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Alfred Adler --1870-1937

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Alfred Adler --1870-1937

Alfred Adler was born February 7, 1870 being the second son and third child in Vienna to a Jewish grain merchant and his wife. Alfred did not walk until he was four because he suffered from rickets. At the age of five, he almost died of pneumonia. These events are what motivated him to become a physician. He was a very outgoing and involved scholar growing up.

Adler received his medical degree from University of Vienna in 1895. This is where he met his wife Raissa Timofeyewna Epstein who was a social activist from Russia. They married shortly after and had four children. Both eventually became psychiatrists.

He began his medical career as an ophthalmologist, later switching to general practice. He established his office across from an amusement park and circus in the lower class part of Vienna. Having this location, most of his clients at the time were circus performers. He studied their unusual strengths and weaknesses giving him insights on his organ inferiority theory.

Adler turned to psychiatry and joined Freud's discussion groups in 1907 where he wrote discussion papers on organic inferiority. During some of the discussions held, Freud disapproved of a few of Adler's idea. Freud eventually named Adler president of Viennese Analytic Society. In 1912, Adler and nine other members established the Society for Individual Psychology. He died of a heart attack in 1937 while doing a series of lectures at Aberdeen University in Scotland.

His best-known work is The Practice and Theory of Individual Psychology. Adler had a tendency to change his theory on personality throughout his life but he ultimately believed that people are focused on maintaining control over their lives. He believed in single "drive" or motivating force behind our behavior, claiming that the desire we have to fulfill our potentials becomes closer and closer to our ideals.

In studying personality, Alfred came up with the term inferiority complex. He described this as feelings of lack of worth. He wrote, "We all wish to overcome difficulties. We all strive to reach a goal by the attainment of which we shall feel strong, superior, and complete". Alder was known to use the word superiority complex. This complex developed when a person tried to conquer their inferiority complex by suppressing their existing feelings. He felt that people were constantly trying to overcome their feelings of inferiority to reach superiority.

Along with the idea of trying to overcome inferiority, Adler claimed that every person had an idea about what their perfect self would be like. He named this image the fictional finalism. Fictional finalism applies clearer direction to decisions that are to be made concerning oneself. Although individuals may have an idea about their image, but they hardly ever understand



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