Normal vs. Abnormal (Health vs. Pathology)
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.
Adler named his task to be the understanding of individual uniqueness, and Adlerians have therefore generally eschewed the terms normal and abnormal as not useful for this purpose. As terms pertinent to statistical measures, they are of little if any value to the examination and discussion of the individual variant. Instead Adlerians use as a standard (for what others call normal or abnormal) the extent of community feeling/social interest expressed in a person's movement (thought, feeling, and action).
The degree of a person's social interest determines his ability and willingness to function socially. . . . Adler found that social interest was the gauge for defining normalcy, both for the individual and for the group (Dreikurs, 1971, p. ix).
Social interest is the barometer of the child's normality (p. 154).
[From the sociological point of view] the normal man is an individual who lives in society and whose mode of life is so adapted that, whether he wants it or not, society derives a certain advantage from his work. From the psychological point of view, he has enough energy and courage to meet the problems and difficulties as they come along. Both of these qualities are missing in the case of abnormal persons. They are neither socially adjusted nor are they psychologically adjusted to the daily tasks of life (p. 154).
Adler draws no line of distinction between normal and abnormal people: for him the former make the smaller, the latter the bigger mistakes (Orgler, 1963, p. 107).
© 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. 73).
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. (1971). Social equality: The challenge of today. Chicago: Henry Regnery.
Orgler, H. (1963). Alfred Adler: The man and his work. New York: Liveright.