the concepts of infinity and the infinitesimal. Concepts of morality and jurisprudence would be impossible without the fictions of freedom and responsibility. Religion would be impossible without such fictions as gods or God, immortality, and reincarnation. 101 It is not possible to further summarize Vaihingers philosophy here. Suffice it to say that he believed all discourse concerning so-called objective reality must necessarily employ fictions and the only criterion by which fictions can be judged is their fertility or practical value: Fictions have only a practical purpose and all the systems built up on elementary fictions are only more subtle and more elaborate fictions, to which no theoretical value must ever be attributed and which possess all the characteristics that we have so far always found in fictions. Theoretically they are valueless but practically they are important. (Vaihinger, 1952, p. 178) Fictional Goals and Lifestyles Adler embraced Vaihingers philosophy enthusiastically and made it an important part of his theory. However, whereas Vaihinger was primarily interested in demonstrating how the use of fictions in science, mathematics, religion, philosophy, and jurisprudence made complex societal life possible, Adler applied the idea of fiction to the lives of individuals. From the interpretation of early experience, various worldviews can result. For example, the world can be perceived as an evil or dangerous place to be avoided, or as a pleasant or loving place to be embraced. It is important to emphasize that for Adler subjective reality was more important than physical reality. That is, it is the childs perception of the major events in his or her life that determines his or her worldview, not actual reality. If the child perceives the world to be a harsh, unpredictable place, he or she will adjust by creating life goals that incorporate those facts. If the child perceives the world as a warm, loving, predictable place, then those perceptions will be important in his or her adjustments to life. Because the important early experiences that mold a childs personality are those most vividly remembered through the years, they are the ones most likely to be reported as the persons earliest recollections. It was for this reason that Adler believed that ones earliest memories provide important information about ones life goals and ones lifestyle. We have more to say about the importance of first memories later in this chapter. Coupled with feelings of inferiority, a childs worldview will determine his or her final goal, or fictional finalism, and his or her lifestyle. If a negative worldview develops, the child will believe that he or she must do battle with the world or escape from it in order to gain superiority. Here the goal will be to dominate, to defeat, to destroy, or to withdraw. If a positive worldview develops, the child will believe that he or she must participate in the world in order to gain superiority. Here the goal will be to join in, to create, to love, or to cooperate. Either type of worldview can manifest itself in a number of lifestyles. In turn, these lifestyles can manifest themselves in a number of professions. For example, a person with a negative worldview may become a ruthless businessperson or politician, a criminal, a hermit, or a domineering parent, teacher, or spouse. A person with a positive worldview may become a loving parent, spouse, teacher, physician, social worker, artist, writer, philosopher, theologian, or a politician whose goal is to improve the human condition. Chapter 4 7 102 The concept of fictional finalism, which Adler later called a guiding self-ideal, or simply a guiding fiction, gave Adlers theory a strong teleological (future- oriented) component but it did not ignore the past altogether. Now we can view the person as pushed by feelings of inferiority or imperfection toward perfection using his or her unique lifestyle as a means of attaining some future goal. Adler emphasized that these future goals or ideals are convenient fictions invented to make life more significant than it otherwise would be. Healthy people, according to Adler, change fictions when circumstances warrant it. Neurotic persons, conversely, cling to their fictions at all costs. In other words, according to Adler, healthy individuals use fictional goals or ideals as tools in dealing with life. Life is unbearable without meaning so they invent meaning. Life is chaotic without a plan for living so healthy persons invent such a plan. For healthy persons, such goals, ideals, or plans are means of living a more effective, constructive life. For the neurotic, the idea that these are only tools is lost. The goals, ideals, or plans become ends in themselves, rather than means to an end. As such, they are retained even when they have become ineffective in dealing with reality. Thus, for Adler, an important difference between the healthy person and the neurotic is the ease with which fictional tools can be dispensed if circumstances warrant it. The healthy or normal person seldom loses sight of reality whereas for neurotic persons the fictional life plan becomes reality. Adler (1956a) explained: More firmly than the normal individual does the neurotic fixate his God, his idol, his personality ideal, and cling to his guiding line, and with deeper purpose he loses sight of reality. The normal person, on the other hand, is always ready to dispense with this aid, this crutch. In this instance, the neurotic resembles a person who looks up to God, commends himself to the Lord, and then waits credulously for His guidance; the neurotic is nailed to the cross of his fiction. The normal individual, too, can and will create his deity, will feel drawn upward. But he will never lose sight of reality, and always takes it into account as soon as action and work are demanded. The neurotic is under the hypnotic spell of a fictional life plan. (pp. 246247 emphasis added) We are reminded once again why Adlers theory is called individual psychology. The individual invents a worldview and derives a final goal or guiding self-ideal from that worldview. The individual then invents a lifestyle as a means of achieving that goal. All of this invention implies a great deal of personal freedom, an implication we explore further when we discuss the creative self later in this chapter. Social Interest Adlers earlier theory had been criticized because it portrayed humans as selfishly motivated to strive for personal superiority. With his concept of social interest, Adler put such criticism to rest. Social interest was, according to Adler, an innate need of all humans to live in harmony and friendship with others and to aspire toward the development of the perfect society. As we have seen, the attainment of the perfect society replaced perfection of the individual as the primary motive in Adlers theory. A well-developed social interest relates to almost all aspects of ones life: 103 It is almost impossible to exaggerate the value of an increase in social feeling. The mind improves, for intelligence is a communal function. The feeling of worth and value is heightened, giving courage and an optimistic view, and there is a sense of acquiescence in the common advantages and drawbacks of our lot. The individual feels at home in life and feels his existence to be worthwhile just as far as he is useful to others and is overcoming common, instead of private, feelings of inferiority. Not only the ethical nature, but the right attitude in aesthetics, the best understanding of the beautiful and the ugly, will always be founded upon the truest social feeling. (Adler, 1956c, p. 155) Chapter 4 8 However, what a person inherits, according to Adler, is the potential for social interest. If that potential is not realized, the person will live a most unfortunate life. Simply put, those without a well-developed social interest are neurotic or worse than neurotic. In all human failure, in the waywardness of children, in neurosis and neuropsychosis, in crime, suicide, alcoholism, morphinism, cocainism, in sexual perversion, in fact in all nervous symptoms, we may read lack of proper degree of social feeling (Adler, 1930b, p. 401). According to Adler, each individual must solve three major problems in life, all of which require a well-developed social interest: (1) occupational tasksthrough constructive work the person helps to advance society; (2) societal tasksthis requires cooperation with fellow humans. Adler said, It was only because man learned to cooperate that the great discovery of the division of labor was made, a discovery which is the chief security for the welfare of mankind (1964b, p. 132); (3) love and marriage tasksthe relationship between this task and the continuance of society is clear. Adler said, On his approach to the other sex and on the fulfillment of his sexual role depends his part in the continuance of mankind (1956c, p. 132). What determines whether a person will have a well-developed social interest or not? Primarily the mother. According to Adler, the first major social situation the child encounters is in relation to the mother. The motherchild relationship acts as a model for subsequent social relationships. If the mother maintains a positive, cooperative atmosphere, the child will tend to develop social interest. If, however, the mother binds the child exclusively to herself, the child will learn to exclude other people from his or her life and will develop low social interest. For Adler, it is the nature of the mothers early interactions with her child that primarily determines whether or not the child will have a healthy, open attitude toward other people. In the final version of Adlers theory, a persons fictional goal and lifestyle must take the improvement of society into consideration. If they do not, the person will be neurotic. For Adler, then, social interest was the index of normality. Mistaken Lifestyles Any lifestyle that is not aimed at socially useful goals is a mistaken lifestyle. We already have encountered two examples, the person who seeks personal superiority (superiority complex) and the person who is so overwhelmed by feelings of inferiority so as to accomplish nothing (inferiority complex). Both individuals lack social interest and, therefore, their lifestyles are mistaken or incorrect. 104 Adler delineated four types of people who were labeled according to their degree of social interest. The four types of people are: (1) the ruling-dominant type who attempts to dominate or rule people; (2) the getting-leaning type who expects everything from others and gets everything he or she can from them; (3) the avoiding type who succeeds in life by avoiding problems (such a person avoids failure by never attempting anything); and (4) the socially useful type who confronts problems and attempts to solve them in a socially useful way. The first three types have faulty or mistaken lifestyles because they lack proper social interest. Only the socially useful type can hope to live a rich, purposeful life. Where do faulty lifestyles originate? Adler said they begin in childhood at the same time that a healthy lifestyle originates. Adler described three childhood conditions that tend to create a faulty lifestyle. Chapter 4 9 The first is physical inferiority that can stimulate compensation or overcompensation, which is healthy, or can result in an inferiority complex, which is unhealthy. The second is spoiling or pampering that makes a child believe it is up to others to satisfy his or her every need. Such a child is the center of attention and grows up to be selfish with little, if any, social interest. Neglecting, the third condition, causes the child to feel worthless and angry and to look on everyone with distrust. Adler considered pampering as the most serious of parental errors: The most frequent difficulty is that the mother excuses the child from giving her any help or cooperation; heaps caresses and affection on him; and constantly acts, thinks and speaks for him, curtailing every possibility of development. Thus she pampers the child and accustoms him to an imaginary world which is not ours and in which everything is done for the child by others. (1956c, pp. 373374) Adler elaborated on how pampered children (and adults) view the world: The pampered child is trained to expect that his wishes will be treated as laws. . . . When he comes into circumstances where he is not the center of attention and where other people do not make it their chief aim to consider his feelings, he will be very much at a loss: he will feel that his world has failed him. He has been trained to expect and not to give. . . . When he has difficulties before him, he has only one method of meeting themto make demands on other people. . . . Grown-up pampered children are perhaps the most dangerous class in our community. (1958, p. 16) According to Adler, pampering creates the Oedipus complex. We could probably induce an [Oedipus] complex in any child. All we would need is for its mother to spoil it, and refuse to spread its interest to other people, and for its father to be comparatively indifferent or cold (1958, p. 54). It is interesting to note that Adler viewed Freuds theory of personality as the creation of a pampered child: And, indeed, if we look closely we shall find that the Freudian theory is the consistent psychology of the pampered child, who feels that his instincts must never be denied, who looks on it as unfair that other people should exist, who asks always, Why should I love my neighbor? Does my neighbor love me? (Adler, 1958, p. 97) The opposite of pampering is neglect, and it too gives the child an erroneous worldview. In the case of neglect, the child develops the impression that the world is a cold and unsympathetic place, and it is on this worldview that the child formulates his or her lifes goal and lifestyle. According to Adler (1958), the neglected child 105 has never known what love and cooperation can be: he makes up an interpretation of life which does not include these friendly forces. . . . He will overrate [the difficulties of life] and will underrate his own capacity to meet them . . . [and] will not see that he can win affection and esteem by actions which are useful to others. (p. 17) Family experiences other than pampering and neglect can lead children to have distorted worldviews and, therefore, faulty lifestyles. According to Adler, other negative family experiences include failure to express a normal amount of tenderness or to consider sentimentality as ridiculous; excessive use of punishment, especially corporal punishment; establishment of standards of goals that are unattainable; excessive criticism of other people; and considering one parent superior to the other. Chapter 4 10 It is important to remember when considering the factors that may lead to a mistaken lifestyle that it is the childs perceptions that determine his or her personality, not reality. A pampered child who feels neglected will develop the worldview of a neglected child and vice versa. Adler said, It is not the childs experiences which dictate his actions; it is the conclusions which he draws from his experiences (1958, p. 123). Creative Self Hall and Lindzey called Adlers concept of the creative self his crowning achievement as a personality theorist. They went on to say, Here at last was the prime mover, the philosophers stone, the elixir of life, the first cause of everything human for which Adler had been searching (1978, pp. 165166). With his concept of the creative self, Adler stated that humans are not simply passive recipients of environmental or genetic influences. Rather, each person is free to act on these influences and combine them as he or she wishes. Thus no two people are ever the same even if the ingredients of their personalities are similar. We saw earlier that some persons with physical inferiorities compensate and become socially useful. Others develop an inferiority complex and accomplish nothing. To Adler, the difference is largely a matter of choice. According to Adler, heredity and environment provide a person only the bricks which he uses in his own creative way in building up his attitude toward life. It is his individual way of using these bricksor in other words, it is his attitude toward lifewhich determines his relationship to the outside world (1956d, p. 206). Elsewhere, Adler said: We concede that every child is born with potentialities different from those of any other child. Our objection to the teachings of the hereditarians and every other tendency to overstress the significance of constitutional disposition, is that the important thing is not what one is born with, but what use one makes of that equipment. . . . As to the influence of the environment, who can say that the same environmental influences are apprehended, worked over, digested, and responded to by any two individuals in the same way? To understand this fact we find it necessary to assume the existence of still another force: the creative power of the individual. (1979, pp. 8687) 106 For Adler, then, personality is essentially self-created. People assign meaning to their lives according to their perceptions of the world, themselves, and others. This is essentially an existential viewpoint. Safeguarding Strategies All neurotics have in common a self-centeredness, a concern with their own sense of security and superiority. That is, they lack social interest. According to Adler, neurotics know (or feel) that their goal of personal perfection is a mistaken one and may be exposed. Such public exposure would heighten the neurotics already intense feelings of inferiority. Adler believed that neurotics use safeguarding strategies to protect what little self-esteem and illusions of superiority a mistaken lifestyle can generate. The feelings of self-esteem and superiority experienced by healthy persons are real because they are based on social interest and, therefore, they do not need to be supported by deceptive strategies. Adlers safeguarding strategies are similar to Freuds ego-defense mechanisms except, unlike ego- defense mechanisms, safeguarding strategies are used only by neurotics, can operate either on the conscious or unconscious levels, and protect persons from outside threats and the problems of life. Adler discussed three categories of safeguarding strategies: excuses, aggression, and distancing. Chapter 4 11 Excuses The neurotic develops symptoms and uses them as excuses for his or her shortcomings: The patient . . . selects certain symptoms and develops them until they impress him . . . as real obstacles. Behind his barricade of symptoms the patient feels hidden and secure. To the question, What use are you making of your talents? he answers, This thing stops me; I cannot go ahead, and points to his self-erected barricade. We must never neglect the patients own use of his symptoms. . . . The patient declares that he is unable to solve his task on account of the symptoms, and only on account of these. He expects from the others the solution of his problems, or the excuse from all demands, or, at least, the granting of extenuating circumstances. (Adler, 1956c, pp. 265266) This safeguarding strategy consists of the yes, but . . . and if only excuses that protect a weak sense of worth and deceive neurotics, and those around them, into believing they are more worthy than they really are. Freud too was well aware that patients often use their symptoms to gain attention and to rationalize ineffective behavior. Freud referred to these benefits of illness as pleasurable secondary gains. 107 Aggression According to Adler, neurotics may also use aggression to protect their exaggerated sense of superiority and self-esteem. Neurotic aggression can take three forms: depreciation, accusation, and self-accusation. Depreciation is the tendency to overvalue ones own accomplishments and to undervalue the accomplishments of others. There are two common types of depreciation. The first is idealization or the use of standards so high in judging people that no real person could possibly live up to those standards; thus real people will be depreciated. Adler (1956c) gave the following examples of idealization: A short girl prefers tall men; or a girl falls in love only when the parents have forbidden it, while treating the attainable [partner] with open disdain and hostility. In the conversation and thoughts of such girls the limiting word only always crops up. They want only an educated man, only a rich man, only a real he-man, only platonic love, only a childless marriage, only a man who will grant his wife complete freedom. Here one sees the depreciation tendency so strongly at work that, in the end, hardly a man is left who would satisfy their requirements. Usually they have a ready-made, often unconscious, ideal to which traits of the father, a brother, a fairy-tale hero, a literary or historical character are admired. The more we become familiar with these ideals, the greater becomes our conviction that they have been posited as a fictional measure by which to depreciate reality. (p. 268) A second type of depreciation is solicitude that is exemplified when neurotics act as if other people are incapable of caring for themselves. Using this strategy, neurotics constantly offer advice, demonstrate concern, and generally treat other people as children. Neurotics thereby safeguard their vulnerable feelings of self- esteem by convincing themselves that other people could not get along without them. The second type of neurotic aggression discussed by Adler was accusation, or the neurotics tendency to blame others for his or her shortcomings and to seek revenge against them. Adler believed that an element of revenge exists in all neuroses and that neurotic symptoms are often designed to make others suffer. Adler (1956c) said: Chapter 4 12 In the investigation of a neurotic style of life we must always suspect an opponent, and note who suffers most because of the patients condition. Usually this is a member of the family. There always is this element of concealed accusation in neurosis, the patient feeling as though he were deprived of his right that is, of the center of attentionand wanting to fix the responsibility and blame upon someone. (p. 270) Thus, according to Adler, a major goal of neurotics is to make those thought to be responsible for their misfortunes suffer more than they do. The third type of neurotic aggression discussed by Adler is self-accusation, which involves cursing oneself, reproaching oneself, self-torture, and suicide. This may seem strange, until we realize that the whole arrangement of the neurosis follows the trait of self-torture, that the neurosis is a self-torturing device for the purpose of enhancing the self and depreciating the immediate environment. And indeed the first stirrings of the aggression drive directed against ones own person originate from a situation in which the child wants to hurt the parents or wants to attract their attention more effectively. (1956c, p. 271) 108 Thus, in injuring themselves, neurotics really attempt to hurt or at least get the attention of other people. Also, guilt-inspired confessions are often used to inflict misery on other people. Adler gives the example of a domineering woman who confessed to her husband that she had deceived him with another man 25 years before. She accused herself of being unworthy and attributed the confession to guilt. Adler asked, Who is so simple as to think that [this] is a case of the majesty of the truth vindicating itself after a quarter of a century? (1956c, p. 272). According to Adler, the facts of the case show that the woman was attempting to hurt her husband by her confession and self-accusation because he no longer obeyed her. Distancing According to Adler, neurotics often escape from lifes problems by distancing themselves from them. Adler discussed several ways in which neurotics do this: moving backward, standing still, hesitating, constructing obstacles, experiencing anxiety, and using the exclusion tendency. Moving backward involves safeguarding a faulty lifestyle by reverting to a more secure, less complicated time of life. This form of distancing often involves the use of disorders such as attempted suicide, fainting, migraines, refusal to take food, alcoholism, and crime to obtain the attention of others, to gain some control over them, and to avoid social responsibility. About standing still Adler (1956c) said, It is as if a witches circle had been drawn around the patient, which prevents him from moving closer toward the reality of life, from facing the truth, from taking a stand, from permitting a test or a decision regarding his value (p. 274). The disorders that Adler thought facilitate standing still include insomnia (with subsequent incapacity for work), a weak memory, masturbation, and impotence. Hesitating involves vacillating when faced with difficult problems. Adler believed most compulsions serve the purpose of occupying the neurotic long enough so that he or she is finally able to say, Its too late now. Adler gave the following examples: Washing compulsion, . . . coming too late, retracing ones steps, destroying work begun . . . or always leaving something unfinished are found very often. Equally often one sees that the patient, under an irresistible compulsion toward some unimportant activity or amusement, delays a piece of work or a decision until it is too late. (p. 275) Chapter 4 13 Constructing obstacles creates distance that might be successfully overcome, whereas other forms of distancing remove the neurotic from the problems of life. According to Adler, neurotics can create relatively minor obstacles in their lives through such things as mild anxiety, certain compulsions, fatigue, sleeplessness, constipation, stomach and intestinal disorders, and headaches. These and other types of obstacles create a no-lose situation for the neurotic: The patients self-esteem is protected in his own judgment, and usually also his prestige in the estimation of others. If [he is unsuccessful] he can refer to his difficulties and to the proof of his illness which he has himself constructed. If he [is] victorious, what could he not have done if he were well, when, as a sick man, he achieved so muchone-handed so to speak! (1956c, p. 276) 109 Experiencing anxiety amplifies all of the distancing strategies. Neurotics are often fearful of undertakings such as leaving home, separating from a friend, applying for a job, or developing opportunities for relationships with members of the opposite sex. Insofar as these and other experiences cause anxiety, neurotics will attempt to distance themselves from them. The greater the amount of anxiety, the greater the distance sought. Using the exclusion tendency to avoid lifes problems, the neurotic lives within narrow limits. He tries to keep at a distance the real confronting problems of life and confines himself to circumstances in which he feels able to dominate. In this way he builds for himself a narrow stable, closes the door, and spends his life away from the wind, the sunlight, and the fresh air (Adler, 1956c, p. 278). Living in a narrow stable would include being habitually unemployed as an adult, indefinitely postponing marriage, doing poorly in school, and maintaining close social ties only with ones family members. The various types of safeguarding strategies are summarized in Figure 4-1. Figure 4-1. Safeguarding Strategies A summary of the various strategies used by neurotics to protect their fragile and false sense of superiority and self-esteem. Excuses Aggression Depreciation Idealization Solicitude Accusation Self-accusation Distancing Moving backward Standing still Constructing obstacles Experiencing anxiety Hesitating Using the exclusion tendency Goal of Psychotherapy Healthy persons have a well-developed social interest; unhealthy persons do not. Those with faulty lifestyles, however, are likely to continue having them because lifestyles tend to be self-perpetuating. As we saw earlier, a lifestyle focuses a person on one way of looking at things, and this mode of perception persists unless the person runs into major problems or is made to understand his or her lifestyle through education or psychotherapy: Individual psychology considers the essence of therapy to lie in making the patient aware of his lack of cooperative power, and to convince him of the origin of this lack in early childhood maladjustments. What passes during this process is no small matter; his power of cooperation is enhanced by collaboration with the doctor. His inferiority complex is revealed as erroneous. Courage and Chapter 4 14 optimism are awakened. And the meaning of life dawns upon him as the fact that proper meaning must be given to life. (Adler, 1930b, pp. 403404) By using an analysis of birth order, first memories, dreams, and mannerisms (all discussed shortly), Adlerians trace the development and manifestation of a mistaken lifestyle, one that necessitates therapy because it is ineffective in dealing with lifes problems. The patient, with the therapists help, seeks a new lifestyle that contains social interest and therefore will be more functional. 110 The Adlerian approach to therapy avoided criticism, blame, punishment, and an authoritarian atmosphere because these things typically amplified the patients already strong feelings of inferiority. The therapist sits face to face with the patient and is informal and good humored. Patients are not allowed to use their neuroses, however, to gain the sympathy of the therapist as they once may have done with their parents or other persons. Although the therapist avoids pampering, he or she also avoids the opposite error of neglect. The Adlerian therapist believes that any insights gained should be explained with such clarity that they will be understood and accepted by the patient both intellectually and emotionally. The Adlerian therapist expects to see some improvement in the patient in about 3 months (with sessions once or twice a week) and considers it rare if the entire therapeutic process takes more than a year. Adler was always interested in common people and a high percentage of his clientele were from the lower and middle classes, a rarity among psychiatrists of his time. Also extremely unusual was the fact that Adler worked directly with children. Adler typically treated children in the natural setting of their homes and insisted that their parents participate in the therapeutic process. As a result of his approach to treating children, Adler is considered one of the founders of group and family psychotherapy. Also, Adler insisted on treating problem children in front of a public audience in mental health clinics to help the child realize that his or her difficulty is a community problem. As innovative and effective as Adlerian psychotherapy is, Adler always insisted that the prevention of disorders through proper childrearing and education was far easier and less costly than treating disorders later with psychotherapy. Adlers View of the Unconscious With his concept of the creative self, Adler denied the very foundation of Freudian psychoanalysis, that is, the importance of repressed traumatic experiences. Adler said, We do not suffer the shock of [traumatic experiences] we make out of them just what suits our purposes (1958, p. 14). As we have seen, once a worldview, a guiding fiction, and a lifestyle are formulated by an individual, all experiences are interpreted relative to them. Experiences compatible with a persons personality can be consciously pondered; those experiences incompatible are simply not understood. Thus, for Adler, compatibility with ones personality determined the difference between conscious and unconscious experience. If a persons personality changes, as is hoped will happen in therapy, many experiences previously not understood become understandable. We can only be aware of those experiences that make sense to us; all others are simply incomprehensible. We see in Chapter 13 that George Kelly explained the unconscious in essentially the same way as Adler did. Methods of Research Chapter 4 15 Adler referred to birth order, first memories, and dreams as the three entrance gates to mental life, and he studied them extensively to discover the origins of a persons worldview, life goal, and lifestyle. 111 Birth Order Adler contended that each child is treated differently within a family depending on the childs birth order and this differential treatment influences the childs worldview and thus his or her choice of a lifes goal and lifestyle. Above all, said Adler, we must rid ourselves of the superstition that the situation within the family is the same for each individual child (1964b, p. 229). Adler concentrated his research on the first-born, secondborn, youngest, and the only child. The firstborn child is the focus of attention until the next child is born, at which time he or she is dethroned. According to Adler, the loss caused by the birth of a sibling is deeply felt by the first-born, because now the attention of the mother and father must be shared with a rival. Adler said, Sometimes a child who has lost his power, the small kingdom he ruled, understands better than others the importance of power and authority (1956c, pp. 378379). The age of the first-born when the second child is born can make a substantial difference, however. If the first-born is old enough to have already developed a lifestyle and if that lifestyle is a cooperative one, then the first-born may develop a cooperative attitude toward the new sibling. If not, the resentment toward the new sibling may last a lifetime. The second-born child has to be extremely ambitious because he or she is constantly attempting to catch up and surpass the older sibling. Of all the birth orders, Adler thought the second-born was the most fortunate. According to Adler, the second-born child behaves as if in a race, as if someone were a step or two in front, and he or she must rush to get ahead. Second-borns, Adler said, are rarely able to endure the strict leadership of others (1956c, p. 380). The youngest child is, according to Adler, in the second worst position after the first-born. Adler stated that the reason for this generally lies in the way in which all the family spoils him. A spoiled child can never be independent. He loses courage to succeed by his own effort. Youngest children are always ambitious; but the most ambitious children of all are the lazy children. Laziness is a sign of ambition joined with discouragement; ambition so high that the individual sees no hope of realizing it. (1958, p. 151) The youngest child, according to Adler, is the one most likely to seek a unique identity within a family such as becoming a musician in a family of scientists or vice versa. The only child is like a first-born child who is never dethroned, at least by a sibling. The shock for the only child usually comes later (e.g., in school) on learning that he or she cannot remain the center of attention. The only child often develops an exaggerated sense of superiority and a sense that the world is a dangerous place. The latter results if the parents are overly concerned with the childs health. The only child is likely to lack a well-developed social interest and display a parasitic attitude, expecting others to offer pampering and protection: Only children are often very sweet and affectionate, and later in life they may develop charming manners in order to appeal to others, as they train themselves in this way, both in early life and later. . . . We do not regard the only childs situation as dangerous, but we find Chapter 4 16 that, in the absence of the best educational methods, very bad results occur which would have been avoided if there had been brothers and sisters. (Adler, 1964a, pp. 168169) 112 Many factors can interact with the effects of birth order, bringing about results contrary to those generally expected. Such factors include the sex of older or younger siblings; the number of years separating them; and, most important, the way the child views his or her relations with other members of the family. For many reasons, then, all of Adlers remarks concerning the effects of birth order must be interpreted as describing only general tendencies. Adler intended them to be viewed this way. We review the outcome of various attempts to empirically validate Adlers predictions concerning the effects of birth order on personality when we evaluate Adlers theory shortly. First Memories For Adler, the best way to identify a persons lifestyle is to obtain the persons earliest recollections of infancy or early childhood. These memories represent ones subjective starting point in life. It is irrelevant whether these memories are accurate or not. In either case, they reflect the persons interpretation of early experiences, and it is this interpretation of experience that shapes the childs worldview, life goal, and lifestyle. It is these interpretations of experience that are recalled as first memories. It follows that a close relationship among ones first memories, lifes goal, and lifestyle must exist. Adler (1956c) explained: A depressed individual could not remain depressed if he remembered his good moments and his successes. He must say to himself, All my life I was unfortunate, and select only those events which he can interpret as instances of his unhappy fate. Memories can never run counter to the style of life. If an individuals goal of superiority demands that he should feel, Other people always humiliate me, he will choose for remembrance incidents which he can interpret as humiliations. Insofar as his style of life alters, his memories also will alter; he will remember different incidents, or he will put a different interpretation on the incidents he remembers. Most illuminating of all is the way the individual begins his story, the earliest incident he can recall. The first memory will show his fundamental view of life, his first satisfactory crystallization of his attitude. It offers us an opportunity to see at one glance what he has taken as the starting point for his development. (p. 351) As we have seen, Adlers own first memories were of illness and death, and it was his concern about these matters that steered him in the direction of a medical career. Hertha Orgler (1963), Adlers friend and biographer, reported that Adler gave up his general medical practice after the death of several of his diabetic patients (before the discovery of insulin). Apparently his first memories of helplessness in the face of death were rekindled. Adler then turned to psychiatry, in which psychological death (of a mistaken lifestyle) and rebirth (the attaining of a new lifestyle with a healthy amount of social interest) were possible. Adler asked more than 100 medical physicians for their earliest memories, and most of them were of either serious illness or a death in the family. 113 Dream Analysis Adler agreed with Freud on the importance of dreams but disagreed with Freuds interpretation of them. According to Freud, dreams allowed partial satisfaction of a wish that would be impossible to satisfy directly in a waking state. For Adler, dreams are always an expression of ones lifestyle and must be consistent with it. To Adler, however, the occurrence of dreams almost always suggests that the dreamer has a mistaken lifestyle. Dreams, according to Adler, offer emotional support for mistaken Chapter 4 17 lifestyles. Dreaming is the adversary of common sense. We shall probably find that people who do not like to be deluded by their feelings, who prefer to proceed in a scientific way, do not dream often or do not dream at all. Others, who are further away from common sense . . .have very frequent dreams (1958, p. 101). Typically, dreams support a faulty lifestyle by creating an emotional state that will carry over into waking life and will justify actions compatible with the dreamers faulty lifestyle. For example, if a student unconsciously wants to create a distance between him- or herself and an important examination, he or she may dream of being chased by criminals, fighting a losing war, or of being forced to attempt to solve insolvable problems. The student awakens from the dream experiencing such emotions as fear, discouragement, or helplessness, the very emotions that will support a decision to delay or avoid the forthcoming examination. Adler (1958) said: The purpose of dreams must be in the feelings they arouse. The dream is only the means, the instrument, to stir up feelings. The goal of the dream is the feeling it leaves behind. . . . The style of life is the master of dreams. It will always arouse the feelings that the individual needs. We can find nothing in a dream that we shall not find in all the other symptoms and characteristics of the individual. We would approach problems in the same way whether we dreamed or not; but the dream offers a support and justification for the style of life. (pp. 98, 101) Adler emphasized the self-deceptive and therefore the unhealthy nature of dreams. In dreams we are fooling ourselves. Every dream is an auto-intoxication, a self-hypnosis. Its whole purpose is to excite the mood in which we are prepared to meet the situation (1958, p. 101). In summary, Adler believed that most dreams provide the self-deception necessary to maintain a mistaken lifestyle, and therefore people with healthy personalities dream little or not at all. That is, healthy persons require no self-deception and therefore do not require the irrational, emotional support provided by dreams. Behavioral Mannerisms In addition to analyzing birth order, first memories, and dreams, Adler also observed a clients characteristic ways of behaving in order to gain an understanding of his or her lifestyle. He observed such things as how a client walked, spoke, dressed, and where and how he or she sat. He also observed if a client was constantly leaning on something, the distance maintained between the client and other people, and eye contact or the lack of it. The goal was always to understand how the client viewed the world and him- or herself. 114 Summary of the Differences between Adler and Freud The major differences between Adler and Freud can be summarized as follows. ADLER FREUD Mind viewed as integrated whole Mind viewed as consisting of warring factions Emphasized conscious mind Emphasized unconscious mind Future goals important source of motivation Future goals unimportant Social motives primary Biological motives primary Optimistic about human existence Pessimistic about human existence Dreams analyzed to learn about lifestyles Dreams analyzed to detect contents of unconscious mind Humans free to determine their own personality Personality completely determined by heredity and environmental factors Minimized importance of sex Maximized importance of sex Goal of therapy to encourage lifestyle incorporating social interest Goal of therapy to discover repressed early memories Chapter 4 18 Evaluation Empirical Research Most of the research generated by Adlers theory has explored the relationship between birth order and various personality characteristics. Many studies have found that first-born and only children have higher levels of educational aspiration and achievement than later-born children and are also more intelligent (e.g., Belmont & Marolla, 1973; Breland, 1974; Falbo, 1981; Wagner & Schubert, 1977). Generally it is found that first-borns are more responsible and achievement oriented and later-borns are more socially successful (e.g., Steelman & Powell, 1985). The proposed explanation for these results is that first-born and only children receive greater parental attention and are the objects of greater parental expectations. Falbo (1981) also found that last-born children typically have lower selfesteem than first-born children. This result is explained by the fact that last-born children typically have competent older siblings with which to compare themselves. Zajonc and Markus (1975) studied the relationships among birth order, family spacing, and family size and intellectual development. It was found that the fewer number of children in a family and the greater the spacing between children, the more intelligent each child is likely to be. Zajonc and his colleagues note that some researchers find a relationship between birth order and intelligence and others do not (Zajonc, 2001; Zajonc, Markus, & Markus, 1979; Zajonc & Mullally, 1997). According to Zajonc and his colleagues, whether or not a relationship exists between birth order and intelligence depends on the age at which children are tested. If a first-born is tested before age 112 years, no significant difference is found between his or her intelligence level and that of his or her younger siblings. If, however, the older child is tested after age 112 years, such a difference is found. The explanation for this discrepancy offered by Zajonc and his colleagues is that older children within a family often act as parent surrogates or tutors and younger children do not. Zajonc (2001) summarizes his explanation as follows: 115 In his role as tutor, firstborn children gain an intellectual advantage. By virtue of rehearsal, by virtue of having to articulate an explanation or offer the meaning of a word, firstborns gain more verbal fluency more quickly than second-borns. However, younger siblings, if they are the last children in their families, will never act as tutors to older siblings. Last siblings are therefore in the same situation as are only children because neither group is offered the opportunity to be a tutor. (p. 491) Downey (2001) focuses on the relationship between family size and intelligence. Downey notes that, Across various measures of intellectual skills and educational achievement, individuals with the fewest siblings do the best (p. 497). According to Downey, the explanation for this is straightforward: Parental resources (e.g., time, energy, and money) are finite and as the number of children in a family increases, the resources available to any one child necessarily decreases. According to Downeys resource dilution model, family size rather than birth order per se is the most important variable in predicting the intellectual development of children. Because the results of birth order studies are often contradictory, some researchers are highly critical of birth order research in general. For example, Ernst and Angst (1983) reviewed the studies on birth order between 1946 and 1980. The hundreds of studies reviewed investigated the relationship between birth order and such variables as intelligence, school and occupational achievement, aggressiveness, self-esteem, empathy, creativity, and various types of mental illness. Ernst and Angst concluded that research on birth order has been characterized by numerous methodological flaws and is a sheer waste of time and money (p. xi). Dunn and Plomin (1990) do not agree that birth order research is useless but they do say that birth order plays only a bit-part in the drama of sibling differences (p. 85). Somit, Arwine, and Peterson (1996) reach a similar conclusion. Chapter 4 19 Rodgers, Cleveland, van den Oord, and Rowe (2000) and Rodgers (2001) argue that there is no relationship between birth order and intelligence. According to Rodgers and his colleagues, when such a relationship is found, as it often is, it is an artifact of the research methodologies utilized. That is, when members of individual families are observed (within-family data) birth order effects on intelligence virtually disappear. In other words, no significant differences in intelligence are found among members of the same family. It is only when the mistake is made of comparing data across families (between-family data) that such an effect is found. Rodgers et al. discuss the problem involved in combining within-family and between-family data. To illustrate, imagine comparing the first-born child in a large middle-class White family in Michigan to the second-born child in a medium-sized affluent Black family in Atlanta to a third-born child in a small low-income Hispanic family in California. If differences between these childrens intelligence are observed, it is impossible to tell whether they are due to [socioeconomic status], race, region of the country, birth order, family size, or other variables related to these. Yet, that is exactly the type of comparison that arises from cross-sectional [between-family] data. (p. 602) 116 Rodgers and his colleagues (2000) observe that even when using within-family data, the relationship between family size and the intellectual level of the children within the family remains significant. That is, there is a significant tendency for the intelligence of children to decrease as family size increases. However, contrary to Downeys resource dilution model, Rodgers and his colleagues explain the relationship between family size and intelligence in terms of the intellectual and educational level of the parents involved. In any case, research on the relationship between family size and the intelligence of children within the family does not directly address the question of birth order. About the latter, Rodgers (2001) concludes, The research community must be prepared for the real possibility that there simply are not any birth orderintelligence relationships (p. 509). Sulloway (1996) agrees that much birth order research has been poorly controlled and has involved hypotheses too nebulous to be objectively tested. When these problems are attended to, however, Sulloway believes the effects of birth order on personality are dramatic. As part of his massive historical undertaking, Sulloway studied how 3,890 scientists reacted to 28 scientific innovations when they were first reported (16 considered revolutionary, for example, the innovations provided by Copernicus, Darwin, and Freud, and 12 somewhat less radical). He found that those scientists who rejected the innovation in question were typically first-borns and those accepting it were typically later-borns. Sulloway says, For the 28 innovations included in my survey, the odds are 2.0 to 1 in favor of laterborn adoption. The likelihood of this difference arising by chance is substantially less than one in a billion (p. 42). Furthermore, as is shown in Figures 4-2 and 4-3, Sulloway found that this birth order effect was independent of sibship size and socioeconomic class. Sulloway found similar results when religious and social innovations were considered. In general, later-borns are much more receptive to innovation than first-borns. Of later-borns Sulloway says, From their ranks have come bold explorers, the iconoclasts, and the heretics of history (1996, p. xiv). 117 For the past five centuries, the most consistent predictor of revolutionary allegiances turns out to be birth order. Compared with firstborns, laterborns are more likely to identify with the underdog and to challenge the established order. Because they identify with parents and authority, firstborns are more likely to defend the status quo. The effects of birth order transcend gender, social class, nationality, andfor the last five centuriestime. (Sulloway, 1996, p. 356) Chapter 4 20 Sulloways research confirms the rather puzzling observation made over the last two decades that, Siblings who grow up together are almost as different in their personalities as people plucked randomly from the general population (1996, p. 352). The question is why this is so, and Sulloway offers a Darwinian answer. Within a family, siblings compete for parental resources, including affection. Without siblings to compete with, first-borns have everything to themselves and usually identify with parents and authority and grow up defending the status quo. The challenge of the later-born is to find a valued family niche that avoids duplicating the one already staked out by the parent-identified firstborn (Sulloway, 1996, p. 353). This search for an unoccupied family niche by later-borns is facilitated by an openness to experience, or versatility, which, once developed, lasts a lifetime. Sulloway concludes, From a Darwinian point of view, personality is the repertoire of strategies that each child develops in an effort to survive childhood (p. 86). 118 Although Sulloway explained the effects of birth order within a Darwinian framework, the conclusion he reached was very much within the spirit of Adlerian analysis. Families are best seen as containing an array of diverse niches, each occupied by a different individual and each presenting different vantage points of life. From these differing perspectives, family members experience the same events differently (1996, p. 352). Attempts to confirm Sulloways conclusions about the relationship between birth order and personality have had mixed results. For example, Freese, Powell, and Steelman (1999) tested Sulloways claim that first-borns are more conservative and supportive of authority than later-borns and found no support for it. However, Paulus, Trapnell, and Chen (1999) did find support for Sulloways contention that later-born children are more rebellious than first-born children. J. R. Harris (2000) argues that the evidence suggests a compromise. Harris provides evidence for Sulloways (and Adlers) contention that a childs position within a family influences the personality he or she develops within the family. However, when the child eventually leaves the family the coping strategies and other personality characteristics learned within the family constellation are no longer relevant. Harris concludes, There is little or no transfer of training because patterns of behavior acquired at home are likely to be inappropriate or irrelevant outside the home (p. 177). Several attempts have been made to make other Adlerian concepts more measurable and thus more useful in counseling and therapeutic situations. For example, Crandall (1980, 1981, 1982) devised and utilized a scale for measuring level of social interest and found that social interest varies with ones social adjustment, among other things. Thorne (1975) devised a 200-item questionnaire called the Life Style Analysis, which is designed to determine a persons lifestyle. Rule (1972) and Rule and Traver (1982) devised and used an Early Recollection Questionnaire, and Altman (1973) created the Early Recollection Ratings Scale of Social Interest. Olson (1979) presented a collection of papers showing how early memories are used in clinical diagnosis and psychotherapy. Hafner, Fakouri, and Labrentz (1982) found more alcoholics than nonalcoholics described their earliest memories as threatening. Criticisms Difficult to Falsify Like the theories of Freud and Jung, many of the terms in Adlers theory are not defined precisely enough to validate. Because they lack clear definition it is difficult, if not impossible, to determine the impact of such concepts as inferiority, superiority, social interest, and creative power on a persons Chapter 4 21 personality. Adlers contention that everything can also be different (1956c, p. 194) makes it practically impossible to make a falsifiable prediction using his theory. As we have seen, Adler believed it was subjective reality that determines behavior, not objective reality. Therefore, if a person develops a personality unlike the one that is supposed to characterize, for example, his or her birth order, it can always be attributed to the persons unique perceptions of the situation. Also, Adler claimed that heredity and experience provide only the raw materials of personality and the creative self acts on those materials to mold a unique personality. The concept of creative self, then, makes it impossible to predict adult personality characteristics on the basis of either heredity or environmental experience. 119 Overly Simplistic Adler claimed that it is often a few early experiences that determine adult personality, and that if a persons interpretations of the world based on those experiences could be changed, an unhealthy lifestyle could be changed into a healthy one. Also, Adler relied almost exclusively on social factors in explaining personality, minimizing biological, hereditary factors. Finally, Adler contends that in the final analysis personality is, or could be, freely chosen by each person. Many modern personality theorists consider all of these Adlerian assumptions to be overly optimistic. Also, with his belief that all humans are born with the innate potential for social interest, Adler had trouble explaining the widespread occurrence of war, murder, rape, crime, and other human acts of violence. Many believe that the theories of Freud and Jung are far better able to explain the more unseemly aspects of human behavior. Contributions The Importance of Social Variables Although some consider Adlers emphasis on social variables a negative aspect of his theory, others consider that emphasis as Adlers most significant contribution. Adler vividly pointed out that the world each person lives in is a world of his or her own creation. Furthermore, the most important factor in formulating that worldview is the persons relationships with other people. For example, a persons family constellation is one variable that can influence his or her worldview. The importance of social variables for personality development were minimized by Freud and Jung. Widely Influential Adlers terms lifestyle and inferiority complex have become part of everyday language. In the realms of personality theory and psychotherapy, we see Adlers influence in the contemporary emphasis on self-selected goals as determinants of behavior; social determinants of personality; family therapy, group therapy, and community psychiatry; the importance of subjective reality as opposed to objective reality; and personal freedom and responsibility in living ones life. Several influential persons regard Adlers contribution to psychology greater than Freuds. For example, Albert Ellis says: Alfred Adler, more even than Freud, is probably the true father of modern psychotherapy. Some of the reasons are: He founded ego psychology, which Freudians only recently rediscovered. He was one of the first humanistic psychologists. . . . He stressed holism, goalseeking, and the enormous importance of values in human thinking, emoting, and acting. He correctly saw that sexual drives and behavior, while having great importance in human affairs, are largely the result rather than the cause of mans non-sexual philosophies. . . . It is difficult Chapter 4 22 to find any leading therapist today who in some respect does not owe a great debt to the Individual Psychology of Alfred Adler. (1970, p. 11) 120 Viktor Frankl stated that Adlers opposition to Freud was no less than a Copernican switch. No longer could man be considered as the product, pawn, and victim of drives and instincts; on the contrary, drives and instincts form the material that serves man in expression and action. Beyond this, Alfred Adler may well be regarded as an existential thinker and as a forerunner of the existential-psychiatric movement. (1970, p. 12) Summary Adler spent much of his childhood suffering from several physical ailments, feelings of inferiority, and in a losing competition with his older brother. He was one of Freuds earliest associates, but numerous differences caused them to terminate their relationship. Adler disputed Freuds notions of repression, infantile sexuality, and the importance of the unconscious. Adlers viewpoint, called individual psychology, stresses the wholeness and uniqueness of each person as he or she struggles to overcome feelings of inferiority by aspiring toward some future goal. Adlers theory is compatible with existentialism because of its concern with free will and the meaning of human existence; and with humanism because it stresses the innate goodness of humans. In the earliest version of his theory, Adler believed that people were motivated to compensate for actual physical weaknesses by emphasizing those qualities that compensate for those weaknesses. In some cases, he thought a person could overcompensate and convert a weakness into a strength. Later, Adler extended his theory to include not only actual physical weaknesses but imagined ones as well. Now compensation or overcompensation was directed at the feelings of inferiority resulting from either real or imagined inferiorities. In his early writing, Adler equated inferiority with femininity and superiority with masculinity. The striving to become more masculine in order to become more powerful was called the masculine protest. According to Adler, feeling inferior is not necessarily bad; in fact, such feelings are the motivating force behind most personal accomplishments. Some individuals, however, are not stimulated to growth by their feelings of inferiority. Rather, they are overcome by them and the feelings become a barrier to personal growth; such individuals are said to have an inferiority complex. Adlers final theoretical position was that humans are primarily motivated to seek superiority or perfection. The superiority sought is compatible with society, however, and not a selfish, individual superiority. A person who selfishly seeks personal superiority while ignoring the needs of others and of society is said to have a superiority complex. Adler believed that persons must insert meaning into their lives by inventing ideals or fictional goals that give them something for which to live and around which to organize their lives. Such fictions are called fictional finalisms or guiding fictions. Healthy persons use such fictions as tools for living a more significant, effective life. For healthy persons, these fictions can easily be discarded if circumstances warrant. For neurotics, however, these fictions are confused with reality and therefore are retained at all costs. The means by which a person attempts to attain a fictional goal is called his or her lifestyle. 121 Chapter 4 23 Adler theorized that all persons have an innate potential to live in harmony with other people; he called this need social interest. Each person must solve three major problems in life, and each requires a strong social interest: (1) Occupational tasks, (2) Societal tasks, and (3) Love and marriage tasks. Adler believed that the nature of a childs interaction with the mother determines to what extent the child develops social interest. Any lifestyle not characterized by a strong social interest was labeled a mistaken lifestyle. Three types of people with a mistaken lifestyle are the rulingdominant type, the gettingleaning type, and the avoiding type. The socially useful type has a strong social interest, and therefore his or her lifestyle is not mistaken. Three childhood conditions that can cause a mistaken lifestyle are physical inferiority, spoiling or pampering, and neglecting. Adler did not believe that personality is completely determined by biological inheritance, early experiences, or the environment. He believed each person is free to interpret life in any number of ways. The creative self allows us to be what we choose to be. Because the feelings of self-esteem and superiority that are generated by a mistaken lifestyle are basically deceptive, they must be safeguarded. As the safeguarding strategies used by neurotics, Adler listed excuses; aggression consisting of accusation, depreciation, and self-accusation; and distancing consisting of moving backward, standing still, hesitating, constructing obstacles, experiencing anxiety, and using the exclusion tendency. The major goal of psychotherapy is to replace a mistaken lifestyle with one containing a healthy level of social interest. Adlers research methods included the study of birth order, first memories, and dream analysis. Some of the major premises that differentiated Adlers theory from Freuds are Adlers emphasis on the conscious integrated mind, social motives, ones future goals, personal freedom, dreams as primarily supportive of faulty lifestyles, and his deemphasis on sexual motivation. In addition, Adler was optimistic about the human condition whereas Freud was pessimistic. Adlers theory has been criticized for containing terms too nebulous to measure, making them nonfalsifiable, and for being too simplistic in its characterization of personality. The theory seems to overlook the baser side of human beings. Adlers theory has been praised for noting the importance of social variables in personality development and for introducing several terms, concepts, and methodologies that are useful in the therapeutic process and for understanding personality. Although there has been considerable research on the effects of birth order on various personality characteristics, the results have been equivocal. Sulloway appears to have amassed the most evidence supporting the argument that birth order is a powerful and predictable determinant of personality. However, the influence of birth order on personality is a hotly debated issue in contemporary psychology. The Adlerian concepts of social interest and first memories also show promise as topics of research. Chapter 4 24 ... View Full Document

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