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.
This may be defined as a study of the apprehension of the self and the external world according to the way these things appear to an individual in his or her unique, subjective evaluation. The term is from the Greek, phainomenon, meaning appearance. Individual Psychology pursues a phenomenological understanding of the person’s unique life-style, seen as the expression of a private and creative assessment of self and the world.
We do not suffer from the shock of our experiences — the so-called trauma — but we make out of them just what suits our purposes. . . . Meanings are not determined by situations, but we determine ourselves by the meaning we give to situations (p. 208).
I am convinced that a person’s behavior springs from his opinion. We should not be surprised at this, because our senses do not receive actual facts, but merely a subjective image of them, a reflection of the external world. Omnia ad opinionem suspensa sunt [Everything depends upon opinion — Seneca] (p. 182).
[The individual] relates himself [to the outside world] always according to his own interpretation of himself and of his present problem (p. 206).
We are influenced not by facts but by our opinion of facts (p. 192).
Perception is more than a simple physical phenomenon; it is a psychic function from which we may draw the most far going conclusions concerning the inner life (Adler, 1957, p. 50).
© 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. 80).
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. (1957). Understanding human nature. (W.B. Wolfe, Trans.). New York: Fawcett. (Original work published 1927)