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Alfred Adler

Updated on December 1, 2016

Alfred Adler, Austrian psychiatrist, born Vienna, Austria, February 7, 1870. Died Aberdeen, Scotland, May 28, 1937. Adler was a general physician in Vienna before starting to work with Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, in 1902. In 1911, he left Freud, disagreeing with Freud's emphasis on sexual feelings as the origin of psychological disorders. Adler formed his own school of psychotherapy, which was based on his theory that the individual strives toward goals of superiority or perfection in order to compensate for his feelings of inferiority or  inadequacy.  The modern concept of the inferiority complex was derived from Adler's work. Children, for example, may feel frustrated by the greater power, ability, and freedom of adults or of their older brothers and sisters. Adler suggested that such frustration lies behind many personality and mental disorders. A person who feels inferior may, for example, try too hard to compensate. As a result, the person may become aggressive and delinquent. One result may be to cut himself off from his normal social group. One of Adler's greatest successes was in the field of child guidance.


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