Errors/Basic Mistakes/Interfering Ideas
Note: Page numbers enclosed in parentheses are citations from The Individual Psychology of Alfred Adler: A systematic presentation in selections from his writings. (H. L. and R. R. Ansbacher, Eds.). © 1964, Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc. Used by permission of Perseus Books Group.
These three terms refer to those mistaken convictions at the base of the individual's style of living that have led to a faulty adaptation and some lack of success in meeting one or more of the challenges of life. Although these terms may be used interchangeably, each has its own resonance. The errors (Adler), basic mistakes (Dreikurs), or interfering ideas (Powers) are isolated during the process of life-style assessment/life-style diagnosis.
In Individual Psychology treatment . . . we are always able to draw attention to errors only and never to innate defects (p. 342).
Each . . . [individual] organizes himself according to his personal view of things, and some views are more sound, some less sound. We must always reckon with these individual mistakes and failures in the development of the human being. Especially must we reckon with the misinterpretations made in early childhood, for these dominate the subsequent course of our existence (p. 183).
The early recollections show the conclusions . . . [a person] drew from the situation as he perceived it . . . . These conclusions permit the formulation of the Basic Mistakes which . . . [were] made in his childhood and maintained throughout life (Dreikurs, 1973, p. 101).
Some . . . have used the terms "basic mistakes," "fundamental errors," or "erroneous convictions" for what we call interfering ideas. We prefer our name because it presents the client with an awareness of the interfering quality of the trouble these ideas introduce, as an added cost in the business of life. Because it does not hint at anything more dire or durable or "basic" to deal with than ideas, it seems to us to be a more encouraging term. Whatever the nomenclature, these . . . [life-style] summaries are based on an understanding of the same data, namely, the core sample of the life-style found in the client's early recollections (Powers & Griffith, 1987, p. 265).
© Griffith, J., & Powers, R. L. (2007). The Lexicon of Adlerian Psychology: 106 terms Associated with the Individual Psychology of Alfred Adler (2nd ed.). Port Townsend, WA: Adlerian Psychology Associates (p. 31).
Definitions of concepts are used by permission of Jane Griffith. A comprehensive list of concepts and definitions can be found in The Lexicon of Adlerian Psychology: 106 Terms Associated with the Individual Psychology of Alfred Adler by Jane Griffith and Robert L. Powers, available for purchase on Amazon.com.
Dreikurs, R. (1973, Rev. ed.). Psychodynamics, psychotherapy and counseling: Collected papers of Rudolf Dreikurs, M. D. Chicago: Alfred Adler Institute.
Powers, R. L., & Griffith, J. (1987). Understanding life-style: The psycho-clarity process. Port Townsend, WA: Adlerian Psychology Associates.