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Melanie Klein
Melanie Klein

Well Known Figures in Psychoanalysis

Psychoanalysis Ireland


Well Known Figures in Psychoanalysis

Alfred Adler (1890 - 1937)

Alfred Adler was born in a Vienna suburb to a Jewish grain merchant and his
wife. He had rickets which kept him from walking until he was four, and he
almost died from pneumonia when he was five. He grew up to study
medicine, first specialising in ophthalmology, then turning to general practice
before becoming interested in psychiatry. In 1902, he was invited to join
Freud's Psychological Wednesday Group, the forerunner of the Vienna
Psycho-analytical Society, at which they would discuss Freud's work.
Adler is described as ambitious, and Freud regarded him initially as a
very able addition to the psychoanalytic ranks, but it was not long before he
began to create trouble and dissent. He declared himself to have misgivings
about much of Freud's theory, in particular in the central place it assigned to
sexuality. Instead, he posited as the single drive of humankind a striving for
perfection. This striving resulted from a desire to compensate for perceived
inferiority, and in particular, organ inferiority, which he first noticed in
women and called the masculine protest, but later extended to all people.
This attempt to compensate was fuelled by innate aggressiveness and
neurotic suffering was caused by a failure to compensate. Later still Adler
was to emphasise the pursuit of superiority as central to humankind.
Childhood experience was seen as important by Adler and he theorised the
effects of pampering, neglect, and birth order. But he discarded Freud's
notions of repression, unconscious processes and infantile sexuality and
stressed the innate and physiological roots of human psychic development.
He retained an interest in dreams and fantasy but analysed them more
in the here and now,. He also jettisoned any notion of the transference
and saw patients sitting up and face to face.

In 1911 Adler led the first split in a psychoanalytic association, thereby
establishing a tendency that persists today. His influence may be seen in
psychotherapists such as Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers as well as
psychoanalysts such as Karen Horney and Erich Fromm.
He published many texts, the most famous of which is his Study of
Human Nature first published in English in 1927, and for further information
on his work, see The Individual Psychology of Alfred Adler by H & R Ansbacher.

Selected Works:
Study of Human Nature first published in English in 1927
Further Reading:
The Individual Psychology of Alfred Adler by H & R Ansbacher
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