Alfred Adler

Alfred Adler

Alfred Adler joined Freud’s Analytic Society in 1902 and was even named the first president of the society in 1910. However, after growing disagreements Adler with several other theorists broke away from Freud’s Psychoanalytic School in 1911, and the concept of “individual psychology”was formulated in this process.He started his own group which was originally named the ‘Society for Free Psychoanalytic Research.’ The various concepts of Adler’s theory are discussed below:


Adler focuses on inferiority feeling,which motivates us to strive for mastery, success, superiority and perfection. We start as a weak and helpless child and strive to overcome
these deficiencies by becoming superior to those around us. He called this struggle a striving for superiority.We are not merely determined by heredity and environment. We have the capacity to interpret, influence and create events.

Parenting and Birth Order


Parenting Styles – Adler did agree with Freud on some major issues relating to the parenting of children and the long term effects of improper or inefficient child rearing. He identified two parental styles that he argued will cause almost certain problems in adulthood. The firs twas pampering, referring to a parent overprotecting child, giving
him too much attention, and sheltering therefrom negative realities of life.

As this child grows older, he will be ill equipped to deal with these realities,may doubt his own abilities or decision making skills, and may seek out others to replace the safety he once enjoyed as a child. On the other extreme is what Adler called neglect. A neglected child is one who is not protected at all from the world and is forced to face life’s struggles alone. This child may grow up to fear the world, have a strong sense of mistrust for other sand may have  a difficult time forming intimate relationship sin adulthood.

Birth Order – Adler often emphasized one’s birth order as having an influence on the Style of Life and the strengths and weaknesses in one’s psychological make up.Birth Order is referred to the placement of siblings within the family.

Simply put,Adler believed that the order in which you are born to a family inherently affects your personality. First born children are given excessive attention and pampering by their parents until that fateful day when the little brother or sister arrives. Suddenly they are no longer the center of attention and fall into the shadows wondering why everything changed. According to Adler, they are left feeling inferior, questioning their importance in the family, and trying desperatelyto gain back the attention they suddenly lost. The birth order theory holds that first born children often have the greatest number of problems as they get older.

Middle born children. are not pampered as their older sibling was, but are still afforded
the attention. As a middle child, they have the luxury of trying to dethrone the oldest child and become more superior while at the same time knowing that they hold this same power over their younger siblings. Adler believed that middle children have a high need for superiority and are often able to seek it out such as through healthy competition.

The youngest children, like the first born,may be more likely to experience personality problems later in life. This is the child who grows up knowing that he has the least  mount of power in the whole family. He sees his older siblings having more freedom and more superiority. He also gets pampered and protected more than any other child did. This could leave him with a sense that he cannot take on the world alone and will always be inferior to others.

The only child,Adler suggested, is spoiled by too much parental attention.This person may want the centre stage all the time and when challenged, the person may feel it is unfair.The birth order and the interpretation of our position in the family influence our  interaction in the world as adults.