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ALFRED ADLER (1870-1937) Austrian

The founder of the school of individual psychology he with Sigmund Freud and a small group of Freud’s colleagues were the co-founders of the psychoanalytic movement as a core member of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society. He broke away from Freud to form an independent school of psychotherapy and personality theory.
Following this split, he developed his most famous concept, the inferiority complex, which in his view was the result of a person’s attempt to compensate for the perception of his inferiority. This can stem from his personal defect of being too short as in the case of Napoleon or a child’s perception of being overshadowed by his parents.
He often wrote for the lay public—unlike Freud and Jung, who tended to write almost exclusively for an academic audience. The primary differences between Adler and Freud centered on Adler’s contention that the social realm is as important to psychology as is the internal realm. Adler’s ‘life tasks’ ie occupation/work, society/friendship, and love/sexuality are not to be considered in isolation since, as Adler famously commented, “they all throw cross-lights on one another”. Freud did not share Adler’s socialist beliefs.
His contribution in the field of education is of great practical value since it made schools more child-centered and creating each child fit in groups than feel left out.
Childhood influences
Much of Adler’s ideas were drawn from his own perception of his world. Early on, Adler developed rickets, which kept him from walking until he was four years old. He almost died of pneumonia when he was five and it was at this age that he decided to be a physician. His way of compensating his inferiority stemmed from his competitive attitude toward his older brother, Sigmund. His emphasis on power dynamics is rooted in the philosophy of Nietzsche. Adler was also among the first in psychology to argue in favor of feminism making the case that power dynamics between men and women (and associations with masculinity and femininity) are crucial to understanding human psychology.
He set up his practice as a doctor in a lower-class part of Vienna and his clients included circus people, and it may be possible it helped him to formulate theories on how the performers compensated their “organ inferiorities” in the unusual strengths they displayed.

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