Alfred Adler

February 7,1870 - May 28, 1937

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Founder of Adlerian Psychology (Individual psychology)

Alfred Adler was one of the first disciples of Sigmund Freud. Adler worked with Freud until he had a disagreement with Freud's psychoanalytic theory and left Freud's group to pursue his own theory. Adler's school of psychology emphasized the human need and ability to create positive social change. Individual psychology focuses on people's efforts to compensate for feeling inferior to others by asserting superiority. Adler determined that people can overcompensate for their inferiority by developing a superiority complex. Adler's theory stated that everyone is born with a sense of inferiority. Adler came up with term inferiority complex to describe a person's feelings of worthlessness. He called his theory individual psychology because he felt that every person was different and that no other psychological theory applied to all people. He believed that everyone has the desire to have a sense of belonging and significance. Adler's theory included four aspects which are development of personality, striving for superiority, psychological health, and unity of personality. Adler wrote a book explaining his theory entitled The Practice and Theory of Individual Psychology, which was one of his best works. He found that inferiority could stem from a person's role in their family, physical condition or disability, or lack of social feeling. Adler believed that personality difficulties stemmed from a feeling of inferiority that came from restrictions on an individual's need for self-assertion.

Interesting Fact

Adler was one of the first psychotherapists to provide family and group counseling.

Importance to Modern-Day Psychology

Adler's research is important to modern day psychology because it impacted the growth and development of children. Adler believed that "a misbehaving child is a discouraged child"; therefore, children need to be encouraged when they are young to gain a sense of self-worth in order to not feel inferior. His theory has also played an important role in many different areas of psychological therapy.


"The Metropolitan Museum of Art - Alfred Adler, Carmel." The Metropolitan Museum of Art - Alfred Adler, Carmel. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, n.d. Web. 09 Feb. 2014.