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.
Exogenous factor means something arising outside of, and independent of one's own agency. It signifies a challenge, a shift, or an interruption in the course of life demanding a response which, on the basis of his or her prior training and self-training, the individual feels unprepared to meet with cooperative and courageous action. Such a challenge to the practiced adaptation of the lifestyle may be a particular event in the individual’s life, or may be one of the universally experienced alterations of status, such as occur in the transition between childhood and adolescence, that is, at the point at which the first adult choices and expectations may be assumed to impose their imperatives. In therapy, the exogenous factor, if not in the client's awareness, may be uncovered with the question (asked with reference to the reported onset of symptoms): "What else was going on in your life at the time?" Investigating and understanding "the nature of the exogenous factor" (p. 328) that prompts generation of the symptom, is one of the "most trustworthy approaches to the exploration of personality" (p. 327). [See Adlerian Psychotherapy.]
The onset of the symptoms takes place when a person is confronted by a certain problem . . . . [Our studies] have shown that people are always confronted with problems which require a social preparation for their solution . . . . Such preparation must be acquired in earliest childhood (p.295).
The exogenous factor, the proximity of a task that demands cooperation and fellowship, is always the exciting factor of the symptoms, the behavior problem (pp. 297-298).
© 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. 34).
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.