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.
The lectures and writings of Adler and Dreikurs demonstrate that while they agreed that the striving for superiority is universal, they disagreed as to the concretization of the goal of striving.
For Adler, the goal of superiority striving is always a fictional form of the idea of perfection (overcoming, mastery, fulfillment, completion), concretized by the individual in the subjectively conceived personality ideal, while for Dreikurs the goal of striving is always concertized in some image of belonging. B. H. Shulman reported that Dreikurs stated, in a medical school lecture, that he located his theoretical position as being midway between Adler and Karen Horney (Terner and Pew, 1978, p. 191). Horney (1945) believed that "a desire for 'belonging'” (p. 50) is central to human motivation, and could have been the source of Dreikurs's thinking on this matter.
Adler did not locate his own position as midway between himself and Horney, and so did not envision the community feeling as a goal; he postulated it as a human capacity, comparing it to the upright gait and the capacity for language, never completely absent, and always in need of cultivation. For Adler, movement toward the goal of perfection (the personality ideal), when it is individually and uniquely concretized on the useful side, has its foundation in, and proceeds from, the feeling of belongingness, that is, the community feeling (social interest). For Dreikurs, however, belonging is the goal of all striving, whether the individual's movement is on the useful or the useless side of life.
H. L. Ansbacher (1985), the foremost Adlerian scholar, upon reading an assertion that "for Adler the strongest motivating force for the human being is the desire to belong to the social world," responded by saying "[If the writer] has a reference to Adler for this statement, I would like to know it. Rudolf Dreikurs often wrote of 'the need to belong' as the strongest motivating force and should be recognized as the author" (p. 7).
Each individual tries to get himself accepted by the community. The desire to feel belonging to others is the fundamental motive in man (Dreikurs, 1949, p. 21).
Individual Psychology stands firmly on the ground of evolution and, in the light of it, regards all human striving as a striving for perfection (p. 106).
Striving towards a goal, towards an objective, we find everywhere in life. Everything grows "as if" it were striving to overcome all imperfections and achieve perfection. This urge toward perfection we call the goal of overcoming, that is, the striving to overcome (Adler, 1979, p. 86).
The development of the child is increasingly permeated by the relationships of society to him. In time, the first signs of the innate social interest appear, the organically determined impulses of affection blossom forth, and lead the child to seek the proximity of adults. One can always observe that the child directs impulses of affection towards others and not towards himself, as Freud believes. These impulses vary in degree and differ with respect to different persons. In children over two years one can also see these differences in their verbal expressions. The feeling of belongingness, the social interest, takes root in the psyche of the child and leaves the individual only under the severest pathological changes of his mental life (p. 138).
Feeling-at-home is an important part of social interest. The life on this poor crust of one who has social interest runs its course as though he were at home (p. 155).
© 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. 9).
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.
Adler, A. (1979). Superiority and social interest: A collection of later writings (3rd Rev. ed.). (H. L. Ansbacher & R. R. Ansbacher, Eds.). New York: Viking Compass. (Original work published 1964)
Ansbacher, H. L. (1985, Spring). In reference to Joseph Meiers and belonging. [Letter to the Editor]. Individual Psychology Reporter, 3(3), p. 7.
Dreikurs, R. (1949). Fundamentals of Adlerian Psychology (Rev. ed.). Chicago: Adler School of Professional Psychology. (Original work published 1933)
Homey, K. (1945). Our inner conflicts: A constructive theory of neurosis. New York: Norton.
Terner, J., & Pew, W. L. (1978). The courage to be imperfect: The life and work of Rudolf
Dreikurs. New York: Hawthorn.