The Alfred Adler Biography English Literature Essay

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Year 1870. was year of big events in the world. France declared a war to Prussia. First underground railway was opened in London. In America first motion picture show is shown to large audience and the construction of Brooklyn Bridge started. But on 7th of February 1870. in Vienna,Austria in one middle-cless Jewish family second son was born.

He was second son and second child in family with six children and he was named Alfred Adler. He was not very strong and was often ill. He could not even walk before the age of four because he had suffered from rickets. At the age of 5 he went ice-skating with some older boys who left there in cold alone. Somehow he had found his way home, but because he was of weak health and had been out in cold for such a long time he developed pneumonia. He was unconscious for a long time and while waking up he heard a doctor saying to his parents: ''Give yourself no more trouble. This boy is lost.'' But Alfred survived this and being run over twice in the steets. But his younger brother Rudolf was not as lucky as Alfred and he had died at the age of one while young Alfred was at the bed next to him. He had also had some learning difficulties, had not interest in school and even failed in mathematics. His teacher adviced his parents to take him out of school as he will not graduate anyway, but his father would not listen and disaproved teachers words about the boy. But this had made Alfred to show to his teacher that he was not unintelligent so he started working hard and soon became first in his class. As a child his older brother Sigmund was something complitely oposite from Alfred, he was strong, healthy and good at school. In childhood they were rivals always competing. But later in life Rudolf Adler, who was a succesful businessman, helped Alfred Adler financialy. Alfred once said to one of his biographers that his oldest brother was always ahead of him and that he still is, even though Alfred was much more famous.

In 1888. Adled enrolled in medical studies at the University of Vienna. And after being an average student he graduated in 1895. First he started working as a ophtamologist, but soon changed to general practition. He had an office near Prater so most of his patients were circus people and Adler became amazed with their strenght and how they overcome their injuryes.

In 1897. he married Raissa Timofeivna Epstein who he had met during university years. She was daughter of russian emigrants, very emancipated and even politicaly engaged woman. Together they had four children.

In 1898. Adler started with serious work. He published articles on ''Medical News Bulletin'' and published his first book ''Health Book for the Tailor trade''. In 1902. Adler was one of the rear people who supported Freuds interpretation of dreams and because of that got invitation to Freuds Wednesdays evenings meetings (Mittwochgesellshaft). In 1907. Adler publisher his work on organ inferiority and about that time differences between his and Freuds point of view became bigger and bigger. In 1911. he and eight other colleges left Freuds Mitwochgesellshaft in order to form their own school. In 1912. Adler published ''The Neurotic Constitution'' where he further developed his theories. He named his psychological system ''Individual Psychology''. Than he published ''Understanding of Human Nature'' his mort famous book. After the World War I , where he served as medical doctor for Austrian army, he opened child guidance clinics in Vienna and was visited by professionals from abroad. From 1926. ,when he started lecturing at the Columbia University,slowly he was moving his work to USA . In 1935. he was a chair of Visiting Professors of Medical Psychology at Long Island College of Medicine. His family also moved to USA as anti-semitisam was growing in Europe.

He died of heart failure while lecturing in UK on 28. of May 1937.

Adler himself admitted that his lifes experiences affected his work in many ways. In a way it seems that Adler analysed himself and than made his theories.

First of all he was born in a big family, as a second child and that is where he had a good opportunity to observe how birth order affects delelopment of character. As an child he was often ill and he had a close experience with death and that made him to became a medical doctor in later life. His struggling with school might have contributed to his inferiority-superiority theory. And his practice with circus people is where he got the idea for organ inferiority theory. And his emancipated and opinionated wife must have had helped his opinion of mother and father being equal in childs life and home, despite the general attitude of public of that time.

Adlers Individual Psychology

Adler is probably one of the theorists with the largest amount of work done. His theory is very complite as he gave explanation for many character types. Most of the terms that Adler brought to the world of psychology are well known and widely used in many areas, but most of the time wrongly (such as term life style by fashion magaznes).

Some of te most important Adlers concepts are inferiority feeling, superiority feeling, birth order, social interest (Gemeinschaftsgefühl) , life style (Lebenstill), organ inferiorety and masculine protest.

Feelings of inferiority and superiority

Human beings are born weak. Everything around them is bigger and more powerful. And infants completely depend on their care givers, so humans from the first day of their lifes know the feeling of inferiorety. Term inferiority was orignaly used by Darwin to label biological disabilities and explain natural selection, but Adler used this term to describe the feeling we are all born with and the way we deal with this will shape the rest of our life. And from those early days we try to overcome the inferiority. Adler described this as struggling from minus to the plus situation. Baby gets up, falls and than againg gets up in order to learn to walk , student studies hard to get the diploma and on that way ovecomes his inferiority compared to teachers, parents etc. But tere are healthy and unhealthy ways of dealing with inferiorit complex. Healthy way is to work thowards overcoming inferiorit and reaching goal of superiority. This goal to achive superiority is not realistical one because in life there is always the next level. There are many forms of unhealthy ways to deal with inferiority. Adler explained ''it is important to realize that it is not the sense of inferiority which matters but the degree and character of it''(Adler 1930:78). Some feel inferiority in a great way and refuse and avoid to deal with things they are not good at, for example children not doing their homework so they would not have to face thair lack of knowlage. Some get a situation work their way and for example children play with smaller and weaker children wher they can dominate. Another unhealthy way of dealing with inferiority complex is that it growes into superiority complex. Inferiority complex and superiority complex are closely attached, and usually superiority is just a mask for inferiority. People try to overcome their inferiority so badly that they develop such high opinion of themself and they now try to show how better are they to other people. They try try to proove themselv and others to be the smartest, the fastest, the most beautiful etc. And sometimes it is enough for them to be better at something without other people knowing about it. Adler (1930:80) made an example of children who start stealing because they think they are deciving others, that others do not know that they are stealing. And that makes them feel superior heros. Adler also made a connection between criminaity and superiority complex. He said '' Criminality is the result of a superiority complex and not the expression of fundamental and original viciousness'' (Adler 1930:81). This means that murders or burglars do tings because they think they are better than police and uncaughtable, they have a superiority complex. From criminality and proffesion choice to love and family relations every our behaviour can be explained with fight between inferiority and superiority.

Importance of birth order

Adler was one of the first theorists who gave importance to the position in the family. It is clear that every family changes when they welcome another member of the family. And how are we treated by the family in childhood shapes in many ways our adulthood personality. Only children usually rule the lifes of their parents. They have the ultimate attention. Their parents over protect them so in later life they have problems handling critics. Eldest children, for the first part of their life, are treated similar to the only children. But at some point they are 'dethroned' and that is why later in their life they know how to respect authority and tend to be high achevers. The second childs charateristics depend on how is it treated by the older child. Usually there is big rivlity between eldest and the second and the younger one always trys to overcome the older one, because it seems to him that the eldest is ahead of him (for example when the younger starts to lewrn how to write the older one already knows it and with that it is superior). In adulthood second children set very high goals to themself. And the youngest in the family also gets big attention and is spoiled by parents and older siblings. And even in future stays dependable.

Style of life

Birth order is very important for creating a life style. Lebenstill according to Adler is a